Friday, March 26, 2010

Insanity...

...has been defined as doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.


Enough! You Lost Twice Now...Big Time
Why is it that when the Republican whiney-babies lose the majority of seats in congress and the White house, they think getting whinier will help?

Why is it that when the name-calling bullies try to force their will on the American public, and lose big time, they think that getting nastier and more obstinate will help.

Time to stop pandering to the lead-paint-eating rabid teabaggers, with whom Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. Now it's scary for Republicans to have any sense at all...look at how hard McCain is fighting to keep his senate seat against the rabidly insane JD Hayworth (the man likens homosexuality to bestiality and thinks McCain is a wimp for being against torture). The Republicans have ramped up the hate speech to such a fevered pitch, that only the most insane crazies seem to get any play in primary elections throughout the country on the Republican side.

You'd think they'd realize it's time to try something different, no?

Current Knitting
I've made some additional progress on my version of the Zaire pullover, although not that much, even though I've been on vacation all this week.


A piece of cut glass in a box of old junk at the flea market sliced a huge gash in Thaddeus' finger this past Wednesday requiring him to get 9 stitches at the emergency room (he had fortunately just had his Tetanus shot the prior week). Unfortunately, I didn't have my knitting with me for this 2.5 hour ordeal, or I might have made a bit more progress.

As of now, I've completed 1.5 rows of squares out of the 4 required to get to the top of the body.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding Monica's cool note cards, Tom writes, "What a great idea for a line of cards! Just wondering if that is Nico sitting on the back of your chair. Perhaps she could no a line of Nico cards?"

Actually, I think that was Gage in the picture, and I'm not quite sure that there are enough Nico fans on the planet to support Monica's notecard business, but I sure would buy a pack or two!

Speaking of Monica, she writes, "I love the earthy colors you've chosen for the Zaire - that green just says, wrap-me-around-you! Very fine gauge, isn't it?"

Yes...it's done all in garter stitch using jumper-weight (fingering) yarn on US3 (3.25 mm) needles. It's quite a bit of knitting!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Change Doesn't Always Suck

I can't tell you how glad I was to see the Democrats break through the log-jam of Republican petulance.

U.S. Political Stuff
Sorry for the non-U.S. readers, but something rather important in terms of progressive movement in this country just happened yesterday.

Ever since the Democrats won the White House and the majority of seats in the two houses of congress, the whiner-babies on the Republican side have done everything they could to stymie any of the changes that the U.S. public demanded through their voting voice.

Finally, after trying everything they possibly could to incorporate the conservative obstructionists, it became obvious to both the Democrats and the U.S. public, that there was no compromise that could be made that would have them participate in the long-awaited changes necessary in this country.

I am so glad the Democrats finally took the reins and said enough is enough and did what they were voted in to do.

Like many progressives, I don't believe that the health care reform bill goes far enough. I can't imagine there are many folks that don't believe that we truly need a public option for health care insurance, so that we can bypass the money-sucking bastards spending millions of dollars or our insurance premiums lobbying politicians
to let them continue to rape this country. However, I do think the passing of this bill is a huge step forward, and renews my confidence that the Democrats are at least going to try and make changes.

Current Knitting
I put the woven cable scarf to the side for a little while when I was inspired by Asplund's incredible rendition of Marianne Isager's sweater, Zaire. Although, I am halfway finished with the woven cable scarf.


But then I decided to try my hand at the Zaire after I liked how well the swatch turned out.

Here's what I've gotten to so far.


Since you can't see the back, you wouldn't know that I only have five diamonds completed. I had six, but then realized that I had completed twisted the in-the-round bottom of the sweater when I connected the ends (I know...I know...totally beginner's mistake), and this required me to rip out one of the diamonds.

I'm kind of making up the color scheme as I go along, but I'm liking it a lot so far.

Cool Note Cards
A while ago, I was asked if an artist up in the hinterlands of Canada could use a photograph of me spinning to create an original art piece on note cards, specifically geared towards men who spin. Of course I was thrilled.

Monica took a photo some of you might recognize and turned into this delightful note card.


I've since ordered a full set of the male-oriented spinning note cards and they are perfectly delightful. To reduce postage, I honestly wished I had ordered a few sets. She's also been nice enough to send some of her original note cards as door prizes for the Men's Knitting Retreat.

I have decided I am no where near nice enough to live in Canada.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monsoon Season

Fascinating weather happening here in Eastern Pennsylvania...this past Saturday, we had torrential rain, winds with gusts up to 70 miles per hour and all the associated outages and roads blocked by downed trees.

Talking Weather
And if that weren't bad enough, it was followed up on Sunday with a lightning/thunder storm and tonight we're slated to get snow and tomorrow the temperature will climb to a high of 58 degrees (that's Fahrenheit...14 Celsius).

I have to say, that I've never been a fan of Winter or cold or snow or ice or sleet. I'd much rather have the rain.

Fortunately, I'm off work for the next two weeks, doing a kind of staycation where I'm getting my car serviced, and doing medical check-ups and such. Fortunately, the weather doesn't have to be cooperative.

Current Knitting
I'm kind of floundering about with knitting projects lately.

A guy on MenWhoKnit.com posted a scarf he had knit in a kind of tumbling blocks textured knit.


It's the Asherton Scarf by Smariek on Ravelry. Not only did I like the pattern stitch, but I also loved that it was reversible.

It's a bonus that it's rather a simple pattern stitch as well. The picture above is the Ravelry model...I'll post a picture of mine later.

Also, Asplund Knits started work on a Marianne Isager sweater which intrigued me. I searched through all my Isager books and found it in Knitting Out of Africa (or Afrika if you have the book in it's original language...I have both!).

I decided I needed to swatch on of the garter/mitered/entrelac/intarsia squares used in the sweater, and I really liked the result.


I mean really...if you can jam so many techniques into one design, it's got to be challenging enough to make me at least swatch it...right?

I've decided to go ahead and try knitting a full-size sweater in a modified version of Isager's design. We'll see how it goes.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the kid alpaca blanket picture on my last post, Sue writes, "I recognize that hotel room! Love a good Courtyard!"

You have a keen eye for hotel decor. This is the Wilmington downtown Courtyard in Delaware. The staff there are awesome and made me feel like family for about 3 years of my life.

Also on the blanket, aferdina writes, "...are you going king sized or some other smaller size. It looks cozy and beautiful..."

I'm thinking I'll make it about 6 feet long and about 5 feet wide once the border is on, but we'll see.

Finally, on the topic of discriminatory blood donations, MedTech writes, "50% of the new AIDS cases in the US appear in men who have sex with men. If you're going to pick a group to exclude because they have a higher rate of infection, gay men (unfortunately) seem to be a logical choice. The other group routinely excluded for life is/are prostitutes. Haven't heard a lot of protest over that one even though, as a group, they account for fewer new cases of HIV each year than MWHSWM."

Since all blood donations since 1985 are screened for HIV, it still seems to be an ignorant rule to disallow MWHSWM from donating blood. I might understand the rule if they excluded any man who has had sex with another man or with a prostitute since their last negative HIV test, but it still seems it's just easier for the FDA to be lazy and exclusionary.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Hating On The Media Again

Okay...is Jihad Jane really a terrorist threat who has been hiding in our very neighborhoods, warning us that terrorism can be found around every corner?



Sounds A Bit Paranoid To Me
Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane is a crazy person, who happened to think it was a good idea to convert to Islam, and then support the "long-suffering Muslim people" by going on a European drive-by to kill the cartoonist who drew a picture of Muhammad with the body of a dog.

I think the long-suffering Muslims would have done a lot better if the media had decided to focus on the millions of sane followers of Islam, who follow the words of the Prophet Muhammad with respect and reverence, rather than trying to incite fear and paranoia by giving credence to a nut case.

Just saying.

Current Knitting
I had little time to start a new project, so when I left for the week, I jammed the Kid Alpaca blanket into my knitting project bag and decided I would bang away at that during the week.



This is the blanket on a king-size bed, so that you can get a little perspective on the size of it at this point.

Still have quite a bit of work on it.

Current Spinning
I was able to both ply up some of the singles I've been spindling on one of Ed Lingenfelter's drop spindles, and also spindle up some more singles.



Eventually, I may have enough lace weight yarn to make a small handkerchief.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Concerning the Noro Himaraya scarf, Joey Johnson writes, "Gorgeous scarf....... how mcuh yarn did it take?"

It took a little over 2 balls of Himaraya yarn, or about 250 yards of worsted weight yarn.

Monday, March 08, 2010

Resentment

Someone once said, "Resentments are like drinking poison and hoping someone else dies."

Nonetheless...
...I still have a long-held resentment against the Red Cross, and the FDA for disallowing gay men to donate blood (for all practical purposes anyway).

Did you know that any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is not allowed to donate blood? Yeah, it amazes me that most folks don't realize this.

So, as a 50 year old gay man, if I have had sex with a man in the last 32 years (since I was 18!) I'm excluded from donating blood.

The FDA is only now looking at eliminating this ignorant practice...and ONLY because there's a shortage in the blood supply that will only increase as we near the Summer.

Sheesh!...don't they screen all blood for HIV anyway?

Yes, I have resentments.

Current Knitting
I've finished the Woven Cable Scarf by Kelly Haines.






I ended up added a row of double-crochet down both sides of the scarf. In addition to giving it a much cleaner edge, it also added some much-needed width to this scarf.

The yarn is Noro Himaraya, I knit it using US13 needles and it ended up being about five feet long and about eight inches wide.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding the Shetland Gossamer lace wrap, Eileen comments, "So it was interesting that you said that dampening the shawl weakened the wool."

Actually, I found when I tried to do a spit-join, the single-ply yarn came untwisted and pulled apart quite easily, but the break that occurred during blocking seemed to be caused by brittleness...hmmm.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

"Those Cool Knitting Sticks"

A middle school art teacher asked how she could get her male students interested in knitting.

Peer Pressure, Competition, Make it Cool!
A while ago when I was working part-time at a knitting store, a couple of teenage guys (skateboarder types) came into to the store asking where they could buy those "cool knitting sticks" so they could make a cool hat like their friend's.


As it turns out, a young lady had knitted her boyfriend a cool hat, and when the other guys asked her to make them one, she told them to make it themselves. So a couple of them decided to do just that.

It soon became incredibly cool to knit your own hat. It got very competitive, with guys vying to make the "sickest" hat, guys getting their hat finished first, etc.

It was a short-lived fad, but for a while, there were dozens of teenage boys in a blue-collar town taking great pride in their knitting prowess.

One of the first times I could really relate.

Current Knitting
Now working on something mindless, simple and easily ripped out if I decide I don't like it.

 

 

It's a simple woven cable stitch scarf, and I'm using some Noro yarn that I've never been able to make look good in anything else so far.

I'm thinking that I will probably do some simple knit or crochet edge on this scarf after I get it to a decent length.

Current Spinning
Although the picture might appear otherwise, I have to admit, my spindling hasn't been overly easy lately.


Actually, spinning the singles has been relatively easy...I just keep messing up on the plying of this fine lace yarn. And what's worse is that it's not for lack of skill or knowledge...I just keep losing patience when things get a little tangled or the singles start plying onto themselves.

I will eventually fix up all the messes I've made with this yarn.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Thank you all for you commiserating comments on my ripped lace knitting.

Ivar (Asplund) asks, "Do you think you could make some kind of fastening arrangement there, hiding the hole by turning the stole into a kind of wrap? It would still look lovely!"

I don't think so...I really think I'll try to darn the hole in a way that will fix it, even if it doesn't look perfect after all is said and done.

Barbara asked, "Did the yarn break as you were blocking it or is that a dropped stitch(s) that ran?...and then RaenCT asks, "What was it that made it pop? How can we learn from your "disaster"?"

Well...I decided to block this project dry, since the single-ply Shetland seemed to be less strong when wet. Once it had been blocked out to the size and shape I wanted, i was going to spritz it with water, so that the blocking would hold after it dried.

I ended up never getting it fully stretched out, and as simple as it sounds, I think I should have just blocked it an inch smaller. The tensile strength of the yarn just couldn't handle the amount of stretching.

Oh well, live and learn!

Monday, March 01, 2010

Lace Knitting Kicked My Ass

I am beyond disheartened by my latest project...I've decided I am only allowed to knit scarves and washcloths the rest of my life.

Blocking Gone Wrong
I went to block out the center section of the Shetland Gossamer stole I had been working on and it was looking great.


It was almost completely blocked out when tragedy struck.


Okay, okay, it's not 700 Chilean's dying in an earthquake, so I guess it really doesn't count as a tragedy.

Regardless...the crumpled remains of this pseudo-tragedy is sitting in a corner waiting to see if I ever forgive it.

Current Knitting
I really was so disgusted, I started a simple scarf using some old Noro I had hanging around. It's the Woven Cable Scarf by Kelly Haines.

I don't have any pictures yet, but hopefully I won't wreck this project before it's finished!