Thursday, January 28, 2010

Goal Oriented

Dedicated knitters always seem to be very goal-oriented, so it should be no surprise that I finished a goal I set for myself sometime last year.

Series Complete
My niece is a HUGE Harry Potter fan and is convinced that she will someday be married to Daniel Radcliffe. She's certainly beautiful enough but I fear she may be the wrong gender for that.

At any rate, she has encouraged me all along to finish reading the Harry Potter 7-book series. I just finished the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.



I am happy to say I am glad to have completed this goal, but I fear I will also miss getting a bit lost in the stories of Harry, Ron, Hemione and the rest of the crowd.

Current Knitting
I picked up the most conveniently stored WIP this past Monday when I left for the week for work.


This is the Kureyon Sock I don't even remember having started. Previously, I had gotten up past the heel turning, but I found the sock was too short, and I had to go back and rip out and re-do the heel. So I'm moving along.

Home In Bloom
It's been a long time since my orchid has bloomed, and I didn't want to miss the opportunity to show off its beauty.



Here it is in its new natural setting.



These little plants truly are amazingly beautiful.

Latest Roving Acquisition
I could have never hoped for a better fiber club to have joined. When Carol announced her Black Bunny Fiber fiber club, I jumped at the chance, and I have always been thrilled to have gotten in from the beginning. This installment is no exception.



The roving is naturally tannish colored Coopworth wool, which Carol has masterfully overdyed with gorgeously rich colors.

When I next start spinning again, I am going to have a number of choices in amazing fiber and even more amazing colors to choose from.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Lindy asks, "What did you think of the SOTU address?"

I didn't get to see the presidents State of the Union Address last night, as I had a work dinner to attend. Seeing some of the clips this morning, I have gotten back a bit of hope, but I still believe that our system may actually be irreparably broken. Funny enough, I did get the chance to watch some live blogging about the new Apple iPad during the unveiling yesterday, and I was pretty underwhelmed.

It's an oversized iPhone without any phone.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Lies Beat Truth

I've decided that telling lies to the voters of this country (and many others) seems to be more effective in getting someone elected than telling the truth. So today, I will debunk a report of lies and start telling lies that promote a more progressive agenda in this country.

America Is Less Economically Free Than Canada
Yes, the Heritage Foundation has published another one of its report of lies saying that the United States is less economically "free" than Canada (and the report goes on to describe how awful it is to be worse than Canada when it comes to economic freedom...they make Canada sound like the new France). The report sites "permanent takeovers" of the automotive and banking industries by the government and oversight the prevents companies from participating in government-free capitalism.

Uh, yeah...right.

Now that the the Supreme Court has given the go-ahead to have corporations buy elections in this country, and the pendulum seems to be swinging towards a fascist oligarchy, power-hungry greedy bastards like the Heritage Foundation want to push that pendulum as far right as they possibly can with an officially bound book of bullshit.

I personally think what they're trying to hide, is that the pudgy, white men that run that organization, are selling our country to countries who will keep them comfortable, fat and happy in their old age, and soon this country will be owned by the Saudis or the Chinese.

Current Knitting
Clearly there is at least one powerful witch or wizard in my group of readers. I got home on Thursday evening and knit a couple of rows on the Supreme Possum/Merino socks and decided to count how many rows I needed to knit to complete the ribbing, and amazingly, I only had two more rows to do.

Thanks for all the counter-curses.





My next WIP to get finished is another pair of socks using Kureyon sock yarn.

A Visit With Véronik
On her whirlwind tour, Véronik Avery made her way down to Philadelphia, and I was lucky enough to have been invited to brunch by our mutual friend Carol (of Black Bunny Fiber fame). Carol's husband, Too, Kathy Merrick and Liza Prior Lucy were both there as well, and after a wonderful brunch with brilliant conversation and gossip, we all went back to Liza's to continue the great visit, in addition to seeing the quilts from Kaffe's and Liza's upcoming quilt book, Kaffe Fassett's Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts
 and fondling amazing fabrics.






Sorry I didn't get a decent picture of Kathy or Liza, but Liza avoids photo opportunities like the H1N1 virus, and to find a good photograph of Kathy is about as rare an occasion as finding a 17-leaf clover.

If you get the opportunity to visit with Véronik during any of her yarn store visits, you should definitely take the opportunity...she's a delight (it must be because her country has more economic freedom than ours!).  Ask her about getting to see the uncropped picture of me wearing my new socks shown above...I kinda forgot that it had to be cropped before I showed anyone on my camera...lol.


Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks everyone for their vacation destination suggestions. The one place where I should have noted that I won't go, are the Cayman Islands. They are extremely homophobic...so much so that they turned away a gay cruise that was scheduled to dock there a dozen or so years ago...I've never forgiven them.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I'm Reading Too Much Harry Potter


I'm convinced that someone has put a spell on my current socks project..."stall-ioso", or "unraveliarmo"...

On The Last Book
Yes, I finally made my way through six full Harry Potter books and I'm on my seventh and final book, The Deathly Hallows.

I've actually enjoyed the entire series, and I'm quite glad to own them all in hardback.

I don't know that I will ever go back and read them again, but I will never regret having read them all.








Current Knitting
As noted at the beginning of this blog entry, my current sock project seems never-ending. It feels as though I'll knit long enough to have cranked out a full-size sweater, and I'll look down at the sock to see I might have added a millimeter to the length of the cuff.






I just don't get it. If anyone knows a counter-curse, please wand it my way so I can finish this sock this weekend.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fredda writes, "What do you do with Marriot's special status? Do you and Thaddeus get to travel to exotic places?"

We used to go to Cancun each year, which didn't come close to using all my points, even if we got a concierge level suite at the JW Marriott down there and roundtrip airfare from Philadelphia. But unfortunately, the beaches of Cancun still haven't really recovered from Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and I was treated rather rudely on our last visit there. We're going to have to find a new place to use up my points.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Up In The Air

Was fortunate enough to have seen this movie this past weekend and quite enjoyed it.




A Life Of Travel
For someone who travels (and has traveled for 12 years now) a lot, I quite related to some parts of this movie.

As many of you probably know, in addition to frequent flier miles with the airlines, hotel chains also have frequent stay programs. My loyalty has been with Marriott hotels most of my 12 year career, and I have a ridiculous number of points with them.

Like most loyalty programs, Marriott has color-coded cards based on your number of stays in the current year, Silver, Gold and Platinum. What most folks don't know, is that there is one more level that is reserved for guests who are in the top 5% of Marriott customers...it's called Platinum Premier.

I took this screen shot from my Marriott Rewards page:



It made me laugh because it's only January 17th, so I can't imagine how I have 67 nights so far this year unless the year started in 2009 sometime. Suffice it to say, I think I'll hit platinum premier again this year.

Current Knitting
I finished the second in the pair of felted slipper clogs, although I still haven't felted them yet...I need to go buy a zippered pillow cover first...I hate all the fuzz felting in an open washing machine can deposit on the drum of the washer.



I searched around for any WIP that I could pick up and start to complete, and the only thing I could find readily was the second in the pair of socks using James' possum/merino sock yarn.



The ribbing on this sock will keep me busy during the week.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Fiber Ninja writes, "What is the pattern used for your clogs? It looks like it's something that could be knit by someone that is primarily a spinner and only a mediocre knitter."

It's from FiberTrends and requires two strands of worsted weight yarn knitting together. It's a great little pattern and the folks I've made these for (including Thaddeus and me!) always love them.

Friday, January 15, 2010

ALERT! ALERT! - New Kaffe Quilt Book is Coming

I think Kaffe and Liza are the only folks that could have inspired me to actually learn to make a quilt top and actually finish one.



I May Have to Quilt Again!
Yes, Kaffe and Liza's latest book, Simple Shapes Spectacular Quilts is coming out in March and I fear I may be playing with fabrics again...they are so compelling and beautiful.

Liza warned me that this latest book was going to be even more amazing than previous books and it looks like that's the case. I've already pre-ordered mine and can't wait till it comes.

Hopefully Liza will have me over to start playing with fabric in early March.

Current Knitting
I just barely started the second felted clog slipper and did another couple of inches on the kid alpaca bed blanket/coffin cover.

No pictures, but I didn't want this turning into a quilting blog.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Leslied asks, "What yarn are you using for your clogs? What's your Felting Method?"

I'm using Cascade 220 and I felt by putting the slippers in a zipped pillow case cover into my top-loading washer with some detergent and hot water. I just keep cycling it back to the beginning of the agitation cycle until it's felted and then let it spin out excess water.

Susan writes, "Just wondering if you do anything to the bottoms of your slippers to keep from skating across wood and tile floors. I've painted the heel and toe area with rug backing, but I'm curious about what others do."

I don't do anything, but even with lots of hardwood floors in my house, I've never had a problem...although my stairs are carpeted...it might be different if they weren't.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Is Haiti Cursed?

You'd think a beautiful little island in the Caribbean might have some challenges, but none of the neighboring islands seem to be quite so troubled as Haiti.

Desperate Times
If political unrest, terrible poverty and general strife wasn't enough for a small nation to bear, now they've been hit with a 7.0 earthquake that has even toppled the presidents mansion.

I guess it might be inappropriate to have one of the larger casino companies to come in and offer to buy the whole country and turn it into a center of tourism?

My greatest hope is that this horrible event will be the turning point for Haiti...that the relief efforts will help to rebuild a country into one that prospers and regains political stability. I could definitely see contributing to that as a cause...even if the death of thousands wouldn't be enough for me to take action.

Here's a link that lists various ways of contributing to the relief. There's even a way of texting a $5 contribution using your cellphone...amazing.

Current Knitting
I know I said that I was going to focus mostly on existing W'sIP, but I had to consider replacing my current pair of felted clog slippers as a WIP even though I hadn't started them prior to making the resolution. The hole in the sole is starting to get worse, and I felt I should just bang out a new pair as soon as I could.

So I started a pair this Monday, and finished the first clog.



One more to go, and then the felting process.

Completely Gratuitous Cat Picture
Nico doesn't often sit still during photography sessions...he'd make a lousy professional cat model. So when he sat elegantly posed on this chair for a while, and I had my camera handy, I figured I'd try to get a good picture of him.



What do you think...gorgeous, no?

Readers' Comments/Questions
Mary-Helen writes about the Kaffe pamphlet I posted with, "I can't read it - is that an early edition of Kaffe's Classics?"

No, it's actually called, "Rowan Kaffe's Colour Book by Lark Books" although it's really only a pamphlet and Rowan has a habit of naming things differently in different countries. This one has the Oriental Landscape jacket in the same style as your now-kimono shaped jacket.

Regarding the kid alpaca bed blanket/coffin cover, Cathy Goldman writes, "Are you knitting the coffin cover for.....YOU for the long into time future? or just in case someone needs it.This is a new one to me....."

It's really a bed blanket, but when I first started it years ago, I joked that it would be finished in just enough time to be used as my coffin cover. Hopefully that prophecy will be just a joke, as I'm not planning on dying anytime soon...although finishing the blanket isn't anticipated anytime soon either.

Monday, January 11, 2010

May Means Men Knitting

Yes, the THIRD annual Men's Spring Knitting Retreat is raging forward as I type.

Registration Open
I know most of the guys who read this blog also participate on Ravelry or MenWhoKnit, and so they are already aware of the opening of registration for the 2010 event in May. But for those of you who haven't heard about it, you can check it out here.

I was talking with Ted this past weekend about some of the particulars of the event, and we both expressed amazement at how these events have filled a desire that we had no idea even existed.

Anyone that's read any sharing of guy-knitters, have probably heard at least one of two stories:
1. A man walks into a yarn store, a knitting group or a knitting event and is treated rudely, like a thief or completely ignorant of knitting despite talking about the craft with details that would only be known by an experienced knitter, or;

2. A man walks into a yarn store, a knitting group or a knitting event and is revered and fawned over because he's a man.
The retreats offer a rare space where all are equals, and the result seems to be that guys are able to just kick back and enjoy their knitting.

At least that's my take on the retreats.

Current Knitting
I was able to finish the second Mini-Mochi scarf and all I can say is that if you've never used this yarn, you should at least check it out in your local yarn store. In addition to being beautiful, it is soft and warm...a truly delightful yarn.





I do still need to weave in the two ends, but that takes but a couple of minutes...and didn't stop me from wearing the new scarf to work today!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Maureen writes, "What is your favorite Kaffe book? I assume you own or have at least perused most/ all of them. One of my other resolutions was to try some colorwork (most likely a Fair Isle sweater, but I haven't decided yet) in 2010. I am under the impression that most of his designs are intarsia, not Fair Isle, but I may be wrong."

First of all, most of Kaffe's colorwork is intarsia, so you're correct about that...as for favorite books, that's a bit more difficult. It's probably not a book at all, but an old Rowan pamphlet with Kaffe's designs for about a half dozen sweaters. I'm certain all of the designs in it are published in various other publications, but I think I used this pamphlet to make my first Kaffe sweater, and it's always been a favorite. I couldn't find it in my stash of stuff, nor could I find an image link on google for it...I'll have to do some more searching.

Ahh...it was right in my Ravelry Library all along!:




vgwatson writes, "I can't tell you how much I love your mini mochi scarves.

Do you find the yarn splitty? I've heard complaints about that. Although I know that depends on the knitter/needles/mood/time of the year/etc."

Thanks...I quite love it too. As for splitty, I've heard that before, but it's not my experience at all. The only complaint I have about it is that the loftiness of the yarn makes it a little delicate to rip out lots of knitting. But I wouldn't forfeit the amazing soft/warmth of the yarn to make up for that.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Finishing Up The Holidays and Starting 2010

Today's post is my final farewell to 2009 and plans and hopes for 2010.

One Last Post of Holiday Gifts
I didn't get a chance to post this, but I got two wonderful fiber-related gifts this past Xmas.

From Thaddeus' sister, I got five knitting books that she found at yard sales during the year...isn't she amazing? She was able to find copies of:
- Poems of Color
- Kaffe's Classics
- Family Album
- Knitted Socks
- Vogue Knitting

I already owned the two Kaffe books (the top two in the list), but I'm very glad to have the Poems of Color book.

I also got a delightful package from James in New Zealand.



Inside this beautiful packaged was this!:
















The delightful New Zealand pictorial calendar is hanging by my desk as I type, the huge white chocolate bar is long gone, and the delightful little stockings were used as festive decorations (I won't mention what happened to the sweets inside them!).

God we love James!

Current Knitting
I've decided that this New Year should be all about finishing up old projects, or unraveling them if they will never work out.

I noted that I was working on the baby alpaca blanket/coffin cover, and I will continue to work on that when I'm home. I also finally got back to my second Mini Mochi scarf.


















I had almost finished this scarf, and then realized I could have done a full two more repeats with the yarn I had left. So I ripped back and now I've finished all the repeats and all I have to do is do the lace ribbing at the end.

I should be able to finish it this evening.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thanks to everyone for the nice comments on my mom's sweater. Schnoodle writes, "What a gorgeous sweater! You aren't thinking of creating a pattern for this, by any chance?"

I considered it, but it really wouldn't be a very useful pattern since I custom knit it specifically to fit my mom...even if I wrote it for different sizes. I honestly believe it would be easier to use a knitting design software to write this pattern up, since it's just plain stockinette.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Good-Bye 2009

It's been quite a busy year, no? Both knitting and personally, I've had a lot going on.

Sorry For the Post-Holiday Blackout at QueerJoe
Despite all the material I had for blog entries over the course of the last week or two, I just couldn't get it together to post a blog entry.

But I'm back, and looking forward to a productive and expressive 2010.

Current Knitting
I did end up finishing my mom's sweater in plenty of time for delivery on Xmas day, and she was quite thrilled.

I must admit, it came out quite well. I didn't get any photos of the completed
garment (didn't think of taking one until I had already gotten it gift-wrapped), but I do have few of my mom wearing it at her 11th wedding anniversary party.


The fit was perfect, the shaping was excellent, although I probably would have made the neck opening a bit smaller, and the finishing was quite good, although if I had had more time, I would have re-attached the sleeves a bit more neatly.

I also finished the pair of felted clogs for my sister to give to her husband. I forgot entirely to take pictures, but I'm sure I could find pictures of similarly finished clog slippers that I've made....hmmm...they looked kind of like this!



New Project...Well, Old Project
I felt very distracted during the entire holiday season, and after the rush of the two Xmas gift projects, I didn't really feel like challenging myself.

I picked up one of my oldest W'sIP, the baby alpaca bed blanket/coffin cover.

I don't have pictures, but all-in-all, I added about 10 inches, and now I'm over 3 feet of knitted fabric.

It was a pleasure to be knitting on such a thoughtless project.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Ivar Asplund noted that he had heard me on Swedish public radio the other week.

Thanks Ivar for tipping me off that the piece finally aired. While I don't speak any Swedish, I listened to the entire piece. For those who would like to listen, you can link to it here:

http://www.sr.se/webbradio/webbradio.asp?type=broadcast&Id=2116179&BroadcastDate=&IsBlock=

At about 15:30, you'll hear Lovisa Hamm's interview of me, and me answering some of her questions. I like to think of Lovisa as the "Terry Gross" of Swedish Public Radio.