Saturday, December 22, 2007

New Shoes

This morning, I learned that Converse is making clear Chuck Taylors. So while picking up a few last items at the mall today, I ducked into Journeys and snagged me a pair.

Still playing with my lacing strategy, trying to obscure as little of the sock as possible. But clearly [sic] I have found an excuse to knit more socks for me me me.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

If you've got a heart, then Gumby's a part of you

For two days this week, I actually listened to something on the radio besides NPR. A local station was broadcasting TV show theme songs.

It was amazing. Avengers, Dark Shadows, Facts of Life, Peter Gunn, Attack of the Killer Tomatoes, Davy Crockett, Soap, Hawaiian Eye. There were songs I completely didn't recognize, songs I knew every note of but couldn't place, but mostly there were songs that were instantly familiar from the first note or two.

It was incredible. I couldn't turn it off. I first tuned in Wednesday afternoon on my drive home from work, and wanted to sit in my car listening. Thursday morning, I found the station streaming on the web, but eventually I had to switch off because I couldn't concentrate on work.

These songs are perfect little gems of culture. Listening to them one after the other, you become aware of just how much talent and energy goes into them. A minute's worth of music to accomplish so much: to invoke mood, to explain a premise, to establish expectations.
    Nameless studio musicians in tight, jazzy harmonies inform us they've got a gorilla for sale, or that Cathy and Patty are cousins.

    Smooth, earnest voices assure a young woman in the city that she might just make it after all, or that there are places where everybody knows your name.

    Balladeers introduce us to vigilante loners: rebels, knights without armor, the rippin'est, roarin'est, fightin'est men.

    And wonderful instrumentals: the syncopated jazz themes of impossible missions, bass-heavy intros to wacky precinct stations and night courts, synthesized evocations of the limits of space and imagination.
I happened to be tuned in Thursday while driving to lunch. At noon, the theme from The Rockford Files abruptly cut off, a new station was identified, and Elvis Costello's "Radio Radio" began playing.
So you had better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio
I know the TV theme songs were just a stunt, a silly placeholder designed to lure a broad demographic to the frequency. I know that it wouldn't be long before I would tire of the nostalgia and the culture-critic impulses such nostalgia always raises in me. Still, since Thursday afternoon, I've felt a sting of disappointment and loss every time I get in my car and face the same choices I have every day. Another modern rock station is just a tired variation on everything else, but for a few days, we were listening to something rare and new.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Knitting Update

I buckled down and finished the Cobblestone Pullover last weekend. I've worn it four times already, and I'll probably wear it again today. Here I am modeling it, in what S. criticizes as a MySpace angle.

Generally good pattern. The garter stitch circular yoke gives the sweater a medieval, Robin Hood-ish look, which is growing on me -- it makes my chest and shoulders look broad. I did the garter stitch welt at the bottom in a smaller needle size, which I think keeps it from flaring out. I hated the garter stitch sleeve cuffs, so in the end I snipped the yarn, picked out the cuffs, and knit new plain cuffs that finished with a short, reverse stockinette roll.

I've got two sock projects in process. One I will talk about when they're done, but the other is the pair I started in Maine last month. I call them the "Mummy Case" socks.

A little weird looking, but "mummy" says they fit nicely. I did some Cat Bordhi Riverbed-style increases on the bottom, a short-row heel, and then decreased up the back. I drew lines to highlight the shaping: red for gusset increases/decreases, yellow for the short row "seam." The heel seems to cup the foot pretty tightly. I probably wouldn't do this again, but it was in interesting experiment.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

I am the Boy Next Door

I followed the link from Mel's blog to OKCupid's Online Dating Persona Test. My cautious and repressed relationship history usually means that such tests yield upsetting or irrelevant results, but this outcome actually seems pretty accurate. It identifies me as the Boy Next Door.

But what I find interesting is not so much what my test results say about me, but the particular taxonomy of the test itself. Like MBTI, it's built on 4 dichotomies:









I suspect this might just be a re-labeling of the Myers-Briggs dichotomies; maybe something like this?









Which makes me an INFP when it comes to dating. I can see that. What do you think? Have I got these matched up right?

Friday, November 23, 2007

Minced Oaths

Go read rcclive's tale of cascading medical administrative errors. That she can call this a "comedy" speaks to the strength of her spirit. Personally, I'd begin to think that a bureaucratic universe was conspiring to kill me.

As I was composing my comment on her post, I was trying to think of an appropriate (for lack of a better word) ejaculation. "Good God" and "Good Lord" don't mean anything to me. Curse words seemed inappropriate. So I just settled on "Good Grief."

Googling "creative ejaculations" wasn't really helpful -- it was a bit icky in fact. Eventually, I found this handy list of minced oaths from the Phrase Finder.

And if you're in the mood for a good adolescent laugh, check out the Great Internet Swear Word Project.


Oh, and while I'm on the topic of language, I should mention that my final, written appeal for the license plate "TOE UP" was rejected. I should have selected something else, but I was annoyed. So I just renewed my existing tags and asked for the balance in a refund.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Me want

I'm sure you're seeing the news everywhere: Amazon has released their eBook reader, the Kindle. How funny that the book displaying on the device at the start of the demo video is Diamond Age, a novel about how an eBook changes one girl's life and reshapes the world.

My profession, of course, will be unable to respond.

Biggest draw? Free wireless access to Wikipedia.

Dear Santa, I have been a very good boy this year....

Friday, November 16, 2007

Very brief break from socks

Last weekend, I had one of those happy moments when I was vaguely interested in knitting something different, saw a pattern that appealed to me, and found the perfect yarn sitting in my stash.

A couple years ago, the Stash Fairy had provided me with some lovely, blue, baby alpaca cashmere -- I think trying to tempt me into lace shawls. I decided it would be perfect to make the Henry scarf from the Fall issue of Knitty.

And I initially enjoyed the project. I crept forward, carefully following the instructions, not really understanding the purpose of the odd stitch repeats (right side: k2, sl2 wyif; wrong side: p2, sl2 wyib) until I suddenly realized that I was creating a woven effect.

But criminently, these rows are long -- 452 stitches. And if you screw up the positioning of your repeats, you lose the herringbone effect which is the whole point. Still, I figured I would get to the point that I could "read" the fabric, and could stop counting obsessively.

I would be wrong. I was sitting on an airplane, reaching the end of row 34, when I discovered that the whole row is off. Worse, when I sat down yesterday to start picking back, I realized that row 33 is off too. I'm not sure I like this well enough to tink 900 stitches.

Like a fool, this was the only project I brought with me on my trip. So yesterday, Mom and I popped up to Halcyon so I could return to sock land. One skein of Sockotta and a set of 40" Addi Turbos, and I'm back where I belong.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I'm sorry

This is what comes of my pedantic, writer-based prose style.

I'm truly sorry. I should work harder to be more readable.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Pick me pick me pick me

Since I am (like many of my people) deeply scarred by the repeated experiences of being picked last for ball games, I feel ridiculously honored that crankygrrrrrl tagged me for this meme thing: open the book you’re currently reading to page 161 and read the fifth sentence on the page, then think of 5 bloggers to tag.

Having just finished Michael Chabon's Gentlemen of the Road last night, I'm between books. But the fifth sentence on page 161 is a doozy:
But the remainder of the journey to the apartments of the kagan partook of the labyrinthine tedium of a dream, and she was never afterward able to recall it, or to say how, in the darkness, with her last visit to the palace having occurred in her girlhood, with her mind disordered by the draft and the iron flavor of blood in her mouth, she managed to conduct the thieves, with accuracy and haste, to the heart of the heart of her world.
Isn't that first part great? "Partook of the labyrinthine tedium of a dream."

So let's see: who do I pick now?
  1. My honeybunch, of course
  2. S. is blogless, but she could probably respond creatively in her Flickr stream. Besides, this passage sounds like something she'd like: all Jamesian and shit.
  3. Cat, because I'm wondering if she's like me and most of the books she reads are less than 161 pages
  4. Stash Fairy, because I'm curious
You know what? I can't limit it to 5, because this is too much fun. If you're reading this, consider yourself the 5th person tagged -- especially if you're Jerry, Mary, Micah, Jacki, or Travis. And Matt, if you're not reading anything, put Bridget on.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Whirlwind Toe

Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters includes instructions for a "Whirlpool Toe," a toe-up version of the Star Toe. I call my variation the "Whirlwind Toe." It was inspired by Dawn Brocco, who when knitting top down advises you to decrease at 6 points every 3rd round until there are about 18 stitches, then decrease every round to 6 stitches.

My instructions assume you know how to knit with a Magic Loop, using one circular needle, 40 inches or longer.

Whirlwind Toe (Cliffs Notes Version)
Verbose Instructions below
  • Turkish cast-on 3 stitches.
  • Knit 1/2 round.
  • Knit 1 round with both working yarn and tail.
  • Increase at 6 points every round until there are 30 stitches (24 for thicker yarns).
  • Increase at 6 points every third round until you reach desired circumference.

Whirlwind Toe (Verbose)

Turkish cast-on 3 stitches
  • Hold your circular needle so that both ends are together, pointed to the right.
  • Pull the bottom needle to the right, and hold your top needle together with the bottom cord.
  • Start your yarn in back of the needles, leaving a 9" tail hanging.
  • Wrap the yarn over toward you, down across the front and up the back of the needles.
  • Repeat until you've made 3 loops around your needles.
  • You'll use the bottom needle as your working needle to knit the stitches which are wrapped around the top (or "left") needle.
First increase round
  • Knit across the 3 stitches on the "top" needle. Be sure to keep your stitches snug on the "bottom" needle.
  • Hold working yarn and tail together, and work 1 complete round.
    (There are now 6 stitches on each side, 12 in all.)
Second increase round
  • Drop the tail, and knit with only one strand of yarn.
  • Repeat *YO, K2* for one round. This sets up 6 increase points, using yarnovers for increasing. There are 18 stitches on your needles.
Third and Fourth increase rounds
  • Repeat *YO, K1tbl, K2* for one round (24 stitches on your needles).
    IMPORTANT: You must knit into the back of the yarnover stitches. This twists them, so they won't leave holes in your knitting.
  • Repeat *YO, K1tbl, K3* for one round (30 stitches on your needles).
Switch to increasing every third round
  • Knit two rounds plain, making sure to knit into the back of any yarnover stitches.
  • On the next round, repeat *YO, K5* (36 stitches)
  • Knit two rounds plain, making sure to knit into the back of your yarnovers.
  • Repeat *YO, K6* around (42 stitches)
  • Knit two rounds plain. (You know how to handle yarnovers by now, right?)
Continue increasing in this manner, with 6 yarnovers every third round, followed by two plain rounds, until you reach your desired stitch circumference. If that circumference is not a multiple of six, just do as many increases as you need.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


What little knitting I've done this week has been all about the toes. To begin with, I've come to the sad realization that I just don't like the fit of my Just Start Knitting toe: it's too tight across the front, and it twists out of shape. So I decided to experiment with anatomical correctness.

Cool, huh? It begins like the "Just Start Knitting" sock, but after an inch I stop increasing on one side. The toe section is longer, and seems to fit much, much better. And I'm loving this yarn -- half wool, and half mohair, silk, and nylon. I bought it from the Legendary Pat at the spring stash orgy.

My other toe problem concerned the LibraryThing socks. Not only were the toes uncomfortably tight, I ran out of yarn six rounds before the end. I tried to find someone with a few yards of this yarn in their stash, but the Zombie's was too orange, and Brow and SB are eloping this week. Nothing left to do but amputate, scavenge the toe yarn to finish the cuff, and make new toes.

This one skein of Cider Moon "Johnny Cash" black may be the most useful yarn I've ever bought. Toes aren't anatomical, but they do fit better than the original ones do.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is this what I think it is?

A patent for knitted socks that fit? WTF?

I've become dissatisfied with my sock toes. A while back, Stephen mentioned anatomically-correct toes. I was searching for instructions, and ran across this.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Updates, mostly about socks

Apparently, I only have so much attention to spread around. And if I post about my knitting in Ravelry and my books in LibraryThing, then clearly I have nothing to say here. So here's a sock knitting round up.

1. Speaking of LibraryThing, I met Tim Spalding the creator last week at a conference. We drank good beer and talked about Russian formalism, name authority records, gender, and places to eat in Maine. I envy his MacBook. I've decided to make a habit of knitting socks for cool guest speakers at library conferences, so here are Tim's LibraryThing socks. It doesn't show up very well, but I've put the letters L & T on the cuff in purl stitches.

2. No word yet on my appeal for the TOE UP license plate.

3. I finally finished the Deathly Hallows socks that I started back in July. The skull on the heel is adapted from Lindsay Henrick's bag, and made with Knitivity's GlowKnits: my glow-in-the-Dark Mark. I hate intarsia and it was a pain, but the socks are awesome, right?

4. I'm in the middle of teaching another sock class, the second in as many months. The classes are getting bigger: 5 people in September's class, 6 in October's. I'm barely handling it. I like assisting people up the learning curve of short-row heels on Magic Loop, but it can be a struggle.

5. I'm experimenting with gussets. You can see I added some gusset-y increases to the LibraryThing sock above. Cat Bordhi's discovery that gusset stitches don't have to be where we've always put them intrigues me, even if most of her New Pathways don't. So I thought I'd try a Spiraling Coriolis but with a different heel. I originally gave the Andersson Heel a try, but it came out too short. Mel's Widdershins is better.

I guess Sock Wars II is underway. I didn't enlist this year. But I happen to have some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino around, so I might give the sock a try.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Still Inappropriate

My request for reconsideration of the license plate "TOE UP" was denied. I am allowed one more appeal, in writing. My planned argument is that slang is fleeting, but sock knitting has a rich and varied history (even toe-up construction). I plan also to question the authoritativeness of the Urban Dictionary, and suggest that any reference which accepts public contributions can get things wrong. The term they are objecting to is actually "tore up," not "toe up."

As I said before, not holding my breath. But it's worth a try. Any suggestions for my argument from you all are welcome.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007


Last week, I got an email from the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles telling me it's 90 days before my birthday and time to renew my tags. So I decided to take the plunge and buy a vanity plate. Which one of these possibilities did I pick? None of them. Instead, I went with TOE UP.

I'm aware that it makes no sense to the uninitiated.

Yesterday, I got an email marked "** High Priority **" telling me the request had been rejected because it was "inappropriate." I called to ask about it, and the customer services associate explained that they check a number of sources and the Urban Dictionary says that "toe up" is a variant of "torn up" or "tore up," as in wasted or high. I can see where that's a message they wouldn't want on license plates.

Still, I argued, if you Google "toe up," you get one hit (the highest) for the slang definition, and then pages of sock patterns.

They're going to consider it again, with the added note that it's about sock knitting. If it goes through, I'll just get the plates. If not, I'll get another rejection notice. I'm not really holding my breath.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Jog 8, Walk 5, Jog 8

I got stuck on day 14 of the Couch-to-5K Running Plan, which is jog for 8 minutes, walk for 5 minutes, and jog again for 8 minutes. Day 15 is jog for 20 minutes, which is actually my fitness goal.

But I keep repeating day 14. Am I just being a wuss? The difference between 8+5+8 and 20 seems like a lot, especially when I'm really slogging through those last 5 minutes.

So I'm departing from the plan and creating my own week.

  • Jog 8 minutes
  • Walk 4 minutes
  • Jog 8 minutes

  • Jog 9 minutes
  • Walk 3 minutes
  • Jog 8 minutes

  • Jog 10 minutes
  • Walk 2 minutes
  • Jog 8 minutes

Then I might skip directly to week 6.

I may need to explore different routes. Currently, I walk to the end of Mackenzie, then turn and run the length of Mackenzie, back into Concord Village, then up to Henderson Road where I turn and head back home. This puts the walking portion of my workout along the AOL property, and I must look suspicious walking along, checking my watch every 30 seconds to see if it's time to start running again. They probably think I'm a really out-of-shape terrorist or industrial spy, checking on morning security routines.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Brain Age: 48

For years, every time a name or a word has failed to pop into my mom's head when she needed it, she would say, "This is so scary." She has long been afraid of Alzheimer's, but I don't think she has reason to be afraid: it's just the little things. When it happens to me (more and more often in the past few years), I find it more annoying than scary.

But a high school friend of my mom's has just been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer's. His doctor, Mom reports, says we all need to learn/study four new things to keep our minds active and healthy. So after playing with Brain Age on my niece's Nintendo DS on Sunday, I went out and bought a pink one for Mom and a red one for me & Mike.

Our NDS came bundled with Brain Age 2, which informs me that my brain is older than I am, so it's time to start exercising. I'm a whiz at Sudoku, and the Piano Player game is a joke for me. But still, I'm terribly slow at the "Rock/Paper/Scissors" memory test, and I'm hopeless remembering the random placement of 25 numbers in a grid.

When I first started writing this post this morning, my Brain Age was 44. This afternoon, I've aged to 48. I don't care for this trend.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Further along the New Pathways

I had better success following a particular pattern in New Pathways for Sock Knitters. This is Bordhi's Dove Sock, knit with Bearfoot in the Pheasant colorway. ("Dove?" Pheasant?" The hilarity continues). Note: Dodger wanted his foot in the picture too.

Overall, I recommend the book, with the caveat that I think the socks are a little weird-lookin'. As ingenious and innovative as Bordhi's new pathways are, the socks seem fat, because some of the overall allowance for the heel is created in the arch expansion. When the socks aren't on a foot, they don't look like feet. I prefer the shape (and fit) of socks with just a short-row heel cup and no heel flap.

Still, this book has forever changed how I manage the wrapped short-rows, and made me a bigger fan of the method of increasing she uses, which will probably henceforth be widely known as La-Link and La-Rink. (Check out Bordhi's video demo on YouTube). I expect I'll be experimenting with some arch increases in my socks for a long time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

It's the pictures that got small

Pajiba ("Scathing Reviews for Bitchy People") is holding a Classic Movie Week. So far, they've covered two of my favorites: Double Indemnity and Sunset Blvd. (Do you know how I know Pajiba reviewer Dan Carlson is straight? All his headline quotes from Sunset Blvd. are from Joe, not Norma).

We caught Sunset Blvd. last week* at the CAPA Summer Movie Series at the Ohio Theater. That is the right environment for that movie: a late-20's classic movie palace, beautifully restored and preserved. You want to be with an audience that applauds when Norma says, "I am big. It's the pictures that got small." And there's nothing quite like that feeling in the grand, old theater when she looks right out at you and invokes "those wonderful people out there in the dark."

"Pajiba." What a great word. Reminds me of a word my grandma used to use: pajayvus. I'm pretty sure they mean the same thing.

* We also went to the "Vamp & Camp" Double Feature of
She Done Him Wrong and Cobra Woman; Mike, you should post a review.

Friday, August 24, 2007

First Impressions of "New Pathways"

I hear that the first printing of Cat Bordhi's "New Pathways for Sock Knitters" is sold out. I got mine because KnittingBrow yanked a copy out of a customer's hand and put it on reserve for me.

My first impression was that this was the best sock book ever written. I thought that this book was going to replace Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy as the Sock Bible, or expand the scriptures (Simple Socks = Old Testament; New Pathways = New Testament).

"New Pathways" has great photographs and illustrations, an engaging style, clear instructions, and beautiful page layout. The eureka moment of the book is Bordhi's discovery that increases for a sock can go anywhere in the arch -- just distribute 2 increases every 3 rounds. Bordhi runs with this idea, finding an incredible variety of design inspirations. Names are important, and she has attached wonderful labels to her different styles of sock architecture: Ridgeline, Riverbed, Upstream, etc.

I was most impressed with her formula for figuring out the length of the toe section of a sock: stitch circumference ÷ rounds-per-inch, subtracted from the total length of the foot. Awesome, right? And it worked!

Sort of.

For this sock, I tried her"Riverbed" architecture, made in the "Rainbow Trout" colorway. (Get it? "Trout?" "Riverbed?" I slay me). Bordhi says, "Riverbed architecture seems to fit many people exceptionally well, perhaps because it hugs the contours of the foot so naturally...." I like the theory, but as you can see, when I tried the Riverbed Master Pattern, I ended up with a pretty fat sock. The length is perfect, exactly what I was shooting for, but the sock is easily an inch too big around across the instep.

I'm not giving up. It could be that I've loused it up with inconsistent gauge -- I noticed that my gauge did change once I began increasing, and I ripped back a dozen rows to correct that with smaller needles. Bordhi has a great track record for successful innovation in knitting techniques, and there's so much great stuff in here. I hope I'm able to resolve my issues and bring the innovations of this book into my sock knitting toolkit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mephitis mephitis

Just when you thought it was safe to go outside...

Long time readers may remember how last summer we learned the hard way that skunks live nearby. On occasion I've had to close the bedroom windows in the night because skunk musk has wafted into the room, but we've had no close encounters since Mike's mishap. I fear that could change.

Ten minutes ago, I was leaning against the front door, stretching after my morning run (yes, I'm running again). There was a noise off to my right, and I figured it was one of the chipmunks that live out front. But when I looked, I saw a skunk shuffling toward me, not three feet away.

I dashed off, hoping to get out of the fallout zone if he cut loose. I know I startled him as much as he startled me, because I heard him scrambling as I ran away. I paced on the sidewalk for several minutes, scared to go back, but smelling nothing, I eventually made my way back into the apartment.

Better stock up on hydrogen peroxide and baking soda.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Cobblestone Sweater

I wish it were otherwise, but when I decide to knit a sweater, it's generally because I think the model is cute.

So this is why, more than one skein into a plain, green EPS sweater, I broke the yarn and cast on for BrooklynTweed's Cobblestone Pullover from the Fall issue of Interweave Knits.

There's a garter stitch strip about 3 inches wide running up each side, which keeps the knitting fairly interesting. I'm eager to see whether the circular yoke construction fits me. And of course, as always, I expect the sweater to transform me physically so that I look like the model.

In a fun little change of pace, I've been winding the skeins by hand -- not into balls but into yarn cocoons. This is cool technique from Jacqueline Fee's The Sweater Workshop.

The yarn lies in this bundle, somewhat more loosely than in a ball. It's held in a figure-8 shape, and it unravels back and forth from the top of the cocoon. Mary Lou Egan posted instructions and a video on the Yarnerinas blog (instructions below the spelling stuff).

Friday, August 10, 2007

High Maintenance Ass-Clown

I entered "Venti Iced Tea, Black, Unsweetened, No Water" into The All-Knowing Oracle of Starbucks.

Behold the Oracle's wisdom:

Personality type: High Maintenance

You pride yourself on being assertive and direct; everyone else thinks you're bossy and arrogant. You're constantly running your mouth about topics that only you would find interesting. Your capacity for wasting other people's time is limitless. Your friends find you intolerable, that's why they're plotting to kill you.

Also drinks: Water. Bottled, chilled, with four ice cubes, a twist of lemon, in a crystal glass.
Can also be found at: Trendy martini bars

Wow. For my usual morning order, "Venti Mild," I got:

Personality type: Ass-clown

You tell people that you're an executive at your company. You think that your repeated references to being "addicted" to caffeine make you seem intriguing and dangerous. People think you're a sucker because you spend 60% of your annual income at Starbucks. Everyone who drinks Venti Mild ends up addicted to crack.

Also drinks: Zima
Can also be found at: Karaoke bars

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Aging sucks

The day I bought new running shoes, Mike and I went for a short hike after lunch. Midway through, I noticed a blurry spot in my vision. A bit later, I noticed that it was crescent-shaped, acting like the afterimage you see when you look at a bright light. It was a very bright day, so I assumed I caught a reflection off a windshield or something. It faded, but it was back the next day. I kept seeing it off and on over the week, and went to my optometrist to get it checked out.

He noticed that my left eye (where I could sometimes see the crescent) was still 20/20 but was now weaker than my right eye, and told me I had vitreous separation, something that happens to everyone when they age. If there's a problem, it will show up within 6 weeks, and I should call if there are changes. He also mentioned that I might need reading glasses.

So I went merrily on, still worrying off and on about the new blurriness. I decided to check in with my g.p. He looked alarmed, suspected I had retinal detachment, and sent me immediately to the ophthalmologist. Several tense hours later, the ophthalmologist confirmed the original diagnosis -- I'm getting old; it's nothing to worry about.

Oh well. I look good in glasses. Time to go buy some.

While I was waiting, I noticed this in the exam room:

If you click through to a higher resolution, you can see it says "Place sharp in container opening then lift door until sharp drops." When did "sharp" become a noun? Why wasn't I informed of this?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Pick my plate

It's about time for me to renew my registration, so I'd like your advice. Which of these options do you think is best?

Cast your vote in the comments, or send email to yarmando at gmail dot com.

Other suggestions are welcome, particularly if you can find a way to fit "Evil Sock Genius" into 7 letters.


Jacki's suggestion needs to be added to the ballot.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Back to the Couch

I'm sorry to report that, after a mere 4 training days, my Couch-to-5K exercise plan has faltered and failed. My right ankle began complaining on the second day, and it became clear over the next two runs that this won't simply go away if I just soldier on. I skipped Wednesday's run to give my ankle more time to rest after Monday, bought an ankle stabilizer, and tried it out this morning. Just a few steps was enough to tell me it won't be enough.

You may not believe this, but I'm genuinely disappointed. I was proud of myself for taking this on, and proud of my modest success, considering I haven't seriously exercised regularly in years. I felt inspired to keep with this, and while I know that feeling won't last, it was important to keep me going through the first months.

Maybe I'll get my ankle looked at after my vacation next week, have the doctor tell me what's going on and whether I can try again. I know I should find something low impact which I can do no matter the weather, but nothing else appeals, and it's demoralizing.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The "Just Start Knitting" Sock Method

I'm on disc 7 of Deathly Hallows, and making good progress on the sock. Updates can be found on my Flickr pages, which I've started keeping up because of Ravelry. Ravelry is cool, almost exactly what I had wanted. I expect it will cut down on the amount of tedious sock exposition here. But not quite yet.

I've been having great success lately with my "Just Start Knitting" toe-up sock method. Here's how it works:

I take a circular needle, 40 inches or longer for working Magic Loop, in the size indicated on the yarn band. (I knit pretty tightly, so others might want to go down a needle size. Use your intuition). Then I use Turkish cast-on:
  • Hold your circular needle so that both ends are together, pointed to the right.
  • Pull the bottom needle to the right, so your top needle is held together with the bottom cord.
  • Start your yarn in back of the needles, leaving a 12" tail hanging.
  • Wrap the yarn down toward you, down across the front and up the back of the needles.
Wrap until you have the same number of loops as the yarn label says there are stitches in an inch. Then you'll begin making a lovely round toe, inspired by the Queen Kahuna method.
  • Knit half a round, across the stitches on one needle.
  • Hold working yarn and tail together, and work 1 round. This doubles the number of loops on each side.
  • Drop the tail, and knit one round, working a stitch in each loop.
See? If you start by casting on 6 stitches, you increase to 24 almost immediately. If you start with 9 cast-on loops (as I did with the "Deathly Hallows" socks), you quickly get to 36 stitches.

Then I begin increasing for the toe. And by the time I'm approaching the desired circumference for the size I intend to make (usually about 8.5 inches), I have enough worked that I can check the gauge and whether I like the resulting fabric. Not much time invested, so it's easy to start over, but if it's good, then you didn't waste that time doing a gauge swatch.

One note, though: I typically overshoot the increases by one set. I can't tell until I've worked an inch or two, and often I have to frog back (or in the case of the "Deathly Hallows" socks, improvise by adding ribbing and some cable twists). Then I keep knitting, and wait for inspiration about how to do the heel.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Deathly Hallows

Picked up my copy of the Harry Potter audiobook this morning, and decided I needed to knit a pair of socks while listening. So this is my "Deathly Hallows" sock, in Cider Moon Icicle, colorway "Lost," at the end of the first disk.

Not sure what pattern I might use to give it some flair. Skulls seem appropriate, either in lace or maybe knit in with some of the glow-in-the-dark yarn I scored last month.

Monday, July 16, 2007

*pant* *pant* *pant*

Brisk five-minute warmup walk. Then alternate 60 seconds of jogging and 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes.
One day down. Now the trick is to stop sweating before I get in the shower.

First day really wasn't bad at all. A minute of running is about 160 steps, so I just count 80 beats of my right foot. The hardest part was keeping track of the 90 seconds of walking.

I promise not to post often the tiresome details of my new commitment to exercise. Just the milestones.

Hey, I think I've stopped sweating!

Saturday, July 14, 2007


Because my dad died of a heart attack when he was 42 years and 127 days old, I am now older than he was (by almost 100 days). So it's officially time to get serious about exercise.

I have occasionally exercised. I walked a lot in high school, college, and grad school. I used to have a rowing machine, a Power Rider, and an elliptical apparatus. Occasionally, I've gone running, sometimes doing that every couple days for weeks on end. Inevitably I find an excuse to stop: the weather gets bad, work gets busy, Buffy gets canceled, etc.

When I turned 40, I had a stress test, and everything was great. Blood pressure was high initially, but I pointed out to the nurse that I was about to be shirtless and exercising in front of strangers, so I was under a little stress. BP came down and stayed steady throughout the test.

Somehow I turned that into an excuse not to exercise. I began saying, "My fitness goals as I age are to be able to walk wherever I want and to generally move without pain." But I know that's not good enough. For one, a casual stroll around the neighborhood and a few sets of tai chi aren't remotely aerobic. And also, I'm now on lisinopril because I found my blood pressure was spiking unexpectedly at odd times of the day.

Mel has just started the Couch-to-5K training program, and I'm intrigued. When I've run before, it was because I started slowly and gradually increased my time. This looks like a good program.

Goal for the weekend: buy new running shoes.


The Brooks Radius 7, found on sale at Columbus Running Company, a great store with very friendly, helpful staff who didn't make me feel like an intruder.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Yiddish Policemen's Union

For work, I've been making plans for one of those "Everybody Read the Same Book" programs. There's grant money available if you pick one of the NEA-approved titles. The choices are fine, but if I could pick any book at all for this program right now, it would be Michael Chabon's Yiddish Policemen's Union.

I was overwhelmed by this book. My review of it at my LibraryThing account was ridiculously brief:
A stale genre with a tired, down-trodden protagonist in an empty, hopeless setting, and yet this book is the most vibrant thing I've read in years.
It's a noir detective story (alcoholic detective investigates the murder of drug-addicted chess prodigy) in an alternative history setting (a Jewish refugee homeland in Alaska). We're at the end of the rope here: the main character is spiraling down the drain, and the district is about to revert to native Tlingit ownership, once again sending the Jews wandering (there is no state of Israel). There's nothing here but numb despair, and's funny and moving and hopeful.

There's an interview with Chabon (pronounced, I've only recently learned, SHAY-bon) at The A.V. Club where he says some interesting things about his own creative process and about the cultural status of "genre fiction." But don't go read that: read The Yiddish Policemen's Union instead.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Pride Surprise

Once again, we packed up the bubble machines and joined family and friends downtown in our annual bid to be the Best Gay Pride Audience. This year was extra special because my sister made a surprise visit from Maine.

It was great to see her, and I'd been missing her particularly badly lately. I even had a dream about her last week. I was part of Mission Impossible team, and we were pulling some caper in a political prison/mental hospital, and for some reason she was there. I abandoned the mission to spend some time with her (not sure if she was a patient or visiting a friend). My teammates understood.

Anyway, we greeted parade marchers at the entrance to downtown with cheers and bubbles. I think we are becoming essential to an enjoyable Gay Pride Celebration. This year, M&M secured individual packets of sunscreen to offer to parade marchers. M's genius marketing slogan: "Sunscreen! Rub it on your friends." Most of the go-go boys and topless lesbians already felt well-protected, but there were many people who accepted the offer for more.

I'd still love to have a Library Book Cart Drill Team in the parade, but how could I give up this much fun?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Library 2.0 Socks

I completed the Library 2.0 socks for Michael Doctor Stephens. I'm quite pleased with these. I love how the Spooky knits up. The color pooled a bit opposite the heel, but that's because I threw in some increases for a roomier gusset, which makes these socks fit really well.

What makes them "Library 2.0?" Because I started them right after meeting Michael in person, listening to him kvell about the possibilities of social technologies reshaping library services. It just "felt right" to try to customize the design for him.

I don't know that my ribbing experiment is completely successful. As I said, I based it on the braille for "L2.0", using purl stitches for the braille dots. To make the pattern stand out more, I doubled the rows (so the ribbing repeat is 12 rounds high rather than 6). I don't think it will really catch on as the "official" Library 2.0 sock ribbing. Let's call it a beta.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Do-over puts me in Ravenclaw

I had to take the Hogwarts House test more than once. The first time, all my scores were close, but Hufflepuff came out ahead. Sure, I'm "fair-minded," but "friendly, modest, and hard-working?" Uh, no. So the second time through...

The sorting hat says that I belong in Ravenclaw!

Said Ravenclaw, "We'll teach those whose intelligence is surest."

Ravenclaw students tend to be clever, witty, intelligent, and knowledgeable. Notable residents include Cho Chang and Padma Patil (objects of Harry and Ron's affections), and Luna Lovegood (daughter of The Quibbler magazine's editor).

Take the most scientific Harry Potter
ever created.

Get Sorted Now!

However, it seems pretty Slytherin-like to keep taking the test over so that you get into the House you think you belong in, doesn't it?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Cider Mooning

I've finally finished the first pair of socks I started in Cider Moon yarn.

The toe is in "Johnny Cash" and the rest is in "Cayenne." The construction method, as I mentioned earlier, I got from Sensational Knitted Socks: it's knit toe-up, but the construction method is the same as top down, with reinforced heel flap on the bottom.

I'm also working on these socks in "Casablanca." They are tests of a new pattern for my Toe-Up Sock Class. It's been awhile since I timed myself; this is how far I get in 3 hours.

And I started these (in "Spooky") last week during a library technology conference, casting on during Michael Stephens' keynote. Michael, who certainly has better things to do with his time, reads my blog (I'm guessing this post got his attention), and told me that he thought it was great to see me making the socks in person. Flattery will get you anywhere, particularly if you're a rock star in my profession. So Michael, if you're reading, send me your address, and the socks are yours. I even created a special ribbing pattern for the cuff, basing it on the braille cells for "L2.0".

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spring Stash Enhancement

I really don't like having a big stash. Stash feels like unkept promises. But I can't seem to pass up the fun of fiber festivals.

More timely bloggers reported on the Great Lakes Fiber Show last month. Great trip, good company, swell stash enhancement (some blue tweed yarn for a sweater, sock yarn with seaweed, and a lovely padauk wraps-per-inch tool). The highlight was meeting the Cider Moon folks and their entourage; it was awesome -- so much fun that most of my creative knitting energy since has been devoted to them, revising my toe-up socks class to specify using Cider Moon's Glacier. (Trust me, Matt, there are toe-up techniques that aren't hateful and make very nice, perfectly fitting socks).

This weekend, I hit the market at Knitters Connection with Mary, Meredith, and Cat. A small event, but choice stuff, and I think I spent more on yarn here than at Maryland and Wooster put together. Here's today's haul:
  • From Neighborhood Fiber Company (aka Micah's guru Karida) three skeins of sock yarn named for D.C. neighborhoods, including one in honor of Micah. (Yes, Karida, I gave the skein of yarn to Jerry to give to Matt; here's photographic proof).
  • From Dzined, some sport weight yarn in a wool/hemp blend (Meredith also scored some of this, which may become her first socks ever)
  • From Cider Moon, 10 skeins representing their full range of sock yarns in fantastic colorways (I'm all about the names; call a yarn "Rainbow Trout" and have to own it).
  • From Chameleon Colorworks, 2 skeins of "Evolution" stretched merino in "Earth" (Cat also bought this, so I thought we might do a knit-along of socks with a DNA cable).
  • Some Interlacements Tiny Toes (Judy Ditmore has gotten me interested in the possibility of acquiring a sock knitting machine to help work through my piling stash-guilt).
  • Some Apple Pie wool/mohair/silk/nylon purchased at the Yarn Barn booth from the legendary Pat (captured Reality Tour style here).
Jerry called later in the evening and said that the Cider Moon, Neighborhood, and Yarn Love peoples were gathering at Joe's Basement. I joined them for a few glasses of wine and fun chat. There was idle talk of indulging in some lesbian karaoke afterward, but the day's work was starting to take their toll. Here's wishing them all safe drives home.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why is this man stalking me?

It's just so inconvenient, but this man seems to be stalking me.

His voice (which is strong and clear but a little soulless) on my iPod, his face on my desktop, videos of him playing Captain Jack in Torchwood hogging my bandwidth.*

Speculation is that Captain Jack is once again traveling with the Doctor, and I can't tell you how worried I am that he may show up unexpectedly with this guy:

I may have to knit a Dalek just to defend myself.

* Yes, I used BitTorrent to download Torchwood Season 1. I was perfectly willing to buy the DVD's but I don't have a Region 2 player.

PS to Bloglines users: Sorry the pictures are so huge; didn't expect that. But then you're getting the full effect of just how homely these men are. (^_^)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

"Here at Reality Tour Headquarters, we go through a lot of vermouth"

Matt posted a great re-cap of the XY Knitters' Trip to Mary Sheep & Wool. Left to myself, I probably would have down-played the farting, but Matt's account does paint an accurate picture. I can only add camera-phone snapshots and these assorted out-of-context nuggets of conversation.

Caution: slow moving wood.

It was an explosion of color. It was nice. (No, Don, you can't write that down; it doesn't count).

Here at Reality Tour Headquarters, we go through a lot of vermouth.

I don't like to crochet blankets when my colostomy bag is full.

Don't eat the brown guacamole.

SSS: Sleepy Sac Syndrome.

I think a booger just fell down my shirt.

I wanna see a full on throw down over some yarn.

Somebody's nuts smell really good.

Really no fun in making up a song about not farting.

Who just put on the peppermint scented Preparation H?

Next year we call it "Maryland Sex & Wool."

There's more in my journal, but it's best not to get too specific since it involves an unfortunate copy of the Koran, obscure snatches of music from West Side Story, or who was going to "accidentally" surprise whom in the shower. None of this comes close to showing how much fun I had. Thanks for the great weekend, gentlemen. All your blogs just got moved from the "Knitting" folder to the "Friends" folder in my blogroll.

Oh, and just to show that the weekend was not utterly lacking in dignity, here's Seamus posing with my traveling sock: