Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Freshening The Look of QueerJoe



I'm always open to self-improvement and blog reader Leslie mentioned that she was starting to have trouble with the size and color of the font on the blog.  So things look a bit different today.

Web Tools

I rely heavily on two web tools...Blogger (which I use to publish this blog) and Weebly which I use to publish web sites like The Men's Knitting Retreats.

Both tools make it incredibly simple to do tasks that used to require a LOT more time.  Posting photos, designing a themed web site, hypertext linking to another site, setting up a simple store-front/shopping cart functionality, etc.

Years ago, when these kinds of tools weren't available, I remember teaching myself php coding so I could create forms for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat.  I can't tell you how satisfying it was to create a MySQL database and then write code to create a web form that would populate that database with things like workshop preferences for the guys attending the retreat.

Recently, I've looked at WordPress as an alternative to Weebly and there are a number of reasons why it would be a better tool.  The flexibility of the tool is MUCH greater with many more developers adding new themes and plug-ins all the time.  WordPress also has better integration with other platforms like Facebook and PayPal.  With the help of a friend, I went through installing WordPress and playing around with setting up a web site for a new venture I'm working on.  Like many things, (including PHP coding), I found it a bit daunting understanding how themes worked and plug-ins and add-ons.  I found myself continuously translating terms from WordPress into their equivalent Weebly feature.

After getting a much better sense about what WordPress has to offer, I've decided it's overall easier and good enough to stick with Weebly and Blogger as my web site development and blogging tools.  I am giving up some functionality and features, but none that are critical or that I can't create some reasonable facsimile with clever workarounds in my current tools.

But boy, it's nice to know all that's available in a robust web site development tool like WordPress...just in case I ever need it.

Current Knitting

Ho hum...a few more inches completed on the Briar Rose Pullover.



But the nice part is that I have finally started the sleeve hole shaping so it should move along a bit more quickly until I hit the sleeves part of the project.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Kids! I Don't Know What's Wrong With These Kids Today!



The older generation is always disappointed in the next generation of young people because they are different in some critical ways than they "should" be.  Lazy, entitled, rock-n-roll crazed, selfish, dumb, unmotivated, etc., etc., etc.

Reconsidering

It's so easy to look at younger people and think they aren't as ambitious as they should be.  Or more spoiled than we were.  Or feel like they're more entitled.  It's easy to criticize parents of young people that they molly-coddle their brats.  How giving constant praise and reward for nothing...that we've raised a population of entitled, self-centered young adults who are in for huge disappointments when they enter "the real world."

Yes...like an English teacher in High School said, "Critiquing anything is easy."

But when I look at the next generation of younger folks that I know, I have to say, my experience is not any of the standard complaints.  Mostly, I see a group of smart, responsible, self-assured, knowledgeable, caring young adults.  Mostly I'm amazed at how much they seem to understand about themselves and the world and how insightful they can be.

The latest group of students from Parkland is a perfect example of young people who have proven themselves extremely capable of standing up for themselves and also culling the support of the older generation to help them make the country a better place.  I'm wondering if these kids got trophies "just for playing" and if they were constantly lavished with praise and attention.  Because if they were, it clearly seems to have worked for them.

In fact, I have a many more critiques of the people in my generation these days.

Who would have believed there were so many who were so hateful (enough to elect a racist for a president).  And worse yet, despite all evidence, they still support the man despite all he's done to ruin this country.  Ignorant...obstinate...uneducated...hateful...hypocritical...delusional.  Who can imagine that enough of my generation care so little about the environment that they don't insist that our country do anything at all about the climate crisis...in fact, they allow elected officials to work in direct opposition to efforts trying to fix it.  And it's truly unthinkable to me, that greedy organizations are allowed to dictate the laws we have about sane gun control and taxation that continues to make them richer and keep us poorer.  Yes, my generation has a lot to answer for...what did our parents do wrong?

Perhaps my generation is the "lost generation" that we should just give up on after all and let the next generation try to fix our mess.

Current Knitting

The weekend seemed to include a lot of knitting time and yet I've still only been able to add a couple of inches to the Briar Rose Pullover.



Given the weather out (cold, windy thunderstorms), I had to take flash photos of the project, but you can see I'm almost up to the armhole shaping.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Can You Ever Have Enough Stitch Dictionaries?



As someone that likes to design on the needles, I can find endless inspiration from leafing through stitch dictionaries like Barbara Walker or Vogue Knitting, etc.

New Japanese Stitch Dictionary

I just got an advanced copy of Japanese Stitches Unraveled by Wendy Bernard.  The book will officially be released on May 15th, but pre-orders have already started...I would recommend getting in on the first wave of orders for this one.


As noted on the front, the book has 160 stitch patterns (and 3 basic projects at the end of the book).

What I like about the book:
  • It's beautifully presented in a clean, bright way
  • All of the stitch patterns have a sample swatch clearly shown
  • Stitch patterns all have row by row written instructions
  • All the relevant stitch patterns have charts as well
  • There is a stitch multiple index at the end if you're looking for a stitch pattern with a specific number of stitches.


What I would change:
  • The book includes two basic stitches with instructions and a photographed swatch which I think could have been excluded from the 160 total (garter stitch and stockinette)
  • I would have added an index of reversible stitches as well (minor complaint).
Overall, I'm very glad to have this book as one more option for being inspired to design.

Current Knitting

I always feel bad at this phase in the progress of my WIP, that it feels like I'm subjecting blog readers to watching paint dry, but I've made a few more inches of progress on the Briar Rose Pullover.



The odd part is that I'm constantly designing and envisioning the next phase of the project in my mind...like the shaping of the arm holes and the neckline, so it's not at all boring for me...even at this pace.

Readers' Comments/Questions

A big shout out to James who sent me a birthday care package all the way from New Zealand.




A beautiful watercolor sheep card, mushroom fabric underwear and candy with a sexual innuendo.  What more could I have wanted.  Thank you, my friend!

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

In Denial - Capacity


Does one's capacity for accomplishing things get smaller as one gets older, or does one just become more realistic about what can be done?

Busy Months Ahead

I know...I know...I'm retired...I should have tons of time on my hands and I used to do all this and more when I was still working...why can't I get it all done now?

First of all, my career wasn't honestly that challenging and I could get most of my work done in about 8 hours of actual work each week.

And since I worked from home for the last few years, retirement really only gave me back 8 hours of time each week.

But, since I was anchored to my desk for at least 40 hours each week (or at least needed to stay close), I couldn't be scheduled by Thaddeus to run to Costco or go get my car washed on a whim.  So I was dedicated to being somewhat productive for a lot more time when I was still WORKING!  Who would have thought?

These days, I'm getting ready for the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat in about 5 weeks...it came up fast this year.  I'm creating a new organization associated with all of the Men's Knitting Retreats which I'll be announcing soon.  I'm chauffeuring my mom a little since she's in a plastic boot for 6 weeks (3 more to go...hopefully her broken leg will heal as fast as they estimated).  And of course, I'm blogging, knitting, cranking, spinning...etc.

What's on your calendar?

Current Knitting

I'm up to 9 inches (lucky man) on the Briar Rose Pullover.


This is going to be one WARM sweater when it's finished.  I'm still loving the color and I'm still thinking the "wrong side" looks pretty great too.


The pooling of the variegated yarn isn't broken up quite as much as I usually prefer on the other side, but it's a very rich fabric that I'm creating...so I will definitely still look to make a sweater that's reversible.

Readers' Comments/Questions

Thank you all for the most amazing birthday wishes and especially the people that went out of their way to write a haiku...thank you all.

Also thanks to the folks that posted their thoughts about No Idle Hands...now I'm looking forward to reading it even more.

Monday, April 09, 2018

Idle Hands? When is it Okay?


It has never made sense to me that someone could sit and have nothing to do with their hands.

New Book (to me)

I'm Facebook friends with a knitter and blog reader, Ann McDonald and for a moment when I was gifted this book last week, I thought, "How could I have not known about a book she wrote?"  But now I realize it's a completely different name for this author.

I am very much looking forward to reading No Idle Hands by Anne L. Macdonald.  A friend was culling through his library's used book store and picked this up as a gift for me.

It truly is nice being known as "the knitter" when it comes to people finding things of interest.  And in this case, I had never even heard of this book and it will be next in my line up of reading material.

If anyone's read it or have seen any reviews from knitters you trust about books, let me know.

Current Knitting

It seems I've been knitting like crazy since my last blog post last Wednesday, but photographic evidence seems to deny this notion.



I've completed 6 inches or so of the pullover.  I have done a bit more on the Knitted Sheet, but the ever-widening project is starting to bog down as I near 250 stitch per row with much more width as I proceed.