Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Shoe Protest

The Maliki government in Iraq said that the throwing of shoes at President Bush was a "shameful, savage act." Certainly Muntader al-Zaidi should suffer some minor penalty for his attempted assault. But "savage?" The NY Times reports:
Mr. Zaidi was subdued by a fellow journalist and then beaten by members of the prime minister’s security detail, who hauled him out of the room in his white socks. Mr. Zaidi’s cries could be heard from a nearby room as the news conference continued. [emphasis added]
Not his "shouts" or his "protests" -- his "cries." So who's the savage in this story?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Sweater = Sloth

Have I mentioned that I'm the laziest man alive? I've got some good ideas for blog essays -- commentary about on-line identity creation, for example, or musings about how magical our apartment would seem if described by someone from the Middle Ages (lightning harnessed in the walls, levers that bring water of any temperature into three different rooms) -- but when faced with the choice of either putting these thoughts into words or doing nothing, I choose sloth.

Here's evidence of how lazy I am:

Some of you are thinking, "You knit a whole sweater in 19 days!? You call that lazy?" Yep, 19 days of sitting on my butt. That's the dirty secret of gorgeous, prolific knitting: it's tangible evidence that the maker has done little else. (Still, win-win for me; I indulge my slothful ways, and wind up with a beautiful sweater).

It was super-easy, too. It's my third seamless hybrid sweater, so I've pretty much got this pattern down. Time for a challenge. When I finished knitting and writing up Wash's Sweater, I was eager to find a new fanboy knitting project. This week, Pushing Daisies came through for me with two sweater possibilities:

I'll have to wait until the series comes out on DVD to grab good pictures of the sweaters, but it looks like a great project for long, snowy weekends.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Grow up, old man

Yesterday, I finished listening to Maze of Bones, the first installment in Scholastic's The 39 Clues series, which the publisher hopes will help keep sales up now that the Harry Potter series has concluded.

It's not bad, certainly better than author Rick Riordan's other series, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, which I found ghastly and unreadable. To be fair, I started it after working through all of Anthony Horowitz's Alex Rider books, which I loved. Riordan oversees the story arc, but he is only one of the writers that Scholastic is using to churn out the 10 book series in 2 years.

Time magazine described the series thusly: "If you forcibly interbred Lemony Snicket and National Treasure and chose the most viable of their mutant offspring, you might come up with something like The 39 Clues." Orphans Dan and Amy Cahill discover at their grandmother's funeral that their family is old and powerful, including seemingly all of the major figures of history. The will sends them off on a dangerous worldwide quest to track down the 39 Clues and find the Cahill Treasure, the secret of the family's power.

I found it interesting enough to create an account on The 39 Clues website. I felt a bit creepy scrolling all the way down to 1964 to select my birth year, but the site doesn't seem to be judging me. It asked me a series of questions to determine which Hogwarts house branch of the Cahill family I belong to.

I'm guessing it was a close call between this scientific branch and the Janus branch of artists and performers.

The second book in the series comes out today.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Look what I got

New license plates arrived today:

But that's not the exciting news. The picture of this license plate was taken and sent with my new iPhone!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Idiot forgets knitting, makes do

Is anyone else thrown off by the timing of Thanksgiving this year? I intended to spend the week of Thanksgiving with my sister in Maine. Instead, I booked my flight for the week before. I have continued to confuse dates (when rescheduling a haircut, when signing out for the week on my work intranet, etc.)

I can't blame my date confusion for this blunder though: I left on vacation without my messenger bag. This means I brought no knitting with me on the trip (or books, but I had an extra book in my suitcase). I don't think I've flown without a knitting project since 2000. So a trip to the knitting shops was called for, and long story short:

The yarn is Halcyon's Botanica, a line I've never noticed before. It has beautiful stitch definition and an attractive pallet. My plan is to knit a mostly plain, olive-colored sweater, with a few maize-colored stripes for accent.

Downeast Maine is lovely this week: cold but sunny. The cold gives me an excuse to wear thick, handknit sweaters, and I'm looking forward to being able to wear sweaters like this one in progress on days like today.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Sock Updates

No posts since Halloween? Clearly, I'm too lazy and boring to sustain a blog.

Here's the current sock in progress:

Standard fare, following my own Lesser Evil sock instructions and adding a simple but elegant twist on the usual cuff ribbing.

After finishing my Francie socks, I hunkered down for a bit in my secret lab to figure out how to clone that pattern from the toe-up. Turns out that it's not too hard:

But that experiment lies abandoned because, while the Francie sock looks cool, the truth is you can feel the ridges on the soles of your feet, which I know will drive most of my loved ones crazy. I even suspect that in this particular yarn I'm using, the socks will quickly leave blisters. I'm evil because my sock genius will overpower you, not because I actually want to inflict physical, sock-based harm.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Yes. That's a sock I'm working on -- my genius adaptation of Francie to toe-up construction.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

One Down, One Up

This summer, I joined my first sock yarn club. For those who are unfamiliar with the concept: you pay a yarn company some set price up front, and for a certain span of time at regular intervals they will send you yarn and a pattern. The Unique Sheep company created such a club, the "Ram Club," specifically for men's socks; the skeins are bigger than most so there will be enough for men's larger feet, and the colorways are designed more-or-less for men's tastes.

I've really liked the first two shipments of yarn. The first contained two different, thin yarns with instructions to hold them together. The pattern was a toe-up design, but I only followed a portion of it -- the gusset and heel construction, using my own preferred toe method. I also didn't follow the stitch pattern, recognizing that these yarns would look good in a garter rib pattern.

I was initially disappointed in the second shipment because the color was so similar to the first. But I quickly fell in love with the texture of the tightly spun, sport weight merino in the second sock. Again, I glanced at and abandoned the accompanying pattern, deciding to try a popular sock pattern called Francie. I had tried Francie before, but I disliked both the yarn I used and the ribbing pattern on the cuff, so I abandoned it. Plus, Francie is made top down, and by now you know how I feel about that.

Still, in the Ram Club yarn with a more sedate and reliable 2x2 ribbing, a churned out a sock that I like very much.

Here's a shot of the bottom of the sock, which give you an idea how the ribbing flows around the foot.

I'm pretty happy with this, but I know it could be a better sock if it were constructed toe-up. I decided to try knitting the second sock backwards, seeing if I can make an identical sock with the stitches running the opposite way.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Bookmobile Adventure 2008

I've been remiss about posting tedious updates about my knitting or tedious updates about exercising because work has been interesting.

Remember when I made two baby surprise jackets this summer? Well, both the mommies are still out on maternity leave, which produces an 80-hour-per-week staffing hole. The rest of the staff have been amazing about filling in, but they were getting tired, so I decided to step up and help: I offered to spend two weeks working on the bookmobile.

This has been a blast. Our service isn't actually a traditional bookmobile; instead, staff use wheeled bookcases to bring the materials into the places we visit. We set up a little mini-library in the lobbies, hallways, or activity rooms of various daycares, senior centers, or apartment complexes. We call it the WOW Mobile, "WOW" standing for "Words on Wheels." After grounds maintenance, it's the most physically demanding job of our library (those carts are heavy).

The first day, two of our stops were at the north end of our county service area, and the third was at the south end. I began to wonder if we needed to change the groupings. But it became clear as the days progressed that the Outreach Department does a good job of balancing the scheduling needs of their customers with the logistics of getting around the county. Still, I decided to keep adding the places I visit to the map:

View Larger Map

Because of meetings, I've had to cancel 3 of the 10 days that I'd planned to be out on the WOW, but I'm looking forward to making them up later this year.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


When I got the Wii, I knew I should also get the Wii Fit. I figured it would make a good Xmas present, so I put it on my wishlist. About a week ago, I realized that that was just a lame excuse to put off exercising until the end of the year.

The Wii Fit wonders why I don't fall down when I walk. I'm not kidding.

It calculates your Wii age based on your actual age, your BMI, and (at least in my case) your score in a couple balance tests. I'm terrible at the balance tests. I can't stop over-correcting when my balance indicator shifts out of the target position the game wants it to be. Yesterday I got lucky, and the random tests didn't ask me to shift my weight: only to stand perfectly still and to walk in place. My Wii age is 25, but I know it will spring back up to the mid-40's when I test it again.

Others have complained that the Fit's principle measurement of success is weight. My weight is pretty good; my BMI score is a click or two above ideal, but still within normal. Fit suggests I drop 15 pounds to get my BMI down to 22. After a couple days of resisting, I started actually trying, cutting out desserts, snacks, extra carbs.
Actual conversation that just happened: Mike walked into the room and said he was going to go pick up some donuts. "Do you want anything?"

"No, thanks. Well, maybe I should eat something."

"I'm going to Donut Kitchen."

"Oh, well, then nothing, thanks."

"Want me to stop at Krogers?"


"Tim Horton's?"


"Dodger," Mike says, addressing the cat who is waiting for his morning dose of butter, "Daddy's being cranky."
Weightloss and domestic tranquility: it's going to be a tough balancing act.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Wash's Sweater Pattern

It's been quiet here because I've spent the weeks since the Olympics creating the pattern for Wash's Sweater.

Initially, I used Excel to create my adaptations of the cable pattern originally drafted by Maggs. I found great instructions for charting cables by Marnie MacLean. Results were satisfactory, but I wanted something better. I played with a few knitting fonts, and then shelled out the money for Knit Visualizer.

This program is awesome. Every stitch I needed was right there in the library. It took me almost no time at all to translate my work into Knit Visualizer. And the program can automatically generate a chart legend and text translation of each row.

I made my prototype sweater in the round, because that's what I do. But I could tell from screen caps that the actual sweater in the Firefly episodes was knit flat and seamed together, like Aran sweaters traditionally are. So working from my copy of Aran Knitting, I started drafting the pattern in Alice Starmore style, later revising toward a more Knitty.com style. Jeremy told me I should write up the pattern exactly as I did it, so when I was done with the flat version, I worked on a circular version. It's not exactly what I did: more like what I would do if I did it again.

I've spent the last week hammering away at the layout. This morning, I used PDF Online to convert my documents, and slapped together a quick homepage for the patterns.

I'd love to know what you think. Any suggestions for improving the instructions, charts, and layout, or offers to improve the graphics I've slapped together for the pattern and website are welcome.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Real Olympics

I've made good progress on the sweater this morning, so I thought I'd pause and offer these thoughts on the Real Olympics. I know we call them "the Olympic Games," but by and large "games" do not belong in the Olympic contests. I say these events must go:
  • Badminton
  • Baseball
  • Basketball
  • Beach Volleyball
  • Boxing
  • Fencing
  • Football
  • Handball
  • Hockey
  • Judo
  • Softball
  • Table Tennis
  • Taekwondo
  • Tennis
  • Volleyball
  • Water Polo
  • Wrestling
Anything that is a direct match-up between two people or two teams is something other than the Olympics. (I know: you're going to fight me on Wrestling since it has tradition behind it. I don't care; it meets the "match-up" criteria, so it goes).

I also say we ditch "Equestrian" for a species violation. And we should lose Rhythmic Gymnastics because its stupid.

Final Rounds

The Olympic Torch will be doused at noon, Eastern Daylight Time, on Sunday. Coincidentally, I have to start work at that time, but I'm off today and tomorrow, which (barring accidents) should be plenty of time to finish my Ravelympics project.

What remains is to shape the front of the neck, join the shoulders, lengthen and attach the sleeves, and knit the collar. The first of these remaining tasks will be the trickiest for me. No pattern; just working from screen caps.

It probably would be bad luck at this time to say, "I am a leaf on the wind; watch how I soar."

Monday, August 18, 2008

Ravelympic Moment

[fanfare] DA-da-da DA-da-da DA-da DA-dl-aaaaa! [/fanfare]

Yarmando has performed strongly so far during the Ravelympics, rapidly progressing through the qualifying rounds of his event, "Work In Progress Wrestling." But he made a fatal error in judgment this evening which, even more than costing him the gold, could place him out of medal contention entirely.

Fans will know that Yarmando began training with Team Browncoat in early March. His commitment was spotty, but he seized the chance to enter Ravelympics and emerge a champion, with the Wash Sweater finally finished.

When the torch was lit, the body was already complete to the underarms, and the sleeves had barely begun. Yarmando chose to work the sleeves with a high degree of difficulty: knitting both sleeves at once. This would slow progress, but also insure that the sleeves were identical in construction, the rates of increase perfectly synchronized.

For extra style points, Yarmando had chosen to knit the sweater seamlessly in the round. Some of the judges are likely to subtract points from the authenticity of the finished object, but others will appreciate the adherence to traditions set by the great Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Sadly, Yarmando discovered that, for this particular design, Zimmerman's ingenious method of combining the sleeves with the upper body would clash with the established cables. Though it might appear to observers that he was showing strong progress, he was losing his form. After some soul-searching, he forfeited the latest round (the latest 8 rounds, in fact), losing an entire day's work.

Hope is not lost. Yarmando performed well in this event in the past, and so his fans and coaches know he has it in him. But is there time for him to change design direction before the Olympic torch is extinguished?

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

License Plate Time Again

Any day now, I should be getting my renewal notice from the DMV. We know that TOE UP is out of the question. My favorite contenders are these:

I'm most partial to MUWAHAA. I'd rather have MWAHAHA, but it wasn't available. BWAHAHA is available, but sounds more like I'm erupting in a guffaw than chuckling evilly.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Get Mii

During my vacation in Maine last month, I was continually rewarded by spontaneity. One of us would suggest something random, we'd decide to do it, and it was great. So that's why, after a couple pomegranate martinis at dinner, I said, "Let's go to Target; I bet they have Wiis in stock." They did, and I bought one. At left is sort of what my Mii looks like, created using My Avatar Editor.

Mike tolerates the new toy, but I'm really enjoying it. My back and shoulders have a pleasant exercise-related ache. Bizarrely, I seem most to be enjoying the golf game. I really don't like golf (it's a "good walk spoiled," as Mark Twain probably never said.) In a week, I managed to get up to pro status.

Amazon wish list has become padded with Wii-lated loot. I'm ridiculously excited about Clone Wars for the Wii: light saber dueling!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Copycat Spiral Yoke

Last year, I was out in Maine when BrooklynTweed posted photos of Cobblestone on his blog. I should have started knitting it immediately. Instead, I started knitting something else that I just had to frog in favor of the Cobblestone. His Spiral Yoke sweater looks intriguing, but I have my doubts. Still, I've learned my lesson:

Obey the Tweed.

I made my sister drive me to yarn stores in search of some worsted merino. I hit the jackpot at Purl Diva. Loki the shop dog was hopped up on dog treats and kept barking at me, but Ellen was great. She looked up the sweater on Ravelry, suggested good alternative yarns, and I found ample amounts.

I've started the project three times, trying to get the tubular cast-on right. Finally, I found TECHknitter's instructions. Easy to follow, quick, and with a beautiful result. I was so turned on by this cast-on that I....

Well, I better just stop there.

Thanks, Gerald, for the bit of Blimey that not only completed Mike's socks but provided a bright contrasting tail for the tubular cast-on.

I'll work on this until the Olympics start. I've joined Team Browncoat in Ravelympics, hoping to complete the Wash Sweater before the Olympic flame goes out on August 24.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Vacation Tweets

I don't use Twitter with my phone. If I did, this is probably what I would've tweeted in the past few days:

Landed only 20 min late. Resolution: only carbs on this trip will be alcohol, breakfast, or frozen.
11:00 AM July 16, 2008 from txt

Maine International Film Festival. http://asenseofwonderfilm.com
06:30 PM July 16, 2008 from txt
If I had iPhone, I would look up voice actors for WALL-E.
01:30 PM July 17, 2008 from txt
Buying handspun from Pine Tree Yarns in Damariscotta. Next: sit on rocks @ Pemaquid until I forget my name.
11:00 AM July 18, 2008 from txt
Fresh mussels with linguini and house marinara @ Scarlet Begonia. Brownie batter & pnut butter cup @ Gelato Fiasco.
06:00 PM July 18, 2008 from txt
LOL http://drhorrible.com -- "The hammer is my penis."
08:00 AM July 19, 2008 from txt

Sunday, July 13, 2008

I hate sewing

Two of my staff are having baby girls this summer (one could be giving birth at this very minute). I got a late start on knitting them some gifts, but managed to crank out two Baby Surprise Jackets pretty quickly -- at least the knitting part.

See, this is why I like socks: you bind off the cuff or graft the toe, and *poof*, you're done. These jackets require minimal sewing, but still required 10 inches of seam and 5 buttons each.

Nevertheless, they're done, and they are cute, aren't they?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anti-Social Follow-Up

My last post doesn't make this clear: I'm not categorically against the social web. One of the things I love most about the Internet is how it creates communities of common interest. I'm also a fan of innovation and dabbling:
  • I joined LibraryThing in November 2005, but it wasn't until I discovered the blog widget nearly a year later that I really started using it.
  • I first tried Twitter in April 2007, but it was annoying and useless. This spring, after more people I actually know had joined, I reanimated my account, and have found that I've enjoyed the random messages from friends during the day.
  • I created my del.icio.us account in December 2005. Intellectually, I know it's a good and useful service, but I'm still struggling to integrate it into my daily life.
And that last point is the one I seem to be struggling to make: judging these services based on whether they supplement or augment my life and enrich the pursuit of the interests I already have, rather than add random activities and on-line responsibilities. It's actually kind of cool that so many people I already know are on Facebook, and that when I joined, my network of these "friends" grew so rapidly. But Facebook doesn't integrate neatly into my life; instead it presents me with something else to do. That "something else" is certainly fun, but I feel somehow that I'm doing what Facebook wants me to do, not what I want to do.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


On June 25, I was criticized for not being on Facebook. So the next day I joined. And then the next day, I opened a FriendFeed account. And now I've got people pestering me to be on Plurk.

Enough already.

Initially, Facebook filled me with Third Grade anxieties -- "What if so-and-so won't be my friend?" Then came the Ninth Grade anxieties -- "Should I join groups? Are groups un-cool? What about flair? Is that cool? I don't want to be un-cool." Then it just settled down into lots of invitations to play games. I suck at Scramble. I hold my own at WordTwist. I dominate at Sudoku.

I have a blog because it was the easiest way to create a web-presence, and occasionally I do have something I want to say. I have LibraryThing and Ravelry because I like to keep track of what I read and knit. That seems to be about it.

So I'm instituting a new rule: no more social networking applications without a clear purpose and direct relevance to my life -- my first life, and its relevant on-line tools and extensions. I have no need to create a Second Life.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Why do I keep forgetting that one skein of Glacier is not enough to knit a pair of men's socks?

Oh well. It's my last skein of the stuff. I won't have this particular problem again.

I made these using the heel method from Fleegle's pattern. I love this heel. It's beautiful and it's easy. I want to experiment to see if the fit is ruined by making the heel base a tad wider -- it's a little too pointy for my taste, but that's a minor quibble.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Not professional

Got very helpful response from XRX. They understand that it's a fuzzy definition and people can be confused. And they drew what is, in my opinion, a very clear and reasonable line:
A simple rule (that we think is fair) is that if you haven’t made more than $500 (a prize amount for aspecific amateur category in the Think Outside The SOX contest) then you are still an amateur. If you teach the occasional class here and there, you may or may not be considered an amateur – but that would really depend on how much you teach and how much money you've made from teaching. In most cases, we find that knitting and crochet instructors – paid to teach others – really are professionals; at least in the eyes of their students. Again… we try to use the $500 rule here as well.
I haven't made anywhere near $500. So I'm free to enter as an amateur.

Soon you will all tremble before the awesome spectacle of my evil sock designs.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


XRX is having a sock design context, Think Outside the SOX. I'm intrigued by a couple of the contest categories: Bearfoot's "Not Cuff Down," and Universal Yarn's "Most Masculine." (Shut up. My knitting is very butch.)

The hitch is that it's an amateur contest. The rules say, "If you are paid to knit or crochet, teach knitting or crochet, design knit or crochet garments, or sell yarn, you are defined as a professional." While I can't get into TNNA because I've never published a design, and in most cases I haven't earned enough money to pay for the gas I use driving to class, the truth is I have been paid to teach.

At the risk of sounding Clintonian, whether I'm a professional might depend on what your definitions of "are" are. On occasion, I have been paid to teach knitting, but this is an irregular thing; I do not think that I am paid to teach knitting.

What do you think? I accept that I'm an evil sock genius, but am I a professional evil sock genius?

Monday, June 09, 2008


Cat tagged me; I'm It.

1. What was I doing 10 years ago?

In 1998, my Ph.D. exams expired, and even if I'd wanted to write my dissertation, I would have had to retake the exams. I was even now on my second job since abandoning academia, working as the GHPL Technology Coordinator. It was the first summer reading club since 1992 that I hadn't created. Ten years ago this month Mike and I moved into our current place.

2. What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
  • Take webinar on library uses for Flickr and Twitter
  • Meet with Friends of the Library about book sale planning
  • Be Dewey D. Chipmunk at summer reading kick-off in Powell
  • Print syllabus for sock class that starts tomorrow
  • Finish this model sock

3. Snacks I enjoy:
  • Wavy Lays
  • Pretzel Nuggets
  • Ice Cream
  • Popcorn with Parmesan cheese

4. Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
  • Hire staff, especially financial manager
  • Erase all debt in family (family defined broadly)
  • Buy a home. Or two. A place in Manhattan, perhaps.
  • Probably what others say they would do: establish foundation

5. Places I have lived:
  • Ohio (Mt. Vernon, Kent, Columbus, Upper Arlington)
  • Mérida

6. Peeps I want to know more about:

Sorry, this seed fell upon the rock, sprung up, and withered away because it has no moisture. But if the wind picks it up and finds root in your good ground, have at it.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Center-pull Ball Holder

I decided that I better work both sleeves of the Wash Sweater at once. That way, if I stall out again, I won't have to figure out how to make the second sleeve match the first: each decision I make I will make for both sleeves simultaneously so they'll match without any extra pain and effort.

I also decided to work from the inside and outside of a center-pull ball, so that the inconsistent dye jobs on the yarn will at least match sleeve to sleeve. But my yarn was tangling. After a couple attempts to mangle a wire hanger into shape, I came up with this:

Something heavier would probably work better to keep the whole thing place, but this does seem to be doing the job: the ball doesn't flip around, and I can keep the strands from winding around each other.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Wash Sweater, back on track?

I worked on the Wash Sweater for about a month, then stalled out two months ago, when it came time to plan the sleeves. Not that the sleeves will be hard, but some decisions are required, and whenever I tried to summon up the energy to make these decisions, I was struck by this stark fact:

I don't have enough yarn to finish.

I got the yarn from Mary who was stash-busting. She got it from Handpaintedyarn.com. When I started the project, there was no more to be found in this color ("Sea Foam," which you might
think would be green but actually is the dirty beige color that real sea foam tends to be). I thought I might try to find something close, then dye whole garment when it was finished. But even better: when I went to the site this morning, there were three skeins to be had.

So. Back at it. I've been keeping my planning notes in a Google document, which I just made public today, so you can follow along if you want.

Meanwhile, Dodger reminds me that, if I decide not to finish, he'd be perfectly happy to make use of the work-in-progress.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Andersson Heel

I have revised and moved my bibliography of toe-up sock construction methods, adding some patterns I've run across in the past year. As I was adding the Andersson Heel, I realized that because the instructions are so brief, I need to do some complicated figuring in order to adapt it when I make socks. I would find it easier to work from a chart, and so with Knitman's permission, I offer my version. (BTW: Knitman gave his permission, but not his endorsement. He was unable to make sense of my directions. It's very possible that I've got it wrong. So do check out his instructions here and here.)

Toe-Up Socks using the Andersson Heel

Start the socks using your favorite toe-up starting method, such as my Tornado Toe. Make your toe and begin knitting the foot.

After a few inches, count how many rows (or rounds) work out to an inch. Multiply that by two inches less the length of the foot this sock is meant to fit. Example, if your foot is 9 inches long, then you want 7 inches, and if you're getting 11 rounds per inch, then we're talking 77 rounds. Got it?

Now find your sock's stitch circumference on the chart below (column A). Subtract the number of designated gusset rounds from your total number of rounds (column C is a standard gusset; column D is for a longer, more tapered gusset). You now know how many rounds to knit before starting the gussets.

Sock Circumference (A) Gusset Stitches (B) Standard Gusset - increase alternate rounds (C) Longer Gusset - increase every 3rd round (D)
28 6 12 18
32 6 12 18
36 7 14 21
40 8 16 24
44 8 16 24
48 9 18 27
52 10 20 30
56 10 20 30
60 11 22 33
64 12 24 36
68 12 24 36
72 13 26 38
76 14 28 42
80 14 28 42

Back to the example: if your sock is 60 stitches in circumference, your target is 77 rounds, and you want the longer, more tapered gusset, you would subtract 33 from 77: you'll knit 44 rounds from your cast-on point before starting the gussets.

Decide which side of your sock is the sole and which is the instep or top. When you reach the round where your gussets begin, increase on either side of sole: knit 1, make 1, knit across sole until 1 stitch remains, make 1, knit 1.

Knit one or two plain rounds after the increase round, depending on whether you chose the standard or longer gusset numbers from the chart.

Repeat increase and plain rounds until you have added on each side of the sole the number of gusset stitches designated for your circumference (column B in the chart).

The Heel

Knit across the sole, stopping B+1 stitches before the end. (If you added 11 gusset stitches to each side of the sole, you will knit across the sole until 12 stitches remain). SSK, and turn.

Sl1, then purl across sole until B+1 stitches remain. P2tog. Turn.

Sl1, then knit until 1 stitch before the gap. SSK. Turn.

Sl1, then purl until 1 stitch before the gap. P2tog. Turn.

Repeat these last two rows until 2 stitches remain beyond the gap. After the SSK that leaves one stitch, do not turn. Resume knitting in the round, across the instep. When you return to the sole (now "back of heel") side, K1, K2tog, and resume knitting plain.

Knit the leg using whatever ribbing or pattern you choose, and bind-off loosely at the top.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Yarmando.com debuts

As a Xmas present to myself a while back, I bought yarmando.com. I couldn't find a way to easily make it the home for this blog, so I've just let it be. Until now.

The Evil Genius Sock Pattern is ready to be unleashed on the world. I was going to put the files up where I normally do (the bit of space afforded me by my ISP), but thought I'd have a go at finally putting some content up on my own domain. After a bit of tinkering Monday morning, I had a basic site built (using Google Page Creator) and my new sock pattern uploaded.

I'll gradually add more content, and periodically get inspired to make the whole thing look better. But meanwhile, you're welcome to click on over to Yarmando's Laboratory, Lair of the Evil Sock Genius. And let me know what you think of the Evil Genius Lessons.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Koolhaas for M

A friend has begun losing her hair during chemotherapy, so I decided it was time to put aside my obsession with evil and use my knitting powers for good.

Presenting Jared Flood's Koolhaas Hat in Rowan All Season Cotton. I loved it when I saw it on Jared's blog, but since I'd just knit three things after seeing him knit them first, I decided I needed to stop being a copycat. But when I found out M. needed a hat, this immediately leaped to mind. And it's even library-related, based on the windows at the Seattle Public Library.

Today is Columbus's Komen Race for the Cure. Maybe next year I'll be in shape for it. But meanwhile, I'll make a donation and encourage everyone to do the same.

Random bizarre thought: cancer drug companies should underwrite free mammograms since they create demand for their product.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Evil takes new direction

Big thanks to the underlings who voted in my poll.
  • 8% said it was better for smaller socks to be looser, relative to bigger socks
  • 16% said the opposite was true, and smaller socks should be relatively tighter.
  • 76% picked the obviously correct answer, which is that "tightness" is a variable that doesn't correlate with size.
But while you were distracted with these trivialities, I have put my genius to work and discovered new resources of sock-based evil.

The question, minions, is not how much bigger must you make a sock to accommodate the heel. Imagine that you begin with the knowledge of the circumference of heel and instep, and from there calculate how much smaller the sock should be to fit the foot and toes?


Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Jane Chord

From Slog, I learned this week about the Jane Chord: combine the first and last words of a book into a two-word sentence which just might reveal something interesting about the book. One description of the method says to skip articles when constructing the chord.

The book I'm currently reading, Declare by Tim Powers: "Young Day." (Or "Telephone River" if you skip the prologue and afterword).

The new Jim Butcher book on my bedside shelf: "Winter too."

Simple Socks, Plain and Fancy: "Socks repertoire."

The Golden Compass: "Lyra sky."

The Great Gatsby: "In past."

Last year, I noticed a trend among librarians to designate in their email signatures what they're currently reading. I've started doing that in my work account. I've noticed that it causes me to leave my signature block in place, rather than deleting it and signing with my initials, as I normally do for internal/informal mail. Give it a try. And go read this inspiring, passionate essay about the wonders and importance of reading.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Design opinions needed

The Evil Sock Genius pattern is nearly complete. (They all laughed at me, but soon...soon...I will have my revenge).

I need one more element before I begin to unleash my weapon on an unsuspecting world: the world's opinion. So I've put a poll up on the blog -------------------------------->

It's really all about stitch circumference. Do you think it's better for socks with a smaller stitch circumference to be a bit looser or a bit tighter, relative to socks with a larger stitch circumference?

My general rule is that all socks should err on the side of "tighter." But see, I'm building a reference chart that is the base of my pattern, and the references I'm consulting -- while they agree on the fit of socks in the mid-range (48 - 60 stitches around), one reference makes socks with less than 48 stitches slightly looser, and one makes it slightly tighter.

Which do you think is best? Take my poll. (And seal your doom).

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's like my body is crying

Because I worked a 13-hour day yesterday and have a program tonight, I took this morning off. I decided a little exercise would make me feel better about myself. (I saw myself on TV last week. The camera adds 15 pounds. Being next to Anietra Hamper adds at least another 15). I have a DVD from Netflix of 10-minute fitness ball workouts, so I thought I'd give one of those a try.


Back at the computer, I ran across today's Penny Arcade cartoon which was funny and timely.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Evil Sock Genius at work; updates later

Sorry I haven't posted for so long. I've got a huge thing gearing up at work. When I'm not at work, I'm striving to make the rest of my life as relaxing and uninteresting as possible.

Not much blog-worthy going on with the knitting. Working on an adorable pair of socks, but I can't post a photo because it's a gift. In fact, I've entered Spring Birthday Season, so there are a couple gift socks in progress. Still in search of the Perfect Sock Pattern, I bought a copy of Stitch Stud's Design Your Own Toe Up Sock tutorial. It involves a lot of math up front to determine circumference, gusset increases, heel base, ankle panels, etc. I'm eager to see if it works.

Meanwhile, I'm working on a new pattern of my own: the Evil Genius Socks. It's the next evolutionary stage of the Yarmando Mash-Up Sock, incorporating the Just Start Knitting toe, the improved You're Putting Me On heel, and some intriguing ideas about calculating the sock length.

Finally, the Wash Sweater is languishing at the point that all my sweaters get stuck at: the body is finished up to the armpits, and it's time to start the sleeves. I hate knitting sleeves. It's like you're knitting socks but without the interesting parts.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Green for St. Patrick's Day

Happy St. Patrick's Day! In celebration, I'm wearing the Enormous Green Thing to work (with a baseball jersey underneath, because the Green Thing is itchy).

Saturday, March 08, 2008

I am a leaf on the wind

There's a Ravelry group for Firefly/Serenity fans, and of course I belong to it. It's longest thread is "The real Firefly knitting challenge," a discussion about a particular Aran sweater worn by my favorite character in a couple episodes.

Ravelers KnottyLa and Maggs have done some amazing pioneering work to replicate the cables. I was dying to get started on this, especially now that the tweed pullover is done, so I grabbed yarn and needles and tried my hand at cable design.

This was some serious fun. I love cables. Mom taught me how to cross stitches for a cable before she taught me how to purl.

I've done lots of cables, but I'd never tried to replicate something from pictures, building the design stitch-by-stitch, row-by-row. I was pretty proud of myself, then Maggs put out her charts, and I realized that I'd made the cables too thin -- they should be three stitches wide instead of the two I used.

I decided it was time to jump in. I've got gauge (4 sts/in) and I've got a general idea where I'm going. So I cast-on and started the ribbing.

And because the outside looks like this today, I've got plenty of time to make some progress.

(Note: ordinarily, there would be a street in this picture).

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Tweed Pullover

I finished the tweed pullover.

The bottom is a little wrinkly from the drive to where the photoshoot took place. Special thanks to JKLsemi for the pictures. (Portraits aren't really her thing; check out the pictures she took today that are more typical of her work).

I want to reblock the sweater. As expected, the ribbing pulled it in pretty snuggly, so I had to stretch it out, but now the bottom flairs more than I'd like. It's also just a tad too short. But I'm picking at it; friends have told me they think it's the best I've done so far.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I bought feet

In the excitement of all the cleaning, I forgot to mention these:

Yep, I bought feet. Lately, all the socks I've been making have looked misshapen when photographed on flat sock blockers, so I decided I needed a mannequin foot. Eventually, I discovered that the correct term is "hosiery form," and I found an eBay store that carried them. I bought the women's form (on the left) first, and then decided to get I needed the men's form as well.

Here's the form in action, displaying my current sock in progress: "Fountain Foxglove" from New Pathways, with an eye-of-partridge heel.

These were promised to my boss at Christmas, so I need to get cranking on them. But I've been distracted by progress on the tweed pullover. I finished the second sleeve and connected the sleeves to the body yesterday.

My plan is to continue that stripe of ribbing up the sleeves and over the shoulder. I'm pretty sure I'll have to block the ribbing out flat or the sweater will be too tight, but it's going to be sharp when it's done.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

February New Gadget Lust

There seems to be something about this season that makes me want new electronics. I'm guessing it has something to do with Christmas toys losing their shininess, and with income tax refunds waiving at me from my checking account.

I should be focused on buying a schmancy TV and an up-converting DVD player, but what I really want is a new phone. I want something iPhone-like, perhaps even an actual iPhone.

I want ubiquitous, convenient, handheld web access. I want to check my email from my phone; in particular, I would like to be able to use mobile Gmail, but the app doesn't run on Verizon devices. That just makes me want to abandon Verizon, but to do that, I would also have to move Mike and Nancy.

Someone send me the answer, please. Thanks.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - The Wrap Up

"Sabbatical" implies rest, a sabbath. Clearly, last week wasn't restful. I thought of it more like the sabbaticals afforded to professors: a break from the usual work to work on something else.

Though not restful, my cleaning sabbatical was satisfying. The study and basement in particular feel less oppressive now that floor space has been cleared of junk.

The cleaning project really isn't finished, but I think I managed to start something and get some momentum that will carry us through what is usually called "spring cleaning." I intend to keep a bookcase devoted to discards; I am fond of systematic approaches to problems, and while there are systems in place for getting books and media into our home, we haven't to this point had a systematic way of getting them out.

So, to my readers, thanks for putting up with the tiresome details of this little adventure. And thanks especially to Mike, who only got visibly cranky with me twice during all of this. That's monumental. The first time he was ever really mad at me was when I moved his stuff, and I expected this last week to be a living hell of domestic strife. But I worked hard to keep the disruption to a minimum : every day, an hour before Mike got off work, I stopped what I was doing and began putting things away. Mike put up with it all, and I'm grateful.

Now, honey, could you sort through the remaining video cassettes and clean out the mess under your side of the desk?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Six

A lot more progress in the basement, but if I only did 1/3 Tuesday, I don' t know how I thought I could make up the other 2/3 on Wednesday.

I should drop it. Be satisfied with what I've done, and either give myself a day of rest or see what I can do on the unfinished side of the basement. But the work I've done these past two days feels less like cleaning and more like reclaiming an extra room in the house, so I'm going to keep plugging away.

Today I moved out of my way all the books and media that yesterday we decided to get rid of. (Most of it is packed into my car, or lining the stairs up to the main floor awaiting transport). That cleared off the new bookcase. I assembled the second bookcase, and moved them both into a corner beneath the stairs, where they currently hold the VHS collection, now ready for a deep weeding.

I cleaned out the antique post office desk that I inherited from my grandmother, and I sorted and stored my yarn stash. (Enough with the sock yarn, Donald).

My biggest accomplishment of the day was dealing with the remains of Mike's last job: adjunct writing instructor for Capital University. When he was unceremoniously booted from his position, he cleared out his office spaces and dropped it all in a corner of the basement. It was terribly painful for him, so I understood why he packed quickly and couldn't face sorting through it. I tossed the trash, consolidated the office supplies (none stolen; all purchased by Mike), and organized the rest for Mike's easy judgment.

That freed up some wall-adjacent floor space, so I shifted bookcases into a better arrangement, filled them with stuff, and reorganized our game shelves. Counting various Trivial Pursuit supplements, we have 47 games, including 7 types of "Scene It." Next month's Game Night is at our house; I'm excited that, for the first time ever, I can let guests into the basement to see the full game collection.

Like hope, but different

My inner cynic has been disgusted by how moved I am by will.i.am's Obama song and video. "Dude," says the cynic, "have you no defenses against cheap sentimentality anymore?"

Apparently not.

So I set off looking for parodies. This one cracked me up. More homage than parody, picking on McCain instead of Obama, but it's funny. Check it out.

I'm loving this Viral Video Chart site.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Five

I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”

(Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," The New York Times, August 7, 1991)

Our basement poses some particular challenges. Cleaning it involves sorting through books and movies that we no longer want. Plus, Mike is part of that "we," and he is on record as an official conscientious objector to my War on Clutter. Actually, he's been swell this whole week, but if I want his cooperation, I need to make it easy on him.

I have long maintained that we have plenty of bookcases. A quick count of individual shelves, not counting the ones devoted to holding CD's, and mentally averaging out long and short shelves:
  • 33 shelves upstairs
  • 15 shelves on the main floor
  • 64 shelves in the basement
We have a bookcase and a half double-shelved with VHS tapes. This is why I say we don't need more shelves; we just need to get rid of the extra stuff.

Actual cart is much older and junkierBut I needed to start somewhere, and this idea occurred to me: a new bookcase would provide a staging area to help us get rid of stuff. So I tooled up to Big Lots, bought two bookcases, drilled one together and filled it with the books and VHS tapes. I stuck a note on it, saying, "Keep anything, but move it to book cart." (I have an old, wooden library shelving cart because I'm a geek and because a previous employer, inexplicably, wanted to sell it cheap. It's much older and junkier -- but more authentic-looking -- than the one pictured here).

I stacked every homemade VHS tape on the floor for Mike's review, and I put every taped movie that we also own on DVD into bags for the library book sale. I alphabetized all the DVD's that are downstairs, then did the trick that Mike and I have found works well for cooperative weeding: I push in everything I want to keep. He will push in everything he wants to keep. What's left sticking out is given to a library.

All this got me about a third finished with this room, so I decided to suspend my rules. I know I said each room gets only a day; but with another day, I can make some fantastic progress in the basement.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Four

I found it enormously satisfying to unplug the computer, wrestle it out from under the desk, pop the cover, and blow three years of dust out. Best of all, when I put it all back together and turned it on, it worked. And it's quiet.

There were a lot of dead and out-dated electronics hanging around in the study, which was the target of Day Four. At the end of a very long day, the dead things have been pitched, the salvageable things have been given to people who can use them, and the useful things have been stowed. Old diskettes have been tossed, old financial records shredded, old clothes and small appliances donated to Goodwill.

Beneath the desk, I found a matted but unframed print (pictured left) that Mike bought at the Arts Festival a few years back. Since all this cleaning is upsetting his world (not to mention kicking allergens into the air), I brought it to the neighborhood frame store as a peace offering.

I told Mike I'd hang it if he would sort through some books and clean up two of the places where he's been piling stuff.

Friends, I am beat. I should start tackling the basement on Day Five, but I'm not sure I'm up to it.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Three

I'm losing steam. To say that I "worked" in the living room is to stretch the definition of "work." I moved dirty mugs to the dish washer. I threw socks into the laundry. There were a few Christmas decorations that I think Mike was hoping would become permanent decorative fixtures. I put them away, as I did with a few straggling holiday CD's that were sitting out. I made a half-hearted pass with a Swiffer duster and ran the vacuum cleaner.

In short, I redd up the room. Still, these efforts made a more visible impact than the work I did yesterday in the bedroom.

There was one achievement, however. Tucked between "my" side of the couch and the wall are my knitting tools and works in progress. I pulled all that out of there and sorted it. When it was all untangled, I found three projects (a pair of socks, a scarf, and a toy) about 80% done.

Hope makes me cry

Just in case, like me, you haven't yet contributed to the 4 million times this has been watched.

"There has never been anything false about hope."

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day Two

JoVE asked, "Is someone's mother coming to visit?"

Ha! No. Most of the areas I'm targeting are not visitor areas -- bedroom, basement, study. Even so, Mike's mom is blind, so she couldn't tell. My mom probably regrets instilling in me the carpe diem attitude that makes me choose to live my life rather than spend it cleaning.

Yes, sitting on my ass watching game shows qualifies as "living my life." Shut up.

One way of looking at all this effort: I'm cleaning so that Mike and I can find space to put more shit.

Day Two: The Bedroom.

This didn't take too long; in fact, I took a long break in the afternoon to go see a movie. Cleaning the bedroom mostly involved dusting. I pulled about a hundred books that we'll donate to our libraries, then spent the rest of my time dusting the book cases and the remaining books. I wiped dust off the walls and doors, off the vertical blinds, off the ceiling fan. I vacuumed behind dressers and under the futon. We sleep with a fan running, and I took that outside with a can of compressed air to blow the dust from that as well.

It's no wonder that all of us -- me, Mike and Dodger -- have sinus problems.

I'm very excited because while re-folding the sweaters stacked on top my dresser, I found my missing watch.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Cleaning Sabbatical - Day One

As a couple, Mike and I can most politely be described as "untidy." Our home is dusty and cluttered. It's not dangerously unsanitary, and there are no ominous smells, but if cleanliness is next to godliness, it's pretty clear that we're infidels.

So I have taken a week off work, starting today, to clean. Each day is devoted to one room, so not all rooms will get attention. And some rooms (like the two in the basement) need more than a day, but one day is all they'll get.

For the first day, I decided to stretch the definition of "room" to include my car. It's time for the 60,000 mile service, plus vacuuming, dusting, polishing the windows, and cleaning out the trunk.

Oops, I suddenly remembered that I forgot to vacuum the trunk (there are pine needles in there; I'm not quite sure how that happened). Will have to get to that on Saturday.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Partisan, political message

I'm going all liberal for a moment. International and conservative readers and those of you who have already voted or caucused should just move along.

In the general election, I will doubtlessly be supporting Dolores, but for the primary, I seem to be following demographic expectations and supporting Obama.

I like Senator Clinton; I always have. But I fear that she is unelectable as a Presidential candidate. Conservatives of all varieties loathe her. I never understood this Clinton-hating until I experienced similar feelings for our current President.

Think about that: much of the country hates Hillary Clinton as much as you hate George W. Bush. They will put aside their differences and unite behind any candidate that is not her, leaving us another Republican President to make Supreme Court appointments.

What's weird to me is, if I know this, why doesn't she? She's smarter than I am.

Look, policy-wise, there's very little discernible difference between Clinton and Obama.* Therefore, we need to nominate the candidate who can win. And speaking from my blue household in a red precinct of a blue city in a red state, I'm telling you that winner is not Clinton.

* In truth, I score highest with Clinton on Candidate Match.

Saturday, February 02, 2008


Hey, yesterday was my blogiversary! My very first real blog post was about a scarf I was making from Blithe baby camel yarn, but I didn't tell the story of finding that yarn.

I was in Salem, Mass. for a work thing, and I had the afternoon free. I fired up my laptop, connected to my hotel's free wireless, searched for yarn shops in town, discovered Arbella Yarns, and looked up directions to walk there from my hotel. The shop didn't disappoint. I'm easily attracted to funky fibers, and yarn made from baby camels? Gotta get me some of that.

Expensive stuff, and a total pain to wind into balls, but it made a gorgeous scarf.

Today, while picking through the carcass of the late and lamented "Stitch Stops Here" yarn shop, I found a box of the Blithe baby camel yarn at 60% off. It's mine now.

Fourteen skeins, in colorways brown (5 skeins), straw (7), and cinnamon (2). Anyone have any good suggestions what I can make out of it?