Sunday, September 30, 2007

Dirty Little Secrets


Today, I'd like to play "truth or dare" for the readers, but truth is the only option. Specifically, I'd like to know what are some of your guilty pleasures.

QueerJoe's Guilty Pleasures
Being such a snob about so many things, including food, and travel and movies and people, I have a small list of things that I love, but I'm not proud about loving them.
1. I love a bologna and cheese sandwich on white bread with plain yellow mustard...the cheaper the bologna, the better.
2. Dirty Dancing is one of my most shameful and beloved movies.
3. I could spend hours reading an issue of People Magazine
4. For about a year, I used to love browsing through the local dollar stores, and I would often spend over $20 in a visit.
5. I have become an expert in both Freecell and Solitaire, two of the games delivered with most MS Windows computers.
6. If I eat just one Hostess Donette (the powdered sugar ones...not the chocolate covered ones), I have to finish the whole box.
So, what are some of your shameful pleasures?

Current Knitting
Since my last post on Wednesday, I have had little desire to knit or crochet anything. I have done some work on the Trekking sock.



You'll see I finished the first sock, and I've started on the second one. I've mentioned that I have combined three components of different socks into this pair of socks. The toe is a standard toe-up using a figure eight faux-cast-on, like Judy Gibson describes. I know there are other as good or better cast-ons, but I'm comfortable with this one. I cast on a total of 24 stitches, and then increase every other round until I have 64 stitches on the needles.

The heel is something I found on the Socknitter's List. Colin of Colinknits.blogspot.com, has invented a heel he calls the Andersson heel (I assume that's his last name). It requires no picking up of stitches, and it's relatively simple to do, once you understand his instructions. He's written a description of it twice, but I think it would have been easier to just write a pattern, and have folks adapt it based on all the questions he seems to be getting about it.



But despite all that, it's a comfortable heel, and easy to execute.

Finally, the upper part of the sock is from The Knitting Man(ual). It's not a pleasure to do this stitch, especially if you knit tightly, like I do, but it looks great for a man's sock. I extended the pattern on the front of the sock a little lower than the back, and I'm very pleased with the result.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Marilyn writes, "By the way, the sock yarn is Trekking. Just in case you lost the band, which I always do."

She is exactly right...I just didn't have the band with me when I posted last. It's color number 69 (my favorite number).

Karen writes, "Could you maybe describe how you keep all of your knitting supplies organized? Especially needles. I have a small space and am constantly searching for the size I need."

As Thaddeus will gladly tell you, I don't really keep anything organized, or at least not very neatly. I took a picture of my main knitting area, which is the chair where I watch television, exactly as it looks most of the time.



It's an old wooden tool shelf that works wonderfully for the purpose of knitting. On the bottom shelf, you can see some of my cones of yarn (I have dozens more in a closet upstairs). The top shelf is partitioned off, and I keep my stitch markers, crochet hooks, needle gauge, current knitting book(s) and all my so-called straight needles) On the right side of the top shelf, are a bunch of holes that I can just put my straight needles through without them falling through. The handle for the tool shelf extends out on the left and right of the shelf, and I hang my cable needles on the protrusions. The cat knocks the cable needles down every once in a while.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Laughable


The leader of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got a chance to show how ignorant he is (or delusional) in a speech at Columbia University yesterday.

Gay Executions
When asked about the execution of two consenting gay men in Iran (one 22 years old, the other 16 or 17 years old), Ahmadinejad replied with
"In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country. We don't have that in our country. In Iran we do not have this phenomenon. I don't know who has told you that we have it."
Here's the YouTube video if you haven't seen it.

Well, perhaps he means homosexuals who are unafraid to be open about their homosexuality, and who could blame them. The nicest part about it was that the audience actually laughed at him. It was great to see New Yorkers ridiculing this dangerous moron.

It reminds me of a story my VP of Human Resources used to tell about one of her counterparts at Johnson & Johnson. The person in charge of Human Resources was asked by the CEO how many gays and lesbians worked at the company. She said she didn't know, but she'd find out. She came back a week later to report that there weren't any. She was told to look again.

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I've added three more stars to the tablecloth.



I haven't done any more work on the sock, but I will when I have a little extra time.

Readers' Comments/Questions
NancyNeverSwept asks about those socks, "What is that yarn? And what dreadfully small size needles are you using?"

The sock is a Trekker(?...I think) sock yarn I bought a couple of years back. It's multi-colors of muted dark grays, olives and browns all mixed in together. It is very nice. The needles are US1's.

Sherrill asks what method I'm using for toe-up socks.

It's based on Judy Gibson's "Your Putting Me On Socks". I modify the number of stitches I start with based on the gauge of the knitting. This one was started with 24 stitches (12 figure eights).

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Discrimination


When does discrimination become morally wrong?

Shades of Gray
In the world of business, discrimination is a necessary skillset. We need to discriminate between a potentially successful product, versus one that may not have as much chance to succeed. In choosing between a number of candidates for a job, we need to be able to discriminate between a better and lesser candidate. Isn't having "discriminating taste" something that that we strive for?

I do know when discrimination becomes illegal. Nationally, in the U.S., that would be when an employment or housing decision is based on discrimination between someone based on their gender, age, race, disability or religion. Some states have expanded that to include other "protected classes," but in general, it is completely legal to make hiring/firing decisions based on education level, body odor, number of visible moles, left/right-handednes, weight, foot width or the kind of car someone drives (despite the question of whether it's right or not from a moral perspective).

But is it okay to say that a beautiful looking person is a better candidate than a less beautiful candidate? Or how about a well-spoken candidate? Should she be better positioned for an actuarial position over someone that doesn't express himself as well? How about a person that dresses in expensive clothes and accessories over someone equally as well dressed, but in less costly clothes?

Having gotten jobs in the past largely because I interview well has alway seemed odd to me. Most of the jobs I have interviewed successfully for, the interviewer really seemed to have no sense about how good I would be at the job for which I was interviewing. They always seemed more impressed by how I present myself. This doesn't seem so much immoral to me, as ineffective.

So when does discrimination pass from an acceptable means of distinguishing between choices, to one of an immoral choice?

Personally, I'm not quite sure, but like the bigoted Southern U.S. senator said once about pornorgraphy, "I know it when I see it."

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I split my time between two projects, and made very little progress on either. First, I added only two stars to the crochet tablecloth.



You'll note I didn't even do the filler stars yet, but on a more positive note, I have only 100 more stars to make.

I also worked some on the new sock.



I'm combining my standard toe-up sock, with a heel I read about on the Socknitters List (which I'll write about in the next blog entry), and a stitch pattern from The Knitting Man(ual). Take a look at a closeup of the stitch pattern.



It is perfect for a sock leg. The pattern in The Knitting Man(ual) is done as a cuff-down sock, but that doesn't matter as far as the stitch pattern goes, as long as the number of stitches in the leg of the sock is a multiple of 9 stitches (or you can figure out how to fudge it some).

This is going to turn out to be a very classic looking man's sock.

Dutch Jan notes that he (or is it she?) got The Knitting Man(ual)...based on Kathy's comments about Martin Storey's new book, Knitting For Him, I'd be interested in your thoughts on it...or anyone else that has either book. I honestly didn't think I'd ever find a book so useful as Kristin Spurkland's, but it has already provided inspiration for two projects.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Left Behind In An Electronic World


I don't know how everyone else keeps up, but I used to be in the vanguard when it came to current events, and now I'm at least two days behind.

Ask A Teen
If you want to know what's really going on in the world, or how to change the ringtone on your cell phone, just ask a teenager. There was a story of a fourteen year old girl who was abducted and sexually molested by an adult male. She got away by asking him if she could play games on his cell phone, and then used text messaging to get help and be rescued.

It's nice to see an example of how texting was a useful life skill for a teenager.

But with all the videos on YouTube and all the news sites and Blackberry communications and cell phone alerts and politically-inclined knitting blogs (okay, there aren't many of those), it's just impossible to keep up with what's fresh and what's stale as day-old bread.

Fresh News or Stale News?,
Did folks know that another Kaffe knitting book is coming out at the beginning of next month? It's called Kaffe Knits Again, and it appears to be 24 of his designs "updated for today's knitter," which I hope means using currently available yarns.

I'd like to say that Kaffe has returned to sanity, and given up all the quilting nonsense to return to knitting, but there is also a quilting book being released and available for pre-order (actually, there's an excellent offer to buy both on pre-release for under US$40 on Amazon).



Current Knitting/Crocheting
I've added a total of only three stars to the tablecloth so far this week, but not their corresponding filler stars.



I'm able to get a lot more done when I'm home than when I'm travelling, but this project is an extremely convenient project to carry with me. It's light, I don't need to carry a pattern anymore, it only requires one very small crochet hook and I can stop anywhere in the middle of a star and pick it up without having to figure out where I am.

Great travel project all in all.

I also decided to start working on another pair of socks. There was a sock in The Knitting Man(ual) that I wanted to try, and also a special heel that I read about, and I'm trying to do a combination of both those things.



I'll let you know if it turns out.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my recently spun chunky alpaca yarn, Elaine asks, "What do you plan to do with it?"

I'm not sure, it will depend on how much yardage I end up with. I would love to be able to make a simple, comfortable man's cardigan...it's the perfect color...but I doubt I'll have enough. Still, I might combine it with some other yarn to end up making a cardigan from it.

Dutch Jan writes, "Everytime after reading your entry I think: The house from that Man must be HUGE considering the amazing amounts of Books, yarns, fleece, knitting needles etc. etc. etc. etc. he is writing about."

Actually, all of my knitting/crocheting/spinning/weaving, etc. books, pamphlets and magazines are pretty much contained in one normal size book case. My yarn and roving take up two normal size clothes closets (guests in my house have to compete for hangar space), and my knitting tools (except for knitting machines) are pretty much restricted to a relatively small side table with shelf next to my television chair. We live in a three-story townhouse that isn't very large, but we could always use more room for craft supplies, no?

Fredda writes, "Thanks for the pics...I'll definitely spend more time with our animal friends (the four-legged ones) next month at Rhinebeck."

I'm looking forward to seeing Fredda. It's been a while since I've been in her neck of the woods, and since she sends me checks each month (for my pattern sales on The Knitting Vault), it's always nice to see her. Look for my designs under the designer name, DoublePointed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Weekend Livestock


Just thought I'd post some of the pictures from the festival this past weekend of the animals.


















Current Knitting
I was able to make some additional progress on the crochet tablecloth by adding two more stars, but honestly, I spent most of my time on...

...Current Spinning
Yes, after being inspired by the sheep festival, I finally made my way back to the spinning wheel(s).

Since I had over a pound of new alpaca fleece, I thought that the least I could do is to start carding some of it, so I carded about 1/10th of it.



It looked (and felt) so lovely, I just had to spin up some of it, so I got out the Louet and spun up some loosely spun chunky singles.



I considered plying what I had, but I decided I would wait until I had a full bobbin of singles before plying. This required me to card some more. And spin some more. And card some more. And spin some more. And card some more. And spin some more.

Until I finally finished a full bobbin of singles.



I was too close to actual yarn to leave it there, so I wound off the bobbin into a center-pull ball, and then double-plied the singles by pulling off both the center and outer sides of the ball.

I ended up with this.



This is 6.9 ounces and 314 yards (which at approximately 730 yards per pound, is a chunky Aran weight) of lovely, soft alpaca yarn. I am very pleased with both myself, and the yarn. I will finish the rest of the carding and spinning over the next few weekends.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Crafty Andy comments, "I have tagged you, it is voluntary in my point of view."

I have made it a policy on my blog not to do tags or memes, so I won't be participating. But please check out Andy's nice crochet stuff. Oh, and by the way, of your list of AFI's top 100 movies, I've only seen 60, which is pathetic, since I can ask my partner to bring home any movie I want (usually). I've reduced the list to the 40 I haven't seen, and I'm going to try and work my way through them.

Monday, September 17, 2007

A Lovely Weekend


What could be better than spending time with Marilyn at a Sheep Breeder's festival?

NJ Sheep Show
Marilyn's pictures are better, but hopefully both show what a nice little show this annual event is. I got a chance to chat with two readers, BJ and Lynn, and both were a pleasure to run into. BJ is quite a successful enabler, as she coaxed me back over to the Jenny Jump Farms booth to make my first purchase at the fair.



These are three natural colors of Jacob roving that I will use to supplement the Jacob roving I bought last year.

Then we slipped over to Almosta Alpaca Farms' booth, where I ended up buying a few things.



The bag of charcoal gray, is an alpaca fleece in the loveliest shades of black, charcoal and silver. It was softer than silk, and I had to have it, even though it means hand carding it. I also bought a couple of cones of bright alpaca yarn (they were on sale), and two pairs of socks that would keep my feet warm in the Arctic (even before global warming). Here's a closeup with them turned a little inside out.



Finally, I made a purchase at Flying Fibers' booth.



This is 10 balls of Wensleydale DK weight yarn and a small ball of Wenslydale roving. Marilyn mentioned how much she enjoys spinning Wensleydale, so I had to get some to try.

Marilyn and I finished off the day with lunch at Mom's Restaurant in Ringoes, NJ.



It was a lovely day. I will leave you with one of my animal pictues (I'll post more tomorrow for Mel's annual breed identification certification test).



This is Helen, BJ's sheep that won a ribbon for mixed doubles or something like that. Sorry BJ...you'll have to add a proper introduction to your absolutely lovely sheep and tell readers what she really won.

Current Knitting
Despite all the festival activity, I was able to add four more stars to the tablecloth, and also make all the filler starlets.



It's getting somewhat easier and faster to make these stars but also more boring, so while I can make them faster, I have less desire to do so. And just think...only 105 more to go.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the hiking socks in the last post, Abigail asks, "Do you have a pattern or is it you own?"

As noted in a couple of the last blog entries, the sock pattern is from Kristin Spurkland's The Knitting Man(ual). It's a great book, and a great pattern.

Marilyn writes, "And I'm thinking that the swanky Joester probably has no clue as to things Pythonesque or the song in question. You know he'll have to Google it."

I can't imagine many folks of around my age that aren't familiar with The Flying Circus, unless their parents didn't allow them a television. Suffice it to say, I'm not that swanky.

About the hiking socks, Ted wrote, "You made the lumberjack socks from Lamb's Pride? How do you think they'll wear?

Nancy follows up with, "I've done socks in Lamb's Pride before, and they didn't hold up as well as commercial sock yarn"

I've never used Lamb's Pride Worsted for socks before, and I'm usually very hard on my socks, so I'll let you know as soon as I'm disappointed. Although, I won't be wearing them until it gets a bit colder.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Arrogant Prick


Now that I'm back at work, my daily habits include watching about 15 minutes of one of the morning shows...either Good Morning America, or Today, usually. This past Thursday, Meredith Viera was interviewing Chuck Hagle, and asked him why he had decided to quit the senate at this critical time for the Redumblicans. His response was something like, "Dear, not running for another term is very different than quitting."



Disrespect
I like Meredith Viera much more than I ever liked Katie Couric on that show. She's very hardhitting in her interviews, and she doesn't seem to be afraid of anyone. I find her to be poised, and well-spoken as well. Having some arrogant senator call her "dear", especially with a patronizing tone, was so completely inappropriate, that it stuck out like a sore thumb.

The incident occurred at the end of the interview, and Ms. Viera handled it with her normal class and dignity, and as she ended the interview, and passed the show over to Ann Curry for the news, Ann cleverly said, "Thank you, dear," and they both chuckled.

I was glad to see the slight didn't go unnoticed, and that Ann was able to get at least a little jibe in back at the senator.

Current Knitting
Since Wednesday, I really only added one star to the tablecloth, so I'll just include the pictures here that were supposed to show on Monday.

First, a pile of socks.



These are the four pairs of socks I've finished in the last few weeks.

And here are the pictures of me modeling the two pairs of hiking socks.




I feel like I could go out and become a lumberjack.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

QueerJoe Curriculum


As the school year starts, children in Bucks County Pennsylvania may have the opportunity to see a fiber item made by yours truly, in a truly unique project called the "Artmobile."

Opening Soon
I was just notified that the opening reception for the current Artmobile exhibit will be this week (I won't be able to go). After the opening, the Artmobile will travel to various schools in my home county as part of an art curriculum, detailing specific areas of artwork. If you look at past exhibits, and check out some of the curriculum documents for teachers, they can be very impressive.

Readers may recall that I submitted a felted purse to the exhibit a number of months back.



And now it's actually going to be displayed with some "in-process" pictures that shows a little bit about felting (or technically, fulling).

Just think, I may actually be able to touch children in a non-priestlike way!

Current Knitting/Crocheting
I'm continuing work on the lace crochet tablecloth. I have added five more "stars" since the last picture, and since I can't download pictures till Friday, I have mocked up a picture of what it looks like now (kind of).



You can note from the fake photo that I haven't yet crocheted the mini-filler stars that go between the last three big stars. I might wait until the row is finished before I go back and do those.

Readers' Comments/Questions
BJ asks, "Joe will you be going to the Garden State Sheep Show this weekend?"

Yes, I will be going on Saturday, around mid-day, but only for an hour or two (it's very small). Carol from Philly and a friend of hers may join me, but nothing's been finalized yet. Please come up and say "hi" if you see me. Marilyn sometimes also goes, but I haven't heard from her about her plans yet.

Monday, September 10, 2007

hy·per·bo·le



n.
A figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect, as in I could sleep for a year or This book weighs a ton.

Useful or Not?
Hyperbole is a common technique used in political jousting to try and discredit the opponent through the use of purposefully exaggerating some aspect that might be offensive to the electorate.

I personally find it offensive, both in my work and personal life, and in politics.

I was listening to an interview with Stephen Walt, who had written The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy, and a follow up interview with Abraham Foxman from the Anti-Defamation league.

I don't know enough about the Israeli lobby in the U.S. to speak to it, but I can say that from the interviews with the two men, I found Walt's arguments and ideas to be well thought out and described in a very coherent way. On the other side, I found Foxman's arguments to be manipulative, hyperbolic and shrill in comparison.

Again, I don't argue that Walt's ideas are correct and Foxman's aren't...I don't know enough to say. But I do know that they use of hyperbole in Foxman's arguments, made him much less believable than Walt.

Current Knitting
It never ceases to amaze me how important a camera cable can be when publishing a blog.

I just started back at work (travelling), and I forgot to pack my camera cable for downloading photos to my PC. I'll post all the pictures of what I describe this week on Friday.

I finished the other two matching hiking socks from The Knitting Man(ual), and I am quite pleased with both. As a few folks have mentioned, I now have either two matching pairs, or two mismatched pairs. Either way, I like them.

I also spent hours yesterday weaving in all the ends of the crochet lace tablecloth so far. I will be adding new stars to the tablecloth this week.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Re-Perspectivizing


While completely blaming the media for skewing the perspective of the general populace, with your help, I will now take it as my responsibility to try and put things back in their proper perspective.

Pop Quiz
Put the following events in order of worst to least worst:

1. Clinton getting caught getting head in the oval office.
2. Vidder having sex with prostitutes even though he's married and espouses family values.
3. Vick conducting dog fights and killing dogs that don't perform.
4. Craig propositioning a cop in an airport men's room.
5. An illegal alien shooting Newark, NJ high school students.
6. Bush starting a war in Iraq.
7. At least 70,000 (and up to 400,000) people killed in Darfur.
8. Over 3,000 still displaced households caused by Katrina
9. Shoddy quality control on Chinese imports kill pets and threaten childrens' lives with lead paint.
10. Barry Bonds takes enhancement drugs to help his homerun record along.


Again, I get tired or seeing/reading/hearing about supposed "news" events that have little or no significance, whle truly heinous things are happening that get no news time at all because they aren't sexy.

Current Knitting
Having enjoyed the accomplishment of finishing two pairs of socks on size US1.5 needles, I thought I might want to try my hand at the hiking socks in Kristin Spurkland's The Knitting Man(ual) which use US7 needles.



The colors I chose look a little Christmassy in the picture, but they're a little more earthy/tweedy colored than they seem. I love the pattern. I would highly recommend this pattern for a newbie making socks. It uses classic techniques, has multiple sizes, and walks the knitter through each step of knitting a sock. The resulting sock is comfortable, fits well, and looks great too. I will be making the matching socks for each of the socks pictured over the next few days.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Concerning the men's knitting booklet from the 1950's, Carol writes, "Now I must ask you to elucidate: when you say the models will "give [you] joy for a long time to come", exactly what are you inferring? Is that magazine going to take the place of the Patternworks catalog as your preferred bathroom "reading"?"

No, not the "Larry Craig" kind of joy...the doofy pictus of men about to go yachting or smoking a cigarette and making themselves a martini kind of joy.

Concerning the same booklet, Elizabeth notes, "I think that cover sweater on Men's Sweaters has potential. It just needs to be longer in the torso."

Yes, that's true, and you'd have to add a lot more ease than they allowed for even the largest sizes.

Fredda (of The Knitting Vault fame) asks, "The socks look great! What is "kitchener-like"?"

Kitchener stitch is used to graft two rows of active stitches. I use a similar technique to bind off a single row of stitches so that it still has stretch to it.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Kaffe-Haters Unite


Years ago when some KnitListers said some hateful things about Kaffe Fassett, I never understood where their nastiness came from.

Kaffe Envy
It must be envy. I look at the two pairs of socks I've completed using his colorways, and it annoys the hell out of me that he can put together such seemingly incongruous colors, in such a casual way, and have them look so amazing. I can't help but be envious. Now, of course my envy wouldn't prompt me to really write hateful things about such a nice man, but I can at least see the impetus for others' nasty comments about him.

Actually, folks that know Kaffe very well tell me that he doesn't ever go on-line, or I never would have written any of this. I just hope the folks that his friends who do go on-line don't show him this.

Current Knitting
I finished the second sock of the second pair of Kaffe/Regia socks.



I love how they've come out. To get the most out of the yarn, I actually ended up undoing the Kitchener-like bind-off I did on the first sock, and added on another inch of knitting. These socks are one of the few reasons I look foward to cooler weather.

Flea Market Finds
I did find a few more vintage knitting books recently at my local flea market.



The Vogue from 1950 is a classic that I'm glad to have, but the 1950's Men's Knitting booklet is my favorite. The sweaters are absolutely unwearable, and the men posing in them will give me joy for a long time to come.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Early Election Peaking


Have you ever noticed that some candidates for elected office do extremely well too early in a race, and then fizzle before the actual election?

Evil Republican Conspiracy
With the Larry Craig scandal, the Alberto Gonzales and Tony Snow resignations, and the upcoming Petraeus report on Iraq, I've got a theory that the republicans are just trying to get all this crap out of the way well in advance of the election next year, so they might have some chance of letting the democratic candidate fizzle.

Okay, so maybe I'm just paranoid.

Also, one last thing on Larry Craig. A good friend suggested something that tickled my funny bone.

He said, wouldn't it be funny if Craig really wasn't cruising in that airport bathroom at all, and was really telling the truth that he's not gay and never has been? After all his hateful rhetoric and voting record in the senate, that would be even more divine justice in my book.

Oh...one other thing related to Larry Craig...did anyone else think that the picture of Sgt Karsnia looked somewhat like a young actor, Ron Eldard?



Current Knitting
I didn't get much done on the second Kaffe sock over the weekend.



You will note, however, that I am making the second sock to match the striping on the first sock. It amazed me how much yarn is wasted when doing this, but I wanted to try it at least.

I did get a lot more done on the crochet lace tablecloth.



In addition to filling in all the spaces between the stars, I also added five more stars and their corresponding filler emblems.