Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Litterbugs

When did it become acceptable to litter again? I don't think I got the memo.

Selfish Pigs
I find littering to be one of the most selfish and lazy activities a person can indulge in.

Most of the folks my age or older remember the television advertisements showing the crying Native American looking over a landscape of garbage. Those were the days when it was a bad thing to be a litterbug, and no one wanted to be caught dropping garbage in public.

Things seem to have changed a lot.

Cans, coffee cups, cigarettes, fast food refuse, receipts, soda bottles and anything else you can think of, get thrown out of car windows on a regular basis. The throwers seemed to exhibit no guilt or shame. They don't even try to disguise the fact that they're doing it.

I watched a young woman in a neighboring town finish a Dove bar and drop the wooden stick and wrapper on the ground in front of dozens of onlookers. I walked up to her and pointed out the fact that she had dropped something. She claimed she hadn't. I insisted she had, and she walked away calling me crazy. I picked up the refuse and, resisting my urge to throw it at her, I put in in a garbage can about 10 feet from where she dropped it.

I'd love to get back to a time where it was socially unacceptable to litter.

New Project
Since I was packing for Albany on Monday night, and I still hadn't decided what to start next, I picked up the wool/hemp blend and ran one hank through the ball winder. I figured minimally I could swatch it this week to see how it knits up.

I don't have a picture of the yarn, but it's a pretty mellow combination of light slate blue and natural colors that makes for a very mild color.

Spinning
For those of you who know me, I think you'll understand that I just couldn't stand the thought carding a whole box of mohair and not trying to spin some.



I tried spinning a thicker single than usual for me, and with the combination of the quality of the fiber (quite a few second cuts), the quality of my carding and the quality of my spinning, it's coming out very rustic. If I end up double-plying this, it will equate to an approximate worsted weight yarn (I think).

Readers' Comments/Questions
Janice notes that hand carding results in rolags, not roving.

She is accurate, but I just had difficulty calling the fluffy foot long clouds of fiber, "rolags". Carded fiber would be more accurate.

Michelene asks, "Joe, would the burnt orange tweed work on Hjalte, the Lavold design in the Spring Knitter's? I'd love to know if it was the sweater, or the model you thought worth shelling out 5.95 of your hard earned dollars?"

I'm not sure if the orange tweed would work with Hjalte from a gauge perspective, although it would be a perfect color/texture for it. As for the sweater/model value, I thought the model was very appealing, but it was the way the Elsbeth used the perfect yarn and a well thought out design that made me want to buy the magazine.

Michelle asks, "Now on the technical end would those bits you hand carded be called rolags?? I'm led to believe that if you use some combs that the yarn you spin up will be much softer?"

The rolags question has already been addressed, but as far as comparing combing to carding, I'm not sure it's the softness that differentiates the two methods of fiber preparation. Combing takes out more of the barnyard debris, and keeps the fibers going all in the same direction. This preparation is usually used when you want to spin a "worsted" yarn (not to be confused with a worsted weight yarn). Worsted yarns are usually smoother and stronger than "woolen" yarns which are usually loftier and softer. These types of questions are better left to Google and the experts.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Support Our Troops

With all the fallen war veterans, I hope you do something today to remember them and
understand the contribution they made to your lives.

Freedoms
No doubt, the greatest gift of veterans, are the freedoms that we are allowed as U.S. citizens.

One of those is the right to protest unfair trade practices.

Blog reader Frank, sent me this link to one of his blog entries, describing a cool on-line tool put out by by microRevolt, in support of their protests against sweatshop labor.

Check it out, and check out microRevolt while you're at it.

Thanks Frank.

Spinning
First of all, I promised a picture of the new color I'm spinning in the merino. I'm calling it cherry.



I needed a bright, lively color after all the deep purples and greens. This is the brightest of all the merinos I'll be spinning.

Also, this weekend, I decided to put some of my fiber preparation training to work. I had this bag of lovely mohair locks from an Angora Goat named Fred.



After some carding, I got this box full of puffy roving.



Eventually, I will spin it into a single and then probably ply it with something else. I'm not overly fond of knitting with mohair, so using it as a binding thread on some other fiber seems to be the best use for it.

Knitting
I finished the baby blanket, wove in all the ends, and washed and blocked it.



The blanket is a nice large size, and it's light as a feather. I love the way it turned out, and I will probably make another one of these someday in a DK weight to see if I like it in a heavier weight as well.

Next Project
First, I'll say, I am totally uninspired with all possible knitting projects.

I was thinking I might make another couple of pairs of felted clog slippers. Thaddeus' pair looks like hell, and mine are getting more and more worn, but still yet comfortable and warm.

Then, I considered putting all that lovely Manos to good use, in an afghan like the one I made my mother, except this one for Thaddeus and I.

Other possibilities are a man's sweater in either:


1. A wool hemp blend of blue and naturals that I got at Rhinebeck last year
2. Dark gray Cashmereno that I got at Webs over Christmas
3. Black Royal Tweed that I got when Simply Knit went out of business
4. Burnt Orange Royal Tweed that I got at the same time.

Of course I could make more novelty scarves in case I have another craft show, or I could work on the kid alpaca blanket/grave cover. But the blanket/grave cover takes hours to show any progress, so it's not very appropriate for knit-blogging.

Computer Woes
The computer is back up and running fine. They even recovered all my documents (including all blog pictures, etc.).

I'd like to say that I didn't get the computer until today, but I'd be lying. I've had it since Thursday night, but I've just been too damn busy relaxing in the sun to write a blog.

Thanks to all who kept the blog interesting in comments while I was slacking. And thanks to the latest cat toy, Ernestine. I couldn't have made up more interesting fodder for comments if I had tried, although I would have picked a less ridiculous nom de plume.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reading Comprehension
Did my comments about vanity plates leave people to think that I thought being vain was bad? If so, I misled.

Making Up Your Own Argument
While I did say that vanity plates are vain, if folks like Ernestine had read the content of the blog, they would realize I just think vanity plates are stupid.

And when did I EVER say that vanity was bad. I am vain. Blogs are complete vanity.

Kim S. said it perfectly right in her comments.

As with blogs, if you can't say anything but stupid drivel on a license plate, go with the DMV generic version. Why would you waste your money to say something moronic, or totally unclever (good word Kathy)?

The other thing I LOVED about Ernestine's comment was it made me think she was either one of the poorly critiqed designers in one of my reviews, or personally knew one of the maligned designers, and was offended by my opinion. What does vanity and being critical have to do with each other? If she had cited (thanks Jo) the fact that I have 2 lists of 100 items each, all about ME, or the fact that I've been writing incessantly about personal projects for two years, I could understand how that proves her invalid point about vanity.

But instead, she cites (thanks again Jo) my harsh critiques as a demonstration of vanity?

Methinks she was somehow hurt by my comments somewhere along the line.

Should we call Dr. Phil?

Spin-Off 2005 - Review



First, I have to say that I love this magazine. It doesn't try and pretend to be something that it's not. It does not try to be overly sophisticated. And it is always chock full of ideas and techniques and designs and information.

There are really only 8 "designs" in this magazine, for a cost of US$7.99. It also contains the following articles:


Behind the Scenes at Lendrum - Cindy Ellen Hill - Interesting way to mix advertisement with good information
Spinning Basics: The Short Draw - Carol Huebscher Rhodes - As a new spinner, I always read through this part a few times and try it out.
The Handspun Tapestries of Sandy Burstein - Laura Silverman - Simple interview with a talented artist.
50th Guild Anniversy - Susan Sullivan Maynard - Charming story, if you're into charming
Fiber Basics: Black Welsh Mountain - Carol Huebscher Rhodes - Amazingly thorough review of this sheep and its fiber
Handspun Gallery of Sweaters - Small, but varied selection of homespun designs
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants - Judith MacKenzie McCuin - A beautiful way of ending the issue

I'm not going to review the eight designs, but I will say that the there were two projects that both Selma and I liked a lot.

The first was a weaving project by Selma Miriam. It's this amazing Linen-Hemp Shirt. Beautiful, and cleverly constructed.

The second one was the cover project of Handspun Coiled Baskets by Elizabeth Hubbard. Hers are absolutely beautiful.

Current Knitting
I didn't get the chance to do any knitting between the last blog entry and now, but I'm still hopeful to finish the blanket project this long U.S. holiday weekend.

I also forgot to mention, that I did some additional knitting this past weekend on the Bed Cover, and I'm still not up to 12 inches on that project.

Spinning
I did finish spinning the grape merino and started on the next color.

Since I will have my regular computer back this Friday, I will be able to post pictures. It turns out the hard drive was really screwed up bad, but they were still able to recover the majority of my data. That stuff amazes me.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Vanity Plates
I have trouble understanding why someone would want something on their car that is so...well, vain.

Stupid License Plates
There have been some vanity plates that I thought might possibly be worth the price, but even they weren't memorable enough for me to remember what they were.

Why do folks pay for the privilege of having "MY PT CRUZR" on their license plate. We assume it's their PT Cruiser (stupid looking car, in my opinion), else why would they be driving it? I mean at least be clever if you're going to have your license plate describe your car. I heard someone with a license plate that said "DIV BY 0".

Can you guess what kind of car they owned?

Yes, it was an Infinity. At least that was clever, if you consider math to be clever.

I could also understand if your license plate said something edgy, like "BIG FAG", or "GOD JR"

Here's a whole list of supposed vanity plates. My favorite being what the web site author describes as the perfect vanity plate..."ILOVEME".

Now I wonder if this one has any gay connotations???

Knit 'N Style 2005 - Review



Overall, there are 29 designs in this issue for US$5.99. There is an inane article by Lily Chin about a woman in Italy that knits intarsia sweaters that are based on famous masterpieces...just plain ugly. There's another article on Artful Zippers and Craft Installation that has 23 pictures. Only 2 of the pictures actually show how to install a zipper. Here are my thoughts on the designs.


Lacy Tee - Edi Eckman - Other than the fact that the picture of the model shows breasts, it's not bad
Knit Ribbon Tee - Melissa Leapman - Simple and unextraordinary
Crocheted Ribbon Tee - Melissa Leapman - Much worse than the knit version
Feminine Charm - Unattributed - Charming only to a Wookie...stupid and ugly
Drop Stitch Shell - Unattribued - Completely forgettable
Striped Poncho - Unattributed - Bad shaping, bad design, bad idea
Entrelac Shell - Unattributed - Bulky cotton/acrylic entrelac top...can you picture it?
Casual Tunic - Unattribued - Ghastly use of very loose gauge stockinette and novelty yarn
Open-Stitch Pullover - Unattributed - Not bad for sparkly nylon yarn that is fuzzy like mohair...for a summer garment?
Alpaca Coat with Cable - Nicky Epstein - The ugliest garment in the issue
Kimono Cardigan - Unattributed - Looks great in the picture...but it's made with Lion Brand Homespun...won't look great for long
Lacy Aran Pullover - Helene Rush - Nicest garment in the magazine - it looks very out of place
Laurel Top - Chris Carroll - Simple and not bad
Summer Shells - Jackie Callery - Simple and not bad
Lacy Shell - Valentina Devine - Bad color, bad shaping
Shawl and Ribbed Shell (cover) - Unattributed - Both garments are just awful
Sari Poncho - Unattributed - You have to check out this magazine just to see the graphic for this design (Selma and I were howling with laughter)
Melissa Top - Unattributed - Unattractive as well
Ruffled Pullover - Melissa Leapman - Why is there a solid merino fabric pullover in a Summer magazine?
Cap Sleeve Raglan - Gayle Bunn - Simple and quite nice with interesting design
Steeplechase Vest - Linda Walsh - This one would make Mari Lynn Patrick proud...hideous
Bateau Tank - South West Trading - A perfectly nice tank top ruined by adding fur trim
Blue Ocean Halter Top - Unattributed - Perfect for the trailer trash crowd
Aerie Delight - Unattributed - Fuzzy, nylon, cowl-neck, sleeveless...I'm overwhelmed with contradictions
Garden Party - Wool in the Woods - Looks like a 13 year old's first design attempt
Off-shoulder Tee - Yarn Heaven - I can't imagine what they were thinking
Party Capes - Skacel - Combining garish colors and thick fur-like fabric is NEVER pretty
Crochet Bags - Lion Brand - Worthy of Workbasket
A Star is Born - Mary Bonnette and Jo Lynne Murchland - Beautiful, fun colored child's hooded cardigan

Current Knitting
I am on my last pattern repeat for the yellow baby blanket.

If I'm comfortable with the overall lenght, I will add a border on each side of a few rows of seed stitch. If I'm not, I will use the last ball to add one more pattern repeat.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Over Half a Million Served
For those of you who watch site counters, you'll note I just surpassed the 500,000 mark.

Readership
I know that's nothing like the purported millions of hits that Wendy gets, or the realistically high number of hits that Stephanie gets, but I wouldn't trade my regular readers for a more popular blog any day.

I wonder how long it will take to make it to my first million hits.

Knitters Spring/Summer 2005 - Review



Thanks for those that let me know this is the SPRING issue...not the Summer issue, which is also out. Great!, one more piece of shit I have to review.

Overall, there are 23 designs in this issue and mostly the same uninteresting articles for US$5.95. The designs are getting away from the novelty yarns, but the designs haven't gotten much better. However, despite the mostly bad designs, I would have shelled out $5.95 for the Lavold design alone.


Trapeze Tanks - Unattributed - Boring, unflattering shape
Golden Halter - Knitters Design Team - I actually liked the front of the garment
Cord It - Therese Chynoweth - I swear I see this sweater every time I go to the second hand store
Weave It - Natalie Wilson - Simple design, excellent use of color
Snap It - Kathy Perry - One of the most boring sweaters I've ever forgotten
Scoop It - Robin Melanson - Simple and classic...I like this
Change It - Dana Hurt - Ridiculous design
Prickly Pear - Kathy Zimmerman - Not her best effort
Chipotle Waves - Jean Frost - Bad use of color and design
Serape Sunset - Dana Hurt - Worst design in the magazine (what a waste of Rowan Yarn)
Saguaro - Kennita Tully - T-Shirt design is nice, good colors
Mesa Spring - Angela Juergens - Interesting colors and design, but just doesn't work
Retro Brights - Uschi Nolte - Quite bad
Hjalte - Elsebeth Lavold - Excellent men's sweater
Coconut Grove - Kathy Zimmerman - Good use of yarn, boring design
Off The Grid - Kennita Tully - Looks like bad crochet...just bad
Sea Breeze - Kathy Cheifetz - I hope Knitters didn't pay her for this design
Blue Ridge Jacket - Susan Mills - Nice color and simple, nice design
Green Tea Jacket - Natalie Wilson - Selma and I both liked this cotton tape design
Coral Ripples - Kathy Zimmerman - Another boring poncho
Cracked Ice (cover) - Angela Juergens - Best cover design I've seen on Knitters in a while
Another Turn - Knitter's Design Team - Boring waste of time and yarn
Kids On Safari - Elizabeth Fallone - Bad color choice, bad design choice

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn rightly notes that she did not fry my hard drive. It was just my bad writing that made it sound that way. She also asks, "If you need a laptop for work, won't they send you a loaner?"

Fortunately, I should have it back before a loaner is necessary (hopefully sometime this week). But it will be sent to my home, and won't do me much good there.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Computer Woes
It must be in the air. First Marilyn fries her computer, now mine.

Fried Hard Drive
I don't think laptops are made to continue running for weeks without turning them off. At least the hard drive on my Dell Latitude didn't seem to appreciate it. Now I have to FedEx it to my home office for repairs.

Blogging may be sparse between now and when I get it back. Or minimally, pictures will be sparse.

Knitting
I'm on my second to last ball of Dale Baby Ull for the baby blanket, so there's light at the end of this knitting tunnel.



I'm considering using the last ball of extra yarn to make a seed stitch border on each side (as one reader initially suggested...sorry I forgot who). Or I may just use it to increase the vertical length more.

I don't have to decide that yet.

Knitting Meet Up
Meeting up with Selma is always refreshing.

She's one of those spectacularly wonderful folks, who doesn't think she's anything special. Or maybe she does, but just doesn't let her specialness give her permission to be arrogant. If you ever saw Olympia Dukakis in "Tales Of The City", Selma has that wonderful easygoing feel of Anna Madrigal.

It was a pleasure having a decaf latte (I've stopped drinking daily caffeinated lattes) and reviewing the three magazines below.

Magazines
I had to go into a chain bookstore to get a departing coworker a CD ("100 Years" by Five For Fighting, if you must know), and I also picked up these:



If I can get access to a computer that will allow me to publish a blog, I'll review each magazine over the course of the week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Just wanted to note, I love the tip sharing in the comments. I was lucky enough to have an incredible knitter look at my first pair of knitted underwear years ago, and he told me that I had taught myself to wrap the wrong way on my purl stitches, and so I was twisting my stitches.

He was a very strong proponent of knitting, so he didn't say I was doing it wrong, he just said that it gave me a different fabric than perhaps I had intended.

Having that kind of valuable, supportive source of knowledge from my readers, and for my readers is a great thing.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Leftophobia
Do people ask how to teach a left-handed person how to ride a bicycle, or to juggle or to type on a keyboard?

No...and why not? Because those are all two-handed activities where hand-dominance is irrelevant.

And so is knitting.

Teaching someone to knit the opposite way that patterns and charts and knit instructions are written seems ridiculous to me. I know a leftie that was taught that way, and it pisses her off every time she has to convert a chart, or instructions to knit from left to right instead of right to left, as they're written.

Don't get me wrong, I don't advocate teaching left-handed folks to write with their right hand, and I am all for having green craft scissors for the lefties in kindergarten. But those are single handed endeavors that naturally feel easier in your dominant hand.

Knitting on the other hand feels awkward no matter which hand inserts the needle, or wraps the yarn. It requires a lot of practice and repetition before it feels natural.

Weekend Fiber Activity
In addition to working on the baby blanket, and even completing a few rows on the kid alpaca bed spread/coffin cover, I also got a lot of spinning done on the grape merino roving.



The pile of roving on the floor belies the amount of spinning I have left on this lovely color. I have only about one more spinning weekend before I start on the next color.

Knitting Meet Up
I just found out that I'll be meeting Selma, the axe murderess (aka Selma from Woodstock) this afternoon for coffee after work.

I just bought three new knitting magazines last evening, so we'll get to review and make fun of them over coffee. As she mentioned in her e-mail to me, I couldn't think of a more enjoyable afternoon.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Lisa notes: "You forgot the most important wearability factor--'does it make me look like a hot bitch?' Don't pretend you don't ask that question, you hot bitch."

Unfortunately, I am now reduced to asking, "Does this make me look like a fat bitch?"

In fact, that is the whole reason I don't want ribbing to be smaller than the body of the sweater. Not only does it make the body of the sweater blister out just at my waistline, but it also hugs below my stomach, making it more noticeable.

Hot bitch indeed...meet Lisa sometime in person if you want to see the epitome of a hot bitch.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Thought-Inspiring

Comments to this blog lately have provoked a lot of thought. I'm glad for that.

Wearability
Carol S. brings up an excellent topic with her ideas on wearability (she also brings up an excellent topic with reading comprehension, but discussing that would be clearly preaching to the choir...the remaining folks would understand anyway).

As for wearability, I think there are three factors:


- Sizing
- Style
- Shaping

The three "S's" of wearability.

Sizing took me a while to get, even for my own sweaters. When I was first able to create a sweater that fit me well, it made it relatively easy to figure out from then on. But my first handful of sweaters didn't really fit me well. Most of them were too small, as I didn't understand the concept of "ease" very well.

Style is relatively easy in men's sweaters, not quite as easy with women's. I know that Thaddeus and I both look better with a crew-neck (or shallow v-neck) and a set-in sleeve. And that goes for both pullovers and cardigans. Tunic shaped sweaters don't work well for either of us, so sweaters I make for us almost always have ribbing at the bottom. Also, form-fitting ribbed sweaters are not very flattering, so I stay away from those.

Shaping I'm still not very good at, although I'm learning. Fortunately, most men's sweaters don't require a lot of shaping, except at the shoulders. I've also realized that while I want ribbing at the bottom of my sweaters, I don't necessarily want it more narrow than the body of the sweater. As such, I usually have about 10% more stitches in the ribbing section, than the body.

Current Knitting
I didn't make quite as much progress as I had hoped this weekend on the baby blanket.



It is moving along smoothly, and I don't have that much more to go on it. When it's done, it will be a nice, good sized blanket. Definitely not one the baby would want to drag around.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Just to confirm what Marily, Carol and Kathy have been saying about newbie knitting, I have no problem with new knitters who make scarves as their introduction to knitting. I personally think that novelty yarns make it more difficult to teach a new knitter, but I don't even have a problem with folks who knit with them.

I know I've beat this to death, but I want to say it one more time. I highly encourage knitters that try things out, are thoughtful and imaginative in their knitting, and aren't afraid to try things they might end in failure.

I loved Purlpower's comment about how ironic it is that the less knitted knitwear looks, the better in some folks eyes.

Although, I have to admit, the first time I made a pair of the felted clogs by Fiber Trends, I was amazed at the result.

Michelene asks "Anybody on the blog looking forward to the Star Wars movie? (besides me?) Joe, have you and Thaddeus seen the Life Aquatic yet?

Thaddeus and I intend on going to see the Star Wars movie this Friday, and we've seen Life Aquatic twice. I'm a big fan of Bill Murray, and this is him at his best.

Michelene then goes on to say "Joe, you havn't mentioned the alpaca bedspread in eons..." At which point, some of my formerly loyal blog readers piled on (as if they have no projects that have been stalled).

First of all, thanks to Marilyn for the support (at least I still have one loyal blog friend). And as for the bed spread/grave cover, I felt compelled to pick it up and do a little (very little) knitting on it this weekend.



Not enough work was done to change the percent complete, mostly because I had to figure out the stitch pattern again, and that took about five tries before I got it correct.

Finally, Lorna asks (in the prior post), "I'm curious as to what you have against shrugs?" JJ also mentions that his daughter loved all the shrugs and little knitted tank tops.

These two readers give what I feel are the two valid exceptions to my disdain for shrugs. Lorna wears them in bed, which I think is a perfect place for them, and JJ's daughter has the style and body to get away with wearing funky designs.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Ponchos, Shrugs and Shawls, Oh My!

If it takes these kinds of garments to create new knitters, do we really want new knitters?

Innovative, Thinking Knitters
The Newcomer Rules were specifically written to try and scare away lazy, non-thinking knitters from this blog. It initially worked to weed out a lot of readers, and then the remaining readers seemed to take over policing the comments to make sure it provided a forum for thoughtful commentary.

In the world of knitting, I fear that the new knitters who are working on frou frou scarves and trendy ponchos, are only doing so to be trendy. And when knitting is no longer au courant, they will follow the next trend. For the ones that recognize the amazing fulfillment that is available through fiber pursuits, I can only hope they are able to see past the gaudy to experience the success of making a challenging knitted garment.

New Cast On Magazine
Having said that, I picked up a copy of the May-July 2005 Cast On last night.



Overall, I'm highly impressed, despite the fact that there's a poncho on the cover. There are 17 designs in this issue, and only one that is awful (and it's not the poncho). There are many classical designs that make extremely good use of some unusual yarn choices. Their articles are well done, and provide challenging "Master Knitter" projects for attaining a TKGA certification. Well worth the US$5.95 newsstand price.

For what it's worth, here are my comments:


MacArthur Park Poncho - Margaret Fisher - Best ponch I've seen yet, fashionable and gorgeous colors
Sweet Summer Camisole - Joan McGowan-Michael -Nice design
Brushstrokes Scarf - Laura Bryant - Stunning colors and great use of rayon
Gallery Felted Tote - Gwen Bortner - Good idea for using leftover yarn.
Summer Night Sleeveless Sweater - Marilyn Coleman - Interesting use of acrylic yarn
Against the Sky Ribbon Tank/Scarf - Vladimir Teriokhin - Not my favorite, but not bad
Cafe Cardigan - Ann E. Smith - Simple and classic
Faux-Fur Trimmed Barbie Outfit - Barbara Albright - The best use of novelty yarn I've seen
Sweet Melancholy Wrap - Laura Bryant - Simple and beautiful use of Prism yarns
Studio Socks - Elizabeth Decker - Many types heels and toes...don't like the socks
Woven Colors Twin Set - Laura Bryant - I don't like the sweater, but I love the simple shell
Four Seasons Cable Coat - Kathy Zimmerman - Best use of a Lion Brand yarn I've ever seen
Day Dreams Cable Pullover - Kathy Zimmerman - KZ at her very best
View in the Park V-Neck Pullover - Laura Bryant - Simple, beautiful use of color
Barefoot in the Park Boy's Pullover - Laura Bryant - Pefectly lovely
Open Window Floating Cables - Barbara Venishnick - Another classically beautiful sweater
Island Sheath - Tina Geoffrion - Truly awful dress


Current Knitting
I had a little mishap with my current baby blanket. The join on my needle broke, and I dropped about 50 stitches. Picking up stitches was a pain, but the hardest part was re-constructing one of the bobbles that exploded.



Hopefully I'll make some good progress this weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Selma asked why I was able to complete my Beaudelaire scarf so quickly while she labored over it?

I forgot to mention that I had thicker yarn, bigger needles and less stitches on my scarf than Selma's beautiful scarf.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Feedback

Regular readers know how open I am to feedback, and in fact, encourage it, even if it might be considered negative or even mean-spirited.

Open-Minded
I consider openness to feedback to be a sign of open-mindedness as well as confidence and self-assurance. I also consider it a sign of someone who is willing to grow and learn.

This philosophy and personal preference extends to knitting magazines.

I think there are some magazines that are reknowned for, at best, ignoring feedback, and at worst, getting defensive and nasty in public debate about feedback.

Whereas, other magazines have at least an appearance of openness to hearing their readers' feedback.

Spring/Summer Interweave Knits Magazine
On a positive note, I consider IK to be one of the more open-to-reader-opinions of all the knitting magazines. They seem to actively solicit response from their readers, and I value that.

They even provide a couple of different e-mail addresses in their magazine and on their web site to readily send them compliments or critiques.

knits@interweave.com

customerservice@interweave.com


On a less-than-positive note, I think this most recent issue requires more feedback than any other issue I've seen.



Overall, the magazine has around 18 patterns and sells for US$6.99. If you remove some of the "accessory" designs the total number of real designs goes down to 12.

While I'm not usually a fan of Spring/Summer issues, I'm even more disappointed with IK for this issue. It appears as if they scoured the wastebasket for ideas that had been discarded previously and took bad pictures of them to boot.

Before I go through the design run-down, I will say the articles I found interesting and actually read through many of them.


One-Button Cardigan - Mari Lynn PatricK - It's very sad when this is one of my favorites of the issue (I hate the front, but like the back).
Isis Wrap - Kathleen Power Johnson - I'd have rather seen a toilet paper cozy.
Summer Sundress - Mari Lynn Patrick - Unbelievable that this awful garment would make the cover.
Bed and Bath Duo - Micki Hair - I liked the pajamas a lot, but not the robe.
Two-Tie Striped Cardigan - Susan Mills - I liked this.
Viennese Shrug - Lisa Daehlin - If you like shrugs, this is a nice one.
Padded Footlets - Mary Snyder - Nice design and colors.
Four Gifts - Various - Stupid except for the Triada scarf which was okay.
Acorn Camisone - Shirley Paden - Lazy effort
Fiery Bolero - Debbie Bliss - One of the worst things I've ever seen her design
Premier Pullover - Fiona Ellis - Decent desgin
Buffalo Girl Neck and Wrist Warmers - Therese Chynoweth - Huh?
Lace Leaf Pullover - Teva Durham - What a mess
Fan Clutch and Fun Fur Collar - Lisa Daehlin and Katy Ryan - This has to be a joke
Sleek Ribs Tank - Therese Chynoweth - No comment
Dylan Goes Electric - Karen Baumer - Not awful, but I would never make it
Shoulder Shrugs - Another Knits Staff - Enough with the fucking shrugs already.
Go With the Flow Socks - Evenlyn A. Clark - Very nice design, even the color is good
Assorted Baby Gifts - Various - Bad sweater, decent booties, stupid mini-bears and a nice sachet heart (baby gift?)


Readers' Comments/Questions
Lisa asks, "Yo, Joe, d'ja see the article about Lambertville in Sunday's Times?"

I didn't, but if housing goes up much higher around where I live, the bubble-burst is going to seem like an atomic explosion.

Debbie says/asks: "Joe, I guessed about the Beaudelaire scarf stitch yesterday and have had no feedback. On other blogs I would have had great gifts including stitch holders and hand spun rat fur. What gives?"

I'm not sure what you call Shaker Rib, but it's not exactly that, although similar.
Elsewise, you would have been showered with all sorts of cat-hair infested novelty yarn garbage.

Carol S. asks: "Hey, what gives with the fancy black box around the photos? Much thicker than before."

Carol has always had a keen eye. I just found out accidentally how to do this, and I liked it, so I'll continue with this format until I get tired of it.

Monday, May 09, 2005

I've Got a Roaming Eye

And who could blame me, when I'm working on a fine-gauge baby blanket in pale yellow?

I Have Needs
Yes, I cheated. I got tired or looking at pale yellow for rows and rows. I needed variety. I needed vibrancy. So I made this.



Something came over me this weekend. The Morehouse Merino pattern called "Beaudelaire" beckoned, and I looked for yarn in my stash that would make a good scarf, and give me the color jolt I needed.

I found two balls of Silk Garden in a wonderful colorway, and cast on.

The thing I love about this pattern, is that is looks like a loose gauge stockinette stitch, but it doesn't roll. Plus, it mixes two different balls of Noro when I alternated them every two rows.

Here's a closeup in case you want to try and figure out the stitch pattern.



Current Knitting
I did also get some knitting done on the pale yellow blanket, despite straying.



I'll try to remain faithful this week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Michelene asks: "Harrisville makes a tabletop loom at a reasonable price, or do you want to go straight for the big bang?"

I'm not really sure yet. In addition to Liza's generous offer, I have neighbors that are very involved in a local weavers guild. I think they would let me play on some of their looms before I decided to purchase one.

Carol S. posits, "So does this mean your Weavette fails to satisfy?"

Evil...just evil.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Do NOT Try This At Home

Please people, leave color selection to the professionals.

New Yarn
I mentioned that when I ordered the two extra balls of Dale Baby Ull from Rosie's Yarn Cellar, I supplemented my order with six hanks of Manos.

Since I know the folks there have very similar tastes to my own, I asked if they would just pick out three "good" colors and send me two hanks of each. Lisa, the owner there (I think it was Lisa), actually went to my blog to see what colors I already had, and then picked out three she thought would go well.



Not only do I think these colors are spectacular, but I think they will go exceptionally well in the Manos throw I plan on making with them.

Plus, I get to contribute to the women's cooperative in Uruguay. It doesn't get much better than this.

Current Knitting
This week was pretty busy, so I only got to work a little on the baby blanket, but it's coming along.



Just to give you a sense of how much yarn I had, I'm almost halfway through the fourth ball of yarn. I'm very glad to have two more balls to make this blanket the correct length.

Readers' Comments/Questions
In discussing the Grape Merino, Geraldine asks if I've ever heard of "silky wool"?

I haven't, but then my experience with spinning has been relatively limited. There is so much to learn.

I got a lovely note from Chris (Loopy on Marilyn's blog) that among other things, recommends that I take up weaving and get a loom.

I have to say that it is inevitable that I will be weaving at one point in my life. As Chris says, it's the next logical step in my fiber evolution. But like spinning, there is SO much to learn in weaving, and I wouldn't want to do it in a half-assed way. Plus, I will definitely have to own a house with more space before I bring a loom into it.

Finally Michelene adds a Monty Python reference in comments.

You can never go wrong with a Monty Python reference...thanks.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Disaster Averted

Thanks to friend and blog reader, Carol S., I've located two more balls of the Baby Ull in my dyelot.

Dyelots
I have to admit, this is the third time that I've needed more yarn from a specific dyelot. The first time I asked the KnitList, and they came through with what I needed.

The last two, folks here on the blog had what I needed.

I'm starting to think that this idea of scarcity of dyelots is a plot by the yarn companies to make you buy tons of yarn "just in case". I mean, how many balls of Baby Ull in my color and dyelot are still roaming around the world as we speak?

Kudos To Rosie's Yarn Cellar
The folks at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia were the ones that had my yarn.


Since I couldn't justify a credit card order of under $20, I figured I should take advantage of the fact that they carry all the colors of Manos del Uruguay, so I had them pick out six random color hanks of that as well.

I'm a little hung over this morning from the splurge, but it was worth it.

Victoria and Albert Museum Mention
I've never been to the V&A Museum, but most knitter/fiber freaks, such as myself, acknowledge that the V&A is the top promoter of fiber arts as far as museums go.

Their web site has selected a handful of knitting blogs in their "Links" section, which shows even more the high level of taste they have in knitting blogs.

Check it out.

V&A Museum Web Links

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for all the suggestions on the baby blanket. You folks are a wealth of imaginative ideas.

Thanks also to Liza...we're glad she's back and as feisty as ever. I know most of the readers here have never met her, but I've known Liza as far back as my Tomato Factory days, when she was repping for Rowan, and everyone I know holds her in the highest esteem. Thanks for information on Manos, I will not be fooled again.

Thanks also to Alison for defending designer rights on the KnitList. As she mentioned, someone wrote in to the KnitList to ask if anyone could recognize the stitch pattern for my Communion Shawl so she could make something else with the pattern stitch. I imagine if the ethically-challenged KnitLister had put in a little effort, she would have found my blog entry that states where I got the stitch pattern.

Fortunately, the controversy has resulted in more sales of my patterns at the Knitting Vault

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

To Filibuster or Not To Filibuster

The CSPAN Congressional glossary defines "Filibuster" as:


"...the term used for an extended debate in the Senate which has the effect of preventing a vote.

Senate rules contain no motion to force a vote. A vote occurs only once debate ends."

For the non-Americans who read, the filibuster is used mainly by the minority party, typically to oppose voting on candidates for judges. Since our judiciary has been able to rein in some of the conservative Redumblicans, the Redumblicans are trying to eliminate the filibuster as an option.

Do I oppose the elimination of the filibuster in the U.S. Senate for partisan reasons, or because I think it's the wrong thing to do?

I have to ask myself honestly whether I think the filibuster is a useful tool that helps maintain checks and balances, or whether I resist any change that might make the judiciary more conservative. If a Democratic majority in the Senate tried to do this while Bill Clinton was in office, would I feel differently about it?

To be completely forthright, I don't know that I can separate my feelings enough to know.

However, I do think the the checks and balances we have in this country are like a finely balanced mobile, and making such a large change to the current rules might imbalance the whole process.

Other Weekend Knitting
In addition to the progress I made on the baby blanket, I also did a little work on the plush and cushy sock.



You'll note I was able to complete turning the heel, and even started a little on the ribbing.

Spinning
Believe it or not, I also got in quite a bit of time on the spinning of the grape Merino.



I don't know whether it's obvious from the picture, but I'm probably about 2/3rds through this color already.

Sometimes when I sit down at the wheel, the fiber just seems to fly onto the bobbin effortlessly. This was one of those weekends.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol S. asks: "Instead of abandoning the project, would it be possible to find another ball or two of the Ull?"

I considered this, but the dyelot in Dale yarns can vary quite a bit, and since the mother of the child-to-be is an artist, any change in color wouldn't go unnoticed.

Mindy asks: "Would you be comfy letting the pattern be vertical?

Some pattern stitches might look okay that way, but I don't think this pattern stitch is one of those.

Jo mentions: "You may be able to find a co-ordinating colour and put a wide band of it in the centre. (maybe white or ivory?)"

I considered this as well. I even considered two or three contrasting colors so it wasn't so obvious that I ran out of the primary color. I just don't think I'd like the effect of three or five colored stripes in the center of the blanket.

And just so you know, Nutella is available here in the states. Not everywhere, but it can be found. Whereas I've never been able to find Kraft Peanut Butter in the states.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Who Me Worry?

Just because I might not have enough yarn for my current baby blanket...there is no reason to panic.

Do You Ever Do This?
Usually, when I buy yarn, I buy way more than enough to make an extra-large man's sweater, and that way when I make a sweater for my me, I always have plenty.

Even if it has cables and lots of ribbing.

This time, I bought all the yarn they had in this color (7 balls), and I figured it would be enough.

Now I'm starting to question this decision.

Current Knitting
I'm into my third ball of seven, and here's where I am so far.



Once I get about halfway through the fourth ball, I will try to assess whether I have enough yarn. If not, I will actually wet-block what I have to see if the fully blocked blanket will be long enough. If it's still not enough yarn, I will abort the project and look for some other yarn.

Birthday Surprise
Sorry for taking for granted that folks would know my birthday present was 9 jars of Kraft Extra Creamy Peanut Butter.

This stuff is the best peanut butter I've ever had, and it's not available in the United States (Kraft-Canada makes it, but Kraft-U.S. doesn't...how ridiculous is that?). Not only is the texture smooth and creamier than any U.S. brand peanut butter, but it has the same number of carbs as the No-Sugar brands.

Weekend Movies
I got to see two movies this weekend.

Saturday, we got to see "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe". I wasn't overly interested in the original mini-series, so the movie was okay. Thaddeus loved the mini-series, and he thought there wasn't enough of the Guide's "wisdom" included in the movie.

Sunday, we went to see "Downfall", which is a movie that walks the viewer through the final months of Hitler's nazi Germany, and his eventual suicide. It was amazingly well done, but the material was very tough to watch. Even worse than "The Jesus Chainsaw Massacre" (also known as "The Passion of the Christ").

Readers' Comments/Questions
Some folks asked why certain car models weren't included in the survey.

FreePolls.com limits me to 10 answers, so Daewoo just didn't make the cut...sorry.

I just have one comment about Manos, and Liza's parting words on the matter.

Liza knows more about yarn than anyone I've ever met, and she also knows all the inside stories about the yarn business. I hope that when she returns, she is able to expand on her reasoning, mostly because I'm nosey, but just her word on the matter makes it important enough for me to edit a comment for the first time in QueerJoe.com history.