Thursday, June 30, 2005

Topic Swapping

Comments from the last post amazingly kept creeping away from the initial topic of gay men's addiction to crystal meth, and self-image issues, to meth labs and rural issues of drug use, despite Tricky's attempts to point back to the issues in the blog.

Gay 101
First of all, I'd like to thank Michael (Tricky Tricot) for first posting the Village Voice article and his valiant attempts to clarify the issues. He has fast become my favorite blog to read for a number of reasons, and I have had personal correspondence with him over the last couple of days letting him know I am in total agreement with the ideas he has stated.

Second of all, I wanted to address some of the concepts of living as a gay man in this society. And I will speak only from my own personal experience. From the various comments, it is clear there are folks that have no clue of what it's like, and others that are pretty clear about what they do and don't understand.

There are a number of ways that I was barraged as a youth with messages saying that I wasn't okay:


1. Personal attacks both verbal and physical
2. Generalized homophobia displayed by folks using words like fag, even when they meant it as just geeky or feminine
3. Institutional homophobia displayed by organizations like the catholic church and the government

Personal Attacks
Whether on the playground in grade school, or having folks yell "faggot" out their car window while passing a gay bar or physical attacks such as Matthew Shepherd (which happen a lot more than most folks will ever hear about), all these are very clear, and very direct messages that being different isn't acceptable or sometimes isn't even safe. I personally don't think there is much that can be done about this except taking instances of ignorance as opportunities for education.

Generalized Homophobia
Like Kathy, I found some of the comments about "being okay" very patronizing, but it's hard to tell the tone of a message without hearing it directly from someone's mouth. As mentioned in the Village Voice article, gay men are either ignored in the media, or shown very one-dimensionally. Even shows like Will & Grace, and Queer Eye For The Straight Guy reduce the humanity of gay men by using them as modern day minstrels.

When I hear gay-disparaging words, I have come to learn to quickly categorize them as either good-natured with no intention of hatred (you'd have to be a very close friend or gay yourself for me to hear it this way), ignorant (which is the opportunity for education) or hateful (which can sometimes be an opportunity for education, but usually is an indication to run away quickly).

Institutional Homophobia
When the cardinals in Rome send out missives indicating that gay men are less than in any way, it is a very powerful message. When principals of high schools allow physical and emotional abuse to continue based on a student's actual or perceived sexuality, it sends a very powerful message. When corporations allow their married employees to take advantage of benefits that committed gay couples can't, it sends a hurtful message. When the president of the United States says that he wants an amendment to our country's constitution to specifically discriminate against gay men, it is a clear statement of how illegitimate we are in his eyes.

In those instances, I work to change where I can, support those institutions that embrace equality, and specifically withdraw my participation from those organizations that would have me be less than other (if I can).

Addiction
I do believe that personal responsibility is a necessary component to recovery from any addiction. However, I think it's also very important to know what factors were in place to make a person susceptible to addictive behavior.

I do blame homophobia in large part for the high numbers of alcohol, drug and sex addiction in the gay world. And I certainly see homophobia as a factor in all that I am today (including any addictive behavior), and to ignore that would be foolhardy. Taking responsibility for how I react to my environment is how I can recover into a more healthy human.

Knitting
I have completed the collar and sewn up the shoulder seam and started the first sleeve of the wool/hemp pullover.

Pictures, and more knitting content in future blog entries.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Gay Secrets

In writing this blog, I often capitalize on the fact that it can be intriguing for some folks to read about the life of a gay man.

Secrets Revealed
One of the biggest secrets in the gay world today isn't intriguing, it's frightening.

There is a new epidemic that is killing gay men, and like the last one, no one seems to want to talk about it. More and more gay men are "experimenting" with crystal meth, and the effects are proving to be as addictive and deadly as folks who try crack or heroin.

For those that don't know, crystal meth is one form of the drug, methamphetamine hydrochloride, which comes in clear, chunky crystals, and is usually inhaled or smoked. It is also called "ice," "crystal," "glass" and "tina."

It produces an extremely high level of euphoria, and it is used as a sex-enhancing drug by many men in the gay community. Unprotected sex is often associated with the use of crystal meth, and along with the addiction, many gay men are converting to seropositive HIV status. Although, with current HIV treatment drugs, most of the men are dying of their addiction before AIDS can take them.

While some of the more self-righteous folks might say that it's their own damn fault for doing drugs, I believe this problem clearly stems from the constant barrage of negative self-image messages gay men hear (both consciously and unconsciously) throughout their lives.

There is an excellent article by Patrick Moore in The Village Voice which folks should read that most closely reflects my feeling about this issue.

Other Weekend Fiber Activity
It's hard to segue from that to fiber, so I won't. I was able to get in some spinning this weekend.



I should be able to finish up with this color if I get in some quality spinning time this coming weekend. I'm not sure what color I plan on going to next. Probably some navy blue.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Carol S. mentions that she got no mention for not being at the knit-get-together this past weekend.

She's right, I forgot to mention that she wasn't there. We missed her dreadfully. Other than the carrot cake and IK review, we sat around and bemoaned her absence. In her place, we put Bi-Polar Betty as a substitute. While Betty was mildly amusing, she was no substitute for the sharp wit and stunning beauty of Carol S.

Jon asked what kind of icing was on the carrot cake.

It was a pretty standard cream cheese icing. I also like carrot cake cold, and it was refrigerated before serving. The local Mennonite market (like an Amish market in case you're more familiar with one of those) sells desserts that spare no fat or sugar, and this cake was no exception. If they hadn't run out of cocunut cakes, I would have served that instead. Maybe next time.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Knit Blog Friends

Getting to be with friends I know from knitting is always incredibly energizing.

Knit Get-Together
A few of the readers of this blog got together yesterday for lunch and knitting and gabbing. Marilyn, Kathy, Liza and Selma (all the way from Woodstock, NY) were there, as was a special guest, Marilyn's granddaughter, Liz.



We had lunch at the Stockton Inn in New Jersey (because something about Dorothy Parker happened there...don't ask me, ask Marilyn or Liza). And then we met over my house, where Thaddeus served carrot cake and esspresso.

We also reviewed the most recent issue of Interweave Knits. While I don't have a copy, Liza tells me it's worth the price for an article on Japanese textile bleaching techniques. After seeing a couple of awful designs, including designs by such well-known designers as Annie Modesitt, Nicky Epstein and Mari Lynn Patrick, I have some severe doubts about whether I will buy this issue.

Current Knitting
It seems I talked more about knitting this weekend than actually doing it.



I finished the back, attached one shoulder, and finished about half the collar. Pretty much, I have only two sleeves and a little finishing to do.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Elizabeth asks, "Have you finished Life of Pi?"

I finished it this passed weekend and it was everything I had hoped for in a book. If you've read this book, and didn't like it, or thought it was just okay, you should never take my recommendation for a book, because clearly we have different tastes.

Friday, June 24, 2005

We Have Some Winners

First of all, thanks to everyone who contributed to the fund. We are very much looking forward to meeting Franklin and roaming through fiber booths with him at Rhinebeck.

The Winners
I had Thaddeus randomly select the top three prize winners, and I have notified them via e-mail.

1st Prize - Fredda P.
2nd Prize - Amy N.
3rd Prize - Leila W.
4th Prize - Lisa L.

Once I hear from Fredda, I will contact the other winners

Yarn Purchase
I was very grateful to Carol S. for letting me know about the Manos sale at Rosie's Yarn Cellar (web weekly sale). Here's what I ended up getting in the mail yesterday.



It's actually four hanks of each color. They're all just twisted together in a mini-head of yarn. I am even more pleased with the colors than from their web pictures.

The Knitting Vault
When I posted the link to the Koigu Cross Stitch Scarf in my last post, I got another surge of orders for the pattern on The Knitting Vault.

For those of you who haven't checked out patterns there lately, there are some very nice ones (as well as some awful ones). But I check the new ones every once in a while to see if there's anything I'd like to own.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Laura notes that "I'm not sure how you knit it, but for me the stitch count in Feather & Fan stays the same on every row, since you work an equal number of increases and decreases on the pattern rows."

She is exactly right. I had a brain misfire yesterday and was thinking that the decreases came in one row, and the increases in the following row. I was wrong. Nevertheless, Laura is right in her assumption that the scallops make it look very nice with variegated yarns.

RJ notes that I "might have to rethink (my)your footwear" due to the uncomfortability of textured socks.

I'm not sure if RJ misread my comments, but I am NOT a fan of textured socks for the very reason mentioned. I would think they would be quite uncomfortable to wear.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Almost...yes, we've reached the $500 goal for the Fresh Air Group for Franklin. Now we just have to arrange all the logistics and get him out here in October.

Contest
Thanks to approximately 30 readers, Franklin will have the opportunity to come out to New York in October and experience Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool. And, of course, we get to meet him.

If anyone would still like to contribute (and participated in the contest), you have until Friday at noon, U.S. Eastern time. At that point, I will put all the names in a basket and pick the winners of the prizes.

Good luck, and thank you all again.

Magazine Review - Knit 'n Style August 2005
I found this on the shelves of JoAnn's Fabrics in Colonie, NY, and decided to pick up a copy.



Overall, there are 30 designs for US$5.99 (still not a good deal despite the numbers). The articles are either boring or laughable. My favorite was the "I'm So Glad You Asked" where Leslye Solomon tells a reader how very wrong she is about loose cast-ons, and what makes her qualified to say that the reader is wrong and then proves she's wrong by demonstrating in pictures. All the whyle, Leslye pretends she is oh-so grateful for the opprotunity to answer such an important question. It's the most not-so-passive, but oh-so aggressive response to a letter I've ever read outside my own blog.

I was very encouraged by the cover design, but that didn't last long. The magazine has a bunch of moronically simple sweaters, and sweaters that are see-through.

Tee Time
Kathleen Power Johnson - an oversize, entrelac t-shirt in 100% Rayon (need I say more?)
Knitted Textured Jacket
Melissa Leapman - Good shaping, not a bad design
Crocheted Textured Jacket
Melissa Leapman - The same, not quite as good
Funnel Neck Tee
Unattributed - Variegated cotton in a cropped t-shirt - ugly
A-Line Cardigan
Unattributed - Simple but attractive
Striped Cardigan
Unattributed - Kind of ordinary and poorly finished
Shell
Unattributed - A stockinette tank top...even more ordinary
Frutti Top
Cynthia Yanok Wise - Interesting stitch pattern, but it doesn't work in the garmet
Crochet Shawl/Poncho
Gitta Schrade - I think the name says it all
Saucy Little Summer Stripes
Lorna Miser -Awful color combo in a ridiculously simple "design"
Lacy Pullover
Unattributed - Kind of pretty see-through top
Crop Sleeve Raglan
Gayle Bunn - This ones kind of delicate and pretty
Castille T-Shirt
Unattributed - Unbelievably bad design and poorly executed.
Goldfingering Lace Halter
Unattributed - Another see-through top, but a halter this time.
Splitz Top
Diane Zangl - What a mess
Scallop Cardigan
Unattributed - Lovely design in an AWFUL variegated yarn
Textural Elegance Jacket (Cover)
Nicky Epstein - One of the nicest designs I've every seen of Nicky...very nice
Year Round Textured Jacket
Melissa Leapman - Just boring
Trinity Bomber Jacket
Unattributed - God-awful bad in every way
Dining Out
Unattributed - I'd pay someone to dine out in this ugly rag
Sangria Sweater
Unattributed - Bad yarn making another bad, see-through top
Classic Contemporary
Fair Isle patterning with eyelash yarn...huh? Ugly
Mother & Daughter Folded Poncho
Unattributed - Two striped, stockinette blankets...this is a design?
Multi-Pocket Cardigan
Unattributed - This is by far the ugliest piece of shit I've seen lately
Tank & Scarf
Unattributed - Another non-design with a bad faux-fur scarf to accent
Calypso Square Poncho
Garter stitch and novelty yarn combine to make another ugly poncho...quel surprise
Catching Rays Socks
Judy Sumner - I'm not a big fan of strongly textured socks
Victorian Scallop Socks
Judy Sumner - ditto
Anne Cross Rib Socks
Chris Carroll - ditto
Anne Simply Textured Socks
Chris Carroll - ditto

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kathy asks whether I will normally alternate skeins with variegated or multi-color yarns to avoid pooling and striping.

I don't. I agree that unless you're using a variegated yarn that repeats evenly throughout the skein, alternating skeins won't help at all. The only technique that I've found that will almost always avoid pooling and striping is using either a slip-stitch pattern, or a pattern like feather and fan where the number of stitches varies per row.

I found this out early when I was experimenting with Koigu. That's how I also discovered the Cross Stitch pattern I used in the Koigu scarf.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Mission Accomplished

Almost...yes, we've reached the $500 goal for the Fresh Air Group for Franklin. Now we just have to arrange all the logistics and get him out here in October.

Contest
Thanks to approximately 30 readers, Franklin will have the opportunity to come out to New York in October and experience Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool. And, of course, we get to meet him.

If anyone would still like to contribute (and participated in the contest), you have until Friday at noon, U.S. Eastern time. At that point, I will put all the names in a basket and pick the winners of the prizes.

Good luck, and thank you all again.

Other Weekend Activities
I didn't just knit this past weekend. I also got back to my spinning and made some progress on the Cherry Merino.



I'd like to say I'll be done spinning this color sometime this coming weekend, but I don't think I'd be able to get it all done in one weekend of spinning time. Probably two.

Another distraction from knitting this past weekend is a book I've been reading called "Life of Pi", by Yann Martel.

I've always loved reading, but I've been having trouble fitting it in. Now that I've reincorporated reading back into my life, I've found I have little snippets of time that allow me to get through a book. It takes me a little while to finish a book, but I'm kind of enjoying the pace of reading this way.

The next book on my reading list is "Kite Runner" by Khaled Hosseini.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Specifically, I wanted to address Carol S.'s message about keeping the Fresh Air Group selection completely closed and arbitrary.

Aside from the fact that I like that idea, her comment about how it is like the latest U.S. Presidential election actually made me laugh out loud. I find a lot of the readers' comments funny, but Carol's kind of humor is exactly what I find most funny.

I'm not sure how good she is with HTML and blog technology, but next time I go on vacation, I want her to do a week of guest blogging. Although, I'm sure it will piss me off when my average hits per day surges for the week I'm gone.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Defined as:


"Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder. OCD is manifested in a variety of forms, but is most commonly characterized by a subject's obsessive drive to perform a particular task or set of tasks, compulsions commonly termed rituals."


Personal Revelation
I always thought of "Rainman" symptoms whenever I heard folks describe OCD rituals.

Until a friend suggested I might actually be exhibiting OCD symptoms myself.

Some of you may remember item #90 from my 100 Things About Me list that I have practiced reducing large numbers to their numerological equivalent (continuing to add all digits of a number until it is reduced to a single digit...example, 69,170,345 would be an "8"). Well, I actually take that further by trying to notice as many numerological "7's" in my life as possible.

Examples include setting my alarm for 5:29 instead of 5:30, or establishing inventory numbers on databases that all add up to 7.

Fortunately, I haven't taken this to the level of feeling anxious if numbers don't add up to seven, but it still made me realize that I do things based on irrational ideas.

Fresh Air Group
First of all an update. We're still getting some last minute contributions to send Franklin to Rhinebeck in October. We're up to $450. It looks like contributions have dwindled, and we may not reach the goal of $500...but that is okay. We will still be able to get Franklin here.

You folks are amazing. Thank you.

There is still time to enter into the contest by contributing a minimum of $5 (remember to deduct $4 from your contribution amount since Paypal will add $4 shipping and handling).




Does anyone have any ideas how we could go about fairly picking future recipients of this award?

Current Knitting
I made a lot of progress on my current sweater.



Those are not knitted breasts, nor are they knitted kidneys (thank you Ms. Liza). I've finished the front and now I've made it just past the arm hole shaping on the back.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Just thanks again to Kim Z. I didn't know the full story of the Chibi's, nor did I know that the pink ones were so desireable. Kim is always a wealth of information, as his her extensive yarn database at WiseNeedle.com.

Also, received notification that this week's web special at Rosie's Yarn Cellar in Philadelphia is a 20% sale on Mano (both solids and multis). This stuff doesn't go on sale often, so if you want it discounted, you'd need to move fast (I only tell you this, because I already ordered mine.).

Monday, June 20, 2005

Down To The Finish Line

With contributions totalling $430 , we are almost at our goal for the Fresh Air Group for Franklin.

Contest End
As soon as we've hit the $500 goal, or if it appears all contributions have stopped by this Friday, I will put all the contributors names in a basket (your name will be entered for each $5 contribution, so if you contributed $15, you would have three entries).

Thank you all again for your generosity, and if you haven't contributed yet, please feel free to participate. Just remember, deduct $4 from the amount you want to contribute. Lovely PayPal will add the $4 in as Shipping and Handling.














Current Knitting
I've been able to complete the front/right half of the neck shaping on the wool/hemp pullover.



I just have to finish the shoulder shaping on the right side and then finish up the front, back and sleeves, and I've got a completed sweater.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Barb B. asks where I got the yarn for the wool/hemp sweater.

Kathy correctly posits that it's D-Zined yarn. I bought the yarn at either Maryland Sheep & Wool or at Rhinebeck last year. I don't remember.

After noticing the same color differentiation in the picture, I looked at the actual sweater, and there is a color change with the change in hanks of yarn. It's much more subtle than the picture would indicate, but it is there. I actually kind of like it.

I'm on the third hank of yarn now, and this one is also a slightly different color. Ideally, I should have alternated rows with each hank, but I couldn't be bothered.

Michelene asks if I have any pink Chibis to give away as a prize.

For those unaware, a Chibi is about a 3 inch, suppository shaped, plastic container for holding basting needles. Some clever soul (I think on Knitflame), decided to sell one on eBay, claiming it was rare (it isn't...you can still buy them for peanuts), and marketed it on the KnitList. I don't know how much it sold for, but I wouldn't part with my Chibi for anything.



Marilyn asks if she can nominate Loopy for next year's Fresh Air Group.

I personally think this would be an ideal choice. I will definitely need to come up with some way of establishing who the benefactor of this annual prize will be. Perhaps I can just do it the way I did it this year. Take Selma's suggestion and run with it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Fresh Air Fund Contest

Now that I'm home, I can list the prizes that contributors to the Fresh Air Fund for Franklin have the chance of winning.

Prize List
For every multiple of $5 contributed, contributors will have a chance at winning one of the following prizes:

Dancing Feet Yarn1. Dancing Feet Sock Yarn - in colorway "Forest Floor" - 100% Fine Wool, 3 ounces, 600 yards From Joslyn's Fiber Farm






Knitting In America2. Knitting In America by Melanie Fallick






Chasing Rainbows Yarn3. Chasing Rainbows Merino/Tussah Sock Yarn - in colorway Sandlewood - 500 yards






DoublePointed Needles and Case4. DoublePointed set of 7" Surina Wood needles and cloth case






I will randomly select names and give the first person selected, the first choice in prizes, the second person selected, second choice, and so on.

So far, we've collected $372 toward sending Franklin to Rhinebeck. Only $128 more to go to reach the goal of $500. Thank you all again for your generosity.













Current Knitting
Just to give you an update, and to prove that I have, in fact, been doing some knitting, here's my progress on the Wool/Hemp Pullover.



I've finished the sleeve shaping for the front of the sweater, and as such, I'm working back and forth instead of in the round. It doesn't appear to have changed the color rhythm.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Charlotte asks, "I must have missed something ... who is Franklin?"

Franklin is a Chicago knitter who recently started commenting on my blog with interesting, witty comments. At a brief knitting meet-up with Selma, she and I agreed we liked him, and decided we should put together a Fresh Air Fund to bring him to Rhinebeck. Hopefully there will be equally as interesting folks in future years to continue this idea next year.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Amazing Charity

You readers are amazing. In the first day of the Fresh Air Group for Franklin, we have received donations of $267.

Thank You
It's not tax-deductible, it has little or nothing to do with the folks contributing, and yet folks have been incredibly generous.

We are looking very much forward to meeting Franklin in person, and spending time at Rhinebeck.

If anyone has any ideas on how we can choose next year's candidate, I'd be glad to get ideas.

We're over half the way toward the goal amount of $500. Please contribute if you can (and remember, subtract $4.00 from your contribution because PayPal will automatically add $4.00 shipping and handling.














Knitting Update
Work has been frantic this week, so knitting time has been scarce. Since I have to remain in Albany on this Friday, I will get some knitting done tonight, but I won't be able to take pictures and blog about it until Friday night earliest.

Political Rant
"A House panel has voted to eliminate all public funding for NPR and PBS, starting with "Sesame Street," "Reading Rainbow," and other commercial-free children's shows. If approved, this would be the most severe cut in the history of public broadcasting, threatening to pull the plug on Big Bird, Cookie Monster and Oscar the Grouch."

This is starting to sound more and more like Communist USSR and other countries that squelch any opinions that differ from their ideas.

U.S. folks can go to MoveOn.org or your local PBS or NPR site to send e-mails that will go to your representatives. In both Philadelphia and Albany, I get to listen to great radio. WHYY and WXPN in Philadelphia and WAMC in Albany (where you can listen to our own Selma in the mornings...check her out at WAMC.org)

Thanks for any help on this issue that I find extremely important.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

First Annual Fresh Air Fiber Fund

Yes, Franklin has been able to clear his schedule to come out and join in the festivities at Rhinebeck!

Contribution Request
That's IF we can pull together enough funds to fly him out here and house him for a night or two.

I'm going to have a contest with prizes. Anyone that contributes $5 or more to the Fresh Air Group for Franklin (FAG for Franklin) will be eligible to win one of the prizes (any multiples of $5 enters you that many times in the contest).

Since I'm not home, I can't pick out and post pictures of prizes. I know one of the prizes will be the book "Knitting Across America" since I have two copies of that book. And I promise, I won't be putting up any pre-stretched sweaters as a prize.

Contributions can be made via PayPal, using the button below:














Depending on which airport we fly him out of and into, and miscellaneous travel expenses, we should be easily able to get Franklin to Rhinebeck for under US$500.

I'd also like to make this an annual event, where we pick some deserving soul for completely discretionary reasons, and help them get to Rhinebeck. This could be you next year.

Gay Military Marriage
It seems like a dream, but reader Cluny sent the following link:

http://novascotia.cbc.ca/regional/servlet/View?filename=ns-gay-military20050614

Even with the colder weather, Canada is starting to look better and better.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Bugs and Rodents

Why is it that an insect like a cockroach, or an animal like a little mouse can send me into an absolute panic?

Irrational Fears
A few weeks ago, I had a mouse in my hotel room.

I woke up at about 2:45 a.m. because of some scuffling noise on the floor. Since a coworker had an issue previously with a mouse in his room, I immediately turned on my bedside lamp and looked over to where I had heard the noise. I didn't see a mouse, but I did see one of my pillow chocolates (that had previously been on the nightstand right next to my head) on the floor. This creature, no larger than the face of my watch, came out of the radiator, and went to retrieve his dropped chocolate. After picking it up, carrying it for a few inches and dropping it, and then repeating that process about four times, he finally got the candy under the heating unit.

I didn't sleep the rest of the night.

I'm not quite sure what I was afraid of, but some innate panic alarm was definitely set off, and I couldn't turn it off.

Other Weekend Fiber Activities
I provided an update on my sweater knitting in the last post, but I also got a little carding and spinning in this past weekend.

I carded more of the mohair, and finished spinning a second spool of singles. I loosely double-plied the singles, and ended up with this lovely yarn.



Here's a closer view of the strands.



The yarn ended up being between a DK and a worsted weight. I didn't measure wraps per inch or yardage, so I'm not really sure yet what exactly I will do with this newly created yarn

Other Spinning
I put the Cherry Merino back on the spinning wheel, and got a little more done with that.



Switching from spinning a softer twist, thicker mohair, to a fine, high-twist merino took a bit of adjustment, but now I'm back to having the singles fly onto the bobbin.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for all the good feedback on "How-To" and reference books for knitting.

I do have a whole library of books and sometimes I will go through a stack of them looking for a good baby sweater, or a nice lace project. But typically, like I said in comments, I'm only looking for an interesting stitch pattern.

When I decide to design my own Aran (I've been inspired by Marilyn's efforts), I will probably be looking for a standard shaping for design purposes as well as various pattern stitch motifs.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Being Exactly As You Are

I believe there is no better gift than presenting yourself to the world as exactly what you are.

Designer Feedback
One of the designers who I critiqued recently (I had favorably things to say about one of her designs and less-than-favorable things to say about a second), e-mailed me to ask what she could have done better with the second design.

I went back to the design I had commented negatively about and sent her an e-mail with more detail on what didn't work (in my opinion).

She was very open to feedback, and was grateful that I took the time to reply to her request. That kind of openness is how I hope readers of this blog view me.

Recent Political Bickering
Michele started a mini firestorm with her comments about the federal government.

I appreciated her comments and actually agree with her that the Federal Government has proven over and over to be lousy administrators of large-scale programs. I disagree when she seems to think that the current administration has a laissez-faire philosophy. Quite the opposite. I think the current Redumblicans give all the power and money to corporations who have been the only entities who have proven less effective than the Federal Government in providing any kind of boost up for underpriveleged Americans.

That being said, I still appreciated her comments.

Kathy and I have never seen eye-to-eye on political issues, but I'm still glad she's a knitting buddy. We need our token conservative in the group to keep us a little honest.

And one last thing on this issue. Michele seemed to indicate that I believed there are no generous, thoughtful Redumblicans who want to be of service to the world. I know there are lots of them out there. I just think their party doesn't represent them when they're in office.

Current Knitting
Okay, well I've gotten up to about 13 inches on the body of the wool/hemp pullover, and I'm getting to the point where I'll have to decide on whether to steek or to knit back and forth.



My original thought was that I wanted the flashing and pooling to stay consistent, so I was initially going to steek both the arm holes and the neck opening. But now that I've worked with this yarn a little, I'm thinking it wouldn't be a very stable steek without sewing down the waste stitches.

I've decided I will take my chances with the pooling and striping, and knit the remainder of the sweater flat.

Blog Presents
The other blog present I had in the mail when I got home Thursday night was a book from the publishers of the Maran Illustrated books.



I got an e-mail early last week from the publishers, and they asked if they could send a free copy of the book for my review. I'm assuming they hoped for a positive review here on my blog.

I have to say this is by far, the most clear, easy to read introduction to knitting and crocheting I have ever seen. Even moreso, it's an excellent reference for those techniques where I have to refresh my memory everytime I do it (e.g., Kitchener stitch)

The pictures are clear and bright and plentiful. The instructions are simple and succinct. And they even have some good starter projects. I am most impressed with how this book is layed out, and the index is substantial, and easy to search. It is honestly, everything I could have wanted in a knitting reference book.

The book retails for US$24.99, and in my opinion, it's well worth it.

To be honest, if the book had sucked, I probably would have just provided the publishers with direct feedback on why I couldn't recommend it. Fortunately, it was as good as expected.

If all their other books are on the same level as this book, I would always use one of their "how-to" books over any other brand if they had one available.

Check it out, if you get a chance to see it.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I didn't hear anything from Franklin on whether he'd be open to the "Franklin Fresh Air Fund", so I'm not sure if he'd be open to it, or even available schedule-wise. I was glad that Selma reminded me, this was her great idea. Have I mentioned what a Selma fan I am (that's one thing Kathy and I do have in common).

If he'd like to come out for Rhinebeck, I will set up a PayPal button for contributions. Perhaps we could make it an annual charity event and bring other "city folk" to the country for fiber intoxication

Friday, June 10, 2005

Advocates for Potential Life

Pro-Life is such a misnomer. The folks that advocate for potential life (for instance, a fetus), don't give a shit about how the actual-born folks get to live. Otherwise, they'd be democrats.

I'm All For Life
I think life is great, and I highly recommend it. I even advocate for trying to help out the folks that might not have as positive of a view of life as I do, through social welfare programs and bona fide education reform.

I'd even go so far to say that I'm not a big fan of abortion. The emotional toll that the procedure has on some families can be large. I also think that any invasive procedure done to the body is more detrimental than folks would care to admit.

But, truth be told, being anti-abortion is akin to be anti-tonsilectomy. Both are procedures that are sometimes necessary, and sometimes done on a more elective basis.

Current Knitting
This week, knitting time was restricted, and when there's not much knitting, there's not much blogging going on.



I've completed about 11 inches of the body so far, and based on a sweater that fits both Thaddeus and me, I've got about 4 or 5 more inches before hitting the arm hole shaping.

Blog Presents
Every once in a while, someone I know from the blog sends me gifts. This week I received two packages with freebies with a total of three presents.

The first package was from Carol S. She graciously sent me my own personal copy of Crochet! magazine along with her comments. Since she is so gracious, I had to ignore all of her comments, and review it with my own cold-hearted criticisms (which was easy, because the magazine and the designs in it were worse than dreadful - see below). I mean with a tag line of "Sharing the Art and Soul of Crochet", I didn't hold out much hope.



She also included this very nice gift of a ball of Fortissima Colori (leave it to Carol S. to send Colori in black and white).



I will have to make myself a nice pair of socks with this yarn.

The second package, contained a book, sent gratis from the publisher, which I will review in a later blog.

I guess there are some benefits to blogging other than the vanity of it all.

Crochet! Magazine Review
Overall, this magazine is poor quality, poorly written and has hideous designs. John Waters would adore it. It contains 15 crochet designs for US$4.95. It is definitely not worth the price. I've decided to include little link pictures for most of the designs, since you really have to see some of this to believe it. I won't be doing that for any other magazine reviews, because it's a pain in the ass.

There is an inane section on teaching sextuplets to crochet and a question and answer section at the end that are moronic.


Peach Sensation Poncho - Raynelda Calderon - Picture my Koigu cross stitch scarf done in vomit pink Caron yarn
Harbor Light Afghan - Angel Rhet - Way too much trouble for a bad afghan
From Shoes to Sandals - Bendy Carter - Recycled Keds bottoms??
Tackle Box Purse - Bendy Carter - Looks more like a badly made dream catcher
Flights of Fancy - Jo Ann Maxwell - Use pipe cleaners, it's faster
Flower Power Poncho - Bendy Carter - It's short even on a 12 year old
Pretty in Pink Purse - Bendy Carter - Makes me ill to look at it
Snakeskin Wallet and Wristband - Bendy Carter - What a waste
Rapper's Cap and Belt - Bendy Carter - It's pretty sad when you can't even make a decent one of these in crochet
Striped Henley Pullover - Bendy Carter - By far the most hideous design in the magazine
Sporty Carryall - Bendy Carter - Just plain useless
Hip-Hugger Belt - Katherine Eng - Laughably ridiculous
Sparkling Peridot Necklace - Katherine Eng - Just awful
Midnight Blue Top - Lara Gebhardt - At least crochet doesn't make novelty yarns look any more awful than knitting does
Morning Glories Afghan - Tammy Hildebrand - A flowered afghan done in Red Heart...uh, no

Readers' Comments/Questions
Someone commented in an e-mail that we need to put together a "Fresh Air Fund" for Franklin so he can come out for Rhinebeck.

I wonder if we could collect enough in small contributions to fly Franklin out here and back. God knows he's a city boy, and could benefit greatly from the clean fresh air in upstate New York.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Trying To Get Back To Slavery

I'm convinced that the Redumblican administration is trying to get us back to a time where there was a distinct upper class, and a distinct lower class. They must miss their cheap servants.

Minimum Wage
Do you know what the Federal minimum hourly wage is?

Do you know when the last time it was increased?

Easy answers, $5.15 and 1997.

Yes, if you're lucky enough to have a full-time job at minimum wage, you can expect to earn an annual salary of $10,712.

But you say, surely you can work some overtime. Let's say you work 60 hours a week. That would bring your annual wages up to a wopping $18,746.

And you wonder why the cashier behind the counter at Seven-Eleven is surly.

The federal minimum hourly wage, adjusted for inflation, is the lowest it's been since it's inception in 1955.

At this rate, you'd think folks would be scrambling to sign up for the armed services.

Current Knitting
I made quite a bit of progress on the Wool/Hemp Pullover.



I like the way that Barb described the gold highlights. I see it the same way. Here's a closeup of the pattern stitch (both the ribbing at the bottom and the main ribbing).



Readers' Comments/Questions
I just wanted to say that both Franklin and Mindy's comments made me well up with tears. For very different reasons.

Thanks for both the mini-stories.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Recruitment Goals

I've worked in Human Resources for almost all of my professional life (almost 25 years now), and I've never seen anything more ridiculous than "Don't Ask, Don't Tell".

The Latest Insanity
Check out this story about an honorable soldier who is currently serving as an opely gay man in Iraq.

He's about to be discharged, but not because of his sexual orientation. Since his discharge was iminent, he decided to come out. He has served two tours of duty in Iraq, and is an 11-year Army veteran. He has received six Army commendation medals, three Army achievement medals, a Global War on Terrorism service medal and expeditionary medal and two National Defense service medals. And his unit knows he's gay, and it hasn't affected their morale.

The ridiculous part of this story is that even though he'd be glad to stay on in the military, he won't be allowed because of his sexuality.

What's wrong with this picture? I thought the military was hard up for recruits? I guess not that hard up.

New Project
I finished the bottom ribbing and about an inch of the body of the new Wool Hemp sweater.



Since I had decided to do a 6X2 broken rib for the body of the sweater, I figured a 2X2 broken rib would look nice at the bottom, and would transition smoothly to the body.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mary F. asks "Okay you mentioned a new wheel. Confess what are you thinking about purchasing and has the loom been set aside for the future?"

I mentioned it a while back when I got back from Rhinebeck last year. I put a down-payment on a Robin Spinning Wheel, which is slated to be ready for delivery sometime around April, 2006.

I also totally agree with banning handknit bathing suits and pants.

Recently, Koigu had a gorgeous looking pair of pants in one of the magazines. But I still wouldn't even consider it because of the sag factor.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Bad Uses For Knitting

I'm sure you could name quite a few ways that knitting shouldn't be used. I choose the handknitted skirt.

Knitting Skirts
Someone on the KnitList mentioned that they were searching for the perfect pattern for a handknit skirt.

She found this one, but didn't know how to order it in Japanese.



Is the model using suspenders to keep this heavy piece of clothing from falling to her ankles? Nevermind that it would require a lining or a slip to wear this.

Please, people. Leave the skirt knitting to the machines.

New Project
Well, first of all, the wool hemp yarn isn't really blue. It's mostly gray with pale yellow and natural highlights. Sorry Barb, my color memory sucks sometimes, and I thought it was blue.

I decided to swatch up the yarn to see how it knitted up. I was planning on doing a 5X1 broken rib for the body of the sweater, but when I did a swatch of it, I wasn't pleased with how the pooling and striping of the yarn was working out.

I thought perhaps I should do a slip-stitch pattern, but didn't know which one, so I did a swatch with two slip stitch patterns, stockinette stitch and a 6x2 broken rib.



While I preferred one of the two slip stitches, Thaddeus liked the broken rib, so I've decided to make a pullover using the 6X2 broken rib. For some reason, this one didn't seem to flash so badly.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn asks why I spin onto my bobbins so unevenly.

She is right, in that my method of loading singles onto the bobbin makes it more difficult to ply directly off the bobbin. But, my method of spinning makes it easier to just keep spinning as long as I can without stopping, so I don't change the hooks very often.

If I wasn't expecting a new spinning wheel within the year, I'd consider buying a Woolee Winder for my wheel. That way, I wouldn't have to stop spinning at all to change hooks.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Diplomacy

I've always been able to be very diplomatic when I needed to be.

Confrontation
I've never been a big fan of confrontation, especially in the workplace.

However, in an on-line world, I seem to enjoy interesting bickering and controversy. Perhaps it's the safety of hiding behind a lifeless computer monitor or perhaps it's the freedom of being able to express myself more freely in a much more open and dynamic world.

Either way, I encourage thoughtful debate, even when it pisses people off.

Knitters Review - Summer 2005



Overall, there are 18 patterns for US$5.95. There are some nice designs, but not a single man's garment ( unless afghan's and pillows would be considered a men's garment). And plenty of eyesores. I feel this issue was a waste of money


Parchment Leaves - Maureen Mason-Jamieson - Simple and boring
4 Corners - Knitter's Design Team - Hideous rag
Lilac Wrap - Angela Juergens - A furry very lilac partial afghan
Lilac Top - Knitter's Design Team - Simply boring and bad color
Pinon Shell - Dana Hurt - Nothing of interest here...move along
Plaited Poncho - Knitter's Design Team - Badly executed version of a very bad garment
Mesa Verde - Kathy Cheifetz - Not overly interesting, but not awful
Chaco Stripes - Knitter's Design Team - Interesting design for an afghan
Whispering Rose - Katharine Hunt - Bad color, nice design
Painted Desert - Uschi Nolte - Not an awful use of expensive ribbon
Aguave - Katharine Hunt - The nicest garment in the issue
Squash Blossom - Kay Dahlquist - Most unflattering, ugly design in the issue
Bolero Blue (cover) - Maggie Jackson - Dumpy and silly looking
Sunset Wrap - Denis Powell - A wrap in worsted weight cotton...uh, no
Turquoise Jewel - Jean Frost - Not an awful design in a very bad color
Latigo - Elsebeth Lavold - Simple and interesting
Abalone - Deborah Newton - Sweet Jesus this is bad!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Barb B. mentions "In spinning I personally seem to spin either a woolen/worsted or a worsted/woolen."

I tend to believe that my spinning produces a woolen/worsted yarn, whether the fiber has been combed or carded. I like the combination. It's seems to be strong fiber, but still soft. Now I just have to work on making it a little loftier.

Overall, I was quite impressed with the snarky comments on the last entry. I also loved how Sean ends his comment with "namaste". The sentiment behind "namaste" as a greeting is always a good reminder for me to see the godly qualities of others. Especially after having reviewed the Summer Knitters.