Monday, May 31, 2004

In Memory

Memorial Day lets me remember to be grateful.

Memorial Day
For the non-U.S. readers, today is a national holiday in the U.S. called Memorial Day, which is set aside to celebrate the honor of our war dead.

There has always been a dichotomy in this country for folks like me, who don't agree with some of our wars, and yet support our troops fully in their execution of the same wars.

Like with the U.S/Viet Nam war, any anti-war sentiments were greeted with insults of being unpatriotic, or disrespect of our troops, when that is the furthest from the truth.

Sending young men and women into a battle zone because of oil, or money, or family feuds...now THAT'S unpatriotic.

Fashion of The Christ
I've made some excellent progress (at least as excellent as a Fair Isle allows).



You can see I've made it a few inches up past the armhole shaping. I thought you might want to get a view of the reverse side as well. It's surprising every time I do that to see how much brighter the inside is than the outside.

Here's a closeup of the armhole steek.



Alternate color is my favored way of knitting the steek.

Weight Loss
I just wanted to let folks know that I didn't reach my goal. I'm at 184 today, and don't anticipate losing 5 pounds by tomorrow.

Oh well...I've always been a big stress eater, and gawd knows I was stressed this past week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Yes, I got two e-mails, one which was rather nasty. Both ignored...I honestly didn't have to the time to waste on them. I've decided I like Carol S.'s advice, and just take it as a sign of their love for me and my blog.

Jojo also asked about my visit to Simply Knit.

The yarn store isn't anything spectacular. The high-end yarns, and they pick only the colors that appeal to them as owners. Fortunately, I think they both have excellent color sense. They've also only devoted a small area for novelty/scarf yarns.

Sitting and chatting about design with the talented ladies there is by far the best part of the visit. I've learned everything I know from them.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

He's Baaaack

Taking a blog break was very useful. Work was brutal this past week, and giving myself the break of not blogging made my life a lot easier.

Friends and Foes
Thank you to all the folks who wrote understanding and encouraging comments. Largely they are folks I've known personally, or prior to the blog.

To the others with nasty comments on the blog's hiatus, I'll just say I won't miss you if you stop reading.

Yarn Shopping
I got a chance to stop in at Simply Knit yesterday, and chat with Carol and CC.

Always a pleasure.

Carol is working on way-cool poncho (I'm not usually a fan of ponchos) and CC is working on a great mitered square design that reminds me a lot of Marianne Isager.

I ended up picking up some of the Araucania that I anticipate using for the charity knitting project, and I also picked up another bag of the KFI Cashmereno for a second baby blanket for my brother and sister-in-law (the couple set to receive the Rosemary's Baby blanket).



I love red, and I love this yarn, so I figure this blanket will definitely be made with lots of love (if you believe in that stuff).

I plan on slightly modifying the pattern I used for the co-worker's baby blanket in the cream Cashmereno.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I have been able to fit in a little knitting on the current design. I made it up to the armhole steek.



While you can't see it yet, I have cut in deeply for the armhole shaping. I want to make sure that the shoulders don't look like wings.

I figure that even if I cut in too deeply, I can always compensate with the armhole edging, by making it wider.

BTw, Carol thought the ribbing was just great.

Other Minor Knitting
I know Marilyn doesn't consider it a project, but I did some additional work on the Dancing Feet socks.



These socks will be a little too warm (even though they're quite light weight) to wear during the Summer anyway, so a little longer in finishing them won't be too bad.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Swamped

Hi everyone...sorry for the absence, and even sorrier to say it's going to be extended a little longer.

Everything is fine, albeit busier than I've ever been.

I'm knitting a little, but have no time to blog about it.

Hopefully the long weekend will let me breath a little.

I'll catch up with you then.

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Eye For Color

I've always said that I have very little aptitude for good color design. Through practice, I think that's changing.

Anniversaries
I'm going to a 20th anniversary party for friends tonight. It makes me kind of envious that they can have part of what I can't, even if it's just a in a legal sense.

That's beside the point.

Thaddeus and I were looking for a gift. The party is being done in a "Big Nights" theme (as in the Italian movie), so we were looking in one of our favorite Italian stores.

Both Thaddeus and I liked an imported, wooden salad bowl. The inside was natural wood with some hard finish, while the outside was stained with an apple-green stain that was darker or lighter based on the wood grain underneath. The color effect was quite beautiful.

The bowl isn't a color that would normally have appealed to my eye, but lately, I'm starting to notice non-conventional colors and color combinations in many different places. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I've done approximately 14 inches on the vest, and the arm hole shaping will start at 15.5 inches.



A few of you have asked about the ribbing on this sweater, and since I've been trying to ready the graphics for the entire sweater, I figured I could publish just the ribbing first (click on the picture if you'd prefer a slightly clearer PDF file).



The ribbing is not your standard Alice Starmore two color ribbing. I use a K4, P2 ribbing instead, with color changes throughout.

I've also guessed at some of the colors I'm using based on an on-line color card for Jamieson Spindrift and Jamieson & Smith. You'll notice that the key has more colors than the ribbing. That's because I'll be using the full key as shown for the sweater design, and I didn't feel like making a separate one just for the ribbing.

If anyone would like to actually like to start gathering the yarn for this sweater, It appears that a men's large vest (approximately 51" chest and approximately 25.5" long) will take the following amounts of yarn:

3 Pine Forest
2 Navy
2 Jamieson & Smith #20
2 Chartreuse
2 Copper
2 Rye
2 Cornfield
1 Crimson
1 Oyster
1 Buttercup
1 Moorgrass

Friday, May 21, 2004

Being Understood

Whether it's the satisfaction of creating fabric from string, or desiring agreement on tipping practices, it's always great to have folks that really understand me.

Knitters
I was talking with my next door neighbor yesterday. He was installing shocks on a car he built from a kit. Not usually a topic I would care very much about.

However, he has a metal lathe in his house, and he had to use the lathe to modify the very long bolt needed to secure the shocks onto his car.

I was fascinated enough about the ability to create a custom bolt, that I crawled underneath his car to see his handiwork. It was nothing short of perfect.

As part of discussing his perfectly crafted bolt, he said it must be a very similar satisfaction I get from creating sweaters.

It was nice to be so understood.

Interweave Knits - Summer 2004
I just picked up the newest issue.



Has this been out for a while or did it just come out later than Knitters and Family Circle Easy Knitting?

Anyway, overall, there was nothing in the magazine that I hated. There were a couple of things I really liked, and the rest was boring.

There are about 22 knitting patterns in the magazine.

I really liked the Gibson Girl Pullover by Shirley Paden. I especially liked how she did the button-up section on the back. I also liked Shirley's Cropped Cross-Stitch Top. Not because it's great, but because she used the Indian Cross Stitch pattern stitch I used in my Koigu scarf, and she used it pretty well.

The Victoria Tank by VĂ©ronik Avery was quite nicely done, and interesting. The stitch pattern looked good, and I liked her delicate edging. The Lace Blouson by Kim Dolce (the cover sweater) was pretty good too. I'm not a fan of the ribbon threaded through the waist, but other than that, I liked it.

The ever-talented Annie Modesitt has a couple of fun little items in the Bright Gifts section. Hers are the only designs in that section worth looking at. Especially the Fiestaware dishes.

The Juliet Pullover by Robin Melanson is very fine. Both in terms of the look, as well as the gauge (almost 7 stitches to the inch). And finally, I loved Cat Bordhi's Streaming Leaves Shawl. It's more like a blanket, and the only thing I would consider actually making in this issue, unless asked by a sister or niece for one of the other designs.

There is one article I found interesting on unusual fibers being used for knitting, and I was pretty dissappointed in the article on two-color knitting. I don't think it would be overly useful for someone learning because of it's lack of pictures.

Fortunately, I'm not in need of two-color knitting instructions.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I was able to finish another pattern repeat, and it's getting easier as I go along.



Now as I get closer to the arm hole placement, I'll have to take great care. As Marilyn mentioned (again), it has been my downfall in previous Fair Isles.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004



Mistake
I actually don't mind making mistakes in my knitting.

It's kind of like someone telling me I made a HUGE error in eating that fudge browning, and now I have to re-eat it.

Since I enjoy knitting so much, re-knitting something is just as much a pleasure.

The only time it gets frustrating, is when I realize I will have nothing to show for my work on the blog. You know how much I hate to disappoint.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
As you've guessed, I made a mistake on the new design. The mistake was right at the beginning of a round, and didn't realize it until I came around on the next round.

I tried to fudge it by dropping the wrong color and picking up the correct color on the mistaken row below, but it was turning into the equivalent of keeping track of two rows at the same time, and my mind just couldn't handle it last night. I tinked 340 stitches instead.

Tipping Etiquette Redux
I was glad to hear from all of the servers out there.

As a quick follow up. I didn't feel at all guilty about leaving no tip for the waitress. In fact, I plan on going back to the restaurant at some point in the future. Most of the servers are very good.

I can imagine the hate mail I might get when I say this (because of her faithful readership), but I disagree with Stephanie's view on this. While I don't think tipping is a very effective form of feedback, I felt it was my only option given the circumstances. If tips are paid regardless of level of service, there is no way to provide feedback, other than through complaints to servers or management.

If it had been a yarn store where I experienced poor service, I would just not have returned. At least with my ability to show displeasure through tipping (or lack thereof), I can still feel able to return.

However, I also almost always tip at 20% or better, because I do agree with Stephanie that server salary rates are so low, tips are required to make a minimum wage.

I also didn't feel I could have provided the server with feedback without doing it publicly, so I opted to just let her guess, or call me a jerk. I'm still okay with that decision. I would have been happy to discuss it with her if she had ever come back after serving the food, and I'd be glad to let her know if she asks next time I go.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

I Didn't Leave a Tip

Tipping has turned into one of the most useless practices on the planet for recognizing good service, or even moreso, not recognizing bad service.

How Not To Wait Tables
Not recognizing bad service is a lousy way of showing dissatisfaction. It provides no feedback except that you weren't satisfied. As for the reason, the server can only guess.

Thaddeus and I had lunch at a great little local restaurant on Sunday. We arrived and seated ourselves after greeting the two servers and the chef (open kitchen).

After five minutes of waiting, I got up and got us menus.

After another five minutes, our server came to take drink orders. She seemed distracted, but after five minutes, we were ready to place our full lunch order, so we did.

Beverages arrived, and were finished about five minutes before lunch arrived.

Lunch arrived and we requested another beverage, which she brought without clearing the other two glasses. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after she left without the glasses, that I realized she had brought me something other than what I had ordered.

That was the last we saw of our waitress until we finally went to the counter to pay and left the restaurant. She thanked us as we left. For what, I don't know, since we didn't feel a tip was necessary.

Should I have told her that I wasn't leaving a tip and why? Should I have complained to the owner/chef? Should I have left a dollar as a symbolic gesture of dissatisfaction (so she didn't think I was just absent-minded)?

I'm not sure. All I know is that I was dissatisfied with both the lack of service and the inability to explain myself in some way.


Fashion of The Christ Knitting
For regular readers, you know that mid-week progress is always a little slower than weekend.



I've made it up to about 9 inches, and I'm starting to plan my arm hole shaping.

Thaddeus said that I misquoted him. He agreed that a full-sleeve sweater would be too busy and that a vest would be fine. Let the record reflect my error.

Weight Update
On May 6th, I stated that I wanted to get my weight below 180 within four weeks (I was 187 as the time).

This past weekend, despite not much effort, I was down to 185. I'm working a little harder on diet and exercise this week to try to get down to 182 by the end of the weekend.

I don't want to obsess on this, but I thought I'd give an update at least.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks in part to some of my very generous readers, Sean has reached his goal of $1,200 in the AIDS walk of NY. Check out his blog to read about how he got to wear a tiara (or was that a crown) because he was one of the "over $1,000" contributors to the walk.

Congratulations Sean, and thanks to all who contributed. Anyone still wishing to contribute can feel free by clicking here.



Sunday, May 16, 2004

Religious Anorexia

In my struggle to release myself from the bonds of my religion-of-upbringing, I sometimes swing so far in one direction, that my religiosity seeps out anyway.

Religious Themed Knit Projects
In addition to introducing me to the concept of "directional dyslexia", Linda also pointed out that there's a theme in my knitting projects lately.

Rosemary's Baby blanket and Heresy/Fashion of The Christ.

In trying to negate my religious upbringing, I have only succeeded in displaying the other side of the coin in my knitting work. My rendition of trying to let that part of my life go, resulting in a constant obsession with it.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
Progress, progress and more progress.



I've made it up to almost completing the second full repeat, which is about 7 inches of knitting (including the ribbing).

Thaddeus was kind of bummed that I was planning on making a pullover vest, so I may rethink my plans and do a full sleeved pullover. I'll have to check to make sure I have enough of all the colors. I'll also have to decide on if I have the energy.

Design Availability
I liked Marilyn's suggestion, that I just publish the pattern design. I figure I can do a little more than that, by putting together a list of the colors I'm using and suggesting substitutes for unknown, or discontinued colors. I can also give the basic pattern in terms of number of stitches in the body, arm-hole decreases, etc.

That way, the more adventurous knitters will be able to piece together a sweater for themselves.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Julie asks which of the 100 Things list didn't I want my mother to know.

It's not so much that I didnt' want her to know some of them, it's just that it was uncomfortable for me to think she might have read #'s 32, 43 and 79. More so than that, it was just kind of odd that she had a window into my life with a view she was rarely allowed to see. Even just the thought of her reading about me as QueerJoe was somewhat odd for me.

Sean has gotten almost all the way to his goal of $1,200. If there is anyone who can contribute, even $25, I would love to see him meet his pledge. Click here, and thanks to those of you who already contributed.



Friday, May 14, 2004

Directional Dyslexia

My sense of direction has always been awful, and I need an official condition on which to blame this life deficit.

Physical Coordination
I got an excellent e-mail from Linda yesterday, and it had me thinking about my childhood confusion with my right and left hands, and my overall ability to learn various physical activities.

She introduced me to the phrase, "directional dyslexia", which I liked a lot.

I am certainly challenged when it comes to having a sense about where I am. I honestly think my confusion about left and right hands was a combination of both dyslexic-like symptoms, as well as a physical coordination thing.

Activities which require some level of coordination take me a while to master, but once I do, I am good at them forever. Riding a bike is an obvious example, but for me it also took a very long time to master driving a manual transmission, landing a plane, and yes, knitting.

But all of those activities I can do with very little attention (except the plane landing one).

Another example was with two-handed knitting. Once the muscle memory was established, the task became second nature and even enjoyable.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I've been able to make a little progress on my current design.



I've completed one one repeat each of both designs, and started again on the first one. Here's a close up of the pattern design (as requested by Aubergine).



And here's a closeup of the back of the work.



Two things about the reverse side. One, you'll note that I'm using significantly more of the dark colors in my design (as I've mentioned before). Secondly, the floats on the reverse will even out significantly once I've blocked the finished sweater.

Design Availability
I'd like to be able to make this design available for anyone who would like to try it, but I have a couple of issues.

1. I've used colors from Jamieson Spindrift, Shetland 2000 and Jamieson & Smith. Some of which aren't any longer available.
2. The number of stitches in the second pattern stitch doesn't divide evenly into the total body stitches, which makes it more complex to write up/knit.
3. The normal distribution of my designs I do through Simply Knit so they can sell the pattern as part of a kit with the yarn. They don't carry the Spindrift.

After I get the shaping and other information straightened out, I will offer the pattern in an "as-is" state for anyone who would want to try it. I'll probably end up putting it on my site as a PDF file.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn questions where is the brightness of FOTC, and also mentioned that I've told folks that Alice Starmore (oops!) used to do about a dozen swatches of a design before she'd select a specific colorway.

Yes, the famous Alice was a perfectionist, and alas, I am not. I call the sweater my official swatch. The brightness is mostly in the purple and bright yellow.

And as Gail mentioned, they are also the colors that are most reminiscent of the church. Flying doves indeed.

Finally...one last request of my readers.

Sean is doing the NYC AIDS walk this weekend, and he hasn't quite made his contribution goal of $1,200 (he's getting close). If any of the kind listers could help him out, I'd love to see him well exceed his goal. Click Here to contribute.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Why Do It If It's Not Fun

I saw this Ben & Jerry founder's quote on someone's bumper sticker this morning.

Work Doldrums
Upon reading this, I realized (again) how little I'm enjoying my current work assignment.

I just have no enthusiasm at all for the work I'm doing, and if it weren't for the paychecks I get twice a month, and the associated enjoyment from that (e.g. new car), I'd be following Jerry's advice.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
On the other hand, I am enjoying my knitting very much...what little I've been able to fit in with my schedule.



You can see I've made it up a few rows into the main pattern.

Overall, I like the patterning a lot. I'm less thrilled with the color combination, in that the sweater is turning out brighter than I planned. It's not an awful combination, just not what I was expecting.

One reason I do like the colors is that they remind me a lot of the colorful garments and altar dressings I used to see in church when I went.

Another Generous Spinning Offer
My knitting friend Janis called me this past weekend with an offer to let me borrow either of her two spinning wheels as well as some of her drum carder and fleece or roving to practice with.

She's been otherwise occupied with her daughter Marina.

At one point when I want to try that specific wheel, I will take her up on her offer.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Big Liar

When I don't know the answer to something without doing some research, I use the consulting motto, MSU, or "make shit up" (if you're one of my clients reading this, you can just ignore that last sentence).

Knitting Rounds on F'oTC
Aubergine asked a question yesterday about how long it takes me to knit a round on Fashion of The Christ, and I estimated it took me about 10 minutes, and wrote that answer with absolute authority.

Unfortunately, it is absolutely inaccurate. It takes me about 15 or 16 minutes to knit a two color round on F'oC. In fact, I have some single color rounds in the design, and even a single color round takes me about 11 minutes.

Sorry for the misinformation.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
Speaking of Fashion of The Christ, I didn't get a lot done last night/this morning. I've finished the first repeat of the bottom design, and just started the more complex top design.

I'll wait until tomorrow to post a picture of my progress.

It's A Small World Wide Web
A while ago, my sister mentioned that I had a web site to my mother's hairdresser, Annette. Annette is one of the most wonderful woman I know, and she's been cutting my mother's hair every week for decades now.

So it didn't take long before my mother was told about the web site, and had access to my 100 Things list and other personal items I didn't initially intend for her to see.

Flash forward to a week or two ago, and Annette tells my mother this story. Annette sees a woman waiting to get her hair done, and the woman is knitting. Annette, being the shy and retiring type, starts chatting with the knitter-woman, and asks what she's knitting.

The woman is knitting a sock, and explains that she used to knit a while ago, and recently decided to start again because of a web site she had run across. When she mentioned it was my site, Annette was amazed (as am I) and told her how she knew me and my whole family.

So if you get your hair done at East Windsor Hairdressers in New Jersey, feel free to bring your knitting and make sure you say hi to Annette.

Pictures
I didn't have a picture of anything relevant to post today, and I've already reached my quarterly quota of Gage pictures, so I thought I'd leave you with a picture of one of my favorite Springtime items at my house.



Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn notes that cars come in boring colors (like silver).

With some exceptions (such as the pumpkin color car that Kathy? describes), most car colors are terminally boring. But as with any colors, you need the solid, boring colors in any composition to make the snazzy colors pop out. I feel I'm doing my part by allowing the few snazzy colors to shine.

Emily asks for more information on the "Heresy"/"Fashion of The Christ" design.

For the sake of my regular readers, I won't go into the history of the design again, but just refer you back to the last month or two of my archives where the entire design, color composition process is described.

Emily's question also allows me to reprint on of my favorite Google tip.

If you add the domain name (e.g. queerjoe.com) at the end of a search term, it will usually only return values from that web site. So, for instance, if you typed:

heresy queerjoe.com

in the Google search box, it will give you any references to the word "heresy" on my site.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Big Purchase

I can definitely understand how shopping could be addictive. Purchasing a big-price item always brings along a certain thrill.

Car Shopping
Yes, the big purchase was a car.

My 1997 Oldsmobile Bravada was having some functional difficulties, and when I took it in for a diagnosis, I was told it would be over $700 to fix.

I told them nevermind, and went to a friend of Thaddeus' who sells Hondas on Saturday and left the lot with this.



I know it's not flashy and exciting, but neither am I. It's a good, solid, dependable, utilitarian car, which is exactly what I was looking for.

It's the Honda Accord, in silver with black leather interior. It's the 6 cyllinder model, and the only option I didn't get is the $2,000 GPS system.

I have to say, I really love the car. It's fun to drive, it's one of the highest rated cars as far as dependability, and it uses a LOT less gas than the SUV. On my weekly trips to Albany, that makes a big difference.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I was very excited yesterday evening, as I raced along on the body of F'oTC. I had completed 4 rounds before I realized I had forgotten to change the dark color after the first row.

So, instead of getting 5 or 6 more rounds done, and showing you a decent progress picture, I ripped out 3 rounds (actually, I "tink"-ed the mistaken rows - knit backward, or unknit for the non-KnitListers).

I figured I could just put up the picture from yesterday, because that's exactly where I am again.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Aubergine asks if I'm using the jumper-weight, Spindrift yarn for this sweater.

Yes, it's the same yarn he's using for Sandness. With 330 stitches in a round, it takes me about 10 minutes per round. I do two-handed, stranded knitting, which speeds up the process for me quite a bit.

I also weave in all my ends, and never have floats that are longer than four stitches long.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Happy Mothers' Day

I've always been a momma's boy, and it's something I'm glad for, because I have an amazing mother. Hope you have a great day if you're a mother, and if not, that your mother has a great day.

Shopping
This was a big shopping weekend. I only bought a couple of things, but one of them was big and expensive.

First of all, I browsed through the local flea market this morning and found these little treasures.



They are mostly older patterns from a time where the tighter a sweater was, the better. I liked a lot of the pictures, and I figured at $1.00 per booklet, it was well worth the $4.00 price tag.

The other purchase (the big one), I wasn't able to get a picture of, so I'll let you guess about this one until my next blog entry.

Fashion of The Christ Knitting
I've been working like a dog (when I wasn't shopping) on the new Fashion of The Christ sweater, and all I have to show for it is the ribbing at the bottom. But at least it's completed.



I like this picture, because it shows both the front and the back of the knitting. You can see how much I rely on the darker colors in the ribbing section.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jennie asks what happened to the jogging mentioned in my 100 Things About Me list.

Lately I've been very tired and wanting more sleep than usual. Eventually, I'll get back into the routine of running at least a little. I honestly can't maintain or lose weight without some form of exercise and running is clearly the most efficient way for me to do either.

Jojo asks if I ordered some of the Joseph Schmidt's chocolates for myself.

I didn't, although I would have enjoyed them very much.

Friday, May 07, 2004

What Sock?

How quickly I was able to dump the Dancing Feet sock, when I got home to see my new sweater yarn.

Mail Order Yarn
I always love opening packages, and packages with yarn are even better.



Some of these yarns came in from Yarns International, others I had in my stash.

The lightest color towards the center of the yarns has me a little concerned. It's a very pale, light sage green color, but it may be too high a contrast for this project. Hopefully, since the lighter colors in this design don't show up as much as the darker colors, it will work out okay.

Fair Isle "Heresy" Design
I've opted not to swatch this design, and to just jump into it with both feet.

I've already cast on, and completed the first row of ribbing (picture of it would look really stupid), and I was able to connect the round without twisting on my first try.

Usually, I just knit the first two rows flat, and it's easier to connect the round. I didn't feel like doing Fair Isle purling, so I just took my chances. It worked out fine this time.

But before I cast on, I did some work with the pattern design, and setting the color sequence. First I set the sequence of the light colors, and then the sequence of the dark colors.

Here's basically how the colors will be set.



Sock Knitting
I've decided to use the remaining sock project as a filler project now that I have my focus elsewhere.

The next time you'll hear about this project is when I've completed both socks.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jennie asks how to figure out how much yarn to use on something like a baby blanket.

I have a few different solutions to this. Most popular solution for me is to buy way more than I think I'll need so I can have leftovers. I've also been know to find a pattern similar to one that I'm making and then estimate based on the patterns yarn requirements. Finally, with something like the Rosemary's baby blanket, I just hoped that one ball of each color would be sufficient towards the outer squares.

It worked out fine that way.

Regarding weight, I agree with Barb, that a little extra fat as I age means less wrinkles. And I didn't mean to imply that I looked fat to most other folks (my work-casual shirts hide any waist I have very well). I just meant to say that I'm not as comfortable at my current weight, and I thought a public announcement of my intentions would help me get to my desired goal.

Don't get me wrong, Lisa's vision of a neurasthenic ectomorph has me thinking maybe I should go bulemic, but I don't want my teeth rotting out from stomach acid being regurgitated (where did Lisa learn how to turn such a clever phrase?).

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Sweets

If I had to decide between outlawing marijuana or sugar as an addictive substance, based on my own experience, it would clearly be sugar.

Weight Gain
I'm 6 foot tall, and now weigh approximately 187 pounds.

Ideally, I like how I look when I weigh between 170 and 175 (depending on how toned I am).

Not only am I feeling a tad bloated at the moment, but I can't seem to stop myself from stuffing my fat face. Especially with high-fat, sweet things. And I haven't been exercising at all in the last few weeks.

I tell you all now, as part of a blog pledge, that I will be down below 180 within the next four weeks.

Speaking of Sweets
That being said, I have to tell you about my VERY favorite chocolatier on the planet.

Joseph Schmidt has some of the most amazing truffles, packaged in some of the most beautiful boxes, that I've ever had. I ordered a box of their mini truffles for my mom for Mother's Day. I've ordered quite a bit from them because they always make such nice gifts.

Knitting
As addicted as I am to knitting, I would drop all yarn in a second if that meant I could eat fat-filled, sweets (like Krispy Kremes) and not get fat. However, I will definitely settle for the Dancing Feet sock yarn as an immediate substitute for the moment.



I'm working myself up the ankle, and hope to finish the second sock this weekend.

Next Project
I also heard from Thaddeus that my order of Jamieson Spindrift came in the mail earlier this week from Yarns International.

I can't wait to swatch up the pattern design in the colors I actually plan on using for this new Fair Isle vest.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Just one overall comment.

I have continued to get some great advice and leads on checking out spinning wheels. I feel well prepared to start my investigation into this new craft in short order.

Thank you all.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Reader Generosity

I will never get accustomed to amazing generosity. It will always surprise the hell out of me.

Wheel Advice
I can't begin to tell you how much advice I've gotten regarding the factors that should be used when selecting a spinning wheel.

Most of the basic information was available on The Woolery site referenced yesterday, that Carol S. recommended. A great starting place.

Many readers supplemented that information with extremely generous advice. The most amazing e-mail was from Ruby in Toronto. She teaches spinning (and includes Stephanie as one of her students), and has a very detailed list of factors that should be considered when selecting a wheel.

I would have to say that I would gladly take a spinning class with Ruby just based on how generous she was with her knowledge. Thank you Ruby.

Any Toronto area readers, feel free to contact me for Ruby's e-mail if you'd be interested in taking classes from a master.

Current Knitting
I'm surpising myself at how quickly I'm getting this pair of socks done.



As you can plainly see, I've finished the heel, and I'm anxious to get to work on the smaller needle ankle (to match the first one) and then on to the ribbing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Shirley asks if I've ever tried spinning on a spindle.

This is how my interest in spinning actually started. Like knitting, I was amazed that I could take a little cloud of fiber, and manipulate it into a yarn. The inefficiencies of drop-spindles made me realize I would enjoy spinning on a wheel much more.

A couple readers have expressed interest in more information on the Morehouse Merino I purchased at Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival.

The best place to learn about their yarn, is at their site.

The best place to learn more about my evaluation of the yarn is at Kim's site.

I'm not sure if my review will be published yet, but I did submit my review nonetheless.

They make amazing claims about how soft their yarn is. NONE of their claims are false, in my humble opinion. The yarn I bought is what they call their worsted weight. I consider it a little heavier than most worsted, but I use it as a worsted weight anyway. The deep cranberry color that Thaddeus chose is very rich. They clearly choose their colors with great care.

Carol S. mentioned that I should check out the Kromski wheels.

I'm embarrassed to say that I did check these out at MDS&W, but I had forgotten the name. They looked quite amazing, and from the looks, I'd have no problem owning one. If it lasted as long as my current Pollack, I'd be very fortunate.

Finally, June mentions that if the Robin wheel is set up like a Louet, to expect a hard pull.

This was confirmed by the guy that makes the Robin wheels. He said that beginners often have to get used to the stronger pull of their wheels because of the tensioning. I figure with 2 years to get used to drafting faster, I could fit it into my schedule.

Monday, May 03, 2004

Spinning Wheels

Without time to experiment with my two flat-bed knitting machines, and my antique circular sock knitting machine, I have no right to be considering spinning as a new hobby.

Wheel Purchase Strategy
I went to MDS&W with the thought that I would start to learn more and more about spinning wheels for that time in my life when I decided to take up a new addiction.

What I realized when I got there, is that it's necessary to try out the wheels to feel what's comfortable.

Without know how to spin, that makes test-driving wheels a little difficult.

I did sit down and try out a double treadle Ashford Traveler. I was highly embarrassed at the twisted knot of a mess I left on that poor woman's machine, but I'm glad to say I did learn something.

The Traveler is a very light machine and moved way too easily under my clumsy foot.

After that experience, I opted to just look at machines and begin to learn as much as I could about each model. I checked out all the Ashford models, some Wyatt wheels, Robin wheels, Schacht and Louet.

Now I understand a lot more about the different kinds of tensioning and wheel ratios.

Over the next few months, I plan on asking my neighbor (or someone else, if she won't) if I can borrow her wheel for a while and start playing with it. She owns an Ashford Traveler, which I've already pretty much decided I don't like, but at least I can learn to get the action of spinning down, so test-driving a wheel won't be so traumatic.

I will also take Carol S.'s advice and check out The Woolery's web page. They do have a nice summary of how to choose a spinning wheel as well. Thanks Carol.

Wheel Purchase Temptation
Thaddeus and I spent a good deal of time with the guy who builds Robin wheels.

He described how his tension system worked differently than most others (Charles told me it was what he calls Irish tensioning, like the Louet wheels). He showed us how carefully he makes each wheel and showed us a number of different wheels in the various woods he uses.

His basic wheel was a cherry wheel with golden maple inset into the treadles. It was quite beautiful, and I thought inexpensive at around $700 (and a two year waiting list). Thaddeus tried to convince me to order one immediately, but I opted to investigate a little further before ordering.

In some ways I wish I had just ordered one, and in other more practical ways, I'm glad I didn't.

Interim Knitting
I got to what I'm thinking will be the top of the first sock and started on the second one.



I put the stitches for the first one on a think blocking wire, and started taking yarn off the outside of the ball of wool for the second sock. That way, when they're both the same size, I can just add on more lenght until the yarn is used up, or I get tired of knitting ribbing.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn and Kathy both mentioned they bought the same Dzined yarn.

We all have such good taste! Now we need a group project for this cool yarn.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

Sheep Poo

Whether it's fresh and steamy on the grounds at the Sheep & Wool festival, or dried and crusty in a handspun yarn, I am not a fan.

Festival Recap
Comparatively speaking, this was way better than Stitches (or any other fiber event I've been to so far). I was surprised to find out that not only is there no entry fee, but parking is free as well.

The vendors are much more varied. There are a few large yarn stores with all the standard stock. There are small businesses that have only unique, handspun yarns with dyelots that can't be replicated. There are spinning wheel companies. There are lanolin hand cream booths. There are places that sell fleeces, prepared wool, dyes, buttons and woven rugs.

I only saw a couple of booths that sold mostly novelty yarns for glittery scarves.

Also, as Kathy mentioned in comments yesterday, it was hot, but not a complete steambath. I only experience a couple of bitchy folks there. We got there almost first thing, and left by 1:00 when folks starting getting ugly.

People I saw
I can't believe I didn't run into Kathy, Charlotte (her daughter), Carol S. or Antonio.

Also, unlike Stitches, only one person recognized me from my blog, and she knew about where I'd be.

I met with Ann by the dog trials (despite the thousand or so folks there). She is a local, and was very pleasant to meet. She knew a lot about the dogs, and we got to chat a little about the stupidity of trying to meet people at events like the MDS&W without a specific place in mind.

After that, I met with Witt, Karen and Charles and his lover.

Witt is one of those people in the knitting world that knows EVERYONE.

Charles is an extremely proficient spinner and weaver, so I was glad to be able to pick his brain on how to choose a spinning wheel.

I also ran into three folks from my local knitting guild. It was great seeing Sandy, Judi and Jean. They are amazing knitters, shoppers and all-around wonderful folks.

Things I Purchased
I didn't go crazy. I ended up buying three sweater's worth of yarn.

First of all, I bought my final book (for now) on spinning. Many of the folks I asked recommended Alden Amos' book on handspinning, and I was hoping to find it at the festival.



Mission accomplished.

Then, Thaddeus picked out this yarn at Morehouse Merino.



He likes the incredible softness of their yarn, and he liked this color a lot. He wants a very simple pullover. I'm glad I like this yarn so much, so even a simple design won't be too boring.

At the Dzined booth, I was struck by how great their yarns and colors were. This yarn that combines blues, grays and yellows looked perfect for an interesting man's sweater.



The yarn is a combination of wool and hemp. The hemp seems to give the yarn a density or body that I like very much. I'm excited to see how I enjoy working with this yarn.

Finally, I fell in love with this yarn at the Running Wild Yarn booth.



It's a combination of Cormo wool and alpaca. It's soft and the natural colors of the yarn blend in a beautiful tan color.

I didn't end up purchasing a spinning wheel. I'll write about my strategy for that in my next entry.

Interim Knitting
I got a litte more done on the Dancing Feet socks.



As I get near the top of the first in a pair of toe-up socks, I always hesitate on how long I want to make them. I want to make them pretty long, but I hate doing endless ribbing, and I never know if I'll have enough yarn to make both socks as long as I like.

I figure one more inch and I'll start the next one.

Hopefully the second sock will keep me busy until my Jamieson Spindrift comes in. I won't be able to get to that until Thursday night when I get home from Albany.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Liz asks what pattern I'm using for the toe-up socks.

I initally learned to make toe-up socks using Judy Gibson's "Your Putting Me On" sock pattern that's free on the web. Once I realized how easy socks were to make, I modified her design to make mine with a short-row heel, because I was more familiar with that method from my circular sock machine days. But either Judy's pattern, or Wendy's pattern are equally easy to start with.

Elaine asks if socks are easier from the toe-up, or is it just a preference.

The initial reason I opted to do toe-up socks the first time, was that I had two balls of Regia yarn, and wanted the longest sock I could get from each ball. I figured what better way than toe-up socks.

It's since become just a preference.