Tuesday, March 28, 2006

What's The Opposite of Fanatic

Most readers know that I am not a fan of sports, and that distaste extends to pseudo sports as well, like NASCAR.

What Kind of Lesson is This?
Whenever I'm stationed in a largely blue-collar area, and I've never stayed in a place as largely blue-collar as Schenectady, I always notice certain similarities.


- Folks aspire to work in an office, even if the work is menial or clerical
- Bars and churches are the most prevalent buildings in town
- The local gay bar is in the slummiest, scariest neighborhood
- Bowling is a respectable thing to do and can't be mocked
- Trucks and cars are adorned with NASCAR stickers

This poster adorns the local Sunoco gas station where I fill up.



Is the statement here, "Fill up with gas and Budweiser before driving very fast."?

I get the impression that the man in this photo is easily recognizable by most of the folks that know anything about NASCAR, and that his presence in a national ad campaign for Sunoco seems to indicate he might have some influence over our driving youth. It amazes me that folks can protest teaching family planning in schools, yet they glorify famous race car drivers holding an open beer can.

Current Knitting
I have knit a total of one whole row on the new lace shawl, and what's even more pathetic, it was a simple knit row of only 270 stitches.

Unfortunately, based on my schedule, tonight doesn't look much more promising as far as my time for knitting goes, but you never know.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding lazy kates, Judy says, "Consider buying a schacht lazy kate-they're not that expensive, and are tensioned, giving more control while plying."

I think Schacht did a great thing with their lazy kate, allowing you to ply or wind off your bobbins without worrying about the dreaded "spin back." This is especially useful for someone like me who doesn't switch flyer hooks often enough sometimes, and lets the singles build up on the bobbin, so the spinning off of the singles goes from very fast bobbin turning to not-so-fast bobbin turning and will often wind back on itself, and break my singles.

Unfortunately, the Schacht lazy kate can only handle other brand bobbins up to 8 1/8" long, and I'm willing to bet the Robin Wheel bobbins are longer than that. I'll have to measure.

Male Obstinance

Sometimes I ask myself whether I'd rather get what I want, or be right.

Harrowing Escape From My Own Stupidity
I was stopped for speeding last night in Latham, New York.

I was following two cars on the "Northway" (going South) who were going about 75 mph in a 55 mph zone. The guy directly in front of me and I both spotted a police car on the side of the highway at the same time and slowed down quickly. The policeman stopped me.

When he came to my car, he told me he clocked me going 91 mph. I told him I was absolutely not going that fast and that he either clocked someone else, or his radar was broken. His follow-up comments gave me the impression that he might have exaggerated my speed since I was from out of state, and not likely to contest the ticket. As part of my apology of stupidly speeding, I let him know that I was up in the Albany area every week.

He took my license and registration back to his car and returned to my window about five minutes later without a ticket.

When he emphatically repeated that I was going 91, but he was feeling generous and wouldn't give me a ticket, I seriously considered arguing the point about my speed.

Then sanity returned, and I thanked him with as much sincerity as I could muster.

But the whole situation left me highly pissed off, and unsatisfied.

Current Knitting
I'm floundering right now as to what to knit. The yarn I want to make my next sweater out of isn't completely spun/plied yet (as you'll read below), and I don't want to make more scarves or hats or small projects.

I decided to pull out the original lace project that I tried starting a while ago, and last night and this morning, I picked up around 240 stitches from the waste yarn, and unraveled the six rows of lace knitting I screwed up before throwing the whole project in a bag.

It might be too complex to start at the moment, but I didn't feel like working on anything else.

Non-Knitting Activities
I focused a lot of my time this weekend on spinning and got a great deal done.



I'm almost done filling all three bobbins. Since I was trying to determine how I would set up the three bobbins for triple plying, I wanted to check to see if I could modify my shoebox lazy kate to hold three bobbins.

While the length would hold three bobbins (just barely), the width isn't enough to handle the bobbins from my Robin wheel. They are significantly longer than my Louet bobbins, so I'll have to create a new lazy kate.

I've also been focusing some of my time on my latest book, which I just finished.



Dharma Punx by Noah Levine is a memoir of his life going from a teenager involved in punk music that takes him into a drug addiction and juvenile detention centers, to a self-actualized meditation instructor.

I found the writing to be simplistic and the editing wasn't very crisp. Many of the morals he draws from his travels I found to be mundane for someone who has clearly gone from hopeless to enlightened in the course of a memoir. However, I thought the story made up for the writing, the editing and the moralizing. I found the story real and compelling and intimate, and I also found myself relating to the author despite very dissimilar backgrounds and histories. I was glad to have read this little gem.

Readers' Comments/Questions
I quote Marilyn's comments from yesterday in total for two reasons:


"Not a geek, not a dork. Joe is the preppiest gay guy I ever met but he does it with such panache. And then throws the whole image off balance by using those little hocus-pocus needles. That's why I love him.

I would not want to be Ms. Blog Popularity. If the masses loved me that much, I'd be doing something wrong and not being true to my cranky self. Besides, as Joe says, who wants to have to satisfy the masses? I write for me and if people read it, great. If not, that's fine too."

1. She sums me up very accurately in one paragraph
2. She succinctly writes in one paragraph that which I have tried to define in multiple blog entries.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Jealousy and Envy

Envy is a feeling about what others have which we do not have. Jealousy is a feeling about what we have which we want to keep for ourselves. Envy is a desire to possess what another has and jealousy is a refusal to share what one possesses.

Blog Envy
Blog friend Franklin has made a meteoric rise in the knit-blogdom, and rightfully so. His writing is clever and witty. He is very ingratiating to his readers and to other bloggers. And he has volunteered his ample talents of drawing and design to causes such as the Knit Blog Awards and the Knitting Olympics.

Having just heard Franklin guest-host the Cast-On podcast, created and hosted regularly by Brenda Dayne, I have to admit, I grow more and more envious of his talents each new thing he does.

Don't get me wrong, I'm grateful to have a very intelligent, funny and creative readership, and I would find it overwhelming to have to satisfy the masses that read more popular blogs, like Stephanie's and Franklin's.

But I still envy Franklin his talents and humor.

Current Knitting
Since Fredda questioned whether my nice, shiny, new knitting needles actually worked, I decided I needed to take them for a test drive.



I used the largest set of needles (US17) and worked with the nylon/acrylic ribbon I got on clearance at JoAnn's last week. The needles worked perfectly fine, and I will definitely use these needles in public as much as I can.

I wouldn't want anyone thinking I was a geek just because I knit in public. These needles should take care of that.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my lunch with Lucy Neatby, Mama Lu asks, "Speaking of which, what colour was her hair?"

It was royal blue and purple, and quite lovely.

Regarding the faux rib hat, Seanna Lee asks, "The hat looks fairly thick. Does this slip stitch pattern make a nice thick warm hat or more of an early spring hat in the yarn you used?"

I used a US5 needle and worsted weight yarn. The result was a dense, thick fabric that is warm and holds its shape.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Gay Knitter...

...and his toys!

Had To Have
I don't knit much with straight needles (I mean, they're straight afterall), but when I saw these...



...in JoAnn's last night, I just had to have them.

They are see-through acrylic with gold sparkles and are in sizes between US8 and US17. They're practically like the fairy princess' magic wands fercrhissakes. They will have to come up with a different name for these not-so-straight needles.

I also bought some clearance yarn that was 60% off.



It's Moda Dea Fresh ribbon made of acrylic and nylon. I don't know what I'll do with it, but it was 60% off and it was yarn...no brainer there.

Current Knitting
I finished up the last shaping on the faux rib cap, and while pictures don't do it justice, it's a very nice hat.



I'll try to find someone who looks good in hats model it for me so I can show how happy it would make anyone who wears it.

Next Project
I have no idea.

Actually, I have lots of ideas, I just don't know which one I'll pursue.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mhairi asks, "The cap looks good, but can I ask, what is faux rib?"

Faux rib can be a lot of things. The first faux rib I did was on my sock knitting machine. I deactivated every third needle, and the small gap created in the fabric created the look of a 2x1 rib. But in the case of the hat I just finished, it's basically a sl1, P1 on the first round and an all knit on the second, which has two benefits. One, it's simpler to do than ribbing because every other round is a simple knit round, and two, it doesn't stretch/pull in as much as regular rib, wich is exactly what I was looking for in this fabric.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Technical Progress

For those of you who go through the queerjoe.com, you'll notice that you're not getting the temporary redirect page.

Progress, Not Perfection
Ideally what I'd like to do is point the queerjoe.com domain name to my blog, and have it keep the queerjoe.com URL at on the URL address line, but that doesn't seem to be possible.

In trying to research how to do that, I found this thing called a 301 Permanent Redirect function that allows me to forward all users going to queerjoe.com to my blog without using an HTML meta tag redirect.

Now, if anyone can tell me how to point my queerjoe.com domain to queerjoe.blogspot.com, I'd consider it perfect.

Knitting Royalty
Through my work at Tomato Factory, Simply Knit and by writing this blog, I've had the great pleasure of getting to meet a lot of amazingly creative and popular knitwear designers.

Yesterday, I go to have lunch with Lucy Neatby of Tradewind Designs fame.

I got a last minute phone call from Fredda (last minute because of my e-mail's fault, not Fredda's) asking if I'd like to meet up with Lucy. Lucy publishes some of her patterns on Fredda's site, The Knitting Vault. We ended up speinding over two hours chatting about knitting and design and the knitting business world. Lucy is incredibly knowledgeable in all of those areas. It was great spending time with both Lucy and Fredda.

Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera or my knitting with me, so I couldn't snap pictures or compare my hat with Lucy's "mindless knitting." Lucy's version of mindless knitting is a diagonally knit, beaded scarf. It was quite lovely, and as soon as the pattern shows up on the Knitting Vault, I will own it.

Both Lucy and I agreed that we couldn't possibly imagine why more designers don't self-publish their knitting designs on the Knitting Vault. It doesn't prevent them from selling the patterns elsewehere, and generates ongoing income for a one time upload effort. Seems like kind of a no-brainer to all three of us at lunch.

Current Knitting
Slacker that I am, I haven't quite finished the faux-rib cap. I have gotten past a few rounds of shaping, so it's going faster.



Suffice it to say, I will definitely finish this project tonight.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks to all who contributed to the comments on the dismal state of healthcare in this country. I honestly used to think that having a government bureaucracy in charge of national healthcare was kind of scary, but I can't imagine it could be worse than the current greedy corporate model.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Healthcare

Or more like "Health, I don't Care."

Health Insurance Sucks
I know there are boatloads of opinions on how lousy health insurance in this country is, but today's blog entry is a personal one.

If someone decides they want to quit smoking and is looking for some pharmacological help to do it in this country, they better expect to pay out the nose for it, since most insurance companies won't pay for drugs like Zyban or Bupropion SR.

That is, of course, unless you're depressed enough to go on Wellbutrin at the same time you want to quit smoking. Zyban, Bupropion and Wellbutrin are all the same drug, and insurance will typically pay for them when used for treating depression, but not when used for smoking cessation efforts.

It pisses me off more than I can tell you how short term the thinking is of our health insurance companies. They'd rather pay millions later for treating breathing disorders or lung cancer than pay for a drug now that would likely double a person's chance of quitting cigarettes.

Assholes.

Current Knitting
I got up to the point on the hat where I'm decreasing, so it should move along quickly, but there was no way I was going to be able to finish the hat last night. Perhaps tonight if I get an opportunity to knit.

Other Fiber-Related Activities
This past weekend, in between ripping out the ribbed sweater and starting the faux ribbed hat, I also spent some time on the Robin wheel, with my friend the Blueface Leicester



As I mentioned yesterday, I'm now even more anxious to get this yarn plied up so I can use it for the aborted Benoit faux ribbed sweater.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Queer Irishmen

The "curse of the Irish" used to either mean alcoholism or being less endowed in the manhood area. Now it means being gay.

I'm a St. Patrick's Day Scrooge
Even though I'm mostly of Irish decent, I refuse to celebrate an ancestry that would bring morons like John Dunleavy into this world.

He's the head of the NYC St. Patrick's day parade, and he told the newspaper,


"If an Israeli group wants to march in New York, do you allow Neo-Nazis into their parade? If African-Americans are marching in Harlem, do they have to let the Ku Klux Klan into their parade?"

About the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization, Dunleavy said, "People have rights. If we let the ILGO in, is it the Irish Prostitute Association next?"

His comments are consistent with years of hatred and bigotry by the Hibernian Society who have rejected requests by queer Irish folk to march under their own banner in the yearly parade.

Personally, I wear not a speck of green, I don't wish anyone a happy day and I purposefully eat Thai food as my own protest to such homophobia.

Current Knitting
I ended up undoing the "Benoit" sweater, and combining the yarn with a little Cascade yarn I had in my stash to start a little hat.



I'm hoping the hat will end up looking very similar to the commercially made hat that inspired the rib stitch that I'm using (kind of a half-twisted, quasi-brioche faux rib).

Hopefully, I'll finish it tonight.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Concerning my three close encounters with lightning, Franklin noted, "You can bet I am never, ever going to stand anywhere near you during a rain storm."

I hesitate to remind him that our one and only meeting last year at Rhinebeck started with a rainstorm. I spared him any lightning.

Fredda (of Knitting Vault fame) asks, "You ARE going to knit the Short Ribs sweater anyway, right? Will you use your own spun yarn?"

I do plan on knitting the Benoit sweater, and depending on the weight of the current batch of Blueface Leicester I'm spinning, I will probably use that. Of course, I'll have to swatch it up to make sure it works with the pattern stitch.

Lightning

Did I ever mention how much I love lighting?

Strikes Twice
I have seen lightning strike within a fifty feet of me three times in my life, and all three times were amazing and exciting for me.

The first time was when I was a teen, a friend and I were hanging out in his yard as a storm approached. The sky hadn't been dark for a minute when the ground about fifty feet away from us exploded with lightning, and travelled upwards into the clouds.

The second time, I was driving on a major highway in New Jersey and the sky started turning that deep, menacing purple/yellow bruiselike color. I smelled that freshness in the air that meant that a bolt of lightning was gathering and pulling all the airborne particulates out of the air. A thin, very straight lightning bolt came out of a low hanging cloud and hit the grass in the median about fifty feet in front of my car, throwing a three foot piece of sod about 10 feet into the air.

The last time was by far the most exciting. I was sitting inside a small office building on the first floor, looking out a window onto a little sidewalk and parking lot. There was an overhang, over the sidewalk, but I could still see that the sky was getting ready to to storm. Again, I felt the impending lightning, but this time it was the hair on the back of my neck standing up. I looked outside to see if there was anything metal that would attract the lightning, and I saw a big red fire bell on one of the posts supporting the overhang, just outside my window. Within seconds, lightning hit the bell, and forked out into about ten different little bolts of lightning, one of which hit a woman in the parking lot. She was knocked down, so I ran out to help her. She seemed a little dazed, but fine, and she couldn't find her car keys. We found them about ten feet to her right, and they were warm to the touch. We assumed the lightning had hit her keys.

I know that some folks hate lightning, but it truly amazes me. The most fascinating aspect of all three of my experiences was the difference in the form of the lightning.

Current Knitting
I got to the end of the first ball of Uno Tweed, and realized that I would be woefully short of yarn for this project.



The picture shows about four and a half inches of knitting, and I only have ten balls of the Uno Tweed. I usually buy enough of most yarn to make a man's large sweater. This purchase was a clearance sale at Simply Knit when they were closing, and I bought all they had.

The name turned out to be "Short Ribs", but given the lack of length and the disappointment of the project, Franklin's suggestion of Benoit would be appropriate. I guess I'll just have to make a bunch of nice hats out of it or something.

Shawl Finishing
I finished binding off the shawl, and did a light ironing, but didn't do a full blocking yet.




I would have done a few things different, but overall, I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I'll get a final measurement after I do a full wet-blocking.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mhairi asks, "Shawl is looking good - will there be a pattern sale soon?"

I don't think I'll sell the pattern, but I will probably post approximate instructions for it. I posted the pattern stitch that I used, and I'll supplement that with number of stitches I cast-on for the center piece and how many I knitted on for the border. But I don't want to write up the increases for the mitered corners, and I'd feel obliged to if I sold the pattern.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Emergency 911...

...and other thoughts on health care and self care.

My Mother Is a Nurse
You'd think that having a mother who is a Registered Nurse would have meant I would have a stronger understanding of how and when to utilize health care, but I have to say, I'm one of the least able to determine when or if I need to go to a doctor.

Ann Marie's mother's voice in comments yesterday made me think about this.

How do you decide when to consult a doctor and when to just let yourself heal naturally?

With regard to my current and mysterious pain in my neck, it seems that I'm just having a normal ache that comes with being a 46 year old man, and that eventually it will go away. And consulting a medical professional seems excessive to me, especially when I avoid medicine unless absolutely necessary (and pain-avoidance isn't absolutely necessary in my opinion), and the doctor will probably just suggest some analgesic.

But, on the other hand, I one time coughed consistently for over two weeks, until Thaddeus finally ordered me to the doctor, who diagnosed bronchitis and prescribed a couple of things that got rid of the cough almost immediately.

As a final note on this subject, I don't anticipate whining on this blog about every pain and sickness I have (there are plenty of knit blogs to which I can refer you that fill that need), nor do I look for healthcare advice from virtual knit-pals. I just find the differing philosophies on the use of healthcare very interesting.

Current Knitting
A modest start, but I've cast on the new sweater and knit a few rows in the tighter of the two pattern stitches.



This will probably be the front of the sweater (as I prefer completing the neck shaping first on the front when designing a sweater on the needles), and I don't plan on doing any ribbing at the bottom (since the pattern stitch is faux ribbing already).

Now I just need a clever name for the new sweater. Any ideas?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Deborah C. extolls the virtures of Sweater Wizard.

I actually own an old version of Sweater Wizard. I was one of the beta testers for the program early on, and I got to work with Carole Wulster on the design of it. She is quite amazing, both from a programming perspective but also with people skills. She actually invited a group of KnitListers to beta test the program, and then dealt with a barrage of criticism, stupid comments and complaints. There was also a little bit of useful testing results in the feedback.

The woman is a saint for how she handled it all

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Beware The Ides

Upstate New York is back to normal with snow and blustery cold winds, work is coming to a frenetic peak, I have what feels like a pulled muscle in my neck and upper back that just won't seem to go away, we have a moron in the oval office and I'm just tired as hell.

Spring is Around The Corner
As James Frey's friend tells him in rehab, when it gets difficult (if you can believe anything he says), just hold on and it will get better.

I must admit, I'm banking on that.

Although, when I compare my life with other folks, I do realize how lucky I am. It's just one of those days when the crap just seems to get me down.

Enough whining.

Current Knitting
I made it to the end of the not-long-enough-tail that I was using for binding off. I figured I could give you a picture of what the shawl looks like a little more spread out than I could while the entire outer edge was on a circular needle.



Overall, I'm rather pleased with the outcome, and I'm very much looking forward to finishing the bind-off and blocking this project. Perhaps one of my sisters will want to borrow it for an upcoming cousin's wedding in April.

New Project
I'm doing the calculations for casting on for the new sweater, and I was thinking how useful it would be to have Sweater Wizard.

Not that I need it, but it's nice to be able to type in the basic information, generate a pattern, lengthen the body and shorten the sleeves a little and then print off a pattern.

Tonight I will cast on for the new sweater. That's always an exciting time.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thank you all for you very honest comments to the post yesterday. It's frightening to realize the number of folks affected by what seems to be an epidemic of abuse and the damage it causes.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Ravings

I know today's subject is highly controversial and very emotional for some folks, but I felt it was necessary to express my opinions.

Sexual Chatting With Minors
Dateline has had a three-part (so far, it's only 3, let's hope they have no more) series called "To Catch A Predator" where they film adults, posing as teenage boys and girls, chatting with potential sexual predators, and getting them to come over for sex.

When the predator arrives, looking to have sex with a 13 year old boy or girl, a Dateline person interviews them, while they secretly film the interview. Once it's revealed that the person will be publicly humiliated, the person almost inevitably tries to leave and either does so successfully or is arrested by local authorities.

Please don't misunderstand, I find child sexual abuse as awful as most of you do, but I also hate how Dateline is conducting themselves.

Here are my concerns:


1. They work with a group called "Perverted-Justice" to help identify and trap predators. This group of vigilantes is known to aggressively search for predators, and pursues them, with constant requests for pictures and offering sex.
2. Perverted Justice's tactics have virtually no success rate in getting child predators off the street. In fact, they have actually hindered formal investigations and invalidated evidence. They have also ruined lives through their methods of entrapment and lies.
3. Dateline sensationalizes the identification of some seemingly very sick individuals.
4. They almost never mention recovery programs for folks that have sexual addictions that would lead them to this sort of behavior.

If I felt that Dateline was helping to make children safer in any way, I would consider this a valid show, but to me, it's clear that they're only looking for viewership, advertisers and dollars.

I find that almost as reprehensible as the child predators they show.

Current Knitting
I made some additional progress on a very slow bind-off process (I'm still less than halfway done binding off). It also looks like I'll be running out of yarn for this method of long-tail bind off, so I won't be able to finish until I get home on Thursday night.

Fortunately, I brought the yarn for the new sweater design so I won't have idle hands.

Other Fiber Related Activities
I continued hand-quilting the first pillow-top. I've started the swirls on the outer border, and it's going pretty quickly, but I still need to decide on what pattern to use on the inside corners of the pillow.

I also got a little more spinning in on the third and final bobbin of Blueface Leicester.



If my occasional "makes" are any indication, this is going to turn out to be some spectacular yarn, and eventually, a spectacular sweater.

Google Tips

Google is an amazing thing. Have you ever been pissed off with a company because you couldn't reach a live customer service agent on the phone. Or have you ever been trying to insert HTML in your blog, but couldn't figure out how?

Google It
A couple of times when dealing with on-line companies I couldn't accomplish what I needed to on the company's web site, and when I tried to find a number to call, I couldn't find one anywhere. The first was when I was trying to cancel my AOL account, the most recent time, was when I was having a ridiculously hard time placing an order with Amazon.

I learned a great search tip.

Type " sucks" (e.g. "Amazon sucks") in the Google search window, and you'll be amazed at the information you can find.

Anytime I've tried this, I've found an enormous amount of information on how to contact customer service or resolve problems that the companies typically try to keep lees than public. This includes direct customer service phone numbers and e-mails as well as tips to navigating their sometimes less-than-user-friendly web pages.

Current Knitting
Well, the knitting is finished on the Accidental Shawl, but I still have to bind off a very long edge.



I looked in Heirloom Knitting to see the best way of binding off fine-gauge lace, and they suggest the "kitchnering off" method to give the bind-off a loose, stretchy edge. I started using this method and had only finished binding off about 10 stitches, and I'm starting to regret this decision.

Oh well, I'll carry on.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Accidental Shawl, Fredda asks, "What are the dimensions of the scarf?"

It's over five feet long and will hopefully be about 2 feet wide. We'll see how it turns out once it's blocked.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Shameless Promotions

I have very little need for shame in my life, especially when it comes to promoting friends and family.

Three Causes
There are three things I want to promote in today's blog entry:


1. A friend and coworker is good friends with the lead singer of an amazing independent band called The Churchills. I've heard them perform, and own a few of their CD's and I personally think their music is quite amazing. The are in a contest right now for the best Indie band, and folks can support them by sending an e-mail to beau@theindieshow.com with a subject line of "I Vote For the Churchills".

Feel free to listen to their music on their site.

2. My sister has started practicing Reiki professionally, and anyone in the suburbs South of Boston can find out about her Reiki practice on her web site by clicking on the button in the upper left column of this web page. She's a Reiki master, and while I've been practicing Reiki for a lot longer, I'm no where near as talented as she is (I'm also only trained to the second level of three).

3. Finally, MoveOn is asking for support for an important election initiative which I feel is very worthy. Please consider supporting them.

Current Knitting
Does this look ANY different?



If this thing doesn't grow enough by tomorrow, I'm just going to cast off and call it a shawl.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the swatch and associated sweater design, k asks "Will this be a (for want of a better word) formal sweater?"

I'm not quite sure what you mean. It will probably be a crew-neck pullover, with set-in sleeves, knit flat and sewn up.

Also regarding the same sweater, Carol S. asks, "Is this sweater going to be for you, Joe? Because I think that color will look good on you."

The sweater will probably be for both Thaddeus and I. Actually, this color isn't a very good color for me, but all I have to do is wear it with a bright blue shirt underneath, and it works like a charm. I love being able to wear interesting colors, and most times when the "interesting color" isn't very good on me, all I have to do is find a complementary colored shirt to wear under it that I do look good in and it solves my problem.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Confession Time

Bless me Father, for I have sinned...

My Shame
Ann Marie asked if I had read the article on impeachment in the latest Harpers magazine.

I have to admit, like our incompetent president, I don't read newspapers or magazines.

Yes, it's true, I have never enjoyed getting my news from a daily newspaper, and even though I subscribed to the monthly gay news magazine (The Advocate) for a number of years, I hardly ever read it.

Mostly I get my news from television, radio and the internet.

I like reading, and do at least some reading every day, but I only read books and only for pleasure.

Now you know my guilty little secret.

Political Cause
Bill Napoli is the biggest asshole since Rick Santorum. Check out Carol's blog for details.

Current Knitting
Making slow but steady progress on the Accidental Shawl.

I also couldn't wait to start the swatch of the new sweater.



Below the yellow line, I used a smaller needles and got a dense fabric. Above the line is the same stitch, except looser, on a bigger needle.

Everyone to whom I've shown the swatch agrees the tighter fabric is better for this yarn (as do I).

Gay Knitting In Albany
I've come late to find out that Sydney K. Allen is doing a bi-weekly knitting class at the Capital District Gay & Lesbian Community Center (CDGLCC) in Albany, every other Tuesday night between February 21st and April 4th. Anyone interested in learning can go. I don't know Sydney, but a friend of mine went and said it was fun.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Naming Conventions

Is it just me, or are men more apt to assign a name to their genitals than women?

Naming Your Member
In reading a little about the movie Transamerica yesterday, I noted that even Felicity Huffman, pretending to be a man, named her prosthetic penis "Andy". And Norah Vincent, in her book, Self-Made Man had a cute little name for hers as well. What was the name again, Lisa?

I've never been a fan of naming body parts...Joe Jr., Mini-me, my Johnson. The closest I've ever come to that is calling it my dick...but I don't consider that a proper name (even when the last name is Cheney). While I can understand that some guys think the thing has a mind of it's own, I still don't understand naming it.

Do women name their pudenda? Do women name their husband/boyfriend's penis? Or is this strictly a manly event?

Current Knitting
I did get a little knitting done on the lace shawl. Mondays are travel days, where I'm up at four in the morning and don't get to sleep until around ten at night, so knitting time is a little more scarce.

Other Weekend Fiber Activity
I got a little more quilting done on the first pillow top, but it wasn't significant progress. I can't decide on what kind of stitch design I want in the corners, inside the borders of the pillow.

Do I go rounded and swirly (like the borders will be), or do I stich with the straight diagonals? Any input from the experts?

I also got some more spinning done on the Blueface Leicester.



As I make more and more progress on this yarn, I can't help but dream about how nice this will be to knit with, and the resulting fabric.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my mis-estimate of the completion timeframe of the Accidental Shawl, MP asks, "Is this a new trend? I have never given it much thought - except when knitting for a gift. After all I consider knitting a hobby and not job with a deadline."

Even BG (before blogging), I used to impose deadlines on my knitting projects. I am a very deadline-driven person, so it's useful for me to feel I'm making progress toward a goal, even when self-imposed. I am not one of the knitters who consider knitting to be a relaxing hobby. I consider knitting to be more like "productive fidgeting," and fidgeting isn't usually a trait of a relaxed person.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Compromise

The word 'compromise' can have such negative connotations, but I find it's a necessary component of day-to-day life.

Viewpoint
I guess it's all in the perspective of how something is viewed as to whether compromising is a good thing or a bad thing.

This past weekend, we saw the movie "Transamerica", and I was highly impressed with the movie, and I'm very glad for having gotten to see it. I have nothing but high praise for both the writer/director Duncan Tucker as well as Eve Battaglia, who cast the movie.

One complaint that I've heard about the movie, is that Felicity Huffman (who plays a transexual in the movie) should have been played by a real transexual.

On the one hand, I think that would probably have made the movie better, depending on who played the part, and certainly it would have made the movie more realistic.

On the other hand, Ms. Huffman did an admirable job playing a transexual (I personally think she should have won out over Reese Witherspoon for best actress), and her name recognition brought this movie to a much wider audience than it would have without her. Allowing middle-America to see some of the issues faced by the transgendered in this country was an important part of this movie for me, and having someone with prime time credibility helped get those messages across. It was handled in a very sympathetic way, but wasn't all Ron Howard-ized.

Did they compromise the integrity of the movie by having a GG (genuine girl) play the transexual part? Was it worth the compromise?

Current Knitting
I'm getting worse and worse at estimating how long a knitting project will take me. I worked like a dog on the Accidental Shawl this weekend, and I've got three and a half inches of the border complete (perhaps four, depending on blocking), but that still leaves at least another inch to knit.



With hopes of finishing this project this week, I brought some additional yarn with me to Albany to start the design of my next project.



This is Numero Uno Tweed yarn by Lana Grossa in a nice muted orange tweed. I'll try swatching this in a few ways and see how I like it in various stitch patterns.

Readers' Comment/Questions
I know some of you don't go to prior entries and read comments, but Mhairi had a comment that I thought was important to respond to. Mhairi writes, "I looked at your picture - I read that you would be 54 yrs in 7yrs time.
I checked the picture again!
Either the picture has been around for some time, or I need to get me some of the face cream you use!"

Thanks Mhairi, I work very hard at keeping my youthful looks. I am about to turn 47 and while that picture is probably about one or two years old, I don't look significantly different. If anyone is interested in my skincare regimen, I only wash my face with water (never soap) and I use a combination of two Clinique products on my face. Turnaround cream each morning after I bathe during the week, and M Lotion on the weekends when I'm home. Both seem to make a difference, even though I have been luck to be blessed with good skin and a decent head of hair that hasn't grayed too much yet.

Regarding my friend Stephen's hat that I plan on using the pattern stitch for, Carol S. asks, "Is your friend's hat commercially knit, or handknit?"

It's a commercially available hat (I'll have to find the brand name, he told me, but I forgot), but it may have been hand knit by someone in Indonesia or something.

Iris wrote, "I am very curious about how your brown Blue faced Leister will look plied. I spun some natural white last year, and loved it. It's going into a sweater, so it will take some time to have a finished piece. I like the luster of this fiber, and the fact that for a longer fiber it is still remarkably soft."

I'm glad someone else has had a similar experience with this fiber. I am also very curious as to how it will ply up. So much so, that I may decide to only fill up one third of the last bobbin and ply it to see how it comes out before finishing the remaining singles. Somehow, that seems like cheating, and I may decide not to.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

I Won't Stop

I know that many of the things that I try to bring attention to on this blog about the complete mess this government is making of our country all fall by the wayside, and there appear to be no consequences.

That won't stop me from highlighting them anyway.

Naive Hopes
I still have idealistic thoughts that with the November elections this year, changes will start in the House and Senate, and the landfill mountains of ineptitude, corruption and hatred will all pile up to provide an overwhelming backdrop for a rise in Democrats being elected.

Yes, naive, perhaps, but I have to hold on to something.

Katrina - New Revelations
The Associated Press released videos of the President and Chertoff being briefed on Katrina and the concerns about being able to handle it, the day before the hurricane hit. Despite major spin being put on this by the administration, the videos make it quite clear that they knew the full extent of the problem (even though they have said otherwise), and they were still incredibly unprepared to handle it.

Check out the particulars here.

I don't know how these immoral pricks can sleep at night.

Current Knitting
I made a modicum of progress on the Accidental Shawl last night and this morning, but still not enough to show a progress picture. Perhaps tomorrow if I make it home through the snow this evening.

I'm starting to think about what I want to do next, and I am at a complete loss for ideas. I'd like to make a sweater, so I'll have to start looking through my stash and see which bag 'o yarn I will look at for swatching next.

I have some great orange tweed in a DK weight that would make a perfect version of shallow v-neck patterned pullover, but as you can see from the picture, I already have one in a similar color. I guess it's time to design something else.

A friend of mine has a great new hat that's knit in some kind of faux rib done through twisted slip stitches, I think.



If you could picture this stitche, except where the knit stitches are half-twisted, it would look something like what I'm talking about.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Cheap Oil

While the United States struggles to deal with issues of severe poverty, they still get annoyed that Hugo Chavez will sell our poor people cheap heating oil.

Why Can't We Help Our Own Poor?
Despite all the references to charity and helping the impoverished in the bible, this country, founded on Judeo/Christian values can't seem to do anything about the problems. In fact, they seem to only do things politically that make it worse.

And yet, when the Fidel Castro-sympathizer from Venezuela sells the poor in this country heating fuel at a 40% discount, he is berated by Washington. The ever-popular John McCain called him a "Venezuelan whacko."

I know this issue has been in the news for a while, but I just got around to reading about it, and American's should be ashamed that their poor are freezing because they can't afford heating oil, and we have to accept charity from a political enemy.

I guess not ashamed enough to actually do anything about it except call him names.

Current Knitting
Another whole round completed last night.

At this rate, the Accidental Shawl will be done by next Winter.

Picture at the end of the week when I can actually show some progress.

Spinning
I forgot to mention that I finished the second bobbin of singles with the Blueface Leicester and started the third.



If you look closely, you can even see Gage's feet in the picture, but I don't count this toward my self-imposed limit on the number of cat pictures I include in the blog.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Franklin asks, "So, when you retire, if you keep on working just for the ducks of it, do you think will stay in the same field (perhaps on a consulting or reduced time basis) or would you try something you've always wanted to, but never did - if there is such a thing?"

I would consider doing freelance consulting if I could find a project that was in an interesting place, and had interesting work in my area of expertise. Especially if some of the folks I have worked with in the past could vouch for the client. But those circumstances aren't overly likely. Most likely, I would look to try to co-own a yarn store in my area and work on the web part of the business. I don't think I would look for any unexplored new hobbies (except for weaving or perhaps skydiving).