Monday, January 31, 2005

Am I Getting Old or What?

When did I ever fit all this shit in?

Booked Solid
I never used to understand when folks said they were too busy for something. To me, that always meant whatever they were too busy for, was just less important.

Well, with just work alone, all else seems to be falling by the wayside, and I'm still falling behind in some areas of my work.

It's definitely getting to where I need to retire.

Knitting
I promised a picture of progress on the sweater. I was able to get a little more done.



I've actually finished the left-front, but I didn't have time to take a more updated picture.

JoAnn Yarn
Okay, I know novelty yarns are the epitome of knitdweebishness. And buying said novelty yarn at JoAnn's would indicate I live in a double-wide.

However, when I compare the JoAnn brand of novelty yarn to any of the other brands, I have to say, JoAnn's is better and less expensive.

When I used to purchase any of the more well-known brands, I could usually purchase enough to make a scarf for about $10 worth of yarn, and they were all acrylic.

Whereas with JoAnn's yarns, I can make a bigger scarf for anywhere between $4 and $8, and many of their yarns have some percentage (albeit, small) of natural fiber.

I knit the following three scarves and they look better than most of the earlier novelty scarves I've knitted.



I enjoyed working with the yarns so much, that I actually made three more scarves (well, two and a half, I haven't quite finished the last one).

Thaddeus liked the black one in the picture so much, he's claimed it as his own.

They're backing up the double-wide right now.

Magazine Reviews
I did a brief review and have minimal comments.

INK Knitters is boring as hell and I didn't find any of the technical articles interesting or useful. Others might. The patterns aren't even worth mentioning. They use one pale blonde model throughout the magazine that should be posed in a coffin.

Vogue Knitting had only one thing that I loved and that was Brandon Mably's sweater. His color choices are becoming more and more his own as he does less Kaffe-like color combinations. This one is a spectacular color combination and still perfect for a man to wear.

Also, the Koigu pants are fabulous. Would I make them? No. Would I wear them? No. Do I think they're practical? No. Do I love them? Yes, quite a lot. Again, the colors are phenomenal.

Readers' Comments/Questions
kiki mentions that her knitting with GemStones (the black JoAnn yarn) came out ghastly.

I knit a simple seed stitch on US10.5 needles and it came out like felted cloth with colored thrummings. For the purple scarf, I went up to a US15 and I like the looser fabric.

On Parka zippers, there is a secret to making them work easily.

Making sure both zipper carriages are at the bottom of the zipper, insert the male end of the zipper into the top carriage and pull down on the male side while pulling up on the carriage side. Pull more than you think you need to before guiding the top carriage gently up the zipper. It works every time.

As far as usefulness of a parka zipper...they come in very useful when you're driving. It allows you to unzip up from the bottom to accommodate your lap more easily.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Quick Entry

I'm very busy, so I'll make this short and to the point.

JoAnn's Fabrics
I finally got to JoAnn's last night and found a zipper that will suffice.

It's brown and 26 inches and it is a separating zipper. The only down side is that it's a "Parka" zipper, which means it's got bi-directional separation (two zipper carriages will separate the zipper up from the bottom and down from the top).



Did this really require a picture?

Olive Cone Sweater
Now that I have the zipper, I can finish the left-front of the cardigan.

Updated picture in next entry.

I've gotten up to the sleeve shaping on the left-front, so it will progress quickly from here.

I also forget that I was planning on doing pockets, so I will have to do a couple of after-thought pockets.

A cardigan without pockets is like a...I'll let the readers finish this sentence.

Other JoAnn Purchases
JoAnn had a bunch of their own brand of novelty yarn on sale last night, so I picked up a few balls to try it out.



I also picked up some eyelash yarn. I liked the color.



Not sure when I'll get to this, but if I ever have another craft show, this shit'll sell pretty quickly I would bet.

Other Other JoAnn Purchases
I also picked up these two magazines while I was there.



I haven't even looked inside either of them yet, but I'll review them both within a few days.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marie-Hélène asks about the olive cardigan, "Quel sorte de col vas-tu faire ?".

I'm not sure yet. I won't be doing a button band, so I think I may just do a simple crew-neck collar in 2X1 rib (similar to the original design

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Winter...ugh!

Even with a warm fire blazing, and knitting steadily on a comfortable sofa, I dream of sandy beaches and bright sunlight.

Snow
It appears that we've gotten about 16 inches of snow so far, and some is still coming down.

I'm not a fan.



I don't like the cold and I hate the inconvenience of having to drive in weather like this. Especially when I have to schlep my fat ass up to Albany early Monday morning. Not to mention the close-to-zero temperatures and the howling wind.

Thankfully, four weeks from now I'll be in Cancun for my yearly vacation there.

Olive Cone Sweater
Moving along smoothly on the current project.



As you can see, I've finished the back of the sweater and I've started on the left-front section.

I'll need to see what size of zippers I have available at the local JoAnn's before I get to the neck shaping so I can decide on how deep or shallow to make the neck.

Spinning
I have only been dedicating a little bit of time to spinning but I have have made some minor progress on the aubergine (not to be confused with the reader/commenter Aubergine) merino. This fiber seems to be a lot more brittle. I think they took it off of an old merino sheep or something. Or at least a sheep that didn't use conditioner. Spinning is taking quite a bit longer on this color than the first two.



Readers' Comments/Questions
Aubergine asks if the current project is my own design.

No, it's the Hamefarin Raglan design by JoLene Treace in the Jamieson Shetland 2 book. I'm modifying a pullover design to make it into a zipper cardigan, and changing some of the sizing a little, but for the most part, I'm following JoLene's directions.

As for plushies...I can only say I don't get it...but, to each their own.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Competitiveness

In some ways I can be very competitive, and in others, I feel like a pot smoker that just doesn't care how fast the World goes by.

Examples...
One area where I'm very competitive is in my driving. I don't care about beating people to an offramp, but if someone cuts ahead of a line of cars that I'm in, I'll make it my business to chase them till I catch them and then cut them off.

Perhaps that's more vindictive than competitive, but you get the idea.

Also, in witty reparte. I always want to have the last word, or end up saying the funniest thing about a subject. With Lisa around, I have already acknowledged I will never win that battle.

Where I'm not competitive is in business. I'm very satisfied at my current level in my line of work. I don't care to be promoted, and I have no need for big increases in salary or large bonuses (or the weighty responsibilities that come along with them).

Also, when I was selling scarves at a local craft show, I was always more apt to point customers to other artisan's booths than have them use up their budget at mine.

Even with my new wooden needle business, I would much rather have a reputation of integrity in dealing with folks, than make an extra buck.

I'm not sure if this is a lack or testosterone or just a certain level of satisfaction that lets me ignore the folks racing past me.

Olive Cone Sweater
I was finally able to get a bit of knitting done on this garment over the weekend.



I've made it up to the raglan shaping on the back and it gets faster and faster as I have less and less stitches to make each row.

It's looking quite swell, if I do say so my self.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy points out that questioning the cost of an inauguration of Bush might not be fair given comparisons of other inauguration costs of the past.

She is right, of course, and moreso, the cost of the inauguration will be covered by private contributions. But honestly, given the initial pledges of support he made for the tsunami while on holiday in Crawford, TX, and given that those "private contributions" will no doubt provide more access to the president to the already rich and greedy, it just seems garish and unethical to put toghether such an expensive shindig. By the way, Bill Clinton's second inauguration in total cost under $30 million and his entire presidentional library (which was called overly extravagant by many) cost $165 million. Again, the Dory affect comes into play.

I was grateful to read Amysue's concerns about "saving" Asian children by adopting them.

Contextual understanding of that kind of mindset is very important. Clearly the mighty savior will treat an adopted child differently than parents that choose to raise a child for less selfish reasons than self-aggrandizement.

As far as crafty protests go and knitted uteri, I disagree with my friends Kathy and Marilyn.

I have alway said that I am not a proponent of abortion. In fact, I'm downright anti-abortion in my personal values. I think it must be an awful decision for women to have to make, not to mention the trauma to their bodies caused by the actual procedure.

However, taking away the right to allow anyone decision-making rights to their body is unthinkable.

So, if throwing knitted women's body parts at a building brings any awareness to this issue, I am all for it.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Dory Effect

Have you seen "Finding Nemo"? The animated character, Dory, voiced by Ellen Degeneres, has no short term memory (similar to this blog author).

World Problems
With all the over-excitement in the World today, I think the main problem is that people forget within a year any of the important historical events that should shape their views on current events.

As an example. Many folks are ignoring safe sex. They clearly forget the times of crisis (they were soeighties) and the hundreds of thousands of folks that withered and died of AIDS.

The Viet Nam war is hardly remembered at all anymore and allowed us to get in a similar situation in Iraq.

The Social Security system has been raided over the years with the federal government drawing off the excess in funding during the "good" years to fund concurrent spending and tax cuts. Those memories don't hold up to a president intent on raiding the fund in a different way today.

Even the memory of the outrage over the Clinton's stealing towels from Air Force One doesn't translate to any outrage in watching Haliburton bilk billions from you and I and worse the men and women in Iraq.

Where my theory doesn't hold up, are memories like Monica. Those will be remembered forever.

New Project
I've done very little additional work on the new knitting project. The weather up in Albany has been awful and I had forgotten how much extra time I need to allow for cleaning off a car, or driving slowly on the ice rink they call a highway takes.

But I was able to add on a few inches to the back of the garment.




That picture shows off the color very well, but not the pattern. Here's one the does the reverse.



Many folks have asked me what the yarn is that I got from WEBS, and all I know is that they had boxes and boxes of coned yarn, and in one box, they had this yarn which is deep olive (almost to the point of brown) with offwhite and orange flecks. It was marked as 100% wool and knits up nicely on a US7 needle.

It looks closest in weight and type to 2/6 Donegal Tweed listed in their Weaving Yarns section, but I don't see the color at all...perhaps the dark brown, but it looks different than the picture if that's the one.

Wandering Eye
Despite already having two primary projects (I know you can't have two primary projects...but you know what I mean), my eyes and mind have been wandering. A friend was wearing a coarse pair of hiking socks from LL Bean and I was thinking it would be a snap to whip out a pair of them. Picturing my vast yarn closet, I'm sure I must have something in there that would make a nice hiking sock.

We'll see if I've still got the urge when I get home, or if the Dory syndrome will have me focused on completely different ideas by Friday.

Two Important Causes
Two readers sent me causes that I thought were worthy of posting on the blog.

Reader Lisa sends the following:

I have started The Red Scarf Project -- if you find yourself with a little free time and some extra red yarn, I sure would love your help.

I am knitting and selling red scarves to raise money to benefit Chinese orphans. My husband and I are adopting a child from China later this year, and I am going to China this summer for a couple months to volunteer in an orphanage or group foster home. Proceeds from scarf sales will go toward my travel expenses for the volunteer trip and a financial gift to the orphanage.

You can find more information at http://lisaandjacob.com/index.cfm?template=redscarf.cfm. Please email me if you have any questions! Feel free to pass this on to any of your knitting and crocheting friends.

Thank you for your time.

Lisa Miller
gremlinperson@carolina.rr.com


Reader Liza sends this (although this letter is NOT really attributed to Bill Moyers, I still liked the idea for a protest):
A friend passed this on ... to be passed on:

Please give this letter from Bill Moyers careful attention.

Subject: Not One Damn Dime Day
From: Bill Moyers

Not One Dime Day - Jan 20, 2005

Since our religious leaders will not speak out against the war in Iraq, since our political leaders don't have the moral courage to oppose it, Inauguration Day, Thursday, January 20th, 2005 is "Not One Damn Dime Day" in America.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day" those who oppose what is happening in our name in Iraq can speak up with a 24-hour national boycott of all forms of consumer spending.

During "Not One Damn Dime Day" please don't spend money. Not one damn dime for gasoline. Not one damn dime for necessities or for impulse purchases. Not one damn dime for nothing for 24 hours.

On "Not One Damn Dime Day," please boycott Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target...

Please don't go to the mall or the local convenience store. Please don't buy any fast food (or any groceries at all for that matter).

For 24 hours, please do what you can to shut the retail economy down. The object is simple. Remind the people in power that the war in Iraq is immoral and illegal; that they are responsible for starting it and that it is their responsibility to stop it.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is to remind them, too, that they work for the people of the United States of America, not for the international corporations and K Street lobbyists who represent the corporations and funnel cash into American politics.

"Not One Damn Dime Day" is about supporting the troops. Now 1,200 brave young Americans and (some estimate) 100,000 Iraqis have died. The politicians owe our troops a plan - a way to come home.

There's no rally to attend. No marching to do. No left or right wing agenda to rant about. On "Not One Damn Dime Day" you take action by doing nothing.

You open your mouth by keeping your wallet closed. For 24 hours, nothing gets spent, not one damn dime, to remind our religious leaders and our politicians of their moral responsibility to end the war in Iraq and give America back to the people.

Please share this email with as many people as possible. Commercial speech must not be the only free speech in America!

Bill Moyers

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Remember What I Wrote About Perseverance...

...nevermind.

Stick-to-it-iveness
I still agree with most of my comments, but I just couldn't stick with the crochet jacket as my only project. With the pull of the new yarn from WEBS and the boring crochet jacket, I just had to slip.

You knew it was inevitable.

Knitting/Crocheting
Don't get me wrong...I struggled all weekend with the crochet jacket and did end up almost finishing the left-front section.



And I will continue to work on this project. But with just a little bit less compulsive focus.

New Project
While I continued to work diligently on the crochet jacket, I dreamt of the deep olive cone yarn from WEBS.

I dreamt about what I could use it to make, and swatching it and seeing it with cables and texture and zippers and...well, you get the idea. Add to that, the fact that Thaddeus kept mentioning that he thought it would make a lovely cardigan, and I was hooked.

I opted to make something relatively simple from one of the Jamieson Shetland books.



Obviously, this isn't a cardigan, so I will be modifying the pattern to make it a zippered cardigan. With all my vast experience in buying zippers, now I realize I will have to buy a separating zipper.

Here's what I've done so far on the back (yes, I'm knitting it flat).



Hard to see, but it's a simple 3X3 cable and a simple knit/purl panel in between each cable.

The pattern will definitely show off the yarn well.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Perseverance

What quality makes a successful knitter? Most non-knitters seem to think it's patience. I happen to know it stubborness and perserverance.

Stick-to-it-iveness
Someone on one of my lists mentioned that I shouldn't make a fiber project something that I dreaded. It should be fun and enjoyable. The writer also mentioned that projects are much easier to start than to finish.

I agree with the last premise. Projects are a lot easier to start than to finish, but I don't necessarily agree with the first part.

Don't get me wrong, there have been a few abandonned projects in my knitting past. But sticking to something, even after I've gotten to the point where I absolutely hate it, has been an important part in my success as a knitter. I see knitting projects more like marathons. While I could never hope to finish first in a contest, I'll be damned before I let a knitting project prevent me from finishing.

There have been a few projects where by the time I've gotten to the sleeve, I hate the color, I hate the design and I hate knitting.

But I persist, knowing that after I finish the garment, and put it in my armoire of completed sweaters, and forget about it for six months, I will have a brand new, beautiful sweater to wear. Sometimes it happens in as little as 3 months.

And being tired of "kitty porn", I decided to give you "Poppy"...he's the sister-out-of-law's dog...most beautiful dog on the planet.



Knitting/Crocheting
Speaking of stubborn perseverance, I've completed the back of the crochet jacket.



I've even done some minimal shaping of the neck opening on the back and a small amount of shoulder shaping.

Given how wide this garment is, I'll be interested to see how it drapes on a human form after it's done. Having seen many of Carol Lapin's designs in the past that were very wide, I think this one will work well with the intended recipient.

Mountain Dew Code Red
I've worked for some very large companies as part of my consulting work. Companies like Campbell Soup, Cisco Systems, General Electric, and many others. I was working for one of those large companies, Pepsi, when they came out with a new soda, Mountain Dew Code Red.

I had always loved Mountain Dew (I always say that "too sweet" is an oxymoron), and now they had a cherry flavored version of it. How excellent.

The only problem, was that they didn't have a diet version of it...or so I thought...



A wonderful co-worker brought this in for me, and now my life is complete.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Happy 2005

If wishes could be more effective than prayer, I wish for you a happy and healthy new year.

Holiday/Vacation Almost Over
I can't believe how quickly 2 weeks flew by, and now I'm looking at heading back up to Albany on Monday. How depresssing.

The two weeks were wonderful. Thaddeus had off all this past week as well, and we sat around like lumps and ate like pigs and slept like bears in hibernation. It was wonderful...I can't wait for retirement.

Knitting/Crocheting
I mentioned that I would give an update of my current project in this blog entry. But I warned you, I haven't been doing a lot of work on anything lately.



I've completed about five inches on the back so far and have another five to go. Evidently, it won't be ready to give as a gift at today's final holiday party with friend Nora. Fortunately, I have other very suitable gifts to give here.

I also decided I needed to swatch up some of the wool cone yarn I got at WEBS. I kept admiring the color of the yarn, so I knew I needed to do something with it soon.



Marilyn would be so proud of me. Not only did I swatch, but I also washed the finish swatch to see if it would bloom more after washing.

First of all, I LOVE the color and the feel of the yarn. It's going to make a beautiful sweater.

I'm glad I did swatch, because I initially thought this yarn was a worsted weight or light worsted weight yarn. I made the swatch using US8 needles (5mm) and while the fabric looks great, I think I would prefer a stiffer fabric. I may even drop down to a US6 needle and work this as if it was a DK weight yarn.

I'm also not sure if I will design something myself, or use some version of an existing pattern. I'm thinking about looking through all the Jamieson Shetland books for something that I can just follow directions on.

Spinning
I did finally finish spinning the deep green merino and even wound the resulting singles of both the green and the orange merino onto toilet paper rolls.



I also started spinning the plum color. It's giving me a little more trouble than the other two. I think it's a little more brittle for some reason. I'm going to try humidifying it a little before continuing to spin to see if that helps at all.

Readers' Comments Questions
I wanted to thank Elizabeth for her useful instructions on grafting crochet together. She addresses exactly what I was concerned about with crocheting pieces together, and I think her method will work perfectly. I'll let you know if I ever get there.

Mariellen wants to know what kind of spinning wheel I use.

While the answer to this is easy to find, it also takes me no effort, so I answer. It's a Louet S51 wheel.

Michelene asks if the Brown Sheep worsted makes a sturdier sole on the felted clog slippers.

I've used three different yarns (Cascade 220, Lamb's Pride Worsted and BaaBaJoe's Woolpak) and all seem to do an equal job for the felted sole of the slipper. The Lamb's Pride is a little smoother because of the mohair content I think.

Kathy asks if she can have the lovely green tweed wool.

Since it appears that I bought over 5 pounds of the stuff...she may just get her wish at our next get-together.

I never heard what Lisa said about chewing the host filling the church with Jesus' blood, but I love the visual.

I knew you weren't supposed to, and it always annoyed the hell out of me when idiots did it anyway. I was always a VERY good Catholic.

Carol S. asks if the KFI Cashmereno is pretty much the same as the Debbie Bliss version.

From what I understand, it's exactly the same. Debbie just picked out a select set of colors and put her label on it. At least, that's what I've been told. I've used both, and they both certainly seem the same to me.

Geraldine mentions that I can play with the carders using any of my already prepared wool and asks if I've mastered woolen spinning.

I did play with the handcarders using some of my leftover fibers. It was enjoyable, but I long for the day when I can take a washed lock of sheared wool and fluff it into prepared fiber.

As for woolen spinning, I have to admit I don't know. When I first read about woolen and worsted spinning techniques, my understanding was that it was dictated by both the fiber preparation (carding vs. combing) and how you drafted the prepared wool. At my recent workshop, they seem to contradict that some. I've honestly never seen anyone spin like I spin. I take the top or roving and treadle very fast and let the fiber draft itself into a thread and it flies onto the bobbin. I just squeeze and release my thumb and forefinger around the newly formed thread enough to balance twist and pull. Hard to describe and it was hard to learn the balance, but now it comes naturally. Spinning occurs very quickly as a result.

In other words, I use a semi-worsted technique...how's that?

Finally, Ann mentions that she hopes I have the Hoppin John and greens ready for today's meal.

I'm assuming that's black-eyed peas? We used to do black-eyed peas and greens and rice every year, but this year we didn't. I'll let you know how it turns out for us.