Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Power Cords


If they can come up with a pretty workable standard for weights and measurements in the country, why the hell can't they come up with a standard plug for recharging all my electronic devices.

Rant
I know they have universal charge cords that you can buy with every possible tip to attach to every possible electronic device, but I know me, and I would eventually lose the most critical tip after only one or two uses.

I have two charge cords for my computer. Since I don't want to carry one around with me, I keep one at home and one wherever I'm workiing at my client.

I have three charge cords for my cellular phone. One, I keep at home, one I carry with me, and the third one is for recharging my phone in the car.

I have a charge cord for my digital camera. I only have one of those, so I carry it with me.

I have a charge cord for my blue tooth headset. I keep it at home. Since I keep my headset in the car, I have to constantly remember to recharge it every couple of weeks or so.

I have other charge cords, but they either stay constantly plugged in, or I hardly every use them.

I guess looking like an octopus when I travel is the price I pay for wanting battery operated electronic devices.

Current Knitting
I've finally been able to get a picture of the current sleeve for the Dark Tweed pullover.



Believe it or not, this is about 12 inches of a 19 inch sleeve (without the sleeve cap shaping). Of course, the sleeve gets wider and wider as it goes up, so each row takes longer and longer to knit. But I'm still hoping to finish the sleeve by the end of the week.

Spinning Activity
I've been doing quite a bit of spinning lately. First of all, I plied the superwash merino from Lorna's Laces that Franklin so generously gifted me.



I have no idea what I'll use this yarn for, but whatever it is, it will be very special. The yarn is soft and the colors are spectacularly beautiful. I am quite pleased with how it turned out.

I also decided to start spinning the other multi-color merino I had from Ashbrook Farms.




I'm spinning loose singles that will end up producing a two-ply, worsted weight yarn (I hope). I'm really liking how the singles are coming out so far.



I think I'm going to like the resulting yarn from this wool as well, and it's spinning up very quickly, since it's thicker than I usually spin singles.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ann Marie in Philly asks, "How is the colorblock sweater coming?"

I haven't touched it since before vacation, but I intend to pick it back up sometime this weekend, when I get bored with finishing the dark tweed pullover.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Oscar Buzz


I know, it's another reason I should have my gay card revoked, but I really don't care about the Oscars.

The Positive Side
As I clicked through all the standard morning shows on television this morning, and watched the afterglow of last night's awards, I could only think to myself, "At least I'm not having to hear about Britney and Anna Nicole as much today."

I loved Pan's Labyrinth, but I don't need to know it won awards. It kind of makes all awards more cheap, when they give one to Jennifer Hudson. Don't get me wrong, I liked Dream Girls, and I thought Jennifer Hudson was quite good, especially as a first-time actress. But it wasn't an award-worthy performance, in my opinion.

Like I said, at least I didn't have to hear about what body part Britney was shaving in public today.

Current Knitting
I've done some additional work on the second sleeve of the Dark Tweed Pullover. I'm hopeful to be finished with the knitting of this sweater by the end of the week, and do all the sewing up and finishing over the weekend.

Again, I wasn't able to get a decent picture, so I'm postponing posting one at the moment.

Ramblings
I was browsing through The Knitting Vault last night, and saw an absolutely beautiful new shawl design by Sivia Harding, called "Hanging Garden Stole." I couldn't see the beaded cast-on/off edging she mentions in the description, but it sounds lovely.

It got me to thinking, why wouldn't a designer post their patterns to the Knitting Vault? It cost nothing. It adds a free channel of marketing. And it handles all the overhead for letting customers order the pattern, download the PDF file, and it even distributes any errata to all customers who have purchased the pattern.

I don't sell a lot of my patterns on this site, but I sell more than I would if the site didn't exist.

I'm thinking about setting myself up with a new designer name, and publishing a bunch of simple, basic patterns for all sorts of knitted garments in a bunch of different sizes. A crew-neck pullover, a v-neck pullover, a cardigan, etc. They don't have to be overly interesting, but it would offer a good source for purchasing an all-sizes pattern for some of the basic sweater designs.

We'll see if I get the time, or if someone else beats me to it.

Spring 2007 Interweave Knits



Despite the dreadful cover "design" that makes the magazine look like it's trying to replace the old Workbasket magazines, there were two items in this issue that made the magazine worth buying.

The first was a wonderful man's Fair Isle pullover. I love the colors and the overall look of the sweater is just right.



The second, was an article and a corresponding sock design by Eunny Jang on entrelac knitting.



I know a lot of knitters find this technique passé, but Ms. Jang adds a new excitement to the old technique, and like many things, uses it to it's best advantage.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Anne Marie and Marilyn both asked, "If Thaddeus won't fly again, how does he supposed he's going to get there next year?"

Thaddeus has said the same thing for the last couple of years, but he usually realizes that flying is better than being cooped up with doughy, white Americans on a cruise ship for a week. Our trip home was much easier. They upgraded both Thaddeus and I to first class, the plan arrived home 30 minutes early. Immigrations and Customs had virtually no one on line, and our driver was waiting for us outside customs. We'll see if we can get him on a plane next year.

Concerning the lack of food on the plane, Patience noted, "As a diabetic, I would have been very frightened under those circumstances."

The woman on our plane who complained about having no food to buy was in my estimation, either a liar and not a diabetic at all, or an idiot. Like Michelene mentioned, what diabetic would board a plane during an ice storm without having packed something to eat (if it was required to keep her healthy)? My bet was she was a liar.

Finally, Geraldine writes, "Glad to hear you got there and back safely. Is the hurricane damage all fixed?"

The hotel was completely restored and improved after Hurricane Wilma. They had replaced many of the doors and windows with stronger versions. The one thing you might note in the picture of the beach I posted is a back-hoe, which was removing some of the huge stones that got uncovered during the storm. The beach wasn't quite finished when we left.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

I Finally Understand The Michigan Militia


I just saw Jesus Camp last night, and I want to start my own version of the Michigan Militia to defend against the crazy people that are trying to take over this country.



Jeezus
I reacted to the movie, Jesus Camp on many levels. Like most rational people, I was frightened by the potential of the fanatical so-called Evangelicals. But mostly, I'd like to respond from a spiritual perspective.

This movie was very spiritually disturbing to me.

I would go so far as to say that what the parents and ministers, portrayed in this movie, were carrying out Satan's very own work. Using children, to forward their unholy agenda was the worst part of what they do. Denying children the right to think for themselves, by indoctrinating them with all their brainwashing, should be an activity worthy of having them lose the right to parent their own children.

I was grateful in at least one way, that I got to see this documentary. It allowed me to come up with a response to religious proseletyzing. If asked to "accept Jesus as my personal savior," I would simply reply that I completely reject everything the requestor stands for. I reject their fanatical ideas about Jesus and Christianity. I reject their unthinking allegiance to an idea that is repeated by rote, as opposed to experienced. I reject their interpretation of the Bible. I reject them as humans...they have accepted the role of automaton.

Current Knitting
I finished the first sleeve of teh dark tweed pullover, and started on the second sleeve.

I couldn't get a decent picture, so I'll have to post one with the next blog entry.

Local Knitting Classes
Did anyone get a chance to go to the Nelda Davis workshop this past weekend?

"Twist" is having a number of upcoming workshops that I thought some of the locals might be interested in:

MITTENS WITH STEVE
Try Steve’s fun and quick way to knit mittens with two size 8 double-pointed needles.
Sun. Feb. 25, noon until 2 - FEE $25

BEGINNING KNITTING
Learn some fun techniques while you get started on a great scarf that knits up quickly with bulky yarn and big needles.
Sat. March 3, 10:30 until noon - FEE $25

LEARN ENTRELAC WITH OUR FABULOUS NEW WORKSHOP TEACHER
Lisa Fuellemann will teach her first class at Twist. You will first learn the technique of this fun knit and then get started on a project of your choice with Lisa. Suggested projects include a beautiful wrap in ‘Scarf Style’ and a smaller pillow to finish more quickly.
Sat. March 10, 10 until 1 - FEE $50

TIPS AND TECHNIQUES A to Z WITH BARBARA KERR
Barbara Kerr returns for an all day workshop this month where she will teach us so many of the great tips and secrets she has collected over the years. Something for everyone.
Sat. March 24, 10 to 4 - FEE $70

MITTENS WITH STEVE
This month, Steve tackles socks with 2 size 8 circular needles. What fun to knit up a pair of warm bulky socks in a short time!
Sun. March 25, noon until 2 - FEE $25

I think I'm going to try Steve's class. I have no idea how well he teaches, or how useful his technique will be. I just think he's fun and would give an enjoyable workshop.

Back Home


We left the house last Wednesday, and it was sleeting and the roads were icy. About 10 hours later, we were looking down on this.



Travel Thoughts
The car service ride to the airport was a bit scary. The driver was excellent, the roads were not. But we made it to the airport about an hour before flight time.

A dreary queen/gate agent for USAir told us our bags weren't guaranteed to make it on the plane, and if they got to Cancun on a later flight, we'd have to go to the airport to pick them up.

We boarded the plane about 15 minutes late and then waited in a seemingly endless line to get de-iced. We ended up being on the tarmac for about four hours, but we did get to take off (unlike that JetBlue flight from JFK to Cancun that was on the tarmac for 8 hours and then got cancelled...when we heard this news story in Cancun, we felt a lot better about our flight).

The flight attendents announced they would be selling food, and after 6 hours of boredom, folks were quite willing to pay to eat. They ran out of all food well before they reached our row. When an alleged diabetic complained, the flight attendant basically said, "tough shit." I need to write a blog entry about how much I detest when people use made-up diseases to justify their selfish wants, but that's for another day.

Cancun immigrations, baggage and customs is a tiresome process, but we made it through relatively smoothly, and got transportation to our hotel.

Thaddeus declared he would never fly again.

Worth It?
Overall, our weather was nice while we were there. Some days of mostly cloudy skies, one day we even had some rain, but much better than the frigid temperatures we noticed happened in the Philadelphia airport while we were gone.

We had a spectacular suite in the hotel...this was our room, conveniently circled in red in the picture.



We slept a lot. Ate even more, and got enough beach time in for a decent tan.

Fortunately, the travel home was much smoother. We got upgraded to first class on the flight home. It left on time and arrived 30 minutes early. U.S. Immigration, baggage and Customs was a breeze, and our car service driver was waiting for us as soon as we cleared Customes. It couldn't have been much nicer.

I'd say it was worth it...can't wait to go back next year.

Current Knitting
You might find this hard to believe, but I didn't bring any knitting with me at all. I haven't done one stitch of knitting since I last blogged.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

New Is Better


I don't like leftovers, I'd rather open a new bottle of orange juice than finish the open one, and I always want to start a new project instead of finishing a current one.

Novelty
The dark tweed pullover is plain stockinette. The colorblock sweater is too. I had three empty Robin-wheel bobbins. I had beautiful new roving that Franklin sent me as a gift. That led to only one conclusion. I had to start spinning the Franklin-fiber.



For proper documentation purposes, this is 5 ounces of Shepherd Wool Top from Lorna's Laces. It is a superwash merino top, dyed in colorway "Camouflage."

I needed to see how the singles would look when spun up.



It spun up so nicely, I continued to spin more.



Before I knew it, I had finished spinning over half the top.



With another empty bobbin on the Robin wheel, I couldn't stop myself starting the second bobbin's worth.



Now, I just have this little bit to finish when I get back from vacation.



Of course, I still have to ply the singles and scour the yarn and knit up either socks or gloves or a hat or something.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Nelda Davis workshop at Twist, Betsy writes, "Oh Jeez, Queer Joe, thank goodness Twist wasn't there when I lived in New Hope...which corner is this on...I lived in the house on the SW corner of that intersection...I think it is now a real estate office"

Twist is on the Northeast corner of Route 202 and Aquatong Road. Right across the stree is a Real Estate office on the Northwest corner. The Southwest and Southeast corners are still residents, as far as I know.

Feel free to have outrageous comment-wars while I'm gone. I'll look forward to reading you comments when I get back (or sooner, if I can).

Monday, February 12, 2007

LATE BREAKING NEWS

Sorry to interrupt our regularly scheduled blogging, but Nelda Davis is having a six hour spinning workshop this weekend on Saturday, February 17th. Specifically, she will be teaching five different methods of drafting.

I got an e-mail from Deb at "Twist" in New Hope, so I'm assuming the workshop is at the store. Any non-beginners should contact Deb immediately, if they can attend...I'd be there if I wasn't going to be in Cancun. The phone number at the store is (215) 862-8075.

If anyone goes, please send my warmest thoughts to Nelda.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled programming.

It's The Principle


The service standards in this country have become dreadfully bad, and I'm glad I have a friend who demands at least a minimal level.

Uncomfortable Lesson
A number of years ago, I was at a CVS (drug store chain) with Maribeth, a co-worker/friend of mine. The one cashier on duty was ringing up some items Maribeth had bought, and there were two people behind us in line. The cost of the purchase came to $2.73, and Maribeth gave the cashier a five dollar bill.

The cashier handed Maribeth two dollar bills and a quarter, and said, "We don't have any pennies."

Now, I know Maribeth, and I knew things were going to get ugly. Maribeth said, "Well, I guess I'll just have to wait while you get some."

The cashier was incredulous, and I was starting to leak sweat at the glares we were getting from the two customers behind us. I said, "Maribeth, forget it, I'll give you the two cents."

And then Maribeth did something I could have never done. She turned to me, and in front of the stupid cashier, and the two customers, taught us all a lesson. She said, "If she had said 'I'm sorry, I don't have any pennies, would you be willing to wait while I got some?' I would have left without them. If she had give me $2.30, I would have left happy. If she had said, 'Do you have three cents, I'm out of pennies?' I would have happily left without the two cents."

"But instead, she shorted me two cents, without leaving me any option. Do you think if I was two cents short, she would have sold me these things? I'll wait for my correct change."

At which point, the cashier locked her drawer, walked to the back of the store, got a roll of pennies from the manager (who never once left his/her perch behind a two-way mirror) and paid Maribeth her correct change.

As awkward as this situation was for me, I knew Maribeth was right, and I was glad to have gained from her wisdom.

Current Knitting
I sewed up the shoulders on the dark tweed pullover and started working on the first sleeve.



This is about 11 inches of about 18, before start on the should cap. I'm thinking that I will bring the other sleeve with me to Cancun to use as my vacation knitting.

I do very little knitting when I'm away on vacation, so I don't expect to be finished by the time I get back.

Current Spinning
I finished plying the last of the multi-colored Merino.



The last hank (the one on the left) came out to be about 450 yards, at a slightly heavier grist than the last one, but still in the Sport weight range. I still have to wash the three skeins and hang them to set. I can only hope they stay as soft as they are now after washing, because I'm looking forward to knitting with this yarn.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Thoughts On Learning


Have you ever met someone that didn't consider themselves a very good student, but anytime they need to learn something, they used every resource they could lay their hands on to become practically an expert in their new area of learning?

Just In Time Learning
When Thaddeus wanted to know more about the kinds of mushrooms his father picked, he bought books, researched the internet and joined an amateur mycological club.

When he wanted to know about the heart condition that eventually took our little Gage's life, he ended up knowing more about it than most vetinarians.

Now that he's into acclimating Nico into the house, he's become a veritable expert on how to best raise a cat. He can tell you an enormous amount about what the best feed for cats is. He knows a boatload about methods for encouraging cats in using scratching posts instead of furniture. He has even researched the best ways of introducing a house visitor to the cat in a way that will be least disturbing to the cat.

While I've had similar level of passion for knitting and fiber-related hobbies for decades now, I don't know that I would have the energy to do this on a multitude of topics. It's amazing what an inspired learner can learn when he puts his mind to it.

Current Knitting
First of all, I wanted to show you that I am making slow, but steady progress on the colorblock sweater.



Now that I've made it past the arm hole shaping, it's going a little bit faster (emphasis on the "little").

I've also finished the front of the dark tweed pullover.



I ended up going with a slightly more shallow opening than you'd find on most commercial sweaters. I've also done a slight shoulder shaping using short rows.

Current Spinning
Finally, I was able to finish plying the second large hank of multicolored Merino.



It appears that when I finish plying the remaining singles, that I will have enough of this yarn to make a decent size men's sweater, as long as I don't do any fancy cabling or pattern work. I think it will soon be my favorite sweater.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Vacation Time


Well, soon anyway. Yes, next week, on Thaddeus' birthday, we will be on a plane to our annual vacation in Cancun.

Blog Vacation
Until then, I will continue to post knitting and spinning progress, right up until Tuesday, February 13th. At that point, I may try to find some internet cafe where I will post some irritating "wish you were here" type of blog entry...just to make you envious. But, I may not end up posting anything until I return on the 21st.

Current Knitting
I'm just about to start the neck shaping on the front of the dark tweek pullover. I keep debating on how deep or actually, how shallow I want to make the neck hole.



When in doubt, I usually try to go more shallow on a handknit pullover.

Current Reading
I just finished my latest novel, <i>Crazy In Alabama</i> by Mark Childress.



Overall, this was a thoroughly engrossing read, and I already miss reading about the two main characters. I wanted their stories to just keep going on and on. The writing is a little more careless than I usually prefer, but the storytelling abilities of the author more than make up for the lazy writing style.

I'm going to have to look into his other books.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the first hank of plied multi-colored Merino, Marilyn asks, "What's the wpi? Looks like a fingering weight, maybe almost sport."

Marilyn has a good eye when it comes to estimating yarn grist. The wraps per inch is about 16, and the yards per pound is about 1,460. That would put this yarn right in the range of a sport weight, based on Prairie Wool's handy FAQ sheet on yarn grist.

JacquieKnits asks, "Have you spun up that beautiful red sliver from New Zealand yet?"

Yes, the wool from James was spun up in no time. It turned out to be a lovely deep red yarn that I haven't decided what to use it for. My next spinning will be the beautiful superwash roving that Franklin sent me.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Speaking Out of Both Sides Of Their Mouths


No, I'm not talking about the White House administration again.

The Cell Phone Generation
In the airport yesterday, I was surrounded by a bunch of college students from University of Massachusetts. One of the students (I couldn't tell if it was a male or female) was on the cell phone speaking with someone else the entire wait time in the boarding area (over and hour and a half).

But the nice thing about it, was that even though I was only about five feet from the student, I couldn't hear a word that s/he was saying. I couldn't understand how this person could carry on an interminable cell phone conversation without broadcasting his/her comments to the surrounding travellers.

I watched carefully, and realized that the person literally spoke out of the side of his/her mouth the entire conversation. It looked almost like a Simpson's cartoon character, but it was very effective in keeping a publicly-held conversation, very private.

A very different technique than the loud, obnoxious idiot at the front of the plane whose conversation I could plainly hear, even though I was further away.

I guess we have things we can learn from the savvy youth. Now if I could just get one of them to set the ring-tones on my cell phone.

Current Knitting
I just made it to the arm hole shaping on the dark tweed pullover, and and I haven't made any more progress on the colorblock sweater than the last picture I posted. The mended sweater was delivered to a grateful brother-out-of-law, but I didn't get to take a more close-up picture of the mended area. Sorry.

Current Spinning
I finished plying the first of 2 or three large hanks of multicolored Merino.



Un-ending winding onto the niddy noddy produced this...



...and then this.



And here's a closeup, so you can get a less-than-adequate sense of the lovely richness of color in this yarn.