Thursday, March 31, 2005

Festering Sores

It's interesting how life reflects the seasonal knitting magazines.

Family Circle Easy Knitting
I wasn't going to buy it, but I saw it on the stands and just had to. I admit, I have a problem.



The sad part about it, is that it's not awful, or disgusting or ridiculous (examples of all of them could be located in the magazine, but overall, it wasn't any of them).

It was just downright boring.

I was going to review the magazine in detail like I usually do, but this one reminded me so much of those little old craft magazines (Craft Basket?, Yarn Basket...what the hell was that piece of crap called?)

Anyway, the only thing of note was a new Mari Lynn Patrick design that would make your skin crawl.

Knitting
No updates here.

Now that I'm back to work, I'm trying to get enough sleep, continue the hot compresses and dress my wound myself using a handheld mirror. It takes a surpising large chunk of my time and my knitting has suffered.

Male Knitters
Liza's snarky comment in response to Maggie's comment about how great it is that men knit brings up the subject of men who knit again.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating.

It is surprising that some women will bestow upon men some magical quality, some special attributes or an aura of talent just because they do something that many woman have been doing for a far longer period of time (and are usually much better at).

It used to happen to guys on the KnitList often because many of the low-self-esteem, need-to-get-a-life-of-their-own, women would gush over any guys who posted.

I consider it a sign of self-loathing (or minimally poor self esteem) when someone assigns magical qualities to someone or something ordinary just because they perceive the person or thing to be different than them in some irrelevant way.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn asks how many yards will the Communion Shawl take?

With fringe it will take a little under 900 yards of this Sirdar stuff I'm using. I plan on selling the design using the soon-to-be Knitting Vault web site.

Finally, the ever-hysterical Liza sent me this timely and relevant link featuring one of my favority essayists, David Sedaris.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Body Decay

Who'd have believed it would happen to me?

Being Sick Sucks
My knitting and my blogging have both suffered due to a couple of recent health "events".

The first was just a bad cold or perhaps the flu. Nothing that would normally stop me, although the extra sleep that was necessary slowed down my knitting.

But then I started growing something at the base of my skull that turned into a mini-nightmare. I won't go into it detail, as it's disgusting and awful, but I will say that this "cyst" was already incredibly painful by the time I went to the doctor on Friday. I wish his care had remained at the level of prescribing an antibiotic. Unfortunately, he insisted on trying to lance this sucker. The pain was more than traumatic. Ask Thaddeus...he had to deal with the quivering mess that I was after the evil doctor was unsuccessful in his efforts at making it feel "much better".

I'm still recovering.

Knitting
The cyst gave me such a sore neck (even before the doctor visit), that looking down at knitting in my lap was not very pleasant.

However, I have still been able to work on my two primary projects.



I'm up to 27 inches (with 21 more to go). Believe it or not, this project goes pretty quickly. I'm hoping to get it done relatively soon.

And then I also worked on this.



This sweater takes an awful picture. I either take it with a flash and get no detail in the sweater at all, or I take it without the flash, and the color is completely off.

You can see I've finished the bottom of the sweater up to the sleeves, and I'm almost done on the back of the sweater.

Other Blogs
As much as my friends and I rag on other knitting blogs, there are some new ones that are worth checking out as well.

For those of you who are observant, you'll notice that I added two new links in my blog link section. Check them out and let them know what you think.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Barb B. asks what to do with that hard section at the bottom of the zipper when sewing in by hand.

I actually had to use a stiffer pin (similar to Marcia's solution) to put a few holes in that section of the zipper so I could use those "pre-drilled" holes to sew into when I got to that section.

On the same topic, I was very happy to read Franklin's grandmother thought I did some fine "finger sewing". You know when someone like that says it's good, it's either incredibly good, or she's senile. Either way I was more than happy to read Franklin's comments.

Also on the same topic, I loved Donna's tip on adding in a zipper. It sounds like it would work very well.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Falling Apart

Air America's radio hostess/Goddess, Randi Rhodes predicted that since power corrupts, the current Redumblican administration would be doing things to piss off the majority of the world in very short order.

Idiocy
This special bill for Terry Schiavo seems to be the first of many idiotic attempts to build the stage for taking away women's right to choose.

It won't be long before most moderate-thinking folks will be calling our president worse names than the progressive liberals.

Fiber Workshop
I promised pictures of the fiber workshop, so finally, here they are.

First of all, the participants and the instructor.



That's me to the left, next to Charles, Kathy (the host), Bettes, Nelda and Deborah standing.

Here are a couple of action shots.




Just looking at the pictures from the workshop make me feel happier.

Old Project
I never did clsoe the loop on how I finished the Olive Zippered Cardigan.

As it turns out, I couldn't find the tailor I thought was near where I worked. I asked my sister if she'd sew in the zipper for me, and she hemmed and hawed (if you'll excuse the expression). So I finally tried setting up my own sewing machine to seaw in the zipper. I got it all set up, and then I realized I didn't really have the ability to sew a zipper into a continuous tube of fabric.

I ended up just hand-sewing the damn thing in, and it turned out practically perfect. The picture sucks, but I also added two small buttons at the top since the zipper was slightly shorter than what I needed.



Washing the finished product made the yarn bloom, just like in the swatch, and all-in-all, I'm very happy with the end product

Monday, March 21, 2005

Weekend Off

This was a working weekend (I had to work both Friday and Saturday), so it was a blog holiday.

Back On Track
Talk about "Do Nothing" Congresses.

Does this freakin' Congress have nothing better to look at than steroids in baseball and saving the life of one "permanantly vegetative state" woman?

How about pushing for an exit strategy that will save the lives of hundreds of our youth instead of the Florida State Vegetable?

You know it's bad when I'm actually praying that Democrats take over at least on branch of this soon-to-be-fascist government.

Knitting
I'm publishing the picture, even though it looks suspiciously similar to the last picture of the shawl.



If you count the number of pattern repeats in each picture, you'll see that I did make some progress.

New Project
I told you I started a new sweater with my Jacob Select handspun. Well, I focused a little effort on that project this past weekend as well.



This is by far the nicest yarn I have ever spun. It's soft, and has a luster and silkiness that makes knitting this simple stockinette garment an absolute joy.

If they sold this yarn, I would definitely buy more of it. I may just have to buy more of this fiber to spin.

Readers Comments/Questions
Michelene asks if we've ever made it to Chichen Itza.

No, and if we continue going there for another 50 years, we probably still won't get there. When we're on vacation, if an activity is outside, sleeping, eating and lying on the beach, we're not interested.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Throwing Pots

By a show of hands, how many of you have ever used a potter's wheel and "thrown" a pot?

Maintaining Standards
Even if you haven't, just picture Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore in "Ghost"

Using a potter's wheel to make pottery provides some valuable life lessons, and you'll know what I mean if you've ever actually done it.

The basic premise of creating a circular piece of pottery on a wheel (and this goes for anyone who's ever used a lathe as well), is that you try to keep your hand steady in relationship to the clay on the wheel as it spins. Not enough pressure, and the clay moves your hand and shapes itself. Too much pressure and you topple the clay.

After a couple of times working on a potter's wheel, the balance between enough pressure and too much starts to become obvious.

For the beginning potter, it sometimes feels as if the clay is guiding the process instead of the other way around.

So it is with maintaining standards on a web log.

I've put in some pretty forceful "Newcomer Rules" section (which threatened to topple this blog early on).

Plus, I have a handful of loyal (fiercely loyal) blog readers, who insist on a certain level of sophistication in the comments section of this site.

So far, I have never resorted to modifying or deleting anyone's comments or banning anyone. Eventually, the constant, steady adherence to principles, allows poseurs to reveal themselves for what they really are.

Funny Picture
The Onion published this sweater-related picture and caption.



I thought y'all might enjoy it.

Looming Future
As likely as it is that I will succumb to the alluring call of weaving, it won't be in my immediate future.

I truly believe that the principles of color and pattern design are completely different with weaving, and I'm not sure I'm up for becoming a complete newbie at something right now.

The Funniest Polack I Know
I've been loving the comments lately, but the biggest belly laughs I've had are from Carol S.'s comments (wish her a happy birthday...today she reached the level of "very old")

I leave you with Carol's tribute to Kathy and Selma's idol:

Monday, March 14, 2005

Right to Die

I heard an interview with Alan Keyes where he was hotly contesting allowing doctors to pull Terry Schiavo's feeding tube.

Hypocrite
Alan Keyes spews hate with more eloquence than anyone else I know.

He spoke at length how Terry Schiavo's husband's testimony on his wife's wishes should be ignored and how Ms. Schiavo should be kept alive, despite her wishes.

When the interviewer asked him how he would feel if Ms. Schiavo was a lesbian, and if her life would be worth fighting for then, Mr. Keyes became irate.

Keyes claimed that his views on homosexuality were irrelevant to the issue, as were his hateful comments and actions toward his own lesbian daughter.

There was a similar case in 1985, where a woman in a closeted lesbian relationship was hit by a drunk driver, and her partner had to fight legal battles for years to gain custody from the comatose woman's homophobic parents.

Read more about it hear.
You should have heard the bigots like Alan Keyes, fighting to keep two loving woman apart

Fiber Diversity

A couple of events lately have me realizing that I may need to expand the scope of my fiber addiction. The first one was when Thaddeus got this shirt for his birthday.



The colors don't show very well in the picture, but it made me realize that woven fabric shows color very differently than knitted fabric.

Color and Texture and Tools, Oh My!
In addition to the fiber preparation workship I was in this past weekend (which exposed me to a lot more than just carding and combing), I've also been looking at colors a lot differently lately.

Fiber Workshop
As expected, Nelda Davis ran an amazingly useful workshop on how to process fiber. We carded, combed, flicked, picked a combined many different types of fiber in tons of different colors. Nelda is a wonderful person and extraordinarily accomplished in the world of spinning.

The workshop was hosted at a participant's house (Kathy...not blog-reader Kathy), and the surroundings couldn't have been more perfect. Plus, Kathy owns all sorts of fiber-related equipment, including a few looms.

QueerJoe is no longer tan from his trip to Cancun...he is green with envy.

I did take some pictures, but I won't be able to post them until the end of the week.

Knitting Update
I did a total of one row on the Communion Shawl over the weekend.

But I also felt a twinge of guilt when a blog reader asked to see all of the knitted items I had made using my handspun. Since the only project I started with handspun I wasn't enjoying, so I put in a dark closet somwhere, I decide I needed to start a new project with the chocolate colored Jacob Select.

I've completed the ribbing for a man's plain-knit pullover.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Unfortunately, I haven't had a lot of opportunity to read comments...has anything exciting been going on in there?

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I Don't Know

For some folks, these three words seem to be the hardest to say.

Know-it-alls
I've only met two folks in my life who rarely had to say "I don't know" and could back it up with actual knowledge.

Most of the others were just big blowhards who couldn't stand the thought of people thinking they didn't know something.

I must admit, I never understood that mentality. I love knowing things and sharing that knowledge when I can, but if I don't know the answer to something, I'm all too willing to admit say so, and if my interest is piqued enough, to go out and find out the answer.

I also don't have a problem admitting when I'm wrong. Thanks to Stephanie for pointing out that the Bear Claw Blanket in the latest issue of IK is not sewn up in pieces, it's picked up in modular knitting fashion. I like it better, but it still seems to much work for the result.

Another new reader, Brian of http://totallyknitting.blogspot.com writes:

"QueerJoe, the first sentence of your entry of Wednesday,
March 9, 2005 reads as follows: "It seems the people most adversely affected by
the Rebumblican administration are the folks most hurt by their policies."

This is a little like saying "It seems Southerners live in the South" or "It
seems that stones are rocks." Both true statements, but a little redundant.
QueerJoe I think you meant to say something more like this: "It seems the
people most adversely affected by the policies of the Rebumblican administration
are the same folks most responsible for returning the Bushies to office."


He is exactly right, and I look to see good things on his blog.

Now I just have to work on asking for directions when I'm lost.

Good News
Speaking of Stephanie, thanks to all who went to her site and made contributions to MSF. She's done a tremendous job of fundraising for that organization.


Knitting Update
Moving right along on the Communion Shawl.



I'm still not halfway done with it, but it moves along quickly. I'll definitely have no problem completing it in time for the May 20th communion ceremony.

I just hope it looks nice with the dress my sister is making for her.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Susan Maurer asks where she can get a pattern for scarf I knit for wendy back in the beginning of 2003 (I know she already found her answer, but I thought I'd give a little bit more thorough answer since I get at least one e-mail a week about the Cross Stitch Scarf).

I have designed two scarf patterns using Koigu. One is a pretty simple Feather and Fan scarf using two colorways of Koigu and the other is the Cross Stitch Scarf I made for Wendy.

Both patterns are currently available as kits (where you get the pattern for free if you buy the Koigu) from Threadbear Fiber Arts.

Recently, however, an Albany Knitting pal has come up with a great idea to allow designers to self publish knitting patterns, and sell them on her site. I may decide to market my scarf pattern there when it opens in the next few weeks.

More to be revealed.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

More Political Ranting

It seems the people most adversely affected by the Rebumblican administration are the folks most hurt by their policies.

Bankruptcy
Who gets affected most by losing the ability to file chapter 7 bankruptcy?

The folks that can't pay their healthcare bills mostly. Also senior citizens had a huge increase in bankruptcies last year.

Who wins? Well, honestly, folks like me win. I have sufficient funds and insurance that it is highly unlikely I'll ever need to declare bankruptcy.

The banks and credit card companies also win. They can continue their predatory marketing to those least able to pay their bills (if you've ever declared bankruptcy, you'll know that you get a barrage of credit card offers since the banks know you can't declare bankruptcy for another five years).

I've decided that if lower/middle class folks want to continue to elect officials who make policy that makes me richer and them poorer, I'm going to let them have what they want. I'll let the 2006 congressional elections make my decision.

One last question. If gay marriage was such a huge issue during the elections, where the hell is the presidential roadshow calling for a gay marriage amendment to the constitution?

Could it be that that was just to get out the voter block of bigots?

Good News
I was just catching up on some long overdue blog reading.

I'm sure most of you already know about this, but Stephanie Pearl has encouraged and tracked over $60,000 in contributions to Medecins San Frontiers (Doctoers Without Borders). Check out her blog and contribute if you already haven't.

Knitting Update
I'm continuing work on the Communion Shawl. I've finished about fifteen inches, so it's about 1/3rd complete.

I'll have an updated picture at the end of the week.

Interweave Knits Magazine
I got the most recent issue of the Spring 2005 Interweave Knits at my local grocery store this past weekend.



From an overall perspective, this is the most worthwhile knitting issue I've seen in a while. They have a common theme woven into the magazine which is interesting. They also have what looks to be a well done technical article on Brioche stitch by Nancy Marchand.

There are a total of 19 designs in this issue, for US$6.99. Eight of the designs I thought were good, and 7 of the designs were not so good (or worse). The other four weren't worth commenting on.

Design Review

Wear-Everywhere Pullover - Lana Hames - Classic pullover in hemp - perfect use of the yarn
Fitted Dolman - Annie Modesitt - I kind of liked this although I'm not a big fan of dolmans
Galway Guy - Deborah Newton - The first of two bad Deborah Newton designs in one magazine
A Good Bias - Lisa Daehlin - It's a shrug and it's a bad one
Flowered Waistcoat - Sasha Kagan - Classic Sasha - nice design except for arm hole edging
Vintage Pink Cardigan - Norah Gaughan - Nice design, awful color
Bear Claw Blanket - Veronik Avery - Make a quilt, it's easier and nicer looking
Ballet Wrap - Norah Gaughan - No comment
Border on the Extravagant - Deborah Newton - An abomination of yarn
Skye Tweed Vest - Kathy Zimmerman - Simple, classic, nice...I'd make this
Parfait Play - Debbie Bliss - Classic Debbie and well done
Grand Plan Capelets(3) - Ann Budd - Hideous monstrosities...god-awful waste of yarn
Cable-Eight Top - Joyce Wu - Best use of bulky cotton - still ugly
Bi-Color Brioche - Nancy Marchant - Interesting and kinda good
Wave Skirt - Kat Coyle - Awful colors, poor use of yarn
Cable Rib Socks - Erica Alexander - Nice socks, but not very practical to put a rib inside your shoe
Paisley Lace Shawl - Evelyn A. Clark - Not bad for a shawl design
Heads-Up Hats - Leigh Radford - These are okay...I'm glad they showed a picture from behind
Amish Oval Rug - Donna Druchunas - I liked this okay.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ann asks if I'll be going to S&W again this year.

I will probably be going to both MD and Rhinebeck again this year, barring anything out of the ordinary.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Bullshit!

There seems to be no lie so great, that our Whitehouse can't overcome it with a hefty portion of propaganda.

Social Security and Foreign Policy
It is very clear that the right-wingnuts want nothing more than to eliminate Social Security.

How could you "shore up" a program by diverting funds to "personal accounts"?

Are folks so stupid, they're willing to believe this?

How about growing the fucking economy so the Social Security fund grows too? How about keeping promises to our elderly?

Next thing you know, China will be added to the "Axis of Evil" and the following picture will be distributed widely.



Knitting Update
I got some work done on the Communion Shawl. I'm hopeful that I can block this out to make it a little more lacey, but even as is, I like it.



Spinning
Yes, I had to get back to my spinning wheel. I had been missing it.



I got a bunch done on the Plum colored merino, but I still have a lot to go.

Plus I have another weekend workshop with the spinning Goddess, Nelda Davis. This weekend will be in Valley Forge and she'll be going over raw fiber preparation. It should be fun.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Blog Notoriety

Knitting fame should be an oxymoron. Despite the myopic view of folks absorbed in lists like the KnitList, it is impossible to claim fame based on knitting achievements. Knitting just isn't that important to the world.

Article Quotes
That being said, recently I was contacted by two folks requesting interviews.

The first one pissed me off. She asked if she could contact me for information on a thesis she was writing. When I said I'd be glad to, she wrote back saying "nevermind, I've already got enough sources, and I was specifically looking for folks in the "church of craft" or some such bullshit.

The second one, I was very pleased with, which resulted in a number of quotes from me in an article in The Northwest Pacific Inlander magazine.



Check out the article here to read it online.


Disgusting Hotel Sheet Story
When I tell this story, folks typically laugh, but I'm doubtful it will translate very well to the written word...let's see.

As part of my work, I usually travel and stay with a project team of coworkers in the same hotel.

One project had about 25 of us staying in a hotel in Northeast New Jersey. One of the guys on the team was a particularly disgusting guy (picture a middle-age, out-of-shape guy with bad skin who never washed his hair)...we'll call him Don Banconi.

A number of months after the project was over, I had to go back to that client for a brief period, and I overlapped stays with two of my favorite project team members (we'll call them Diane and Mary Lynn), so we decided to get together for dinner.

We were talking over all the good times, when Mary Lynn started talking about the time where Don decided he wanted to know how often the hotel changed the sheets on his bed, so he put a black magic marker dot on one of them.

Diane started groaning with disgust, so Mary Lynn responded that she had never heard what the result was, so she didn't know how frequent the sheet changes were, at which point Diane told us that she had noticed when she checked in to the hotel, that one of her sheets on this hotel stay had a black magic marker dot on it.

Knowing that her sheets had touched Don Banconi toes, she was forced to request a different room.

I guess the truly disgusting part of all my hotel stays, which I try to specifically avoid thinking about, is the much more disgusting things that could be in my hotel room at this very moment.

Knitting Update
I've made some progress on the communion shawl and I'm bringing the cabled cardigan to the tailor today.

Pictures to come.

Readers' Comments Questions
Kathy mentions that she's glad the communion shawl isn't to bridal.

I can't agree more. I think the naturalness of children is their one redeeming quality. Trying to make them look like adults is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Back To Work

Albany, work and snow...ugh!

Work Schedule
Nothing like a week away to make the work schedule get hectic when you get back. And to top it off, we get more snow dumped on us.

At least it wasn't during a travel day for me.

Vacation Memories
Just to remind myself of the serene life that I had for a few fleeting days in Cancun, I'll post two pictures, both taken of the view from our bedroom balcony.




The first one shows a standard bright sunny day, and the second one shows the full moon that hung over the hotel just after sunset one night. Most of the nights, we just left the front doors of the balcony open and slept to the sound of ocean waves.

I'm already dreaming/scheming/scheduling to go back next year.

Knitting Update
Well, I finally finished sewing up the Olive Cable Cardigan.



Then, I knit up the collar, basted together the two front sections, and pinned in the zipper.



Now I just need to bring it to a local tailor and have them sew in the zipper. I'd do it myself if my sewing machine skills (and equipment) weren't so woefully lacking.

New Project
I decided I needed to swatch up a small section of the First Communion shawl for my niece.



I selected a lace pattern from one of my lace books. They showed it as an edging with three layers of lace knitting (the picot-like edge at the bottom, the fishnet section, and the diagonal bars). I just extended the fishnet and diagonal sections a few more times (which took me forever to figure out).

Once I was satisfied with the swatch, I started the shawl in earnest.



I've already memorized the six row repeat, so it should move along pretty quickly.