Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Blog Contest Chuckles

My e-mail box continues to get filled with humorous entries to the blog contest.

Blog Contest
So far, I've gotten over thirty entries to the blog contest, and I can honestly say, it's going to be very difficult choosing a winner.

You folks are very funny.

Just remember, you can enter as many captions as you want, and this Friday is the last day to enter.

Keep 'em coming.

Current Knitting
The baby blanket grows at about the typical pace of my work-week project.

I've gotten over halfway through the third block. It's pretty mindless, so I'm able to get a lot done as I watch the new episodes each week of Six Feet Under.

I'll update with a picture next time

New Design Idea
I've been realizing that I needed something a bit more challenging on my knitting docket, so I've decided to design a new men's sweater.

Believe it or not, I got the pattern stitch idea from the Marriott hotel shower curtain.

I'm not sure if it will work yet, so I'm going to swatch up a version of it in my favorite color of Jamieson Spindrift, and see if it looks okay.

If you never hear about this again, you'll know it was a complete failure.

Yarn Store Closing
I spoke with Carol yesterday, and she confirmed that most of Saturday was a mob scene. What amazed her most, is that it still looks like the yarn shelves are full.

Sounds like a 30% discount starting this weekend should help put a dent in it. I'm gonna try and get there on Saturday sometime.

Readers' Comments/Questions
A few folks have written to ask if Simply Knit is looking to sell the business, or just close.

I think they'd be open to selling, but a buyer would have to move quickly if they wanted to take advantage of purchasing the business.

Sandy supplemented my list of local yarn stores with six additional stores.

Sandy is by far, the most experienced yarn shopper I've ever met. She knows more about yarns and prices than most yarn store owners...thanks Sandy.

Monday, June 28, 2004

Spinning Out of Control

Weekends are just chock full of spinning adventure.

Weekend Spinning
I decided to start in on the pound of Blue-Face Leicester, and I didn't want to put it down all weekend.

The wool is soft and luxurious, and I could immediately spin a very fine thread with it. I was very impressed by both the yarn, and my spinning abilities.



I ended up spinning two spindles worth of singles, and then plied it into the hank pictured above. Using Antonio's wonderful little gift (see below), I was able to determine that it is about 20 wraps per inch. While I'm not sure how much this hank weighs (as it was still a little damp when I left), there were a total of 331 yards of pretty thin yarn after plying, washing and hanging weights.

I'm very pleased with the outcome, and I will definitely be ordering more of this. Enough so I end up having a sweater's worth of yarn when I'm done spinning it.

Antonio's Presents
Yes, that is plural...presents.

I was greeted with Antonio's package in the mail on Saturday. He had told me he was going to send me one of those clever little wooden needle holders that also doubles as a WPI measurment tool.



As mentioned above, it has already come in very handy.

But he also sent along this amazing gift.



It's a prepared ramie for spinning, and it feels amazing. I honestly have to say, if I had one extra spindle that wasn't needed for my current Leicester spinning, I would have had to spin up some of this material.

Anyone that knows any special ways that ramie should be spun, feel free to speak up.

Blog Contest
I love the current contest. Everytime I open my e-mail, I get at least one good chuckle.

This contest also proves how funny and clever the readers of the blog are. Folks have until this Friday to come up with a caption for the picture shown in the last blog entry to be able to win a large hank of wonderful sock yarn.


Readers' Comments/Questions
Pam asks if I had any interest in buying Simply Knit, and what are the three stores in my immediate area.

I had a lot of interest in buying Simply Knit, but only as a retirement "hobby". I'm not ready financially to do something like that for about five years...maybe seven.

The yarns Stores are (in order of closeness):

Gazebo Plus in New Hope's Logan Square shopping plaza.

Stitch Inn on route 202 in Lahaska.

The Spinnery on route 202 in Neshanic Station.

There's also:

Pins & Needles in Princeton, NJ

Glenmarle Woolworks in Princetion, NJ

and a place in Pennington, NJ that I can't remember the name of.

Did any reader get to the first day of the Simply Knit sale?

I didn't and I was wondering if it was a mob scene.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Farenheit 9/11

Along with the liberal masses, I was able to see this great movie on it's opening day.

Censorship
I mentioned in my last post that I thought the "R" rating was censorship.

I recant that. Without changing some of the language and some of the violent scenes, I think the movie was appropriately rated.

Thaddeus works in a video store, and will often pick a PG-13 movie to play in the store. PG-13 ratings allow for the "F" word to be used once, and Thaddeus knows where the "F" word appears in most every PG-13 movie, because he has to turn down the volume at that point if there are customers in the store.

Farenheit 9/11 had the word at least 4 times, and it had some pretty gruesome scenes of war and torture as well. Short, but disturbing nonetheless.

Overall, the movie was a lot better than I expected even. He did a very good job of weaving the full story of corruption that this White House administration has executed skillfully. There were a few times where I thought Michael Moore used cheap stunts, but much less so than his other movies.

I knew much of the content of the movie, but seeing it all in one place was truly enraging.

I highly recommend this movie.

Knitting Magazines
When I was in Borders last week, picking up my copy of "My Life" by William J. Clinton, I also picked up these two knitting magazines.



Knit 'n Style
While it had some surprisingly nice items, overall, not worth the price of US$6.

The magazine was jam-packed with 33 patterns, which amazes me that they can sell this magazine for so little.

Nicky Epstein is clearly the star of this issue. She has a lovely woman's sweater called Berry Cluster with small beads for embellishments, and also a very nicely made long coat, called the Tender Leaf Coat. I liked both a lot. There is also a very delicate stole done in Soy Silk yarn that is very nice.

There's one article on Missoni that is interesting and has great pictures of amazing sweaters. Unfortunately it whets the readers' appetites for good design, and the remainder of the magazine is sorely lacking in good design.

Some designs that were particularly bad were:
Hooded Pullover - Striped faux fur pullover...ick
String of Beads Shawl - There are no beads, and it looks like the model is wearing an afghan
Barghest - Some Viking-inspired, wide shoulder crap in pink
Triangle Collared Shawl - Looks like a Yetti is trying to swallow the model
Long Coat with Hood - badly designed, and poorly executed
Collared Wrap Cardigan - Looks like bad crochet, but it's really knitting...pathetic
Boy's Pullover, Cap, Mittens and Teddy Bear - All I can do is gag

The rest of the patterns were ordinary or had good colors and bad design or some other forgettable combination of factors.

Knitting
This British-based magazine is expensive and just plain bad (or at best boring).

Despite designers like Sasha Kagan and Jean Moss, the Brits would be better off paying for shipping and import duties on KNitters. At a US$8 cost here in the states, and only 9 bad or boring patterns, it's not a very good deal at all.

Blog Contest
The contest is pretty simple, but requires imagination and humor. Simply come up with a funny caption for the picture below, and send it to me, via e-mail to Queerjoe@comcast.net.



Contest Rules
All entries must be submitted by This Friday, July 2nd, at midnight Eastern Standard Time.

You may submit as many entries as you want.

I will pick my favorite entry based on the following factors:
- Sick, dark humor of your entry.
- Relevancy to current events.
- Cleverness.

I will announce the winner next Monday, July 5th in the blog, after I have notified the winner via e-mail.

By submitting an entry, you are stating that it is your idea, and that you are giving me permission to publish your entry on this blog.

Blog Contest Prize
I can't believe I'm going to part with this yarn, but I wanted to give a good prize.



This is Dancing Feet Sock Yarn, in colorway Treebark. There are 3 ounces of yarn or about 600 yards. It is the yarn I'm making my current socks from.

While you can't feel the yarn, I will tell you it's one of the nicest yarns I've worked with, and I've worked with some awesome yarns.

Here's a closeup to give you a sense about the deep rich colors in this yarn.



Good luck to all who decide to enter the contest.

Friday, June 25, 2004

Entertainment Choices - Political Statements

With movies like "The Passion of the Christ" and "Farenheit 9/11" coming to theaters, our choice in entertainment is starting to become a political statement.

Activism/Commercialism
I am realizing more and more the power of my purchsing dollar can be used to express myself politically.

This past week, I picked this up:



The reviews say it's boring as hell, but I honestly think President Clinton is an amazing man, and I'm very exciting about reading more about his views on things now that he's left the White House.

Thaddeus and I are also planning on going to see Farenheit 9/11, the new Michael Moore masterpiece. Having read Michael Moore's book, and having seen all his movies, I'm very excited to see this movie opening day. I hope there are minors who want to see it so I can be their "adult supervision" since they had to give it an "R" rating.

What kind of censorship bullshit is that?

Anyway, I'm hopeful that the movie does extremely well. First, so that the dictators in the White House administration don't think they can win on these issues of censorship, and second, so more and more folks will realize all the horrible things the current administration has done to the American people.

Simply Knit
Just a tip...if anyone is planning on getting to the sale, I would recommend getting there early.

They've had enormous interest already and people have been streaming to the store to stake out their sale items. One of the things that always amazed me about this area, is that most of the knitters that I saw come into the local yarn stores are extremely knowledgeable about yarn and the comparable prices in other stores.

Regardless, I have a feeling the first day of the sale will be huge.

Blog Picture
You'll note I updated the banner with the winning picture.

A couple of comments.

Many folks asked why I couldn't just leave up the animated GIF of all the pictures.

Mostly because I had to reduce the quality of the pictures significantly just to get it to a reasonable size, and even still it's too big to keep posted.

Other folks wanted to know why I didn't just keep the original picture.

Almost everyone that knows me, tells me that the picture is not very flattering. Not surprising, as it was my badge picture when I worked at Cisco Systems for a few months.

Thank you all for your feedback and voting. The results were clear that picture #4 had almost half the votes.

Current Knitting
I finished up the second row of squares on the baby blanket. I don't remember how many of these I did on the first one, but it seemed to be a very nice size blanket, so I think I'll check.



The pattern repeat on this blanket is one that encourages me to continue...you know, "just get to the next cable crossover, and you can have a donut." Doesn't everyone reward themselves for certain knitting milestones?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jon surmises that I was the male model on the Simply Knit web site, and asks if any of the sweaters are my designs.

Yes to both. Most of the sweaters that I model are my own designs, or male versions of some Carol Lapin design.

Antonio asks if now I'll be doing my yarn shopping in Philly.

Doubtful. I'm pretty familiar with most of the yarns I like, so I'll probably order most of the standard yarns on-line. For my browsing experience, I've got about three yarn stores within 20 minutes of where I live. Easy enough to touch and feel locally.

Bulle a écrit, "Au plaisir de revenir sur ton site."

Merci, Bulle. Bienvenue, et c'est mon plaisir. Je peux comprendre Francais plus que je peux parler, ainsi, c'etait mon plaisir de voir ton message.

Mouse put up some excellent renditions of my pictures in the comments section.

If you haven't seen them, they are excellent...thanks very much for doing that. You are very talented.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Sad News

The owners of Simply Knit have decided to retire and close their store.

Local Yarn Store Closing
For those of you who know the Simply Knit name, the owners, Carol and CC, have decided to retire from the yarn store business and close up shop. This is a very sad day for my knitting world.

I have known Carol since her days at Tomato Factory. She is an amazing designer, and an all-around great lady. CC has been a perfect complement at the store as she did her share of designing and handling of all the business of running a yarn store.

Closing Sale
As is typically the case when a yarn store closes, Simply Knit will be announcing shortly a "Closing Sale". The sale starts this Saturday, June 26 with a 20% discount on all merchandise, the following week will be 30% off, then 40% and finally 50% off.

Obviously, the gamble to wait for 50% discount means you might not get what you want at all.

They have also said that if anyone wants to get in before the sale starts this Saturday, and they mention my site, they can get a pre-sale discount of 10%. How cool is that?

Blog Picture
The animated GIF above is showing alternating pictures that I took of myself this morning. I will eventually replace it with only one picture. I need to have y'all help me decide which picture I should use.



Please fill out the survey below. Vote early and vote often.



Current Knitting
I dutifully spent some time last night and this morning knitting on the current baby blanket.



She's looking better and better. And the blanket is one of those projects that is more enjoyable the more progress I make on it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Melise asks how many stitches I cast on for a swatch.

This depends. I usually do a long-tail cast on for my swatch, so I just pull out a lenght of yarn, and keep casting on till I've run out of the long-tail. In this case, it ended up being almost wide enough for the back of a man's sweater (about 110 stitches if I remember correctly).

Mary asks what is entrelac and why does everyone hate it.

For the first part of your question, I will refer you to Google (oops...just realized Marilyn answered your question quite well). The reason everyone hates it (or at least why I do, is that it requires a lot of sections of back and forth knitting (or learning to "knit backwards"...which I refuse to believe helps at all. Mary's other questions were very ably answered by Geraldine.

Speaking of whom, Geraldine asks a few questions herself:

1. How on earth did you match up your hand and machine knitting.
A. The yarn made it easy to do that. Changing gauge wasn't at all noticeable.

2. She accuses me of being too good at spinning.
A. Guilty as charged. It's unusual for me, but I'm thrilled about this new skill.

3. When am I going to take up weaving.
A. Unless Weavettes count, never. Doesn't look like something I'd enjoy at all. But dyeing...now that I will enjoy some day.


Monday, June 21, 2004

Fiber Busy

This weekend was jam-packed with fiber-related activity.

Current Knitting
I didn't do anything on the red baby blanket (so much for tons of fiber-related activity...but wait!...there's more).

I've decided that the red baby blanket is going to be my Albany-only project, unless I'm totally bored at home.

Spinning
As Carol S. mentioned, I spent a large part of my time spinning this weekend.

Friday night, Thaddeus has a regular engagement for about 2 and a half hours. During that time I had carefully scheduled to fill every moment with spinning more of the Corriedale cross.

Seconds after his departure, I sped up to the guest bedroom/craft room.

It wasnt' five minutes of spinning, when the cord that makes the Scotch brake work, broke (can brakes break?)...ARGH!!!

Now what was I going to do?

New Knitting Project
I quickly picked up one of the coned yarns that I got from Alan to sell on eBay. It's a very soft, very fine, boucle sort of yarn with a little bit of stretch.

I know it's a good yarn, because it's a Filatura di Crosa yarn, and the color is soft charcoal.

I started to knit a swatch, and then realized the "swatch" was just about the perfect width for the back of a man's sweater. At 5.5 stitches to the inch, I didn't want to waste my knitting, so I continued knitting (just plain stockinette).

Then I had three realizations:

1. Knitting this yarn at this pace would take forever.
2. The piece was ending up being a little too narrow for my growing waist.
3. I should consider trying machine knitting again.


After a little trial and error, some handknitting and some finishing, I ended up with this.



Hard to say what exactly this is...so I'll describe it. It's the front and back of a man's crew-neck pullover, with one shoulder seamed together.

While you can't see it, there's also waste yarn at the bottom, which will be removed when I had some ribbing to the bottom. I was amazed at how much knitting I could get done in a couple of hours.



I'm not sure if this closeup picture helps at all, but the resulting fabric, both hand and machine knit, is soft and slightly furry. It reminds me a lot of a commercial cashmere sweater. Light, drapey fabric, and soft as a baby's ass.

Back to Spinning
Thaddeus suggested a couple of substitutes for the Scotch brake on the spinning wheel, and we ended up using dental tape. It was surprisingly successful (although I have ordered an Ashford maintenance kit which includes a new brake cord, so I can fix my neighbor's wheel correctly).

I was able to finish spinning the second spindle of yarn from last weekend, and using my handmade lazy-kate to ply the yarn.



Then I spun up two additional spindles of yarn, and plied that as well.



All-in-all, I ended up spinning a total of 14.5 oz. of yarn from the pound of roving I got. The rest of it ended up being waste for various reasons. I'm hopeful to use a higher percentage of the Blue-Face Leicester when I start working with that.


Blog Contest
I didn't get a chance to pick out an appropriate prize for the blog contest, so I've decided to start the contest at the end of the week.

Sorry for the tease, but it'll be worth it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Stephanie asked a while ago for more information on the homespun (e.g. wraps per inch, etc.)

I think it's about 11 or 12 wpi, but that's all the information I was able to come up with (and I'm not even sure I measured it correctly). I plan on measuring the length of each skein when I wind it into center-pull balls (I have this clever little device for measuring fish line that also works for yarn). Unfortunately, I don't plan on winding it until I'm going to knit with it, and that won't be until after I've ordered another pound of it, and spun about half of that.

By then, I hope to have spun enough to make a man's sweater.

Aubergine mentioned that I need to start a pair of entrelac socks.

Ugh...I love Aubergine, so no offense, but I HATE entrelac. I hate the way it looks, and I hate knitting entrelac. You couldn't pay me enough to knit entrelac. But thanks for the concern and suggestion.

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Blah Blah Blog

Uninspired is the feeling for the day. Feel free to skip today's blog entry if you're at all busy.

Unchallenged
My current project is leaving me feeling extremely unchallenged.

It's a repeat of a project done recently.

It's all one color.

The stitch pattern is interesting up to a point, but gets tired fast.

I have no inspiring ideas on my knitting horizon that I can look forward to with great excitement.

Knitting
Despite the boring nature of the project, you can see that I've made a few inches of progress on my current baby blanket.



I realized I wasn't following the pattern correctly for the eyelet section when I got to the second section of eyelet blocks, and realized the number of stitches didn't exactly match the stitch pattern.

It was easily fudged, and I kind of like the alternate look of this blanket.

What I can't remember, is whether I made the same mistake on the first blanket. I'll check when I get home.

eBay Yarn Sales
All I can say is "wow!"

If Alan can keep me in coned yarns, I may just quit my job and sell coned yarns on eBay all day long.

I could fill up the remaining hours with production knitting on his machines, and sell "hand crafted" garments to pay for health benefits.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I guess I have to stop ignoring Kathy's requests for QueerJoe fiber products.

I'll make her a deal, I'm about to put on a blog contest which will require cleverness, humor and a somewhat acidic wit. I haven't decided what to offer up as a prize, but perhaps I'll include some of my handspun as an option. Stay tuned for more contest information.

I also got another e-mail from someone looking for the pattern for Nancy Hearne's blanket that I'm making (I get about 3 a day).

I'm going to take this as an opportunity to request that folks make at least a half-hearted attempt to find this stuff first before e-mailing me. The link to the free web pattern has shown up three times in my archives, and a google search of "Nancy Hearne" and any other word like knit, baby, blanket, etc., will quickly let readers find the pattern.

Linda asks if she can get the changes I've made to Nancy's pattern.

I wouldn't suggest any changes to her pattern stitch at all. It's quite good as it is. The only minor changes I would make to her pattern are as follows:

1. In the cable pattern, she doesn't say what to do with the four stitches on either side of the cable. Just do them in reverse stockinette stitch (purl on the right side, and knit on the wrong side).

2. On the second repeat of the pattern, there is one purl stitch toward the beginning and end of each row, that isn't part of the pattern. I just did reverse stockinette for that stitch as well.

3. Finally, where she does ribbing, I've tried doing seed stitch, so the blanket doesn't pull in as much. Her version looks better aesthetically, but mine lays flatter.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Expressing Opinions

At the risk of repeating myself, I truly enjoy reading strongly stated opinions. Even if they are contrary to mine

How To Express
The Newcomer Rules have a few examples of how I hope for readers to express themselves, and how not to.

Another example of a reader's opinion came in an e-mail today, which was contrary to my own, but was simply stated as an opinion. I can read her opinion, and get a sense about who she is, and what's she's about. That's a good thing.

So for any of the folks reading this blog, who are less than pleased with some topic, feel free to express yourself. I am open to all expressions of opinion. The only things I don't tolerate are:

- Hateful expressions (they will be deleted and the sender will be banned)
- Demands for me to change what I'm doing (the sender can expected to be insulted)
- Opinions that have already been expressed repeatedly, with no other value added (nothing will happen with these...I just don't like them)

Knitting
Knitting time has been as rare as hen's teeth, so I've not made significant progress on the new baby blanket.



Here's a close up of the pattern, in case anyone wants a slightly better view.




eBay Yarn Sales
My eBay yarn sales end today, and I'm surprised and pleased at the bidding. I was honestly concerned that eBay bidders wouldn't understand the value of some of these yarns, but they seem to understand it very well.

Mental note: Underestimating the savvy of eBay yarn purchases isn't a good idea.

Check them out here if you haven't had an opportunity.

The final total sales amount of these yarns will determine whether I put up a second batch for sale this coming weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Jessi asks what I will do with my handspun.

When I ordered the processed wool, I only ordered a pound of each type of wool. The place I purchased it, practically guaranteed that I could get more if I wanted it up to a year from my purchase. I will probably finish spinning the pound of Corriedale and get enough more to spin a sweater's worth of yarn. I would love to be able to show off one of my own designs that I had spun the yarn for myself.

Lynn mentioned that she doesn't like the built-in lazy-kate for plying on the Ashford.

I ended up making a lazy-kate from a sturdy shoe box and two knitting needles. I got the idea from one of the many spinning books I studied a month or so ago. It worked great.

Mary asks if I'll be putting pictures of the coned yarn that I ended up keeping instead of selling on eBay.

Yes, I will definitely show you anything I end up with.

Antonio wants to know if I'll make an appearance at Rheinbeck Sheep and Wool.

I haven't decided yet. I would like to go, but that would possibly mean not going to Stitches. I'm deferring this decision for a while because I don't want to deal with saying "no" to either event.

Stephanie asks for more information on the homespun yarn.

I don't have the yarn with me, here in Albany. I'll put up more details when I get home.

Carol S. mentions that she wants a Kromski.

That was the only wheel I actually tried when I was at Maryland Sheep & Wool, and I liked it (even though it was only a single treadle wheel). It was a much more enjoyable spinning experience than the Ashford. I'll need to check them out again now that I know how to spin a little better (I've always had a fondness for Pollacks, like Thaddeus).

Elly had a question on a VERY old post about the mitered square, men's pullover I did in Noro Silk Garden, and whether it was stiff.

Not at all stiff. The silk gives a VERY loose gauge. It makes a fabric on the thinner side, but VERY warm.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Omnibus Blog Entry

Lots of topics:

- Spinning
- Knitting
- Awesome Knitting Machines
- eBay Yarn Sales
- Art Auction Purchases


Ignore those sections that aren't of interest.

Spinning
The dreaming and constant thinking about spinning during the week paid off. I was able to spin two full spindles of singles, and ply them together to get a 3.6 oz. skein of Corriedale cross yarn.



My spinning is getting very uniform, and even my plying was pretty decent. I've got another full spindle of yarn, which will be plied with the fourth spindle that I will do when I get home.

I truly am very taken with this new activity.

Knitting
Despite all my spinning activity, I did get some knitting done on the red baby blanket. I've got about 3 inches completed so far, and I will be working on this project while I'm in Albany.

I'll update the blog with a picture of the new blanket in my next entry.

Awesome Knitting Machines
My friend Alan knits for a living.

He owns about 12 different knitting machines, of which about six are these HUGE industrial size, factory machines (not motorized).



I have always envied Alan's machines, and wished I could own one. That is until reality sets in.

I was at Alan's house yesterday, and he's getting rid of 3 of his factory knitting machines. As much as I desperately want one, there is no way I could find room in my house for one of these amazing machines. I'm still trying to find a way of making this happen, but it doesn't look likely.

If anyone is interested in owning one of these machines, and would like to get one at an amazing deal, let me know. The biggest difficulty will be transporting the machine. It really can't be shipped, so you'd have to pick it up yourself in New Jersey.

eBay Yarn Sales
Alan has a boatload of yarn on cones, and asked me if I could try to unload some of it on eBay for him. Since it means I can take any of it that I want before putting it on eBay, I was glad to oblige.

I don't mean to make this blog a site for selling things, but in case anyone's interested in large cones of tweedy wool, or knitting tape/ribbon, you can check out my listings here.


Art Auction Purchases
I'm happy to say that there were three pieces of art at the auction I mentioned last week, that went for their initial bidding price (at least half of what they're worth). Fortunately, I was able to take advantage all three opportunities.



The first one is a piece by a relatively new Modernist named Herbert Roberts. It's of a local building. The middle one is one of my favorite artists, Danny Gayder. Finally, the last one is by a Cornish artist named Bryan Pearce. We also own a few of his pieces.

Having an understanding of the local art scene definitely gave me an upper hand in bidding. I ended up getting three pieces I like for a very small amount of money.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Geraldine and others have asked or mentioned comments about the fiber I'm spinning and whether I plan on getting into dyeing or buying pre-dyed wool for spinning.

I'm currently spinning a Corriedale cross wool (does that mean it's Corriedale cross-bred with some other breed?...not sure). I could have purchased the same wool in many different colors, but I preferred to buy it naturally colored to start off with. At one point I will get into dyeing. In fact the Spin-Off magazine I mentioned the other day has an article on dyeing with food coloring.

Others have mentioned they spin with an Ashford wheel, and how do I like this wheel.

Compared to drop spinning, it's amazing. But I do have some complaints with the wheel.

First of all, it's single treadle. My right leg was aching after my first day of non-stop spinning, and it's hard to control the direction of the wheel with only one treadle.

I also don't like the controls for the wheel tension and the Scotch brake tension. They are very persnickety, and seem to require quite a bit of adjustment for no apparent reason.

I'm glad to have some of these issues, so I will know what to look for in the wheel I eventually purchase.

Saturday, June 12, 2004

A Man Obsessed

How come no one ever told me spinning is like heroin?

First Things First
Another generous reader has sent me a gift!!!

Joanne sent me this cool new toy.



Is it a sex toy? No.

It's actually a Magic Marble kaleidoscope. She wrote in a nice note with the gift that it can be used to see how different color yarn mix together.

What a great idea. Thanks Joanne.

I just wish I could show you a picture of what it looks like looking through this new color tool...hey!...wait a minute...I CAN!!!



I will definitely be using this tool to plan my next Isager-inspired cardigan.

Spinning
My neighbor loaned me her Ashford wheel on Sunday night last week, and I immediately had to try spinning some of the new wool I bought.



My initial attempts were frustrating (those spools on the front are my neighbor's spinning), but I'm glad I tried it.

All week, I dreamed about spinning and tried out new techniques in my mind for hours and hours.

That daydreaming paid off. Here's what I've done so far.



I'm going to try and finish spinning two spools worth of wool, and then ply them together. I may even try dyeing the resulting hank of yarn.

Spin Off Magazine
With my new hobby in full bloom, I found this at my local supermarket.



The magazine is interesting in a kind of folksy way. I've never read an issue before, but it's interesting for what it is.

Friday, June 11, 2004

DON'T BUG ME...I'M SPINNING!!!

Okay...I'll post in a little while...I'm just WAY enjoying this new experience.

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Charging For Design

Marilyn's mother, Ellie, and others wanted to know why I didn't charge for the Fashion of the Christ pattern.

Selfishness vs. Generosity
To me, it's all a matter of perspective.

If I had wanted to charge for the pattern, or somehow get reimbursed for my efforts, there clearly would have been a cost to me either in actual dollars, or time. Let's assume it would have only been the time to make sure the pattern was correct, to set up some way of selling the pattern and then distributing and collecting money.

Time is very dear to me lately, so let's say that my time is worth $12 an hour (I consider that to be an extremely low estimate).

The overall effort for validating the pattern and setting it up in some way that I could have gotten paid for it would have taken me a total of about 2 hours, or $24 worth of my time. Each purchase transaction would have taken about 10 minutes to process.

Let's say that 100 folks purchased the pattern at $3.00 per pattern.

Total time that it would have taken me to set up and process orders: 18.7 hours
Total cost at $12 per hour: $224

Total revenue: $300

For investing 18.7 hours of my time, it would have earned me about $76, or a little over 6 hours of equivalent time.

Just not worth it. Let folks enjoy the pattern. Let folks buy the yarns needed for it at their local yarn stores. I'd much rather see that and spend the 18 hours learning to spin, or making my next design.

While I definitely didn't go through this calculation before deciding to publish the pattern for free, I did consider all the factors, and for very selfish reasons, decided to give it away.

Current Knitting
I finally cast on this morning for the next baby blanket.



It's 230 stitches wide, and I only got two rows knit before I had to head off to work.

However, I have also been working on the Dancing Feet socks, and I've finally gotten the second sock up to the same lenght as the first one.



Now I'm going to add a couple of inches in length to both socks. I didn't know how much extra yarn I would have left, so I was conservative in length on the first sock, and waited till I could estimate better.

A couple of more inches would be perfect (isn't it always?).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ingrid sent a detailed analysis of the "winged shoulder" issue on Fair Isles, mostly from a sewn garment designer's perspective.

She made me realize something very important. Fair Isle designers are either too lazy to do short-row shaping for the shoulders, or they are sticking to "traditional" methods that don't work very well for vests. Based on Igrid's discussion, I will definitely take the extra time and effort to do some shaping on my next Fair Isle vest, and I will even try to write up the directions for it.

Thanks again, Ingrid.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Nauseated

For the history revisionists out there that would prefer to have Reagan be a hero instead of the lousy president he was, you make me wanna barf.

Censorship Is A Fitting Tradition
I was listening to author Greg Palast on the radio last night, and he had an on-line article titled "Killer, Coward, Conman - Good Riddance, Ronnie Reagan; More Proof Only The Good Die Young"

He mentioned as part of the interview that Google (the proud owners of Blogger, who host my blog), supposedly removed the guy's article from their search results!!!

A Google search of the title, seems to bring up multiple results, so I'm not sure what he was talking about, but the concept of Google censoring results is frightening.

Fashion of the Christ
Thank you all for the compliments on both the sweater and the model.

The pictures aren't that great, but here are closeups of both the armhole edging and the neck edging as promised the other day.



As for the shoulders, I actually did shaping on them (I didn't feel like including the instructions in the pattern), and I reduced stitches from similar garments I have made, and still get the wings. I'm thinking I might do some additional shaping by doing a little sewing at the top of the shoulder edging.

I also forgot to mention, that if anyone is looking to collect the colors of FotC, and is having trouble finding any of the colors, I have quite a bit of the leftovers I'd be glad to send.

All that is required in exchange is pictures of the sweater either in progress, and/or after completion.

Current Project
I got home last night to start the new baby blanket in deep red, and realized I didn't have a copy of the pattern, nor did I have internet access to be able to pull one off the net.

I worked on the Dancing Feet sock instead, and got an inch or two done. Ribbing takes so much longer than stockinette when I'm doing a sock.

Monday, June 07, 2004

Gallery Pictures

For your viewing pleasure, here are some links to the various pictures of me modeling Fashion of the Christ:

Front of Vest
Looking for Spinning Material
Another Frontal
Reverse of Vest
Final Frontal

You'll notice that even though I cut in much more deeply on the armhole shaping, it still has a little wing thing going on. I think I just need to start bulking up and getting broader shoulders.

Fashion of the Christ Pattern
I'm publishing a pretty in-depth pattern for the FotC vest, which might indicate that the pattern is pretty comprehensive and error-free.

Not necessarily.

I'm very wary about putting out a less-than-tested pattern with my name on it, so I caution anyone using to proceed as if they were beta-testing this pattern.

Click Here to get the Fashion of the Christ Pattern - PDF file

Click Here to get the Fashion of The Christ Pattern - MS Word Document

Please feel free to let me know of any questions or corrections to the pattern, but more importantly, please let me know if you plan on attempting it. I'd be thrilled to see how folks would progress on this design.

Local Art Auction
One last thing on this coming weekend's auction at Rago's. There has been a flurry of activity at the preview for this auction, but most of it is being focused on the Bakelite jewelery and some of the other more conventional paintings that aren't in my friend Peggy's collection.

Hopefully it will stay that way.

Readers' Comments/Question
Marilyn asks what's next for knitting projects.

I'm going to do another baby blanket, using a modified version of Nancy Hearne's pattern on the web. I'm also planning on doing a rendition of a zipper-front cardigan in Marianne Isager's book, Inka.

Geraldine asks if Thaddeus wore anything special for his "dancing in the street" event.

Honestly, he didn't have time to plan a wardrobe for the occassion. We heard about it about an hour after it was announced, so he threw on some old sweat pants, a t-shirt and did his little street jig. Seems appropriate to me.

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Reagan, Christ and Art Auction, oh my!

Lots of stuff to discuss in today's entry...let's get right to it.

Reagan's Dead
Thaddeus actually danced in the street.

My thought was, "Where is Fred Phelps when you need to someone to picket a funeral of someone who is REALLY hellbound?"

I know it's not proper to speak/write ill of the dead. But this man sat idly by in the White House, ignoring a nationwide plague that was killing thousands of people...many that I knew personally, and wouldn't even utter the word AIDS or gay, nevermind call for something to be done about it.

I will spare you any additional nasty words...but I, for one, am glad to see this man leave the planet.

Fashion of the Christ
Just like Ronald Reagan, it's done, done, done.



I'll write more about it later this week, include more pictures and tell you all about how I finished the arm holes and neck edging. I'll also have a first draft pattern to put up on the web this week as well.

Suffice it to say, I'm very happy with how it turned out.

Local Art Auction
Where should I start?....Well, first of all, Thaddeus and I decided a long time ago to start collecting artwork from local artists. Bucks County/Lambertville area draws artists to this lovely river community, and has for years.

One of the people responsible for promoting newly emerging artists, was Peggy Lewis. Since the 1950's, she acquired a significant collection of artists. Some of them went on to become well known, others faded into obscurity.

With Peggy's death this past year, her family is putting about 100 pieces of her art up for auction at the Rago auction house in Lambertville, NJ (if you've seen Antiques Roadshow, you probably know David Rago from there...he appraises a lot of the ceramics).

I'm hoping to pick up a couple of the pieces, since the art she collected is one of the few areas of art I have any knowledge of at all, and there aren't a lot of other folks who do. Here are two of the pieces I like a lot.



The auction is scheduled for this Friday, and I anticipate bidding on quite a few pieces, hoping to bring home at least two or three.

This is one of those opportunities that rarely presents itself, and when it does, I'm glad to be in a position financially to be able to take advantage of it.

If I had a lot of local-area folks that read my blog, I'd probably not have even posted about this auction. I figured you may want to see some of the hundreds of items on auction at Rago's on-line catalog (Peggy Lewis' items are lots #110 - 209).

Readers' Comments/Question
Terra, a new knitter, says that when she knits, the fabric is as stiff as aboard.

Terra, your knitting is probably too tight, which happens a lot to new knitters. You will need to either loosen up when you knit, or increase your needle size significantly to get a drapey fabric like the one you're trying for.

Kristi asks which fiber sources did Carol S. send to me? I give you the exact listings with Carol's comments along with them.

http://www.paradisefibers.com (very friendly; if you email her & tell her you are a beginning spinner, she will give you specific suggestions for good stuff to spin. I was very pleased with the stuff I got from her & had no trouble spinning it.)
http://www.fiber2yarn.com (she was slo-o-w to mail my stuff, but helpful)
http://www.gavanbayfibers.com (she sells on ebay, too)
http://www.coppermoose.com (pricey but gorgeous. she sells on ebay)
http://www.woodlandwoolworks.com
http://www.woolery.com (get on the list for Spinology, their spinning catalog)
http://www.earthsongfibers.com (never bought there but gets raves from others)

Sharon asks what I'll do with James' knitted gift wrap.

I tried using it as a rainbow hat, and if I had dreadlocks, it would have been perfect. Alas, it looks as though I'll be re-gifting his gift wrap to another gay friend.

Friday, June 04, 2004

Big Blog Day

To try and make up for all my inattentiveness to the blog, I've crammed a shitload of stuff into today's entry. Enjoy (or not).

SURPRISE!!!!
I think it originally started out as a birthday gift from James, but the mail from New Zealand is painfully slow.



Knowing how much emphasis I place on how a gift is wrapped, James actually KNIT the gift wrap and ribbon for this gift. Here's a picture of the "wrapping and ribbon" after opening.



I quote his gift card to me, because he describes it better than I ever could (James writes extremely well):

The background is black moss stitch. Black because you see the world in black & white terms (not a bad thing!!!) and the texture shows the ups & downs of life. The cables are representative of community, both the gay community & the knitting community. The freedom colours show unity & aceptance. They were knit in a four stitch honycomb to show strength as well as flexibility.

He goes on to describe the pink ribbon as me, but I'll keep that as a private treasure.

And here's what was inside.



"It's My Party and I'll Knit if I Want To" is a clever little book by an Australian author, Sharon Aris. Fun, easy reading with nice illustrations. James is now my favorite New Zealander by far.

Even Gage was impressed with James' wrapping creativity and talent.



New Hobby



Did I grow cauliflower in my garden?...uh, no.

Well, I can blame Carol S. for enabling my new obsession. She sent me an e-mail detailing about seven different on-line sources she's used to order prepared fiber for spinning.

I just got these two little bundles of joy in the mail today. While to the camera, they both look pretty similar, the one on the left is a pound of Corriedale Cross and the one on the right is a pound of Blue-Faced Leicester. The Corriedale is lustrous and soft, but the Blue-Face Leicester is downright silky.

Both are from Paradise Fibers in Colfax, Washington and the wool is beautifully prepared with not a hint of barnyard debris.

Now, as soon as my neighbor brings by her spinning wheel, I can get started.

Fashion of the Christ
I've recouped all that I had to rip out, and added a row or two.



I know I sound like a broken record (if you young'uns know what a record is), but only a few more rows, and I start the neck shaping. Yipee!!

I've written up the pattern up to, and including the neck shaping. Since I don't know what pattern stitch I'll use for the arm hole and neck edgings, I'm going to wait to publish the pattern until I've finished.

If anyone would be interested in starting, just send me an e-mail and I'd be glad to send you the MS Word document with the pattern as it is today.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I found myself giggling a few times over the last couple of days on the topic of spinning pubic hair. But funniest of all was Kim's discussion of the fiber collection process. I think if we were to get serious about this idea, we'd have to harvest from a different breed than Irish Milktoast. We'd have to go with a bear breed, like Matt.

Would it be considered offensive to say that all I have to do is collect fiber would be to scoop it daily from my shower drain? I hope so.