Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Magician

Noticed this on Matty's sidebar. I am ridiculously fond of on-line tests that offer identity assessments. Check it out: a half-naked man with wings. And what a package.

I am the Magician

Skill, wisdom, adaptation. Craft, cunning, depending on dignity.

Eleoquent and charismatic both verbally and in writing,
you are clever, witty, inventive and persuasive.

The Magician is the male power of creation, creation by willpower and desire. In that ancient sense, it is the ability to make things so just by speaking them aloud. Reflecting this is the fact that the Magician is represented by Mercury. He represents the gift of tongues, a smooth talker, a salesman. Also clever with the slight of hand and a medicine man - either a real doctor or someone trying to sell you snake oil.

What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

More Magnetic Poetry

Found the serial killer poem made from the children's set:
I saw and
I told my friend and
my dog where she is
eating mud and
dreaming of red
so if you fly
they will follow
(1997 - children's set)
The word "will" is made from "wing+I+I." Some would say that's cheating, but I liked making words out of other words, and I'd let myself do it once per poem.

I also found this poem, which I'd forgotten about:


whisper hands
say the heart and
tell the mud in to man

cry inside

imagine that god
asks the sky to follow
the stars and moon down
in dark rain
(1997 - children's set)
"God" is made from "go+ed." I really like the line "tell the mud into man."

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Magnetic Poetry

I'm starting to pack up my office, and this means taking down the various magnetic poems I have stuck around. (My tendency is to make poems out of the various kits and leave them in place).

These first two were poems I wrote with the words that came with a metal mug. The mug would get too hot to hold, so I moved the poems onto a filing cabinet.
"On the metal cup"
my head is void
my language iron
& bitter ice
morning's gift
is the dream of magic
and the elaborate
whisper of caffeine
(Feb 1998)

"On the metal cup II"
I like my
winter brewed
black with freshly
ground desire and
poured steaming
into sweet dry
(Feb 1999)
This one was made using an abbreviated children's set. I was inspired by the juxtaposition of the words before you separate them, and I've hyphenated the words that are stuck together.
"A Leave-'em-Together Experiment"
laugh s
or whispers funny dream-candy
and if you-ask me
I have-want ed only [on+fly]
when we are together
Year's ago, S. and I were challenging ourselves to write disturbing poems using the children's set. Mine was about a serial killer; S.'s was about identity theft and ennui. I'll have to hunt for those.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Some Christmas Knitting

Actually, there was one command Christmas gift for family. Mom wanted felted clogs for Logan. I made him a pretend pair two years ago as a novelty gift (they matched the ones I made for his mom). But it's time for him to have a real pair of his own.

I was trying to adapt the adult size pattern, when it occurred to me: maybe someone had already done the work to create a kid's version. Huzzah. And the result:

I put the compact disc case in there for scale. Aren't they adorable? They knit up quickly, and felted very fast. The upper is some Lopi I bought at Halcyon, the bottom is "lilla lovikka (Alafoss Lopi)" -- which looks like someone found a warehouse full of Lopi and stuck a different label on it.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

No Christmas Knitting

Granny Mary said she marked "CHRISTMAS KNITTING BEGINS NOW" over the first week in June on next year's calendar. Lots of other knitting bloggers are scrambling to complete projects. I don't really do lots of gift knitting for Christmas. Last year, I did try to save up socks, not giving them to the recipient until Christmas, but I didn't get a lot of joy out of that -- I mostly forgot which socks I intended for which person. I prefer to knit things, and then I give them to people when I've finished. So sorry, family, this year you're only getting (as David Sedaris says) "things of real value."

But I did plan to knit socks for my co-workers this year. I figured that my time with them was coming to an end soon, and I wanted to let them know how much I appreciated their support during the 10 months I was the agency's Interim Director (and to wish the new boss the best of luck). Things started off well: I sent them an email in late July asking for shoe sizes, and knocked off two pair pretty quickly. But then Sock Wars got in the way, one colleague left for a new job, and my attention got drawn into other projects (and into identifying my own next job).

Our Christmas party was Thursday. Three people got completed pairs of socks, the other two got yarn and a promise.

Not many pictures, alas. Vince got the green Opal socks, Bobbi the Widdershins that gave me math anxiety. Stephen got a pair of fibonnaci socks (like these, but in shades of green and shorter because I ran out of yarn). Karl isn't getting socks, but a pair of fingerless mittens adapted from the "Medallion Mitts" pattern in Knitting with Balls (I'd nearly finished one, but it was knitting up too small, so I'm going to try an adaptation that includes a gusset for the thumb).

Joel will get these -- made from Mountain Colors merino that I got from Stash Fairy. I added ribbing across the top of the foot because they were knitting up a bit too big. And I decided to try the slip stitch technique, normally used on the heel flap of top-down socks, to reinforce my usual short-row heel. I'm not pleased with the result. Not unhappy enough to rip back and do it over, but I probably won't do this again. Nice experiment to try, though.

This is likely to be my last post this weekend, so merry Christmas to those of you who celebrate it, and happy long weekend to those who don't.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in

Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.
This mindfulness moment is brought to you by Thich Nhat Hanh, and I offer it as an explanation for why I've been so quiet. Like Ken said yesterday, it's been busy lately. I've had some interviews for a few new jobs, and while this is exciting, it's also scary. I've done a pretty good job not freaking out about it, but this involves doing nothing in my life that feels like stress. Even some knitting has felt like stress, because I feel pressure to Get These Things Done On Time. I hadn't even done any holiday shopping until today, the point at which continuing to not do any shopping was more stressful than hitting the mall.

So therefore I have nothing to write about.

Interviews are done. Both jobs seem great. I'm worried about how I'll choose between them if forced to. But meanwhile, I'll keep breathing and deal with that if only if I have to.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

More untrue things I believe

If you sit on the lap of someone dressed as Santa Claus and ask for something, you'll get it.

I realize that I held this unexamined belief around 12 years ago. I was a children's librarian, and it was the day of the library's Santa Visit. One of our maintenance guys was Santa, and they were testing the camera by taking pictures with the staff on Santa's lap. When Santa asked what I wanted, I was about to reel off my standard joking answer -- "Three bedroom house with attached two car garage" -- when it hit me that the only way I was going to get one of those was if a relative died, and I was struck dumb, suddenly afraid of uttering the selfish curse that would kill off a loved one.

When I was a teenager, I knew prayer didn't work. And I knew long before that that there was no magic. I've known practically all my life that the men dressed up as Santa weren't the real Santa. But somehow, I'd kept believing that the universe will give you what you want if you ask a Santa for it.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Untrue things I believe

My dad makes it snow for my birthday.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Last shots fired

Sock Wars ended the Friday after Thanksgiving. A newbie assassin and slow post to Australia kept me alive to the end of the game. The survivors are supposed to be finishing the socks we're working on, so maybe I'll end up with Socks of Doom eventually. Here is the pair I finished for Taffy, my fourth and final victim.

Sock Wars had its moments. If it happens again, I probably won't join, but I'm glad I was part of it this year. If nothing else, I gained an appreciation for K3P3/K1P1 ribbing, and got lots of practice with traditional top-down construction. Now it's back to my toe-up ways.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Kristin Chenoweth


Kristin Chenoweth is going to play the Madeleine Kahn role in a stage musical adaptation of Young Frankenstein. And this spring, there will be a sitcom pilot with Chenoweth and Nathan Lane playing sitcom hosts à la Regis and Kelly. (Please please PLEASE let it not suck).

More about Chenoweth's current life and career is in the "New York Times" today.

Yeah, my love of Kristin Chenoweth turns me into a shrieking queen. (So does the impending opening of Dreamgirls, by the way; I'm pretty sure it's not going to live up to expectation). OK, if I were a real fan, I suppose that I wouldn't have stopped watching "West Wing" in its last season, and that I wouldn't prefer to have my eyes gouged out than go see "Deck the Halls."

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Out of touch

Each morning this week, I have had to start the day with a search for the meaning of a word. This morning, it was an acronym in an email message proposing a small group meeting at a conference. "Typical BOF format," the message said. Wikipedia to the rescue:
A BoF session, an informal meet-up at conferences, where the attendees group together based on a shared interest and carry out discussions without any pre-planned agenda.
OK, that makes sense, and I sort of picked up on that meaning from the context. But there were no contextual clues for yesterday's vocabulary word.

This is the central panel from Sunday's Unshelved comic. I had to keep staring at it. What is the verb in that sentence? "It's not a word," an IM buddy said. "It's 'pwns.'" So I googled. OK, a gamer thing, so no wonder I didn't recognize it. It seems unlikely to me that a cataloger (a knitting cataloger) would know and use this word casually, but I suppose that's the joke. Still, I found it disconcerting how far I had to go to get a joke written by and largely for members of my profession.

I'm glad I did, though. The Wikipedia entry on pwn is extremely interesting, especially (for me) the bit about pronunciation. It dredged up old graduate school interests* about how Internet communication is in this weird space between the spoken and written word.

* It floors me that crap I wrote on Usenet 14 years ago is out there to be found so easily.

Sunday, November 26, 2006


Very early one morning in November 2001, Mike and I went outside to see the Leonid meteor shower. It was cold, and I was just about to head back in when Mike told me to wait, dashed back into the house, and came out with my birthday present: a silver ring with a Tree of Life design from the Abacus galleries in Maine. I'd loved these rings since the first time saw them, and it obviously meant a lot getting one from Mike (not just buying it for myself). For Christmas, I bought him one of the My Beloved rings in Hebrew that he liked in the "Signals" catalog.

One weekend this summer, when I got home from some outing I don't even remember, I took the ring off and stepped into the shower. I never saw it again.

I don't know if it fell down the bathroom sink, or got brushed into the trash while one of us was tidying the kitchen. I don't even remember where I took it off and set it down -- only that it wasn't on the nightstand where it normally is when I'm not wearing it. I knew it was missing within a day, but it was at least week before I could tell anyone except Mike that I thought it was gone. I felt its loss every morning when it wasn't there to put on when I got dressed.

It wasn't just something I could replace. A new ring would just remind me that I'd lost the old one. And besides, the artist had stopped making them (that's why the link above is to the pendant version of the design -- I can't find a picture of the ring). I'd thought maybe I would get a ring to match Mike's, but Mike came up with a better idea. When we were in Maine last week, we found a few remaining rings in the Abacus store in Portland's Old Port. They actually fit us (better than our old rings, in fact) and Mike suggested we replace mine and get a matching one for him.

He is a wonderful, wonderful man. He turned what could have been just a sad reminder of what a careless idiot I am into a joyous new symbol of why I love him.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Gimme a head with hair, long beautiful hair

The OSU Theater Department was performing Hair this past week. The production was pretty good, but the show, as you might expect, hasn't aged well. Meredith Lark (Sheila -- "Easy to Be Hard") and Jessica Podewell (Jeanie -- "Let the Sunshine In") were fantastic. But overall, rather than it being this groundbreaking, almost dangerous expression of youth identity and rebellion, it was more like some fairly engaging kids dressing up in their grandparents' clothes and playing hippie.

My biggest problem were the wigs. When people are celebrating their hair, they shouldn't be so obviously worried that it will fall off if they move too wildly. Most of the guys looked really uncomfortable.

You know what would work better? Not making it a period piece. Originally, "Hair" was like being in the presence of people "freaking out in the Village -- with music" (critic Leigh Carey wrote in "Rolling Stone"). I'd like to see college students making "Hair" their own, with their own hair. The themes are still relevant: racism, crushing inhibitions, the hypocrisy of euphemism, free but nevertheless unrequited love, the search (perhaps pharmaceutically-fueled) for meaning and spirit, and the very real threat of being sent to die for the society you're trying to reject. I'd like to see the students celebrating who they think they are, rather than celebrating with ironic distance who a previous generation thought they were.

(I should mention the lighting design. It was Jason "Scotty" Banks' MFA project, and it was stunning.)

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Chain Reaction

There are times that I think the only reason we have cable is for GSN. We watched nearly every episode of What's My Line and got hooked on Lingo (we still miss Stacey and haven't accepted Shandi into our hearts). Now our DVR is set to record every episode of Chain Reaction.

The "Battle of the Sexes" format is odd, and occasionally the players have too much personality, but the game is fun to watch and play. And host Dylan Lane is a cutie pie.

You can play along with GSN shows while they're on the air, but I am perfectly content never watching TV shows at the time they're broadcast. WordLab (download or play online) is similar to Lingo, and I just discovered that GSN has a Shockwave version of Chain Reaction.

Friday, November 10, 2006

The Problem with Sock Wars

I got the Socks-of-Doom-in-Progress for my next victim, and have discovered yet another troubling fact of Sock Wars -- it's hard to knit like another person.

I received in the mail one completed sock, and a few inches of its mate. Tension was really loose on the completed sock (looser than the pattern calls for), and I had to go up three needle sizes to try to match. Nevertheless, when I was complete, this was the result:

My sock, the one on the left, is clearly smaller than the original sock.

I'm not sure what to do. This is a sloppy kill, and I think it would be bad form to just send these on and call myself the victor. I think I should try to knit a third sock, maybe unraveling the first sock to create a better fit? [Update from later in the evening: that's what I've done, begun working on a third sock out of this yarn so that my victim will get two socks of the same size.]

The yarn, by the way, is Lion Brand Magic Stripes, superwash wool and nylon, doubled. It horrified me when I first saw it, but it ultimately wasn't too bad. I had to do some fiddling, however, to try and make the self-striping do its work. In this picture you can see several places where I had to adjust one strand to get the color to match up on the other strand.

Morning Project

Woke up early this morning, the night's post-nasal drip threatening to make me cough and wake up Mike, so I decided to walk to Starbucks and get some coffee. And because I need to get exercise, I took the long way around, getting in a short 1.33 mile hike.

Nifty little map, huh? I made it at CommunityWalk. I've linked the picture to the map, where I might experiment with adding notes you don't care about, like exactly where the Starbucks is, where I cut through a Self-Storage parking lot because the road doesn't really go where the map indicates, and where the AOL people won't let me walk through their parking lot around the picturesque lake, making me have to walk in the wet grass in front of their building or try to dash across Henderson Road to stay on the sidewalk.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Cool Kids

One day last year, I got an instant message from one of the young luminaries of the library world. I felt very much as if the leader of the cool kids had just smiled and said "Hi" to me in the hall. I've just had that feeling again: Franklin liked my socks.

I like being liked. I may say that popularity doesn't matter much to me, but that's self-delusion. I crave being part of a group, and I thrive on the approval of others. Like Eve says, "If nothing else, there's applause... like waves of love pouring over the footlights and wrapping you up. To know, every night, that different hundreds of people love you. They smile, and their eyes shine. You've pleased them. They want you. You belong. Just that alone is worth anything."

Belong. What a powerful word. Belong not to a person ("Belong to you? That sounds medieval, something out of an old melodrama."), but to a group ("She has had one wish, one prayer, one dream -- to belong to us.")

That's me: Yves Harrington.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


My doctor has told me something I already know: I should exercise more. This is what I prefer to do, but it's tough to squeeze this in 4 times a week.

What is it? The output from S.'s GPS on the 4.5 mile hike we took today in John Bryan State Park near Yellow Springs.

I will always choose to live in a city or suburbs, but I really do miss having woods to walk through in my backyard.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Toe-up Sock Patterns

Bibliography of Toe-Up Sock Patterns

Wendy Johnson's Generic Toe-Up Sock Pattern
Uses short-row heels and toes, like my pattern. A similar, but more detailed pattern, the Universal Toe-Up Sock Formula, was created by Amy Swenson for

Kim Salazar's Sock Patterns
Salazar's method creates a toe that is more like the one you see in top-down socks. Many people prefer it, because there are no loops on the inside.

Judy Gibson's "You're Putting Me On" Socks
This was the first toe-up sock pattern I ever encountered, and it's a good one. Its one flaw is that you pick up stitches under the heel, and you can feel that ridge when wearing them. But the gussets help improve the fit for some people.

Brook Chenoweth Creel's Widdershins Socks
Very similar to Gibson's pattern. Heel is better, but trickier. To see how much trickier, check out Creel's blog. I recommend Mel Vassey's generic version of Widdershins since it's adaptable to different sizing options

Kelly Petkun's Two at Once, Toe-Up Sock
This sock uses an "Afterthought Heel," which is extremely easy and very attractive with self-patterning sock yarns. However, I think the heel cup in these instructions is too shallow. Dawn Brocco's adaption fits much better.

Mary Lycan's Sherman Sock
Another short row heel method, using stitch "encroachment." I don’t care for the final product, but it's worth trying for yourself. As with Widdershins, I recommend Mel Vassey's Sherman Sock Pictorial.

Strong Heel Socks
Published in Knitter's (72, Fall 2003). A toe-up variation is used in these patterns:

Short Rows
There are many methods for closing the gaps that form when you knit short rows. Véronik Avery wrote a great article for Interweave Knits (Winter 2004, p96) that describes them in detail. I thought the Japanese Method -- using a safety pin to mark the turning yarn -- looked the best, but all those pins hanging there make it cumbersome to do. Some online instructions:

Other Toes

Thanks to Gerry for suggesting that I take this section of my class handout and post it separately.

Revised May 20, 2007

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Halloween Massacre

I just got back from the post office where I sent a pair of these off to Yarn Snob.

It's Bearfoot "Yellowstone," doubled to get the Sock of Doom gauge. I had to switch to black for the toe an inch sooner than I would've liked, but I think it still looks OK. When I got back from Chicago, I had a package of yarn sent by Yarn Snob's original assassin, but it was a self-patterning cotton Sockotta -- not good for the Sock of Doom pattern, so I dipped into my own stash for this, and I'll keep the Sockotta for Mom (she's told me that's her favorite).

Poor Yarn Snob. Here I am, still on vacation, with nothing but time on my hands to churn out a pair of socks. And damn...Bearfoot knits up really fast, especially doubled.

I peaked into the Sock War Spreadsheet, messaged the editor about Yarn Snob's new status, and she told me that this is one of the highest "kill" days so far.

Back into holding mode until I get the yarn for my next target.

Monday, October 30, 2006

A town so smart its spelling starts with C-H-I-C...Chic!

Back from the activity portion of my vacation. Mike and I went to Chicago for the long weekend. Here's the rundown:
  • Terrific room at the Palmer House with a wonderful surprise gift basket from my sister and her husband
  • Nice dinner (terrible table) at Italian Village. Great breakfast at Lou Mitchell's (the donut holes were everything I'd hoped for, and I need to recreate the cheddar and apple omelet at home some time). So-so pizza at Giordano's. Best pomegranate martini I've ever had at Miller's Pub.
  • Taping of Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me at the Chase Auditorium. This was our favorite ticketed event of the weekend, even above the two musicals we saw. Two lovely handknit sweaters in the row in front of us. I tried to take pics with my camera, but they didn't turn out. We bought mugs, because like they told us at the show, "If you don't buy any overpriced trinkets, it's like you weren't even here."
  • Miles and magnificent miles of Urban Hiking (or "Shopping"). Here's Mike with his celebrity boyfriend at the Gap.
Altar Boyz was good, poking fun at boy bands and the clumsy bad art of Christian rock. The stereotypes were played a little too broadly, but maybe that's the point. (I think it still could've worked with a lighter touch). 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee was better, although I kept getting distracted by the brat precious little girl sitting front and center, who kept standing up and talking to her parents every time a performer was spotlighted downstage. Both shows had a mix of humor and sentimentality that make them enjoyable if not particularly moving or challenging (although the song Olive sings in response to "chimerical" really does earn the tears, I think).

The one big dud of the trip was Adler Planetarium, which we went to because there was, even late in the afternoon, a long line to get into the Shedd Aquarium. Some of the astrolabe stuff was mildly interesting. But in general the Adler is so lame that I think it actually does damage to the cause of making kids interested in science. (For a good planetarium experience, go to the Hayden in New York).

I need to sing the praises of my amazing L. L. Bean Weather Challenger Jacket -- waterproof shell, removable fleece liner. The weather was fickle, but this jacket adapts to everything.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Kids Stuff

The Wild Things crown has been sitting on the desk, where I have to look at it and be unhappy. And then one morning it occurred to me -- what if I just trimmed off what I didn't like about it?

Voilà. A Wild Things crown I'm happy with. Plus a matching felted ear-warmer for the Queen Mum of the Wild Things.

I thought about starting another while I'm on vacation this week, but my mom has been gently nagging me to make new slippers for Logan. My Lamb's Pride stash is low, but I have some Lite Lopi around, so I thought I'd see how this would work.

Maybe a little too "My Uncle Is Gay?"

I'm pretty sure this won't work, that the Lamb's Pride sole and Lite Lopi upper will felt at radically different rates. But it was a fun thing to work on while plopped on the couch watching too much TV.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Tofu Clapotis

I am having a lot of fun with this.

I wanted something silky for a clapotis, and found this Karaoke yarn from South West Trading Company. It's 50% soy silk, so I've been telling people that I'm knitting with tofu. The colorway is "Mermaid Mix." I wanted something variegated, and was surprised that the color runs are so long. Like Noro, only no knots or weeds.

I'm following Amy's recommendation to purl the stitches that get dropped rather than using markers. (Amy has other good recommendations too, about mirrored twists and twisting on the purl side. I'm not doing any of that, but I can see her point).

Even though I know it's pronounced "clap-oh-TEE," I still have this song in my head: Miss Clapotis regrets she's unable to lunch today.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Times OpEd Today

Good stuff in the NY Times OpEd section today. First, a spooky bowel-chillingly terrifying editorial about how, as Secretary of State, gubernatorial candidate Ken Blackwell could declare opponent Ted Strickland as ineligible (Strickland has a two digit lead in the polls). He won't do this, of course, but the fact that it's even a possibility is staggering.

But what really scares me is Jeff Stein's piece, "Can You Tell a Sunni from a Shiite?" Stein has been asking counterterrorism officials to explain the difference, and few of them can. He's not even asking for the complicated theological differences -- just "Who’s on what side today, and what does each want?" And the officials are guessing at the answer, getting it wrong, and covering their ignorance with stupid talking points, like "Al Qaeda’s whole reason for being is based on their beliefs." Yes, and those are...?

Is it too much to ask for leaders who are up to the intellectual challenge of leadership? You know, people who actually want to know things and have the capacity to find out about them?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Adventures in Purple

This week, I seem to have been knitting purple things.

I had a pair of socks that I called "Sock Wars Surplus." I started these thinking it might be a good idea to have some Sock Wars weapons handy, in case I ended up with a target but no yarn passed up to me. But when plans gelled for visiting my friend Heidi this weekend, I decided I wanted to bring her some knitted love, and these socks were handy. So they became hers. (The color isn't coming through on this -- it's the same purple yarn as Mike's sweater).

Had a great time with Heidi and her family. Here's Heidi, modeling her chocolate pumpkin cheesecake (Sock Wars Surplus on the counter in the background), and her son Bradley, trapping my feet.

Heidi's other son Connor scored his first goal of the season that morning in soccer.

Also this week, I made some experimental dishcloths out of purple cotton: a small hexagon and a larger octagon. (My camera is turning these blue; they're really purple). Listsib Gary got me thinking about these, with his instructions to start a dishcloth by casting on 15, increasing each row until the sides are about as long as the cast-on edge, knitting plain until the sides are the same length, then decreasing back down to 15 stitches before binding off.

And finally, I decided to try making a clapotis. It's kind of fun, but I don't think this is the right yarn for it.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Another crown

Still trying to make a King of the Wild Things crown that will actually fit a kid. I like the idea of the pattern, but I just can't get the gauge right -- my crowns inevitably are too long and too narrow. The latest, the XL size knit in Lite-Lopi, was 22 inches before felting:

And 14.5 inches after (which is about what the pattern predicted).

Finished circumference, however, should be 24 inches, but it's 19. It will fit the intended recipient, but it might be a bit snug. In the future, I think I need to go up at least two sizes to get the circumference, but can knit the number of rows specified for my intended size.

I agree with Yarn Harlot: "I will never, ever believe that gauge is my friend." Particularly when felting.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Y'know, Nietzsche says, "Outta chaos COMES order."

After the last confusing blog post and a flurry of e-mail, sudden clarity dawns.

My victim has received her victim's work-in-progress. These are to be YarnSnob's Socks of Doom, and Yarn Fairy will put them in the mail to me. My assassin WoolieBagLady, after her Doom Socks arrive, will send my Doom-Socks-in-progress to WestOzCaat to finish.

It's all about the mail.


Based on recommendations from students, I've revised my toe-up sock course. I've switched it to Magic Loop instead of two circs. I've recommended yarn and needle size, specified gauge, and given explicit instructions on how many stitches to cast on. The flexible, open-ended instructions were just too confusing. I rewrote the short row instructions so that they're clustered into bulleted steps. If you'd like to comment on the new course handout, I'd love to have your feedback.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Ruined Italian Villa

You know how in The English Patient the characters are riding out the end of the war in a half-ruined Italian villa? That's kind of where I imagine I am in Sock Wars. The war is still going on, but I'm over here waiting to find out what's supposed to happen next. But I think it's about time for me to re-join the fighting.

(Maybe it's less like The English Patient and more like that period of time between Bourne Identity and Bourne Supremacy. I am the Jason Bourne of Sock Wars).

I've killed off Yarn Fairy. Yarn Fairy had already killed off Yarn4Kalei, and I believe had already finished socks for Kalei's victim YarnSnob before her Socks of Doom arrived -- but I don't think she's sent them. On her blog, Yarn Snob thinks she's offed her victim (Zari Zamen?) and her victim's victim (Delice?).

My assassin, WoolieBagLady, is a Dead Woman Walking, with socks from her killer WestOzCaat already on their way. WestOzCaat has noticed the holding pattern I'm in, and I think she wants to skip over it, and has begun contacting those folks downstream.

So while I wait for WoolieBagLady and WestOzCaat to decide who gets to try to kill me, I think it's time I reactivated and sought out exactly who I should be knitting for now. But is it Yarn Snob or is it someone much further down the chain? Ms it you?

Friday, September 29, 2006

Sock War Stand Down

Sock Wars is on the brink of becoming un-fun. I keep trying to figure out what to do next, but I'm suffering a severe lack of information and that's generating stress I don't need. So screw it. I'm just going to wait for someone else to pick up the slack. Either I will receive my death socks in the mail, or someone will send me yarn for my next victim.

Flickr is down this morning, causing my profile photo not to load. It's a crappy picture anyways, so I'm prompted to look for a better one. My current IM buddy icon, which I created at, has been growing on me. It's low-res and doesn't look good as a Blogger Profile photo, but it's cute enough to post here.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Weapons armed...acquiring target....

Sock Wars got off to a halting start because the remnants of Hurricane Gordon smacked Northern Ireland where Yarn Monkey, the organizer, lives. Because she had trouble sending dossiers out through email, she posted the pattern for the Sock of Doom on her blog. It was Friday afternoon, and I was still at work, but I took a break and cast-on.

About 49 hours later, I was finished.

I still don't have a dossier, but I've corresponded with my target (I needed to find out if "Yarn Fairy" wore a men's size 7 or a women's). I've told her (Yarn Fairy is a "she") that she's safe as long as I don't know where to send the socks. But how safe am I?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wondrous Woven Cables

At last. Nancy Marchant's "Wondrous Woven Cables" from Arans & Celtics on its owner.

(Isn't he cute?)

The yarn is "Blueberry" Jo Sharp Tweed DK wool. I slightly adapted the pattern to knit it in the round. Originally started November 6, 2004, I made rapid progress through the rest of the month. But once I started the sleeves (both at the same time, in the round on two circulars), progress became slow and halting. I would put it down for months at a time, and then later have to spend an entire evening figuring out where I was (and where I was going).

Next sweater? I've been admiring YarnHarlot's gansey.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Knitting the Wong Way

My mom taught me to knit in 1999, when we were visiting my sister in Maine for Thanksgiving. She laments that I'm a better knitter than she is. It's not true: I just get bored more easily, and I have stubborn rules about sewing, so that makes me more adventurous. My stitches are more even, but she's faster. (She props her right needle in her lap, leaving her right hand free to throw the yarn).

Wanting to improve, she signed up for a class at her LYS for the Wong Way of Knitting; "It's easy on your hands, fast, and helps to improve gauge," says the shop newsletter. I figured, Eh, my technique's fine, speedy and ergonomic enough for my purposes, so I'll pass.

Well, last night one of my students was knitting with that technique and it was amazing, especially her purling. I woke up this morning thinking, "I've got to try this." So I did some Googling and was shocked to see that Andrea Wong is here in Columbus! Not visiting, but actually lives here in central Ohio. For all I know, I may actually have even talked with her in Temptations.

I keep telling you: central Ohio is a knitter's paradise.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Sock Class

If enough people (more than one) have signed up, I'll start teaching a three week toe-up socks class tomorrow. This is what I have come to call the "Steep Learning Curve" socks, because everything you need to know to make these socks you have to learn all at once: Turkish cast-on, knitting on circular needles, and short row toes. My class handout (large PDF) is basically just a fancy version of the Perfect Sock Pattern wiki, but I added a bibliography to it this weekend. Suggestions for improvement are welcome.

Beth M. asked where I'm teaching. At Craftsman Hill Fibers in Mt. Vernon, Tuesdays 9/12 - 9/26, 6:30 - 8:30. You can register by calling the store, 740-392-7724.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

The end of sweater constipation?

My company inspired Cat to have nightmares about bizarre games of word hockey. But we had a good dinner, I learned about the cast of characters in her son's comic strip "Bucktooth Larry" (great politics for a 12-year-old), and we knitted. I have again picked up the sweater for Mike, again figured out where the hell I am on it, and made visible progress.

I'm almost done with the back. A few more rows and I'll do some shaping for the shoulder seam, then I'll flip it over and work the chest. The sleeves are all finished, and ready to attach. (If you're just joining me, this is the sweater I started in November 2004. It's the "Wondrous Woven Cables" sweater from Arans & Celtics, knit in "Blueberry" Jo Sharp Tweed).

Friday, September 08, 2006

Weapons Check

The arsenal for Sock Wars 2006 will be DK yarn and size 5 needles. I'm not the least bit surprised, but it seems to be causing some consternation in comment threads and the Sock Wars forum.

I immediately thought of my stash of Philosopher's Wool that has utterly failed to become a sweater. (It was a valuable moment of self-discovery: I like knitting textures; I don't like knitting colors). I had some work-related podcast listening to do, so I cast-on for a gauge tube. After work, I finished the tube, cut it in half, and measured.

Stitches per inch is good; I'm right abound 22. I'm coming up short for rows per inch though -- Yarn Monkey says 30, I have 34, but I don't expect that to be a problem. (You know, that was my gauge problem with the Wild Things crown. There are tight knitters and loose knitters; I wonder if I'm a "short" knitter?)

Nevertheless, this yarn should do nicely for the Sock of Doom.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Book List Meme

Something is up with Blogger RSS feeds, so it's days later that I noticed Ken tagged me.
  1. One book that changed your life: The Demon-Haunted World: science as a candle in the dark by Carl Sagan. My affection for superstition used to extend beyond liberal tolerance, into a New Age-y view that everyone's beliefs were real in their own worlds. Sagan showed a way to reject magical thinking, to declare that some things are just wrong, and to still respond in wonder to the miracle of existence. And he was even somewhat respectful about it.

  2. One book that you've read more than once: The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. So should you.

  3. One book you'd want on a desert island: I'm tempted to say SAS Survival Handbook: how to survive in the wild, in any climate, on land or at sea by John Wiseman, but I'd probably be sorry and wish instead that I had an edition of the complete works of Shakespeare.

  4. One book that made you laugh: Any David Sedaris. Any Molly Ivins. I laughed so hard at Me Talk Pretty One Day in LaGuardia Airport that it was embarrassing. Even better on audiobook.

  5. One book that made you cry: The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger.

  6. One book that you wish had been written: How the Republicans Will Steal the 2000 Election, and Lead Us into War in the Middle East (c1999).

  7. One book that you wish had never been written: There is nothing that I wish had not been written. There are things that I wish had not had the impact they've had. But if I had to pick one thing in particular, I'd say Leviticus.

  8. One book you're currently reading: The Fourth Bear by Jasper Fforde. Fractured fairy tales for adults, complete with acrobatic puns. Fforde gives into meta-narrative witticisms maybe a bit too easily, but I love it.

  9. One book you've been meaning to read: Skybreaker, Kenneth Oppel's sequel to Airborn (which I loved) has been next to the bed all year. I was really looking forward to it, but I couldn't get into it, so I set it aside, waiting to be in a better mood.

  10. Tag 6 people: I agree with TrickyTricot -- this is the blog equivalent of a chain letter, and I'm not going to impose it on someone unwillingly (still, Ken, I was flattered that you picked me...residual "picked last for sports teams" neurosis). I'd be interested in the answers of anyone who cares to read my blog; I only know who some of you are, so consider yourself invited to respond, and leave me a comment so I know to go look at it.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Craftr: My latest million dollar idea

This morning, after a couple Google queries, I figured out how to add a LibraryThing widget to my sidebar. I've had a LibraryThing account since last November, but I haven't really done anything with it: the retrocon work is just overwhelming. So earlier today I added the three books I'm reading or listening to now, removed the dozen test titles I'd put in over the past year, and pasted the Javascript widget where I wanted it on the page. This might inspire me to keep working in LibraryThing.

It would be cool if there was something similar for knitting, some Web 2.0 community site that let crafters create accounts, record details about their projects, upload pictures, allow tagging and commenting. Simple RSS widgets could be dropped into blogs (automatically generating nifty percentage bars -- this whole idea occurred to me because I can't make this code work in Blogger Beta, and even if I could, the prospect of editing HTML code every time I want to update my "On the Needles" sidebar makes me want to scrap the whole thing). I see mash-up possibilities, with Flickr of course, but maybe even Etsy.

What do you all think, Gentle Readers? Could one "Craftr" (or "CraftThing") site cover the needs of knittrs, weavrs, spinnrs, etc.? Just the yarn crafts, or could it be expanded out to embrace quiltrs and beadrs? Maybe each separate craft would feature-creep it in too many directions? As a knittr, I think I'd want the project database to include pattern source, start and end dates, materials, and progress indicator. Notes and journal fields would be important, and specifics (like dye lots, gauges, needles, etc.) could be recorded there.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Cat's "525,600 Minutes" Meme

Cat, contemplative with the start of a new school year, challenges her blog readers to answer these five questions:
  1. How old do you think you'll live to be?

    For the longest time, I thought it would be 42, which happens in just over 3 months now. But a stress test last year turned out just fine, so now I don't know. I don't excercise enough, and I'm excessively fond of ice cream and fast food cheeseburgers. I probably will have my first heart attack sometime in the next 20 years, but I plan to survive it. I'd prefer to die in some wildly improbable, cataclysmic event -- kidnapped by aliens; infected with Andromeda Strain; crushed by Godzilla. More likely, it will be a car accident. Let's say 77?

  2. How do you measure the passing of time in your own life?

    I watch for the signs -- in both nature and culture -- for the cycle of seasonal change. The first lightning bug, the first frost. Dandelions poking up around Imbolc, ripe peaches around Lughnasadh. Orion lingering in the autumn morning sky. Graeter's Cherry Chip ice cream in February, Girl Scout Thin Mints in March. Soon the starlings will begin to practice their formations in the evening sky, and the new fall shows will air on TV. I look out into the near future for milestones, which speed up or slow down the passage of time, depending on how much I anticipate or dread them.

  3. What would constitute "the perfectly lived day" for you?

    A day lived mindfully, open to what comes, delighting in it. Ideally, it would be a bright, cool day, maybe in the fall. A light hike in a wooded area would be nice, maybe with few others around. I would talk with friends and family, probably laugh a lot. We'd have a tasty lunch. (But Cat's idea of starring in a Broadway show and finishing the day off with fabulous, crazy monkey sex would be OK too). At night I would dream that I could breath underwater.

  4. If you could pick one age or one year that you could live over and over, which one would you pick? Why?

    I had a friend who used to say with inappropriate irony, "It's true that I get better looking with each passing day." Me too: handsomer, smarter, wiser...more talented and fabulous as time marches on. (Humbler too). So I tend not to pine over the past; my best times have been the beginnings of something new. When I was fourteen, I promised myself that I would always remember and appreciate the complicated joy and pain of that transition from child into something else. My first year of college, my first year of grad school...all wonderful times. The early 90's were the best. I had found love, I was surrounded by smart friends. But still, I don't think I'd go back. I'd rather take what comes.

    And Slaughterhouse-Five had a fairly profound effect on my worldview. I think moments in time are eternal, and our perception of "now" is an illusion. Like Billy Pilgrim, we are all unstuck in time, if only we have the presence of mind to notice it. Every day is Groundhog Day.

  5. If you knew you were going to die in a year, what would you do in your final days?

    I expect "Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance," not necessarily in that order. I'd want to say goodbye. Or I think I would, until it became such a burden -- creating moments, bumming people out. I'd probably just get exhausted with it all. Then bitter about all the obligations a fore-knowledge of your own death imposes on you. I might undertake a project to hide little meaningful things everywhere, so that people would unexpectedly be reminded of me in future years.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Math anxiety

I'm about a month behind listening to Cast-On episodes, so I only recently heard Brenda kvell about the Widdershins sock pattern. I tried it before -- it was one of the aborted projects that I tried to do with the Handpainted Opal -- but didn't like it. Still, I know that Brenda has some of the same "sock issues" that I do, and if she says this may be the Holy Grail of sock patterns, then maybe, I thought, I should give it another shot. Other bloggers mentioned that the designer had written on her own blog about how to adapt the pattern to other stitch counts.

I thought I had sufficient math skills for my knitting (I whined to my GLBT-Knitsibs). I thought they were more than sufficient, actually. (Hey, I do Kakuro puzzles in bed).

And I was with the designer up to a point. I get that, if you have a 54 st circumference, you do gusset increases until you have 74 st: 27 for the instep, 14 each for the gussets, and 19 heel stitches. But I could not for the life of me figure out where that 19 comes from. The designer said:
For a round heel with a flap n stitches wide, the number of stitches below the heel turning is h(n) where h(k) = k for k.
Uh...what? I get what "h" is. I know I'm solving for "n." But what the hell is "k?"

The people on GLBT-Knit came through, leading me to realize that it's not about the math: there just need to be enough heel stitches to cover the bottom of the heel, whatever my gauge happens to be. So I made some quick notes and set off.

I leached the color out of this picture because these socks will be a gift, and the recipient sometimes reads my blog. I have to admit, except for the drama of the multi-variable equation above, the Widdershins construction is pretty cool. It reminds me a lot of Judy Gibson's You're Putting Me On socks. And I had an important sizing epiphany: a short-row heel would "begin" about halfway into your gusset increases. So with an L measurement of 6.5 inches, I'd want to begin my increases 15 rounds before I reached 6.5 (or around 5 inches, with my current gauge). Significantly more thinking is required than with my usual sock pattern, but I think this sock may be more comfortable for people with higher insteps. I think _____ is really going to like it.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Stash Fairy

She signs her emails "lc2" and those who follow her blog (and you should: it's poetic, smart, spirited, and different, a glimpse into how one goes about surviving cancer) may know her as "rcclive," but I think I'm going to start calling her the Stash Fairy.

With the gift of a single skein of Bearfoot back in May 2004, she reawakened my dormant sock knitting (which now occupies so much of this blog). The gift sent me to The Stitch Stops Here in search of more of this marvelous stuff, and ensured that my generally stash-free existence was at an end, not to mention all the money I've blown on Addi Turbos.

I had lunch with her Friday, when she layered upon me several marvelous gifts: 10 balls of blue baby cashmere, some purple cotton Sockotta (mom will be happy), Trekking XXL, Trekking Tweed, and Trekking Color. She threw in a sock pattern with an interesting cabled/broken rib design, and a blue t-shirt that says "I just came in to pet the yarn." All of this in a canvas DRA Taos bag, which for a library automation geek like me is perhaps the coolest part of the gift. I want lunch with her to be a regular thing, as long as she promises to stop bringing me stuff (bad fairy!) and takes naps before starting for home. I was horrified to read how much our lunch had tired her out.

Oh, the picture? It's that first skein of Bearfoot, the first pair of socks I made two-at-once on two circs (toe-up, naturally). The cuff design is from Stash Fairy's own sock pattern, called "Twirly Toes."

Saturday, August 26, 2006

When One Cannot Invent

Years ago, I cracked open a fortune cookie to find this pointed comment: "When one cannot invent, one must at least improve."

See, I'm really not all that creative. I get flashes of inspiration, but they're usually just a recognition that something someone else has done is cool. I don't write stories because all I would produce would be crappy fan fiction with humiliatingly obvious Mary Sues: the visiting American professor at Hogwarts, the librarian that Harry Dresden turns to for Internet research, any number of guest X-men. My knitting kind of feeds into this: I don't write patterns, but I do experiment with substitute techniques: working in the round instead of flat, creating the object backwards like a top-down hat or toe-up sock, and so on.

All of which is to say, Gentle Readers, that I'm tinkering with my blog, adding stuff to the sidebar, and I'll probably be stealing things I like from your blogs. Like that nifty "On The Needles" widget I see out there (Ken is doing it on Blogger, so there must be a way). I've always been envious of people with Movable Type blogs with the plug-ins that show what they're reading or listening to, and I hope that the new Blogger has something similar. I'm trying to find some way, with minimal or no effort, to recreate in my sidebar the earliest days of this blog.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Matt's Gigantic Balls

[Apologies to those of you who read this through Bloglines or other RSS readers. I upgraded to the new Blogger Beta, and that seems to have republished my posts. Didn't mean to spam your aggregators.]

Hung out for a good chunk of Saturday at the Merc (story on Randy's blog) where I snapped this picture with my crappy camera phone:

That's Matt, showing off his enormous balls. Matt's knitting a sweater from mop cotton. Seriously, that is some gigantic yarn. His gauge is like 1.5 stitches per inch. The sweater is going to weigh a ton, and when it's wet I'm pretty sure Gus (did I get that name right?) will be immobilized. But it looks cool. I want one.

Great day; lot of laughing.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

You must talk about Sock Wars

Yarn Monkey reports that, as of Tuesday, there are 400 sock warriors registered worldwide.

I am ridiculously excited about this. It appears that I am planning the whole fall season around Sock Wars. Craftsman Hill has asked me to teach my toe-up socks class (or the "Steep Learning Curve" socks, as I call them), and I haven't confirmed because I'm worried about it cutting into my Sock Wars time. I'd like to go to Chicago for the weekend -- see Altar Boyz and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, catch a taping of Wait Wait Don't Tell Me, maybe stalk Franklin and Dolores -- but what about my mission? Sock Wars will end on Thanksgiving, when I'm on vacation in Maine. Will I have enough stash to keep myself alive? Will there be a FedEx station nearby where I can launch my attacks against my targets?

On the Sock Wars Forum, I read a plaintive message from a sock newbie looking for helpful instructional videos because she didn't know anyone in central Ohio who knits. I decided that Cat and I should help her out. In fact...

All central Ohio knitters should form a Sock Warriors' Guild

...a geographical alliance of knitters, a cabal of sock-making ninja, banding together to encourage and support our own in this brutal battle. The experienced and seasoned will train the fresh recruits, help fix their dropped stitches, guide them through the first turning of their heels. But we should all be on guard, for in the end, each of us is in it for himself, and one of the Guild may be the assassin assigned to you.

(I was going to create a site, but it hardly seems worth the money. So if you're interested, leave a comment or send me an email, yarmando at gmail dot com).

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Handpainted Opal

I've made four or five attempts to do something with the gorgeous, handpainted Opal which I found marked down at Quiltessentials back when Mel took me there. I'm wondering if the frog and toad-like colors are encouraging my tendency to repeatedly frog it.

My first pass at it had too loose a gauge, so I went down a needle size. I didn't like the star toe, so I started again. I tried to experiment with gusset-style increases before the short-row heel, but I hated the way it looked, so I frogged back to make a normal heel.

By the way, I was working on this gusset experiment while watching High School Musical, so I associate the construction technique with that experience. Since I never want to watch the movie again, I wonder if I'll ever want to try this experiment again. Does this happen to other knitters, or am I just weird? I associate DNA cables with Kismet, the Shell Lace Pattern with Veronica Mars, and countless other connections, most of which I can't bring to mind unless I'm actually knitting the pattern.

Anyway, I think I've finally figured out what kind of socks this yarn wants to be, and whom it wants to be for.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Making socks that fit

One of the reasons I love knitting socks is because it's fairly easy to make them fit. You just need two important measurements: the circumference (C) of the widest part of the ball of the foot, and the length (L) from the tip of the longest toe to the center of the ankle. I sometimes have a hard time explaining to people the L measurement, so here's the illustration from the sock scriptures, Simple Socks: Plain and Fancy.

To get the L measurement, the author says, "I place a ruler on the floor at the inside edge of the foot, with the person seated and their foot resting lightly on the floor." It can be handy to know the circumference of the ankle, but that's usually somewhere close to the C measurement.

I also like making socks because nearly everyone likes them and can stand to have many pairs. How many hats, scarves, and mittens does one person really need? Sweaters take too long. And don't even talk to me about afghans, shawls, and lace.

And you don't really need to have a recipient in mind when you start a new sock. You can let the pattern and the yarn take you where it wants, and you end up with what I call "Cinderella Socks" -- whomever they fit, gets them.

Sunday, August 06, 2006


It's been too hot to blog. Franklin and Harlot have managed to write screamingly funny posts about the heat. I'm in awe of their stamina, not to mention their wit and charm.

And I've been busy. I've been trying to make time the past couple weeks to help my aunt move. This gave me an opportunity last month to drive around my hometown in the Big Atheist Truck.

Isn't that tacky? A total violation of my "one bumper sticker" rule. But only one of those bumper stickers -- "No Special Rights for Christians" -- would I probably not put on my own car. (I would wear it on a t-shirt, however). And I adore the license plate. I'd like this one for myself...

...but I know it would never get approval. (I'm told the only way my friend got HEATHEN approved was by telling them it was "Heat Hen.") Besides, "infidel" doesn't mean what it should mean. It should mean "unbeliever" generically, but instead its more common meaning is "non-Muslim." I'm not anti-Muslim. I'm not even anti-Christian. I am for worldviews that do not require a belief in the supernatural as the foundation for ethics.

No interesting knitting to report. Almost done with the cool cotton socks (working them one at a time, since the Sockotta balls tangle too much when you work from both ends). I was trying to do wrapped short rows with the heel and get the lovely results I see in other people's work. But my results just aren't as neat, tight, and tidy. Still, it's a perfectly acceptable sock. And the light, cotton yarn and small project size is perfect in this weather.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Are YOU ready for Sock Wars 2006?

My freshman year in college, guys in my dorm played a game they called "Killer." (Or maybe it was "Assassin?") Participants were given a target they had to get before they themselves were gotten -- shot with a squirt gun, poisoned by sugar or salt in a drink, throats slashed/marked with a marker, etc. Points were awarded for creativity, deducted for getting caught. I was the cause of deducted points -- an innocent bystander hit by the shrapnel of a water balloon grenade.

I wasn't interested in playing, but I am interested in Yarn Monkey's Sock Wars. Sign up before September 8, and on September 22 you'll be mailed a sock pattern and information about your target. You win by completing and mailing socks to your victim, but all the while you are someone else's target. You now take up your victim's mission, with her work in progress as your next weapon. A month later, the last one standing gets swag; everyone else gets the pair of socks that took them out of the game.

I have a knitted gift project that could interfere with my participation, but still, this sounds like a fun distraction. If I'm the one assigned to knit socks for Mel's size 13 feet, then gauge rules be damned: I'm using thick yarn.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Halfdome, Topdown

I finished the crown on my top-down version of the halfdome cap.

And I've learned something: increases do not look the same as decreases. This was probably always perfectly obvious to everyone else, but my reading of Barbara Walker's Knitting from the Top led me to believe otherwise. I can see where it sort of looks raglan-ish, but it's just not as attractive as the bottom-up version. Still, the advantages of not running out of color before finishing the top outweigh the beauty of the raglan decreases, if you ask me.

Apartment renovation update:
Molding is complete in the bathroom. Kitchen ceiling has been painted and the broken plastic light panels have been replaced. I'm sure my designated knitting contractor is correct and the whole thing needs more major repair, but it's an apartment, and up to the property managers and owners to decide how much work to do. Posted by Picasa

Friday, July 21, 2006

I can live with this

My fears of a patchwork bathroom were mounting. I mean, look at the linoleum around the sink

But the floor was put down today, and while all the pieces are indeed utterly dissimilar, there's a general neutrality to it all. I can cope.

There are a few small bits left to finish (moulding isn't complete all around the floor), and the kitchen ceiling is still damp, which is suspicious, since we haven't taken a shower here all week. I mean, that was the problem that started us off on this little renovation adventure. Hopefully soon, we can put all this behind us, and my blog can return to more details of what I'm knitting and more complaints about identity politics.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Shower Construction, Day Three

Progress on Wednesday: the linoleum is gone from the floor and repairs have started on the wood beneath. Some marble panels have been installed in the shower.

I'm starting to worry about a patchwork bathroom, with shower, sink, wall tile, paint, and floor all failing to match in any recognizable way. I'll get over it. It's just a bathroom. The marble panels in the shower really do look nice.

However, I seem to be missing a tube of Elidel cream. I can't imagine why the workers would take it, but it's not where I left it the night before.

After snapping the above photos, I took off for XY Night at the Merc. Mine were the only Y chromosomes to make an appearance however. Still, good conversation with the Y-deprived, I finished off the cap, and started some seaman-style neck-ribbing on the Obey Giant scarf.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Shower Construction, Day Two

Significant progress on our bathroom repairs Monday afternoon, when workmen ripped out the tile and replaced the mildewed wallboard behind it. They had just finished when I arrived home.

I overhead one of them say, "I'm going to call in sick tomorrow; stay out of the heat." Sure enough, nothing seemed to happen Tuesday. Mike and I are showering in a vacant unit elsewhere in the complex, which is inconvenient but a fun little adventure. Reminds me of dorm life, as I walk over to the other apartment, wearing my flip-flops and carrying a shower bucket and a towel. Mike lacks this nostalgic memory; I don't think he's finding the same enjoyment I am. (There's a weird feeling of doing something almost illicit -- slipping into another apartment and doing something as intimate as bathing).

More updates as events warrant.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

What's that smell?

This is turning out to be the summer of disagreeable odors.

About 10 days ago, Mike surprised a skunk one night when he was taking the trash out. In the darkness, he didn't notice the animal or see what it was, only that it looked like a puppy that was "moving funny." It was probably stomping in warning. He dashed off when the tail went up and he saw the white flash, but it was too late.

I'm enormously grateful for the Internet, which provided an effective recipe for musk removal. Tomato juice, all sites seem to agree, doesn't really do it; you need hydrogen peroxide, baking soda, and dishwashing liquid.

I'm still finding some lingering contamination in the house (the towels Mike used after showering, the t-shirt I wore to bed that night, the small pillows we use in place of teddy bears), but generally the musk is gone from the house. Just in time for new and different bad smells.

I'm pretty sensitive to mildew. It's quite a battle in our bathroom, because a few years ago we had a leak that the landlords didn't repair -- just sealed it over, trapping moisture behind the tile. The new landlords are putting some energy into fixing the problem, but this involves extensive repair on our kitchen ceiling and a powerful, industrial fan blowing into the bathroom plumbing access panel (which happens to be on the wall by my side of the bed). Happily, Loratadine/Claritin handles my mildew allergies as well as it does hayfever. We won't be able to use our shower next week, but the inconvenience is a small price to pay for getting this problem taken care of.

Knitting reports:

I apparently dropped a stitch at the heel join in Mom's purple fib socks. That's enough of a problem area on socks even without mistakes, so I frogged back to really fix it. That pair is completed now.

One ball wasn't enough to complete the large adult halfdome cap, which isn't a surprise, but unless I make a longer contrasting brim, one ball isn't enough for me to make the regular adult size either. I finished off the top of the large cap with the black yarn I used for the brim (pictured below in green; the hat is weirdly shaped because it's too big for me, but it should fit Aubrey). I'll buy more of the blue to finish the last few rounds of the regular cap, and maybe knit a second one from the top down so it won't matter when I run out of color.

Nice picture of my bald spot, huh?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fibonnaci again

When the socks I intended for Joe were too small, I wanted to get working on another pair quickly. Joe is a retired engineer, so I figured he might like the Finonacci sequence design. I picked up some New England Highland wool in oatmeal and teak. Working from actual measurements, I created these socks:

One pair of socks finished, four more in progress (which shows a profound lack of imagination and ambition, if you ask me). Meanwhile, I set sock work aside to begin working on some Halfdome caps in the latest issue of Knitty. These are cool, although I don't understand why the instructions have you knit them flat then sew the seam. I'm knitting them in the round by casting on two less stitches than the pattern calls for, then subtracting those stitches from the count at the beginning and end of the marker placements and decrease rounds. I've got one cap in progress to replace the lame one I made for Aubrey this spring, and when I ran out of yarn to complete the crown, I started another.

Mission: get all these socks and hats completed before the next XY Knit-In at the Merc next week.