Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Success & Failure

Tomorrow I will mail my Christmas gifts to family and friends. None of these said packages will include knitted items. I hoped to finish a blanket for someone special on my list but I haven't finished the border and their birthday is in February, so with that I've alleviated all holiday knitting stress!

Instead of finishing holiday gifts, I have been playing with patterns thinking I could design something. I know, who do I think I am to think that I could design a knitted item? It's not really designing per se but more of an adaptation of an existing pattern. Gotta start somewhere, no? The latest is this pattern, originally created for a dishcloth of all things but I thought with an amazing liner color to really show off the lacey parts, it could be an interesting bag. Simply put, I am challenged mathematically. I don't want the gusset of the bag to to be knit or stockinette and trying to figure the pattern in the round while getting a tighter gauge so that the size of the bag comes out as expected has given me a headache. It's still pretty though and I may actually finish it up and add it to the dishcloth collection.

I also knit these little wrist warmers but alas, I hate finishing (as is publicly known) even something that would take less than half an hour. I even bought these clip things to make it easier but even they haven't enticed me to get around to it. The yarn is a Superwash that didn't work for a scarf idea but worked nicely for this simple pattern. If I ever finish them, I may just keep them for myself or more likely, I may just keep them in the UFO pile like so many others. I suppose if I could actually wear these knitted lovelies, I'd finish them but that story has already been told. Florida's hot, poor knitguyla, blah, blah, blah. ;-)

I have a Christmas party to attend tonight and I'm torn between the red shorts or the green shorts. Decisions. Decisions.

Tree photos soon. I just can't decide -- garland, tinsle, beads, flowers or babies breath? Feel free to weigh in with a comment or two! Good cheer and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Snow Day

I've lived in Buffalo.

I know snow.

I know Winter can be a colossal pain in the ass.

I miss it terribly.

I've lived in a warm climate for too long, southern California and now Florida round out the last decade and I'm due a good snow day. I have tremendous holiday spirit this year but something so integral to the sensory experience of Christmas is missing. It's simply...the cold and snow.

I'm knitting the last of my holiday gifts with the central AC cranking and wondering how freakin' hot is this wool blanket going to get before I get to the cast-off edge?

If you're somewhere cold and it's working your last nerve, just know there's someone out there missing it more than you'll ever know.

These photos are from the Calgary Herald and I found them via www.sheepless.ca She posted the bus shot, isn't it incredible!
Photo credits: Jennifer Riddell, Oliver Ennis, Tim Bergmann

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

I'm a Gleek!

Yes, I'm in love with Glee. Last week the frenetic pace of Top Chef was making me so uptight I flipped the channel and accidentally found Glee. It's funny, heart-warming, satirical, dramatic and just plain old good storytelling! And there's singing AND dancing! What more could a guy want? I caught up by watching every episode on Hulu (love Hulu!) and when I ran out of episodes on Hulu, I turned to YouTube!

Every high school sterotype has been rounded up for this cast including the gay kid. I'm terribly gay-centric from the films I see, books I read and social activities/establishments I frequent so any program with gay characters is of interest to me. It's all about visibility and how it works to affect kids growing up where there might not be an gay visibility in their communities. If shows like this had been around when my generation was coming of age, we'd be different men and women of our age. And did I mention there's singing!

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to watch, Wednesday nights at 9PM on FOX!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Rain and Autumnal Pleasures

Where to start? Rhinebeck has come and gone and my trip was great except for the non-stop rain. It really put a damper on the entire week. It rained in NYC, it rained in Rhinebeck and it rained in New Jersey when I visited my folks. I've been busy packing and unpacking, catching up on sleep and wondering why I haven't posted to my blog or more importantly, why hasn't the house magically cleaned itself?

My trip started in NYC, my hometown and favorite city on the planet. I got to see friends, Hair on Broadway and dined all over the city! I yarn crawled my way from the Upper East & West sides to 14th Street and back. There are some really interesting shops in NYC, even some in old brownstones that made for beautiful retail spaces that could easily be stupendous homes. What I wouldn't do? I drank too much and had a blast at old haunts and new favorites. No matter how long you live in NY or no matter how often you visit, there's always something new to see. In a single day you can visit a first-class museum, a yarn shop, listen to street music, watch old men and young studs play boccie, walk Central Park, shop on Madison Avenue, see a Broadway show, ride a carousel, eat a falafel and have a nightcap in a posh lounge. And that was just Thursday! Thanks to Susie, (she's following the blog now, hi Knitting Knoobie) for her recommendations as I traversed the city in search of shoes and sweets!

Early Saturday morning I headed up to Rhinebeck. I jumped in my rental car and had a lovely drive up the Taconic Parkway, one of the most beautiful scenic drives if you ever get the chance! I arrived at The NYS Sheep & Wool Festival in time to catch the Circular Sock Machine demonstration. I haven't given up on my antique baby and got a ton of helpful hints just in time for some Christmas sock knitting. Keep your fingers crossed!

One of the things I love about Rhinebeck is seeing all of the interesting things that people are doing in the fiber community but this year, not so much. For the most part, the vendors were the same as last year and showing the same things they showed last year. Honestly, it's a spinner's show with tons of fiber, fleeces and roving but not so much on the yarn end. The part of Rhinebeck that intrigued me last year were the unique/hand-crafted things going on in the industry. I had no idea that the same vendors simply come year after year with basically their same wares.

While in Rhinebeck, I found out that Woolcott & Company in Boston is closing. I know Sean, from the Men's Spring Retreat and I was truly saddened to hear about his shop. I don't particularly know him well and never had the chance to visit his store but local yarn shops, vendors and farms need to be patronized by all of us to keep them in the black. Next time you need yarn (so that means tomorrow) make sure you stop in on your local neighborhood shop. It may cost you a little extra, yes...but you'll be saving a tradition that's slipping away from us.

When I moved to Florida I really learned how much the local yarn store experience matters to the communal nature of knitting. I don't knit nearly as much as I did when there was a shop to go to on my day off, where I'd visit with like minded friends and learn something new in the process. If we don't patronize these stores, they can't stay open. It's that simple. ::end soapbox::

The rain held off long enough on Saturday afternoon to have a visit with the boys from the Men's Knitting retreats. It was great to see familiar faces like Joe, Stephen (who recenty honeymooned in Paris. If you haven't read his twitter updates you're missing out), Guido, Alasdair, Sean, Mark, Ted and John! (who'd I forget?) I even got to say hey to Will, one of our followers here at "HookedOnTheNeedle" and met Aaron and MMario (the lace King)!

From there, I was off to meet Jessica and Juli! Poor Monica got a case of the Hamthrax that was going around and didn't even make it to the show floor. She suffered so having made the trip all the way from Oregon. We got to hold hands on Sunday morning in the parking lot while she tried to convalesce in the car. Juli got a bunny, I chatted with Dan, I met Knitterotica (while lost from Juli & Jessica) and Wendy & I gave each other belated-birthday hugs. We share the same birthday! As I mentioned earlier, the show was a bit of a snooze but the Rav folks, especially the boys and the crazy kooks at CPAAG made it worth the trip!

With that, I was off to New Jersey for some family time. I even got to go to a pumpkin patch, my first ever! I knit a pair of fingerless gloves for my sister while I was home but of course, didn't get a chance to sew them up. I hate finishing. Have a mentioned that? One more early morning flight out of Newark and I was home again, sweating my ass off in Florida! It is November, yes?

Rereading this post it sounds like I didn't have the greatest time. Honestly, I'm traveled out. I was in Arizona for almost 3 weeks. I came home for 6 days and headed out to NY. The trip unexpectedly came entirely too close to too much work-related travel. I couldn't really enjoy my splendid NYC digs while jonesing for my own bed back home. I loved seeing the Rav folks and the boys of the retreats and wouldn't change my exhausted state for anything....but next year, I may pull the plug on Rhinebeck or convince myself that it's okay to sleep in and miss a moment or two. Lisa/Mel are you listening? It's all up to you. That's all I'm going to say. ;-)

For now, I'm glad to be home, knitting my fingers away on too many works in progress and waiting patiently for the house to magically clean itself!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Out & About

I'm just popping in to let you know I haven't died, it just felt like it! I've been away on business and glad to be finally home. If you haven't figured it out from the photo, I've been to the desert and I have to say, 3 weeks was enough for me. How'd the Jews do it for 40 years?! Remarkably I was not inspired to knit much in the balmy 110 degree heat but I did my best. The teddy bear is done but her little Fair Isle sweater is still a dream in my mind's eye.

I hope you're enjoying the Autumnal chill in the air and looking forward to Halloween. What's everyone dressing up as this year? I accepted an invitation to a Halloween party, my first in 30 years. Don't ask me why, I hate Halloween...except for the chocolate.

Welcome Will & Robert to the follower's list. They're both knitters and Men Who Knit Junkies, need I say more!

Friday, September 11, 2009

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Go West Young Man!

I was in Seattle last week for the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat and had an opportunity to spend a few days on my own in the city. It's a great city, alive with culture and energy in a way that speaks to this city-kid's sensibilities. The weather was surprisingly accommodating and for most of the trip I was in shorts and t-shirts which was a bonus I did not expect. I saw all of the typical tourist sights. I got up early and trekked down to Pikes Market and was overwhelmed by the crafty goodness that is offered up on a daily basis. Fish were tossed, I went to the top of the Space Needle and enjoyed the afternoon at the Seattle Art Museum. Brian, thanks a ton for the tour of the city. I could never have covered so much ground on my own.

For a guy with a fear of heights, The Space Needle is an imposing sight from the ground.

It's equally scary from the top but totally worth it. I could see a glimpse of an outline of Mt. Rainier but not one that would photograph. This vantage point will have to do.

All over town, the city was alive with talented musicians and flowers on every street lamp.

Behind that post is a blurred flash that is actually a giant fish hurling through space towards the guy on the left. And he actually caught it!

I visited a local yarn shop in Kent, WA for a signing of Franklin Habit's book, It Itches and was able to connect with new and old online friends. If you have a chance to take Franklin's photography class, do it without a second thought! While I was there, I purchased some amazing Blue Sky Suri Merino in a burnt red colorway that will make a spectacularly soft hat for my niece using the Hermione Cable Hat pattern seen in the recent Harry Potter movie.

From the hustle of the city I headed out to Dumas Bay with Keith and Stephen (of hizknits fame). Thanks again for the ride Keith!

At the retreat I made amazing progress on the teddy bear and will probably have the individual pieces off to the finisher by next weekend. It's been a tough knit using worsted weight yarn on a size 5 needle but the end result should be worth the pain. I'm still a bit apprehensive regarding the Fair Isle sweater but I'm working diligently on my Continental knitting skills that should produce the sweater in fine fashion.

Simply put, the highlight of these retreats are the men who attend. Their talent is truly overwhelming and seeing their finished pieces really charges my knitting batteries. I also had the opportunity to meet Cat Bordhi and won her Moebius Scarf book which she graciously signed for me...BONUS! To meet a knitting icon in the flesh was a real treat and she's as kooky, talented and inspiring as expected. The one road trip I attended was to Skacel, the Addi Turbo folks and apparently a huge yarn distributor, who knew? I bought a pair of lace needles and we'll see what that produces in the next few months.

I didn't really take any photos at the retreat nor did I take a ton of classes. I just enjoyed the company. I spent my time with the guys and knit like the wind (I love that tag from Brenda Dayne's podcast. Indulge me, it's my blog). I wish I lived in closer proximity to some of the guys so meet-ups and the like could take place on a regular basis. For now, I'll look forward to the next trip and being in their company again. Those of you with built-in knitting communities where you live have no idea how much these events can mean to isolated knitters in traditionally non-knitting locales!

I'll leave you with this shot from Dumas Bay. It's really an idyllic setting for a creative and social exploration.

Thank you Michael and Brian for an amazingly organized event and one I will remember long into the future.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

They arrived today and I've already knit a test swatch! I know there are all sorts of fancy needles on the market these days. Addi Turbos are all the rage but personally I like straight needles when the project allows. I typically knit with Bryspun plastic needles. I can hear the groans from you needle snobs but I like them. They are extremely flexible which equates to "easy on the hands" and the bonus, they have a superlatively pointy tip. When I saw the Signature Needle Arts "stiletto" tip, I knew someday I'd own a pair. The hype is true. They're light and the tip doesn't split the yarn. They even came packaged in a custom tube wrapped in colored craft paper. If you're ever in the market for a beautifully turned knitter's gift, look no further than www.signatureneedlearts.com. I couldn't get a good shot of my new #6, 10", stiletto tip, bell cap needles so photo credit is due to the wonderful folks at Signature Needle Arts. My new needles look just like the green ones on the left. Pretty nifty, huh?

On other fronts, I took another trip to the Butterfly Gardens. It's my favorite place in town to meditate and best of all, there's tons of photo opportunities. They let me sit in the garden for hours, converse with nature and read. I love it there and sometimes the butterflies land right on me and sit for a spell. It's magic!

As for knitting, I've been testing increases and decreases for the teddy bear project and working on finding the perfect gauge so that when it's stuffed, you won't see the stuffing itself. All of this could have been avoided if the pattern simply offered a specific increase/decrease, not to mention gauge. Isn't that knitting rule #1 or am I living in a parallel universe?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

70 years! I love stuff like this! Click here for the whole story.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reasonless Ramblings

found on MWK, couldn't resist. Happy Friday! J.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

He's definitely, maybe straight!?

The toggle closure, the piping and the pink accents are, well ... I have no words, at least not any nice ones. We know there have been rumors but this get-up proves he's either the biggest fag or the most mis-guided straight guy who evidently pissed off some Hollywood stylist!

Regardless of what Mr. Radcliffe is wearing these days to premieres as he jet sets about the globe (do I sound bitter, I was going for bitter), I can't wait for the film's release here in the states. I've enjoyed the while series and it's so sweet to see how the kids grow up with each film. Look what's happened to Neville Longbottom. He's the awkward, nerdy one. Hello!

On the knitting front, I broke all the needles on the CSM with an overzealous whirl around the cylinder. They didn't actually break but bent ever, ever so slightly making it non-operational until new needles arrive. They're being ordered so until then, the machine just taunts me with nearly 10,000 yards of yarn sitting next to it. I think my CSM may be a yarn snob because my expensive sock yarn knit right up on its maiden voyage and then this little fiasco with the acrylic.

I was missing hand knitting anyway. I'm progressing slowly on the Red Herring scarf and gave up on the MSKR socks but more on that later. The scarf will obviously have to be blocked and since I've never blocked anything, I think this will end up being a perfect practice project. And the later...do I dare say it? Okay, fine, I don't like hand knitting socks, maybe that's why I'm so enamoured with the CSM. It's tedious to me and honestly, I didn't really understand the pattern altogether.

This photo stinks (a little better if you click on it) but it was the best I could do with limited time/desire. In person I love the pattern; simple but timeless and the color will look great with my black dress coat. So if I don't get to NY this Winter, I'll just crank up the AC and wander around the condo this Christmas dressed for the looney bin. That sounds like me!

On the other hand, I'm loving the stuffed bear project and the yarn. I finished an ear and I'm very proud of my semi-round brown coaster that will someday hear it's not meant to protect furniture but instead give love to a child. It's unlikely that these pieces are going to look like anything until the whole thing is put together so take my word for it, it's progressing. If one ear is progress.

And welcome Willy, he's my pal over on Rav but you'll find him in the thick of it over at MWK!

P.S. Isn't it funny how none of the girls commented on the Go Commando post? Do girls go commando other than Lindsay Lohan?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Friday, 7/31 - Go Commando!

Now that I have your attention, I hope you'll join me in going commando on 7/31 to help support prostate cancer awareness.
Jason, this is in part, for you.

Excerpt below from National Commando Day website

Friday July 31, 2009 will be the first ever National Commando Day -- a day when people across the nation will support prostate cancer awareness by not wearing underwear to raise funding for the Prostate Conditions Education Council. 28,000 men die each year from prostate cancer, that’s one death every 19 minutes. 35% of men are more likely to get prostate cancer than women are to get breast cancer...yet there is little to no awareness about prostate cancer.

National Commando Day is when people will practice being unbound by their underwear together. A new level of freedom and unity will emerge knowing that others have also decided to free themselves. Going commando, being freed, is a great statement to make for prostate cancer which is a taboo subject for men. Even though prostate cancer does not affect you, it can very likely affect those who are close to you. So free yourself and make a stand...participate on National Commando Day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Now I can be Cranky & Happy at One Time

My CSM arrived yesterday. I was so excited I almost exploded! It took quite some time to get it all unpacked and last night I sat around watching YouTube videos and admiring my purchase. Since I didn't have a clue how to make a set-up bonnet (which is apparently how you start knitting on a CSM), I figured I'd just learn what YouTube had to offer. One of the videos offered a unique solution by using a shower scrubbie as a set-up bonnet. So tonight after work (and a quick trip to Target), I successfully knit on my CSM. It was just a simple tube -- in fact, a full skein of tubes! It was definitely harder as I increased the number of needles and harder yet when I increased the tension but all in all, I knit a tube!

I like the way it kind of poops the knitting out and to give you some perspective, I knit/cranked 6 feet of tubing in about 10-15 minutes. I don't know how fast you knit but that would have taken me till Labor Day!

Here's a shot of the scrubbie thing still attached to the knitting. I can't believe that I literally knit an entire skein of sock yarn in less than 15 minutes. I can't wait to get "waste" yarn so I can practice more, and then some more, and learn to knit perfect tubes, then master architecturally perfect heels, expertly stitch kitchener and then (insert booming voice, crescendo and superhero pose here) I will pronounce myself the CSM SOCK KING. I may have to change the name of my blog but before I order stationary, I can share one simple thing I've learned about CSM knitting. I'm gonna need a lot more yarn. I mean, I'M GONNA NEED A LOT MORE YARN ---- A LOT, A LOT!!!!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Perfect Yarn World

At the MSKR I bought this fabulous little book, "Toys to Knit" by Tracy Chapman (didn't she have an album out a few years ago?). The book is super cute but this post is not a review. Instead, it's about finding the perfect yarn. You all know that buying yarn is easy. You see the skein, the color, its texture and you're racing to the register with your wallet flying open. Then those beautiful skeins sit, taunting you, waiting for the perfect project to come their way. Unfortunately, that perfect project doesn't always come their way and with that we have the basic definition of stash building.
I give you exhibit A, the alpaca I bought at Alpacas of Easton on my trip. It mocks me, it knows I don't know what to do with it so in the storage ottoman it sits getting cozy with the cashmere.

I decided to knit an amazing, little teddy from Ms. Chapman's book. I left nothing to chance.

1. Pick the pattern - check
2. Get the yarn - not specified in the pattern, few options at the LYS
3. Knit it - way-layed by the yarn

Getting the yarn for these kinds of projects is always difficult especially when the pattern doesn't call for a specific yarn (as is the case with Teddy) or worse, that seemingly perfect yarn pictured with the pattern is no longer available. Soemtimes you need to leave things to the experts. I sent a picture of Teddy to my knitting mentor/guru in Los Angeles and asked her to pick the yarn and ship it off to me. Thank you Edith! I couldn't have found better choices! It's New Tweed by Tahki Yarns and a merino, silk, cotton, viscose blend. It's 70% merino and so beautifully soft -- perfect for endless hours of teddy hugging!

The brown tweed is the perfect shade and the pink is absolutely spot on. I just can't get this kind of yarn goodness in Florida. I miss having a yarn store with tons of options and unsurpassed expertise. She even included the embroidery thread! So when in L.A., visit La Knitterie Parisienne, you're sure to find the perfect yarn or at the very least ... something for your stash.

CSM Update: has not arrived yet but we are waiting patiently.

Dave, I didn't know you were a CSM'er as well. This is good, between you and Joe, I've got some serious expertise at my disposal. I'll need help, I'll be in touch with both of you -- you can count on it. I could come to Boston for some instruction and see Mel while I'm there (even though she mocks my turn of the century technology). How's that new IPhone working out kiddo?

Krystal, they're great old machines. If I can ever get it to knit socks, a pair will be made for you, for all of you!

Kyle, so disappointed about Seattle. I checked the airfare costs for New Zealand (that's not gonna happen)! Maybe the Midwest one, if it gets off the ground.

And welcome Christopher, he's from my college town and has the cutest dog!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Should I knit a layette?

Casa Knitguyla has a new addition and I want to introduce everyone to my new baby! I haven't named him yet but he's like Bejamin Button, he's about 100 years old but getting stronger with every day! I finally bit the bullet and bought a circular sock machine or CSM. It's in great working condition (supposedly) and guaranteed (I use that term loosely) to knit and rib! Everything I've read about these machines begins with "be prepared for a steep learning curve". We shall see, so far everyone thinks I'm crazy.

Them: "You're going to buy a machine from 1908 for $1,000+ dollars and it may or may not work."

Me: Yeah, that about sums it up. What? No good?

The nay-sayers won out and back in February with "steep learning curve" warnings everywhere, I decided I shouldn't buy a CSM and a few months went by without incidence. Then I got the urge again and starting asking the experts really pointed questions but again, decided it was too big an investment. I told myself, it's just not something you buy online especially when you've never even seen one in action. "Wait till Rhinebeck" I told myself, they'll be a demo there and every question and concern will be addressed. That was a good plan and I stood behind it for a few more months. Then, last week I gave myself the speech. You know the one, the "this is why I work" speech and started researching with aplomb. It didn't matter that I signed up for another retreat and it didn't matter that I just purchased new living room tables... it didn't matter because "this is why we work", right?

It seems rational, like the cashmere new cotton yarn I just got for $1.98 a skein, yeah, love that $1.98 cotton. Come to think of it, I'm going to need some sock yarn, wait... no... I'm going to need a ton of sock yarn! Where exactly does one buy sock yarn by the ton? stratches chin inquisitively

Oh, and for you CSM'ers out there, it's a Legare 400. A beautifully restored machine that I can't wait to show off to all of you. In the meantime, I'm plugging along on my size 1 needles working my ribbing one row every 10 minutes. LOL. Just think, soon enough (hopefully/fingers crossed) I'll be pumping out whole socks by the hour! How fun is that? I may never leave the house! Yahoooooo!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Craft in America

I don't know how I missed this program a few years back but if you, like me, didn't see it, you should. It's the Peabody award winning mini-series Craft in America. "Craft In America is a groundbreaking, comprehensive visual exploration of the history, vitality, and cultural significance of America's craft movement."

This video is a 9-minute promo for the series and if you didn't see it in its entirety on PBS, this will give you a great overview. For anyone who has ever crafted, in any shape or form, you can't help but be stimulated by the creative endeavors of the artists hightlighted in this program.

First off, I had never heard of the Penland School of Crafts. "Penland is a national center for craft education located in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains. Penland's focus on excellence, its long history, and its inspiring, retreat setting have made it a model of experiential education. The school offers workshops in books and paper, clay, drawing and painting, glass, iron, metals, photography, printmaking and letterpress, textiles, wood, and other media. Penland sponsors artist residencies, a gallery and visitors center, and community education programs."

If you're a weaver, you'll want to check out Penland and their resident artist/class studio/programs. I was a bit disappointed that knitting wasn't represented but weaving was and since I just shared a few emails with my friend Dave today, some slack was given. Dave is a weaver and writes about it on his blog HandweavingToday. He's also an amazing photographer and several of his photos adorn the walls of my home. The work being done at Penland and the individual artists highlighted throughout the program were remarkable and inspiring!

When I dream about my life in rural America (handsome lover included) where I run a rewarding bodywork practice, sheep farm and knitting/CSM studio, these are the people/lives I imagine. If you're laughing while thinking about me on a sheep farm, that's where the handsome lover comes in. In the meantime, buy this CD program from PBS and promptly lend it to me. I only caught a fraction of one of the 3 episodes so I can't wait to find an airing of it in its entirety.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Back from Paradise

Last weekend was spent in Greenwich, NY at Easton Mountain where the 2009 Men's Spring Knitting Retreat was held. Our hosts, Joe and Ted, couldn't have done a better job at organizing the event.

I decided to attend this retreat to restore my desire to knit. My passion for this amazing art was never lost but the desire had waned. As readers of my blog know, I don't post about knitting nearly as much as I should. In California, I knit every day. I think to a certain extent as an escape from my day to day life. I went to Rhinebeck last October hoping to catch the fever but it served as a social outlet and an opportunity to meet Ravelers. Don't get me wrong, I loved it but it was definitely the prelude to the kiss.

In the most simple terms, attending this retreat was awesome. I had few expectations. I was quiet, an observer and learner. And I learned a lot -- to cable, crochet, crochet border, drop-spin and finish. Plus, I visited an alpaca farm and came home with some super stash! Check out the alpaca and the most amazing hand-dyed reds from Briar Rose Farms. Their website is a must see!

What surprised me the most were the men and the comaraderie that prevailed over the entire event -- they were smart, TALENTED, interesting, fun, free spirited and did I say TALENTED. I was amazed by lace, double knitting, intricate sweaters, even crocheted ones and a mathematical marvel that translated into really cool hats!

My afghan square was brought together with the others and will make one unique blanket when its completed. As QueerJoe said in my comments (come on, I had to say it). It's not often that knitting legends comment on blogs like mine. His was the first knitting blog I ever read and I consider it a sublime pleasure to have made his acquaintance. He's an amazing knitter and a great guy. Check out his Niebling lace and drool!

I took a deep breath as I stepped into the car to leave, taking in a sense memory I will look for as the long, hot Summer begins. The only difference is I'll be cranking the central air and letting nothing stand in the way of my knitting pleasure.

This shot of Kyle, Peter & Chuck is from the alpaca farm and was a communal moment as we sat in the grass waiting for the alpacas to introduce themselves.

It was a pleasure meeting all of you and thanks for a great weekend.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

I celebrated my 45th birthday since my last post and made a glorious long weekend of it. I dined with the folks, went out with the wild friends and spent a day recuperating on my own. I enjoyed a massage, a swim, some sun and a bit of knitting. I'm not exactly having a mid-life, but instead a bit of a makeover. I give you exhibit A, my new glasses. In addition, I'm sporting contacts for the first time in 2 decades. I love my new glasses but I'm enjoying me sans specs even more! It's remarkably liberating.

The current knitting is for the community afghan project and although I toiled over the gauge, I love the result. The right side is fun and has an interesting movement to it and the wrong side is remarkably all sorts of fun.

Hope you're having a great weekend! J.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bea always knew how to make us laugh and never seemed to take herself too seriously. It's a loss and an end of an era. God speed Vera Charles, Maude, Dorothy ... Bea, you'll be missed.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Favor...Bravo Giorgio!

A dear friend of mine has a chance to have his short film shown on Reel 13 on PBS. It's called Bravo Giorgio and it's a lovely piece about a young man, his grandfather and a first haircut. You can see it and vote for it here.

Thats here...


He's in second place right now but I know he can come from behind. Hush your dirty minds. You don't need to register or become a member just hit the link and with one click, you'll have voted.

Thank you, now go vote!

Monday, April 13, 2009

I love stitches! I love stockinette, garter, moss and cable stitches but the 21 stitches I've got sewn into my finger are like an unwelcome guest the morning after too many gin and tonics. The doctor said one more week so there's still little knitting at Casa Knitguyla. I've given up on the television and instead have been surfing the web trying to entertain myself. Praise the Lord for Rav!

You may know but I detest reality shows and really dislike shows that purposefully look to ridicule people's dreams. I came upon this video from the show "Britain's Got Talent", a Simon Cowell creation, seemingly the worst offender! Normally, I would instantly click away after seeing Simon's smug face but something told me otherwise. These kinds of shows should really be about showcasing amazing talent that would otherwise go unnoticed. This piece exemplifies this in every way. I encourage you to go to YouTube to see the whole video there as embedding it here was not permitted. What the judges had to say was remarkably honest and Ms. Boyle's performance in its entirety is Broadway worthy! Cut and paste for the whole piece here:


Or watch the abbreviated version here! It'll make ya feel good!

Monday, April 6, 2009

Tomorrow I'm finally having my pesky hand surgery with my hottie surgeon guy so typing, thus blogging and knitting will be on hiatus. I'm sure I can get by with some one-handed typing but knitting is definitively out for a week or two.

Maybe I'll organize the stash, patterns and needles.
Maybe I won't and instead just sit around, watch movies and eat bon bons.

Actually, I can't even think about chocolate right now. Tonight, I went to my folks for Palm Sunday dinner and my Mom made all of my favorite things. I'm uncomfortably, Thanksgiving-style stuffed but remarkably content!

I'll leave you with something that can't help but make you smile even in my absence. If someone can find out where this was filmed and why, I'd be most grateful! Consider it a get well gift!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

No April Fool's Joke

I might be the only person on the planet who hasn't seen this but it's a fight that's not nearly over and worth mentioning at every opportunity. If you're having trouble seeing the full video screen, click on the link just below the video and you'll automatically be directed to the original site.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


I follow about 30 blogs and occasionally post a comment when something strikes me. They're usually generic comments like, "Wow, that's some accomplishment. Congrats." or "I love the new project, the details are incredible." Benign stuff but everyone likes to know they're being read, right? That is of course, until we get to know each other and then all bets are off and the real fun ensues.

Anyway, I recently (in the past few months), posted two separate comments to one of said blogs. Today, when visiting again, I realized my comment didn't show up. In fact, that previous comment didn't show up either. Hmmm ... pause. The first time I just figured I was an idiot but when yesterday's comment didn't show up and several others did, I had the big lightbulb moment -- moderated comments and I'm not being approved. I immediately decided to send off an email. Here are the options I came up with....

#1 (insert blogger name here), I think there may be a problem with your blog as my comments aren't showing up. Another blogger.com glitch, eh? Just thought you'd like to know. Be well, Joe (knitguyla)

#2: (insert blogger name here), I apologize if my comments to your blog were an intrusion. Duh, it finally dawned on me that I'm not posting them incorrectly but apparently, you're not approving them. I'm not sure why but I assure you it won't happen again. Be well, Joe (knitguyla)

#3: (insert blogger name here), fuck you and the horse you road in on!

So let's vote, will it be #1, #2 or #3! I'm too lazy pissed to figure out how to add a poll here so just use the comments and I'll decide if they're good enough to publish. Aren't you feeling the kumbaya among knitters? I know I am. All done now.

On the knitting front: The swatching is done. Tomorrow we knit the afghan square and it will be 15 inches....I hope. J.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

He's 24, I looked it up....

If you haven't been watching the World Figure Skating Championships this weekend, you're missing out. This is Brian Joubert from France. He came in 3rd, sad. I think he looks cold, should we knit him something?

On my next birthday .... I'll be 39,40,41 ...older! Yes, I've officially entered my dirty old man stage. I'm so glad to share it with you! ;-)

Swatch knitting for the afghan project is progressing but slowly -- following a pattern and watching figure skating do not mix well! The pattern is still a secret but I think it's really interesting and should hold its own next to the others! More of that on Monday. Gotta run now, the Jonas Brothers are on SNL.
Did I say that out loud?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

bad blogger, twitter failure and butterfly dreamer.

I got your emails, text messages, tweets and a phone call. Thanks for the concern but I'm fine. It's just too beautiful this time of year to not enjoy the sunshine. I mentioned my new bike a few posts back and haven't lost interest yet. It takes me all over town and now that daylight savings time has brought us evening light, I'm out even more. Honestly, I tend to not post when my knitting mojo is on the fritz. I'm still having gauge problems but continue trying new pattern swatches. I'm enjoying the process and have fallen in love with Barbara Walker's pattern books! During this process, I've tested some amazing patterns and techniques that have been of great interest to me but I still don't have a square for the community afghan. To distract myself or blatently ignore the project (you decide), I've been spending time with my folks who are in town as many "snowbirds" are in this part of Florida ... this time of year. We spent the day at the Butterfly Estates in Ft. Myers last weekend and it was a blast. There's something about butterflies that speaks to me. It's a meditative, zen, massage therapist thing. In my mind's eye, I can see a huge backlit shadow box, the size of the entire wall in my fantasy treatment room that's completely filled with butterflies. Can you see it? How cool would that be? This new complex located in the River District of Ft. Myers has a butterfly conservatory, cafe, gift shop and ice cream/fudge shop. It's beautifully constructed and landscaped to attract every local, native butterfly. I loved it. I plopped my money down for an annual membership and expect to spend lots of time there. It is so serene. I could have spent the entire day there just sitting, reading or meditating but alas, not knitting. The butterflies need to be warm and any wool in that environment would soon felt in your hands. Perhaps I could swatch in cotton? I wish I could have captured them in better detail. Everytime I'd point the camera in one direction, every butterfly in the joint would fly in another. My video skills are a work in progress (you'll see) but if you're patient and don't get motion sickness, there's a few seconds here and there where the magic is definitely present. Enjoy and meet me at the Flutterby Cafe anytime!

Sorry, Blogger doesn't like my video. I'll try to figure it out tomorrow or Mel will send me an email explaining how stupid I am and how easy it is to post a video. I think it's too big but I have no idea how to check such things. Gotta love smart lesbians!

Good night world.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

That's a Fucking Acceptance Speech!

Dustin Lance Black won the Academy Award tonight for Original Screenplay for "Milk". Below is the text of his acceptance speech (trust me, video will follow). Whether it's possible or not is something we can debate at another time. For about 2 minutes, all I could think about were gay teens all across this country and how different the world is that they will come of age in compared to mine. It's truly overhwhelming and was very moving for me. To think I almost didn't tune in.

"Oh my God. This was, um, this was not an easy film to make. First off, I have to thank Cleve Jones and Anne Kronenberg and all the real-life people who shared their stories with me. And, um, Gus Van Sant, Sean Penn, Emile Hirsch, Josh Brolin, James Franco and our entire cast, my producers Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, everyone at Groundswell and Focus for taking on the challenge of telling this life-saving story.

When I was 13 years old, my beautiful mother and my father moved me from a conservative Mormon home in San Antonio, Texas to California, and I heard the story of Harvey Milk. And it gave me hope. It gave me the hope to live my life. It gave me the hope one day I could live my life openly as who I am and then maybe even I could even fall in love and one day get married.

I wanna thank my mom, who has always loved me for who I am even when there was pressure not to. But most of all, if Harvey had not been taken from us 30 years ago, I think he'd want me to say to all of the gay and lesbian kids out there tonight who have been told that they are less than by their churches, by the government or by their families, that you are beautiful, wonderful creatures of value and that no matter what anyone tells you, God does love you and that very soon, I promise you, you will have equal rights federally, across this great nation of ours.

Thank you. Thank you. And thank you, God, for giving us Harvey Milk".

And this just in, I love Sean Penn. I'll let you find what he had to say on your own. This last part is me again, I didn't want to confuse anyone. ;-)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Crazy Gauge and a Bike Ride

Not much to report except that I'm still struggling to get the right gauge on the afghan square project. As you can see, these are the two latest tests and neither is hitting the 4 stitches per inch that I need. I've decided to just move forward and start knitting in pattern. It's going to be very close and I'm hoping the complexities of the pattern vs. stockinette will win in he end. Who knows, maybe I can block it to 15" if necessary. I'll keep you posted.

I know that much of the country is buried in snow but here in Florida the weather has been amazing the past few weeks. I took to the road on my new bike and had an amazing ride today. I had no idea there were such desolate and beautiful locales just a few miles from my front door. I rode about 10 miles and followed the train tracks just for some fun. It seemed appropriate since I just saw Stand by Me last night. No dead bodies, I'm happy to report. Keep the faith on the gauge.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

It's the Right Thing to Do

So right I'll say it again...It's the Right Thing to Do! Hit this link, scroll down and sign the letter today. Thank you.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Sixes Straight Up!

I've been challenged by Riohnna over at My Tangled Threads to post the 6th picture in the 6th folder from my Flickr or Photobucket account. Since I don't really use either, I've posted the 6th picture from the 6th folder on my computer. You missed out Riohnna, if you had said 7th picture you might have gotten a scandalous shot of me at the beach but instead you get the view on the way to my favorite stretch of beach on Captiva Island. It's a beautiful road; lush, alive and a great biking locale.

Speaking of biking (nice transition, huh?), I brought my new bike home today and it still smells like the horrid little man who put it together at the bike shop. A bath wouldn't have killed him since he reeked of BO, BM & cigar smoke. The whole thing was revolting so I took the bike, through it into the trunk and tied the entire mess with a supermarket bag.

He must have been really gross or my OCD must be healing because if you've ever been with me when transporting anything that didn't fit completely in the vehicle it would need to be tied down to resist a nuclear attack. Here the handlebars and half the wheel are completely out of the trunk and all I secured it with was a strip of platic -- spectacular! I'm very pleased with myself and my new bike is pretty nifty. We tooled around for several hours, got the smell off and now he's resting comfortably in the garage. What shall we name him? I named my BB Fabio so I'd like to stay with something Italian, for continuity sake. Submissions are being accepted in the comments.

Does anyone know what that "hairy rock" in the foreground is? I looked up hairy rock but surprisingly didn't find much info.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Gauge Sucks...

I don't get it. I understand the theoretical need for gauge. I get that by calculating the number of stitches per inch you can determine the size of the knitted garment. I understand the colassal importance of this step but what I don't get is why every book and website explains it in stockinette stitch when patterns all around the world tell you to check your gauge in pattern. I can't count those stitches or decipher the exact gauge count in pattern -- stockinette I get, in pattern, not so much.

Case in point, I'm knitting the Red Herring scarf and I like the pattern. It's fun, it has some interesting movement and I can watch TV and not get lost in the pattern. It has gauge requirements but I'll be damned it I can get a good count. What I can tell you is when I hold it up to the light, it's poked with holes and not the good kind like with lace. I'm leaning toward a smaller needle but I can't be sure -- and that's frustrating. Gauge is math, it's not supposed to be subjective.

Further, I volunteered to knit a 15" square for a community afghan project. Now I have to figure out the gauge (in pattern of course) and get an exact 15" square. Oiy.

In Other News:

I'm a twit(terer). I have no idea how it even works but I'm easing my way into it and figuring it out. Join in the fun and feel free to leave instructions in the comments!

I'm in love with Hulu and Fringe. This website is cool but be careful, I haven't figured it out but there are definitely hidden charges coming. Fringe is an amazing show that I found on Hulu although you can watch it at Fox TV as well. I don't know how I missed this show all season long. Actually I do. It's on against the Biggest Loser but now that I've seen one episode, I am hooked. It's got a Law & Order goes supernatural spin that's really interesting and that cute guy from Dawson's Creek. Head over to Hulu and watch almost every episode from season one.

It's full fledge Winter in these parts. It's going down into the 30's tonight and frost is expected. How cool is that? I may have to grab a blanket and a hot chocolate and head out onto the lanai. You should see all the Floridians in their parkas, they're, so stupid, so cute!

Saturday, January 31, 2009

It's not just International Pajama Day, it's SUPER International Pajama Day. This sort of thing reminds me of Talk Like a Pirate Day but this is right up my alley. I love pj's, I adore staying in them all day long and lately, I especially enjoy going to the supermarket in them ... and dark glasses. Hey, I'm lazy not crazy!

So, if you're so inclined and don't have to work like me, feel free to enjoy. I know I would. The best I can do is sport a spiffy pair of undies. That'll have to do until Wednesday! Happy Sunday and Happy Super International Pajama Day!

Just do it, you know you want to!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It's a Bird, Its a Plane...

Actually, it's just a big hat and yesterday it was ready for felting. First. I made a quick trip to Goodwill for a pair of old jeans. The instructions indicated tennis balls or old jeans for agitation. Check.

The instructions also indicated a zippered pillowcase to prevent washer damage. Bed Bath & Beyond. Check.

The last bit of the instructions that I followed before completely abandoning the entire instructional manual was to wash for 2-3 minutes and with that stitch definition would disappear and the entire piece would shrink to desired size. Well .... 30 minutes later and 3 wash cycles, I took it out of the washer. I decided to let it dry overnight and see what developed. It got drier but no discernible changes took place. I wish you could really see the colors in it, it's beautiful.

I liked it so much I took it for a little walk. Yes, I am that crazy guy in your neighborhood walking around unshowered taking pictures of a bowl. Life's rich, eh? But when we got home and I put it on the nightstand, I couldn't help but think that it's still too big.

Can you re-felt? Can you over-felt? From my comfy chair on the lanai, I can hear the washer going full throttle. I'm thinking 2 more minutes, you?