Monday, March 30, 2009

Great Movie


If his latest movie, "Two Lovers" really is Joaquin Phoenix's last movie, he will end his film career on a very high note.

Two Thumbs Up
Thaddeus and I had the chance to go see Two Lovers this past weekend and we were both extremely enamored with the movie...specifically Joaquin Phoenix's acting. I've honestly never seen someone convey a sense of such intimacy and closeness on a movie screen before.

I don't normally recommend movies, because obviously people's tastes vary considerably...so I won't recommend this one either. However, if you've seen my list of 100 top movies (in order of how much I like them...1st is the best...etc.), and you think we might have similar taste in movies, you should definitely go see Two Lovers

Current Knitting
I continued to push along on Le Soir d'Or and made my way up to Round 136.



I thought I'd do a couple of closeups of the lace to give you a Joaquin-like intimacy with it. The first one is the big flower motif.



And the second one is the some of the leaves...I left my finger in the picture to give it some sense of scale.



Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks everyone for you comments and thoughts on the Kindle. It definitely helped me to decide that it was a good thing to own.

Dana asks, "Which Ichida book is the lace from? I have a friend that loves it, so I'd like to get the book and knit it for him. He wants a shawl for his sister."

It's the second one...the white one by Naoko Ichida called "Knitted Lace Designs Of The Modern Mode, Bk 2, Naoko Ichida"...Lacis has it on their crappy web site here. You will definitely have to use a thicker yarn and needle to get this to shawl-size.

Kelly writes, "One question: what are the Neibling pieces used for? Are they strictly display pieces or used as decorative tablecloths or throws?"

For me they are only decorative...so far. I'm thinking about doing one of these designs in a yarn and needle size large enough to make a shawl, but we'll see.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

How Can You Decide?


I love the idea of the latest Kindle 2.0
, but making purchasing decisions about technology always perplexes me.



All Signs Point to Yes...Except
Okay...what could be better?

The ability to purchase an extensive library of books directly on-line for mostly around $10 per book and download them without any cost to our forests (the savings in book purchases alone would make up for the cost of the Kindle in a year for me). The Kindle keeps your place without dog-earing a page...it allows you to highlight, notate in the margins, look up words in the dictionary, search text, view graphics (in B&W), load work documents from you computer...jiminy, the thing will even read a book to you if you want it to.

Having seen this small dynamo, I was all ready to get one, and then a co-worker said that their husband thought I should wait till they made it touch-screen.

Ugh!

I don't know about you, but I am paralyzed by these kinds of decisions.

Current Knitting
I made it through the next 10 rounds of Le Soir d'Or over the last couple of days.



A couple of things I like about this picture. First of all, if you look at the ball of yarn on the left, you can see the luster of this silk yarn...if I could only get an accurate picture of the slight variations in color. Second, I love how the flowers are going to look in the final blocked version of this lace.

Overall, this has been one of the easier Nieblings I've done. There are some Niebling aficionados that aren't a big fan of the textured criss-cross stitches used in the flower, and others that don't really like the hex-mesh. Personally, I find both rather easy to knit. This design has both, but it's also symmetric, so it's easy to keep track of the pattern design.

Monday, March 23, 2009

I Am So Out Of The Loop


Sometimes something happens that makes me realize I have no clue what's going on the knit-blog community.

Shocking Surprise
It will probably come as no surprise to those of you who read Stephanie's blog at Yarn Harlot, but last night I was watching the only television show that I actively schedule around...The Graham Norton Show on BBC television. He had Greg Kinnear and Ruth Jones as guests (I still don't know who Ruth is...sorry).

He started asking Greg Kinnear about this new term mentioned in the New York Times called Kinnearing...I got the impression that it's when you take pictures of celebrities "from the hip" so as not to draw attention to you noticing and photographing a celebrity...something like that I'm sure. Anyway, it happens that Stephanie was the person that coined the expression on Yarn Harlot after she had done this to Greg Kinnear in an airport, and Graham actually called Stephanie from the show, and read comments from her blog from people that I actually know...Stephanie sounded great on television, btw...she was very funny.

There are probably entire Ravelry forums devoted to this topic, but I had no idea until I was taken by surprise last night.

Current Knitting
I was able to successfully fix the dropped stitches on Le Soir d'Or, and not only was I able to recoup the mistake, but I also made it up to round 112.



You'll notice that I've almost completed the big flower section...it's moving along nicely now. To avoid dropped stitches in future photo shoots, I have opted to use the high-tech option of needle condoms...aka rubber bands on the tips of my needles.



Readers' Comments/Questions
American Expat writes concerning getting her Ichida books, "For your pattern, did you start by c.o. 8 sts and then go row by row and, therefore, "section by section" (8 sections)?"

Yes...exactly. For each pattern, there is a black and white graphic which shows how many times you repeat the graph...since Le Soir d'Or has eight wedges, and the first row has 1 stitch in the graph, I cast on 8 stitches. Just note a couple of tips:

1. Read through the top section of the English insert that defines the stitches.
2. It notes that all even-numbered rounds are knit plain.
3. Casting on the first few stitches for any of these designs is very fiddly and most of the folks I know that knit these designs try a few times before they get it right.
4. Finally, I would recommend a small project to start. Even if it doesn't come out well...and it may well not...everyone you do after that will be a LOT easier.

Concerning the knitting surgery I did on my lace, DarrellD asks, "Could you show us a before and after picture of your recovery attempt?"

Unfortunately, I had already corrected it by the time your request came in. There are ton of photographic tutorials on how to do this kind of surgery. Kenny's tutorial is one of my favorites. Hopefully, I won't have any opportunity to comply with your request at a later point in this project.

Friday, March 20, 2009

AIG


What a bunch of useless chest-beating...I'd rather watch "news" stories about the Angelina-wannabe mother of octuplets for god's sake!

How Much Money Are We Talking Here?
I know it's unfair that executive ass-hats at AIG seemingly got paid bonuses for bringing their company to the brink of financial collapse...and got paid with taxpayer dollars.

But does it really require this amount media and governmental attention?

Jeezus...it's REALLY small potatoes when compared to the true financial issues that this country faces...yet important congressional committees are wasting probably millions in bringing the AIG CEO in for questioning? This just doesn't make sense to me.

Get on with important business already and let god or Karma take care of the ass-hats.

Current Knitting
I had a minor knitting catastrophe (and no, it won't require a congressional committee review...thanks for asking).

Whilst taking the picture for today's blog entry, I dropped about 30 stitches of hex mesh (for the Niebling officianados among you) off my needle. Suffice it to say, silk doesn't mind slipping a few rows when given the leeway to do so.



This was round 92 that I was taking a picture of...I'll let you know where it stands as of the next blog entry. It will be interesting to test my knitting recovery skills.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding Duffy's scarf, Mar asked (and Duffy answered in comments), "The pattern you chose was perfect. But, dear man, WTF is the fiber? Yes, it has the silk-like sheen but you didn't mention what it is."

I couldn't remember what the fiber was, but it was in fact Blue Face Leicester. I've worked with BFL before, but I've honestly never worked with such beautiful BFL before...both the quality of the fiber and the dyeing. StitchJones only has a few more 4 oz BFL rovings on her Etsy site...I think there might have been a run on it after I posted about it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Exciting Day


The first Secret Project can now be revealed!!!

Ted's International Fiber To Scarf Exchange (TIFTSE)
Knitterguy Ted has coordinated an exchange these last two years, where you send off a cloud of fiber to him in December and some talented fiber-friend of his sends you back a completed scarf that they've made from your fiber. You also get someone else's fiber and spin/knit/weave a scarf with it and send it to them...simply beautiful...no?

You never know who gets your fiber or who's fiber you're working with because Ted acts as the exchange agent and he can be so tight-lipped about these things.

I received the following bundle of joy from Ted in January.



Actually, it was nicely rolled into a ball of roving, but I wanted to show the brilliant colors of StitchJone's hand-dyeing skill. In addition to gorgeous colors, this yarn had a soft crimp to it and a luster that was like silk.



I knew immediately what I wanted to do with this.

My main goal was to keep the colors separated as much as possible, and also I wanted to spin it as loosely as I could to allow the yarn to keep as much of its natural texture as possible. I dropped everything and did a bunch of test spinning and doing small "makes" to see how it would look in a loose double-ply.



Once I was satisfied that I could do justice to this yarn, I split the entire roving length-wise into two quasi-equal balls of roving.



I figured I could spin a bobbin-full of singles from each ball and then when I plied, I would hope that the colors matched up and kept the colors separated. The singles spun up very quickly and in no time I had two quasi-equal bobbins of singles and I started the plying.



I found that it was necessary to synchronize the colors every once in a while, so every time I got to the end of the purple section on one bobbin of singles, I'd break off the remaining purple on the other bobbin, so the colors would synch up exactly again. I ended up doing this about 3 times during the plying, and I used the remaining singles of purple to double-ply for the final length of purple yarn. After plying the colors remained relatively separate except during transitional color changes.



When I wound the yarn onto the swift, I realized the yarn maintained a lot of the natural crimp...I was thrilled with the result.




I picked a great stitch pattern from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries, called "Sunspots" and added a little border pattern and created a six foot long scarf, that was soft and colorful and lofty and warm.







The only reason I'm allowed to blog about this now, is that the recipient has gotten her scarf, and she replied back with the following picture of "glee" (her word!).



I realized all along, my main goal in making this scarf was the look on Duffy's face. Check out Duffy's Blog to see her experience of this.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lots of Stuff


First of all, it's Carol's birthday today, so go wish her a happy one (and guess her age...she likes when people do that).



I had the chance to meet up with Carol and her husband Tom yesterday for brunch. They are some of my favorite people on the planet.

Laziness
Marilyn got a bunch of folks whining with her latest blog post...they were complaining about her haughty attitude, her foul mouth and her misinterpreted distaste for on-line help with knitting.

But I think her basic premise was that folks shouldn't be so freakin' lazy and try to figure shit out themselves before asking an internet audience a question about something.

One of my favorite new sites helps get this message across.

Anyone that's ever written a blog or participated in an on-line knitting forum has experienced this...someone posts a question to the entire blog or forum audience that could have easily been answered with a quick Google search.

So let's say someone writes "Are there any podcasts for knitting?"

I can now respond back with a quick link from "Let Me Google That For You!"

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=knitting+podcasts

This clever little web site does a quick little tutorial, with the mild admonishment of "Was That So Hard?"

Very clever.

Current Knitting
I worked on two things this weekend. I have to knit a 15" x 15" square for an afghan project for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, so I found an interesting pattern stitch, cast on what I thought would give me 15 inches and knit for about an hour and realized I had about 17 inches of fabric. Rip, rip, rip. I chose a different stitch pattern and cast on less stitches, and after an hour of knitting, I had a scant 14 inches of knitting...grrrr. I pulled it all out, and put it away for another day.

Of course, I also did some work on my latest Niebling lace, Le Soir d'Or.



I'm up to round 82 and the stitch count is already over 700, so it's difficult to get a full spread of the lace.

Amazing Buttons
Blog reader Ann Marie put me in touch with her knitter/next-door-neighbor, Regina, who makes some of the most beautiful buttons from 100% recycled clay.



My picture sucks, but check out her website. Since Regina was going to be in New Hope on Friday, I had the chance to meet her in person and look at tons of her buttons.



All of her buttons are lightweight (so they work well on knitted fabric!) and very durable and most importantly...gorgeous. I will never have a problem finding an interesting set of inexpensive buttons for a sweater again. In fact, I may just design a sweater around some of her buttons!

Readers' Comments/Questions
ExpatOnTheGo writes, "I just ordered Ichida's 2 books on lace knitting. Are they a good buy?"

That's a difficult question. I personally think they are, but they are very expensive books. I'm already on my third design from the books with my current lace project (fourth, if you count the one I left on the plane), so I feel I've already gotten my money's worth out of them.

Maureen writes, "I have been studying the photos to see how you are knitting this - is it using two circulars? I really don't get on with circular needles, but I suppose they are necessary if you have such a huge number of stitches."

Yes, I'm knitting them on two long KnitPicks Harmony circulars. I couldn't imagine using any other way, but I definitely don't have any aversion to circulars.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Winner Never Quits


This was the motto of an amazing young man who I never had the opportunity to meet.



Adam Spector
I've been very fortunate to be able to hear and read the inspiring story of Adam through is brother...a coworker of mine.

Adam, lost an incredibly courageous fight to Hodgkin's Lymphoma a little less than two years ago. Having heard his story from his brother Andy, I was quite moved.

This year, Andy and his family have set up a 2-Mile Walk to Win to raise money to get to the point where no one would have to suffer through what Adam and his family did. The walk will benefit a research fund called The Adam Spector Fund for Hodgkin’s Research which goes directly to funding research at Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital.

Please help in any way you can.

For those of you in the Philadelphia area, the 2-mile walk will be held on Saturday, April 18th at Harriton High School, 600 North Ithan Avenue, Rosemont, PA 19010. Prior to the walk, registration will begin at 9:00 am near the Harriton High School parking lot. Look for the Whole Foods tent where you will register and pick up your t-shirt. The walk will begin at 10:00 am.

If you can participate in the walk, please do.

If you are unable to participate in the walk, please send this information to others, or help out with a donation Any donation would be one step closer to Adam’s vision. You can donate directly to Sloan Kettering by going to their donation page...please note that the contribution is in memory of Adam Spector. Of if it's easier, please feel free to sponsor me in the walk using PayPal using the link below.






Thank you for any help you can provide.

Current Knitting
I love the first 70 rounds of these lace designs that start in the center and get bigger as they go outward. It's near round 70 where it starts to slow down Here's what Le Soir d'Or looks like up through round 70.



Here's a more closeup view of the corner of the lace.



Total stitches each round is now over 500, and the stitch pattern gets a little more random and complex. We'll see how fast this progresses from now on.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks for the linguists who read QueerJoe who were able to translate Federdolde. I love how Germans combine two words into one like that.

JellyDonut asks, "Would AVFKW work with the Print O' the Waves shawl?"

Yes, the silk I'm using for my current lace project (from A Verb For Keeping Warm...in case you didn't recognize the acronym) would be perfect for the laceweight option of Print O' the Waves Shawl...I think.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Feast Or Famine


Yes, like the little Morton Salt girl says, when it rains, it pours.

Maximum Acceleration
Last week, I couldn't even get enough knitting content together to come up with a decent blog, and in a few short days, I've come up with a load of stuff.

I've started a new knitting project, I met up with knit-friend Lorraine (FiberNinja in comments), and I've made some headway on my secret project.

Current Knitting
After a few halted attempts at starting a lace project, I finally wound up a ball of the silk laceweight from A Verb for Keeping Warm, and chose a new Niebling lace pattern.

After the initial "swatch" of 25 rounds, I really liked how it was looking



So I completed another 25 rounds, and now I've got 50 rounds done.



The pattern is by Herbert Niebling, and it was originally called Federdolde (which I have no idea what that means), but I'm using the Ichida lace book version, which is called Le Soir d'Or (which I do know what the means...Evening of Gold...but I like how Babelfish translates it..."The Evening d' However"...hmmmm). Anyway...here's the graphic from the book, so you can see what this will eventually become.



Anyway, I'm finding the knitting is going quite smoothly on this pattern so far. I'll keep you posted.

Fiber Friend Dinner
I got the chance to go into Philadelphia for dinner last week to have a fantastic dinner of Korean food with Loraine. She's going through a relocation, and was up in Philadelphia for some Tae Kwan Do stuff (she's close to getting her black belt, so don't fuck with her).

In addition to having a wonderful time catching up, she also gifted me with this lovely jug 'o angora that she harvested personally.



I can't describe to you how soft and silky this stuff is.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the laceweight silk I just started using, JellyDonut writes, "That silk is gorgeous! Who is it?"

It's one of the silk laceweights hand-dyed using natural dyes by a company called "A Verb for Keeping Warm." I heard about the shop on the latest Y-Knit Podcast and I just had to have some...I'm quite glad I did.

Expat-On-The-Go writes, "Joe, where are you? Miss you..."

Thanks Brigitt...it's nice to be missed. The chest cold I had last week made it difficult to concentrate on a new project, so I really didn't have much to blog about.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Struggling


It's been difficult getting a new project started...at least one I can post on the blog.

Monsoons, Pestilence and Sickness
Okay, so it was just a silly snow storm, and there was no pestilence. But I was sick all this weekend with what seemed like the flu, or at least a bad cold.

Despite all that, I tried starting two different lace designs, and I hated them both. I was only into them about an hour each, so it wasn't a lot of wasted time, but it was frustrating.

Other than one (somewhat tedious) secret project, I really have no knitting to speak of on the needles that I'm currently working on.

I'm honestly not sure what I want to work on next.

I did find a just-started-sock on the needles that I don't even remember having started and worked a couple of rows on that.

Current Knitting Purchases
I did get a couple of packages in the mail last week...both of them I adore.

The first one was from Carol at Black Bunny Fiber:



This gorgeous roving is hand-dyed by Carol in amazingly rich colors but the breed is quite interesting...it's wool from a crossbreeed of Cormo and Corriedale. The colorway is called Water Lily, but it's much nicer than Monet's crappy pictures.

The second package was from A Verb to Keep Warm...the fiber business mentioned in the most recent YKnit podcast.



This is a lovely laceweight silk yarn that I can't wait to use for something.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my posting of a weight loss book, Carol asks, "If this Paul McKenna is so great a hypnotist, why can't he hyponotize himself to grow more hair?"

He did, but decided he looked MUCH hotter without it, so re-hypnotized himself to lose it again...look at the second book listed in the Paul McKenna link...he was right...he is MUCH hotter without it.

Marilyn writes, "I gotta ask you, as one consultant to another: When the fuck do you have the time to get so much knitting done? Is it the four days a week in a hotel room?"

I do get some knitting done in the hotel, and when I fly I knit on planes, but most of my knitting get done at home in front of the television or listening to the radio.