Monday, January 31, 2011

Broken Gaydar

I've found that since I reached the age of 50 that my gaydar no longer functions.

Transitioning to "Aged Homosexual"
I've realized that gaydar is mostly just sending out a furtive glance to someone you think/hope might be gay, and if the glance bounces back off the target in a specific way (a returned furtive glance, perhaps slightly magnified), then the gaydar starts bleeping.

But I've realized now that I've gotten older, that the power of a furtive glance from me, has a lot less chance of being bounced back with similar interest anymore.

I've always known that youth and looks are important in much of gay culture, so it's no surprise that I'm transitioning into the mature, settled time of a gay man's life, where I recognize the wild, raucous times are over (a fact I'm quite happy about), and I'm settling into a much more comfortable and relaxed period of my gayness.

Current Knitting
Despite the lack of frenetic activity associated with age-progression in the gay world, my work world has been ridiculously crazy lately, including very little time at home on the "weekends". As such, I've accomplished very little progress on my current knitting project.


And of course I'm at the point on the sock that I like the least...ribbing.

I also did get some spinning done this weekend (about as much spinning as knitting), but I didn't a photo would be necessary.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Crystal writes, "Those socks are looking yummy already. Are you working from a pattern?"

No...it's a combination of techniques, but not a pattern. I used the figure-eight cast-on for a toe-up sock, and I used a modified version of the Andersson heel. Both of these techniques can be googled. That's what I like about knitting socks...once you understand the basic structure of a knitted socks, you can mix and match techniques to get a sock you like best.

Brad Fallon writes, "I really like knitting too but it seems I cannot follow the pattern very well. I'm not really satisfied with my finish work. Can you give me tips on how it is properly done? I can see you have done a good job with yours. Maybe I just need more practice and knit more often."

Most folks realize early on that there is very little to learn about actual knitting...casting on, knitting, purling, casting off...with varying combinations of each. But it takes a while to be able to understand pattern instructions and also how to best finish a garment. I highly recommend joining some kind of knitting community. While you can google any of your knitting questions and get videos of how to do almost anything, it still helps to have someone show you.

That's the best advice I can give.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Political Opinion - Ignore at Will

The Republicans did very well during the last U.S. elections in November, mainly because the U.S. electorate thought they could do things that would help the economy and generate jobs.

Ignore the Will of the People
So, instead of working on stimulus packages, or bills that will reduce spending, what do the Republicans deem important?

Repealing the recently passed health care bill. Passing bills that will restrict American's access to abortion. Demanding a review of same-sex marriage laws in the District of Columbia.

For the life of me, I can't understand how these efforts will do anything to elevate our economy or create jobs.

Now, perhaps I should be happy that the Republicans are focusing on their personal agendas rather than the economy, since they seem to screw up the economy more by their methods for helping the rich get richer, but I'm amazed again at on simple thing...

Yo, Tea Party...where's the outrage now?

Current Knitting
Having pretty much finished the zippered cardigan, I decided I needed to pick up something to start knitting, and I didn't have much time this past weekend to plan anything complex to start taking with me on work travel.

I opted to start a sock...perfectly portable, and requires little forethought and planning.


I'm using two Skacel yarns, Trekking XXL (the orange-y toe) and Jojoba (the main green color yarn).

I did a figure-8 cast-on during take-off this past Sunday, and the women next to me was fascinated. I pretended not to notice that she was staring at me casting on and knitting, but I could see that she couldn't take her eyes off it out of the corner of my eye.

She did finally ask what I was making and we chatted a bit about her trying knitting, but just never was very good at it.

Monday, January 24, 2011

We Have WINNERS!!!

Yes, eight winners to be exact. And within a couple of weeks because of what each of you donated to the lottery (plus donations from others...thanks!), there will be two big winners...of scholarships to the May Men's Knitting Retreat.

Contest Results
Overall, there were a total of 571 entries for prizes (which equates to $572 in scholarship funds!...actually it was more than that...some folks generously donated to the fund without entering for any prizes).

Of the eight prizes, the following is the breakdown of entries for each prize:

Wooden Swift - 96
Vintage Books - 10
Malabrigo Silky Merino - 62
Trekking XXL Sock Yarn - 51
Brooks Farm Duet Yarn - 102
Ty Dy Sock Yarn - 39
Lavold Silky Wool - 174
MSKR 2010 Retreat Bag - 37

So clearly, the Lavold Silky Wool was the desired favorite for most entrants.

And the winners are:

Wooden Swift - Michael T.
Vintage Books - Elizabeth M.
Malabrigo Silky Merino - Elizabeth M.
Trekking XXL Sock Yarn - Elayne H.
Brooks Farm Duet Yarn - Tom B.
Ty Dy Sock Yarn - Leslie B.
Lavold Silky Wool - Ray C.
MSKR 2010 Retreat Bag - Sheri F.

Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to everyone who participated. I'll have sent e-mails to all the folks listed above to confirm mailing addresses, so if you don't have an e-mail from me, please check your SPAM folders.

Current Knitting/Spinning
I finally finished up the endless collar on the zippered cardigan.



While I still have to weave in a few ends, I've overall, quite happy with how this garment turned out. And if anyone is ever unsure as to whether the Rowan Felted Tweed yarn is worth it, I would definitely say it is.

I also am desperately wanting to try out my new AWESOME lazy-kate, so I started a new spinning project. I was also quite curious to see how this roving:


...would turn out when actually spun into singles. Here's my result so far.


The roving is Black Bunny Fiber-dyed corriedale...cleverly named SweetTart by Carol. It's spinning up quite nicely.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Earbud Envy

As a recent convert to my first Apple product (see below), for years, I envied the cool-ass people I'd see sporting those bright white earbuds.



Such a Disappointment!
I got a brandy-new iPhone 4 last week, and I quite like it. But the biggest disappointment was when I finally plugged in ever-famous white earbuds, and put them in my ears.



I guess I just figured that since iPhones and iPods were such cool little gadgets, that the earphones that came with them had to be equally as cool. Especially when all the cool people wore them...right?

I was so wrong.

The "bud" part seems WAY too big for my ear-hole and hurt my ear when I wear them. The sound isn't great. And the damn-blasted things keep falling out!

I ended up buying a rather expensive set of non-Apple earphones (Jamz earphones) that work MUCH better.

Current Knitting
I was thrilled to be able to get to test knit Kyle's latest hat pattern - "Cause".

It's a great little hat (I love the top shaping) with stranded-knitting ribbons around the circumference of the hat. Plus he's donating part of the proceeds of the sale of the pattern to cancer research.

Support Kyle if you can...he's an amazingly creative guy who will most definitely become a shining start in the knit-design world soon.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Most Thoughtful Christmas Gift Award...

...goes to...the out-of-laws! Yes, Thaddeus' sister and brother-in-law came up with by far, the most thoughtful (and generous) gift this year for a Christmas gift.

Way Better Than What I Had
My sister-out-of-law went out of her way to make sure this Christmas was very special for me.

First of all, she read the blog enough to know that when I ply yarn, my version of a lazy-kate is this:



Yes...it's an Allen Edmonds shoe box!

Then she researched the spinning wheel I own and found out that it's a Robin wheel. She did some further research and ended up getting in contact with the Gil (the guy who actually makes Robin wheels) and embarrassingly told him that I use a shoe-box as a lazy-kate.

Gil was able to locate the same wood he used to make my original wheel, and then make another masterpiece in wood.


The new lazy-kate arrived this past weekend and I couldn't be more pleased. Here are a few more photos.




I can't wait to get back to spinning so that I can see what it's like to ply yarn with a proper lazy-kate!

Current Knitting
I have done precious little knitting since my last blog post...or at least knitting that I can show on the blog.

I probably got about five rows of knitting done on the collar of the zippered cardigan, and I'm currently sitting in Philadelphia airport, realizing that I completely forgot to put ANY knitting in with my packing this week.

I was able to finish test-knitting a great little pattern for friend Kyle...at one point I'll be able to post a photo when he publishes his pattern.

Men's Spring Knitting Retreat Scholarship
Wednesday is the last day I will accept any entries for the 2011 Men's Knitting Retreat lottery.

Thanks again to all who participated...there will be two lucky guys who will benefit significantly from your generosity.

Nominations are still being accepted...see instructions in last blog entry.

Make sure you get any nominations in to me at queerjoe@comcast.net by the deadline of January 28th.

Readers' Comments/Questions
Kyle (aka kylewilliam) writes, "Did you knit the double sole for the slippers? The two times I made them I didn't read the directions fully and didn't knit the second sole..."

I did.  The first time I ever knit this pattern, I was fortunate to have had a friend in my LYS who had made them before me, else I might have missed that instruction as well.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Nominations Being Sought!
Due to the generosity of a couple of anonymous donors and the results (so far) of the Men's Knitting Retreat auction, it looks like we'll be able to offer two full scholarships with a travel stipend.

I couldn't be more excited...while we may not make up the entire amount by the end of the auction, it's close enough where I can guarantee the two scholarships.

Calling For Nominations
This upcoming May, the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat will be held again in Upstate New York at Easton Mountain Retreat Center from Thursday, May 19 to Sunday, May 22, 2011.

We still have regular paid slots available and registration is available by calling Easton Mountain at 800-553-8235.

However, we are very excited to announce a two full scholarships to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, provided by the generosity of two of the guys who have participated in the past and by all the generous folks who have participated in the auction.

These scholarships include full retreat fees for a bed in a quad room, plus a stipend of $400 for travel expenses.

We want you to nominate any man you think should be able to go to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat this coming May.

You can nominate a friend, a family member or yourself. The nominee must be a man and over 21 years of age. And please confirm that your guy has agreed to be entered into the nomination process and is available to attend. Two sample nominations would be:

I would like to nominate John O'Hara for the 2011 MSKR Scholarship. John is an Librarian in Northern Arkansas with a great love for reading and knitting. He is always teaching knitting to anyone interested and has taught his wife to knit and has begun to teach his children (who he thinks are too young yet to learn, but he still tries). He lives in a very rural state with no local yarn stores, so John helped start a knitting group at the library where he works and has also worked to increase the number of books on knitting kept within his library network (for which we are all very grateful). John would love to get together with other guys who have a love for knitting, crocheting and spinning and I think he would be an amazing addition to your group of guys.
I would like to nominate myself, John O'Hara, for the 2011 MSKR Scholarship. I have been knitting for 3 years and am completely hooked. As a professional who travels a lot, I take great pride in knitting in public and teaching coworkers how to knit. Unfortunately, since most of my work is done for non-profit organizations and I support a family of five, I have no funding, but would very much appreciate the opportunity of being around other guys that knit. I would appreciate your favorable review of my nomination.
Send nominations to me at queerjoe@comcast.net. Scholarship recipients will be selected from all the nominations by a panel of Men's Knitting Retreat coordinators (Michael Wade, Ted Myatt, Barry & myself). DEADLINE FOR ENTERING IS January 28, 2011. The winner will be officially announced on February 4, 2011.

Current Knitting
Did you think I had forgotten about the zippered cardigan? Well, I'm not a big fan of attaching sleeves, so while I was able to forget this project for a short time, I could never leave it languishing anywhere very long.


As you can see, I did finish knitting the sleeves, and I have even attached them (sorry for the crappy photo...the light in Edmonton during non-working hours isn't great for photography). I'm now working on the collar and will hopefully model this beauty in an upcoming blog post.

I'm also very glad to say I finished the knitting portion of my felted clog slippers.


And yes, that's Nico who had to "help" with the photography.


Now I just have to felt them!

Readers' Comments/Questions
Regarding my woven place mats, Bonnie writes, "Love the colors of your mats. You are working on a frame loom which is very fun to create free form knitting which I love. Have you tried adding different types of fiber, eyelashy or bulky stuff in one project. They make great pillows or bags. Have fun with it whatever you go."

Thanks Bonnie...I haven't tried anything out of the ordinary, except for using a very uneven yarn for the main orangey yarn in the place mats. I have to admit, that I'm not overly enamored with weaving. I think it should really be called warping because I spend FAR more time preparing, untangling, un-knotting and re-knotting the warp threads than I do actually weaving (I'm sure this is no surprise to anyone that has actually warped a loom).

Saturday, January 08, 2011

There Goes My Florida Vacation

Thaddeus and I have not been to Mexico in the last couple of years due to a number of reasons, but we were considering doing a domestic trip to Florida sometime.

Seems We're Not Welcome
The new governor, Rick Scott has already shown his disdain for gays and lesbians by making one of his first acts as governor, signing an executive order that doesn't extend protection against discrimination for sexual orientation (or for handicap or marital status for that matter!).

Many of his comments during the election seemed to indicate he was going to be a homophobic bigot, and now it's clear.

Suffice it to say, I won't be supporting that state with any of my tourism dollars. Perhaps supporting New Orleans would be a better choice.

Current Knitting/Weaving
I did very little of any fiber-related activity this past week. But I did promise photos of existing projects.

Here are the place mats I did finish weaving.


I know they're not perfect, but I kind of like how uneven they are.

Here is a photo of my start on the Fiber Trends Felted Clogs Pattern
.


As many readers know, I've made a lot of pair of these. It's probably the most used pattern of all the knitting patterns I've ever followed, and I follow this one to the letter because it always comes out perfectly.

Men's Knitting Retreat Lottery
Thanks to all of you have have bid on items in the lottery.

I will take bids (aka contributions to the scholarship fund for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat) until Sunday, January 16th, 2011 and then announce winners later that week.

Start thinking now about who you'd like to nominate to win a full scholarship to this year's event. It's going to be great!

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Not Afraid to Fail

I realized I've been making some personal progress, and it's showing up in my knitting world.

Trying Valiantly
I'm not sure if it's age, self-knowledge, or having some security in my life, but I seem to be much less fearful lately.

Don't get me wrong, I've never been jumpy or fearful of things in an overly compulsive way and other than being somewhat terrified of bats, I've never had too much of an irrational fearful reaction to anything (and I could easily debates that a strong fearful reaction to bats is appropriate). But I have always had fears, doubts and worries that might have stopped me from otherwise doing something. A fear of failure and/or some sense of fearing looking less than perfect.

This past Christmas, I decided to try and get three knitting projects done in time to give as Christmas gifts. I finished the pair of crochet lace spats and the pair of legwarmers got finished just after Christmas.

The third gift was a weaving project that I thought I'd start VERY last-minute. Since I celebrate Christmas with the recipient on January 1st, I had a week to try and use my rigid-heddle loom to make four place mats.

I knew going into the project that there was absolutely no room for error, or they wouldn't be finished in time. I figured we had a perfectly great gift for her anyway, so even if I made a mistake that prevented me from finishing the project on time, it wouldn't be the end of the world.

I got the loom all warped and finished the first place mat on Thursday evening. That gave me Friday and Saturday to prep the loom and weave 3 more. On Saturday morning, I was just starting the fourth one, when I realized the second and third place mates were too short and would need to be re-done. That was the mistake that made me realize I wouldn't make the goal of finishing by Saturday evening.

Oh well, there's always her birthday!

Current Knitting/Weaving
Here are a couple of photos of the weaving in progress.



I do have two completed place mats now and I'll eventually finish two more so that I'll have a gift stored away for my friend.

I also finished the two sleeves for the zippered cardigan and started a pair of felted clog slippers.

I'll have photos of those projects in future blog entries.

Men's Knitting Retreat Auction
There's been quite a bit of activity on the auction.

I just realized it would be possible to win a wooden yarn swift or a full sweater worth of yarn for the price of a dollar. I'm glad the contributions of my yarn and knitting sundries will go to a good cause.

So, please...check it out and see if you might not want to win something that you could get for VERY cheap.

http://mensknittingretreat.com/images/MSKR2011Lottery/MSKR2011Lottery2.html

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Christmas Continues

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at typically reserved for spending time with family, but we celebrate an extended Christmas each year with friends on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.

Back to Work



This Monday will have me back up in Edmonton and whatever weather they're experiencing up there.

While it will give me a chance to digest all the food I ate over the holiday, and bring me back to some sense of normality, I have to admit, I'm not looking forward to it.

2011 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat - Scholarship Fund Lottery
In the mean time, I thought it was time to have a contest at QueerJoe...it's been YEARS!...so I thought I'd start the year right.

For this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat, I wanted to contribute something to help support the men's knitting community, so I've decided to host a lottery of items from my personal stash. All proceeds from the lottery will go towards the cost of the retreat for one or more lucky guys as well as some travel stipend. I'll post more about the scholarship and nominations in a future post.

Have you ever been to one of those auctions where you buy tickets and put tickets into bags or baskets for only those items you want to win? Then they pick one ticket for each item? That's kind of what I'm trying to do in a virtual way.

Tickets are $1 each and you can put as many virtual "tickets" into the drawing for one of eight different prizes.

If this is confusing, read the "How To Play" section on the lottery site and if you still don't understand...send me off an e-mail and I'll try to explain more clearly.

But suffice it to say, for each dollar you contribute to the scholarship fund, you get one more chance of winning one of the eight prizes!

Check out the items here.