Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The way we get by

It's official. I need a vacation.

Today it became abundantly clear that it's a good thing I'll be headed south on Sunday. My patience has eroded like car brakes that produce an awful screeching sound when engaged. I could feel myself getting irritable with the students and practically anyone else I came into contact with at work. Granted, the students were doing things that get on my nerves when I'm not grouchy, but my ability to stay immune to the annoyances lasted a lot less.

This really isn't a surprise. All manner of delays have beset the move at work. I'm in my office in the new building, but otherwise we're at a standstill. I have practically nothing to do and am very concerned that we won't be ready in time for fall classes. There's also some other rigamarole that we thought had been resolved, so collectively we're getting tired of pounding our heads against the wall.

Plus, the last significant period of time I had off was almost a year ago. Christmastime was all about moving my parents. The film festivals in Cleveland and Illinois were fun but had an element of work tied in. I sensed myself getting impatient in the grocery store line the other day, so I know I'm overdue for replenishing my patience and getting some relaxation. I'm really looking forward to the trip, so that helps keep my impatience at bay. I have some knitting that I'd like to get done before taking off, which should keep me occupied in the meantime.

I'm still happy to check out recommendations you have for a vacation knitting project. You all have been helpful in directing me toward some things I wouldn't have made. Amanda flatters me by thinking I might be able to knit an Aran laptop cover. Jenn thinks I can do cables, but I'll be the judge of that. :) Donna pointed out a nice MacBook sleeve, but isn't the Apple-rific case incompatible with my Windows machine? And sewing on a zipper? Terrifying. If you know of any good patterns for a notebook computer bag, send them my way.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 30, 2007

Success and stuckness

And now, the continuation of Knitting Confidential...

When last we left, I was fretting about the crochet work for the secret project. Before calling it a night I looked at the instructions for chain stitch in Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet and decided it didn't look so hard. I may have done the first stitch in the chain by accident, but I understood the concept and finished what I needed to do in the chain. That wasn't so bad.

Emboldened by this small success, I hoped to learn how to do the single crochet edging and be ready to call the secret project finished. In addition to providing edging, the single crochet will seam the sides. The book wasn't as helpful in this instance. Jenn gave me a good explanation, but for the life of me I can't figure out how you get two loops on the hook so I can pull the yarn through both of them. I'm stuck and not sure how to progress from here. With the finishing on hold, it's time to begin secret project #2.

Soon I'll be headed out of town for vacation. (Yes, there will be knitting.) I'd like to have a project in mind for knitting on the road but am short on ideas. I thought about making a satchel for my notebook computer, but the dimensions after felting are too small. I expect it will be hot, so working with wool might not be the brightest idea either. I'm open to suggestions. Bring 'em on.

I've added another knitting book to my small collection and have another on the way. I've been making my way through the first Stitch 'n Bitch book from the library. It's time for the loaned copy to be returned since I found it for the right price at a bookstore. Borders also had Knitting Rules! in a "great reads" display, alongside Michael Chabon's first book and other novels. That was unexpected. The Knit Picks summer book sale--40% off!--enticed me to get Mason-Dixon Knitting, so it should arrive this week along with another skein of yarn for the socks it seems like I've been knitting forever.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Stitch and pitch

It is almost time to cross the Rubicon on the secret project. I've knit a lot this weekend and am ready to take care of the finishing on the edges. The pattern calls for single crochet as well as chain stitch for something else. I know how to do neither.

I might be able to improvise and pick up stitches instead of doing single crochet. If I try that technique and don't like how it looks, I can always undo it, but the fact remains that I'm eager to have the project done. Karen has directed me to some crochet pointers, and I have Stitch 'n Bitch Crochet from the library. With enough time and patience, especially the latter, I can probably figure it out.

I'm thrilled with my work on the project to this point, which is why I'm trying to be cautious in how I approach this last step. I've put in a lot of time to get this far and don't want to ruin it at the end. Plus, I'm going to have to do it again because the near completion of this secret project means I can undertake secret project #2. Since this is Knitting Confidential, I ought to come up with code names.

This afternoon I went back to Starbucks for some knitting in public. Aside from slipping out for an hour of church in the morning, I'd been home all day and wanted a new environment for knitting. I'm virtually ignored when I knit in public, by which I mean no one says anything to me or closely passes by. That's why I was surprised to have two women ask me what I was doing.

One customer was a knitter who was thoroughly impressed to see a man knitting in the open. I'm thinking that she may be the only knitter who has come by when I've been knitting in public. There seems to be an impulse for knitters to zero in on someone they see knitting and ask what they're doing. I've felt that desire to speak up, although I've smothered it on those few occasions. She asked if I was making x, and I said no, it's actually y but I understand why you thought it was x. A little later one of the baristas wiping off tables and sweeping up also asked if I was making x. She'd seen me knitting for awhile and was curious what I was doing. This was a much nicer experience than discovering that another customer had selected me to be the basis for a creative writing assignment.

It hasn't been all knitting this weekend while I've failed to read Tolkein. (Jenn's powers of persuasion finally wore me down to pick up The Hobbit before tackling the subject of her undergraduate Honors thesis, but I've only read a few pages so far.) I finally got to a Cincinnati Reds baseball game this year.

The team's play has improved in recent weeks, so Saturday I headed south to see a not particularly good contest. What should have been a great spot in right field to watch Ken Griffey Jr. was a great spot to keep tabs on Norris Hopper. (Junior had the night off.) Reds ace
Aaron Harang left after an inning with lower back soreness, leaving Cincy's miserable bullpen to step in and give up two enormous blasts to Chicago slugger Alfonso Soriano en route to an 8-1 Cubs win.

Nevertheless, it was fun to spend the night at the ballpark. It's cool to sit in the moon deck for batting practice, and a lot of fly balls in the game meant there was plenty to see up close from the outfield seats. Its was also 70s Night. Barry Williams, a.k.a. TV's Greg Brady, was there to sing (not very well) "We are the Champions" with what may have been a Queen cover band. (Their lead singer did an admirable job on vocals considering Freddie Mercury's range, and the guitarist respectably duplicated Brian May's sound.) Williams redeemed himself vocally in leading the crowd through "Happy Birthday" for the Reds radio play-by-play announcer and "Take Me Out To the Ballgame". The old TV commercials, including an Aqua Velva spot with a singing Pete Rose and (I'm fairly certain) Vic Tayback, were amusing to watch between innings. It was kind of cool to get the promotional giveaway--a metallic Slinky with the Reds C--but if I never hear "Convoy" again, it'll be too soon.

Labels: , ,

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Knit flicks

It remains to be seen whether trekking to Cincinnati for tonight's Reds-Cubs game is a mistake--rain is forecast--but I guess I'm going to take my chances. Thus, an early post for the day...

I mentioned that Marge is seen knitting in The Simpsons Movie, which prompted Donna to exclaim that it occurs twice. I know! She also asks what Marge is knitting. My best guess is that it's a dishcloth. I suppose it could be a doily--are those knit?--but both objects appear to be things that would ordinarily be embroidered and hung on the wall.

The larger question, though, is why did we delight in seeing a movie character, and an animated one at that, knitting? I smiled to myself when I saw this on-screen knitting, but I bet it's not up there for more than five seconds. I've usually made a point here to draw attention to knitting in TV and movies regardless of its importance. (I forgot to say that the older babysitter in No Reservations is seen putting away her skein of yarn when Catherine Zeta-Jones comes home.) At least in The Simpsons Movie it delivers two jokes. Usually knitting in the movies is merely background color.

Escapism is one reason for watching films, but we also like to see ourselves reflected on the screen. What I derisively (but shouldn't) refer to as old biddy films--basically anything with Joan Plowright, Maggie Smith, or Judi Dench in a primary role, possibly with more than one of them--cater to an audience that is largely ignored. Typically these films stick around the local arthouse for awhile because Tea with Mussolini and Ladies in Lavender, dreadful movies but never mind, give targeted moviegoers the rare opportunity to see their screen surrogates doing and saying the things they might like to do and say. I'm not suggesting that it is impossible for those outside the demographic to identify with them or enjoy the pictures, just that the intended viewers may derive more enjoyment from them because it goes beyond basic judgments of artistry.

That's why I get a small thrill now to see knitting in a movie or a TV show. Seeing knitting depicted is like receiving validation even if there isn't any rhyme or reason for its inclusion by those behind the camera. Depiction often implies approval, which is why many people get exercised about immoral behavior and the levels of sex and violence in popular culture. I think it's more complicated than that--art is not life--but I can understand the thinking.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday night knits

Ah, some quality knitting time...

I've been somewhat on edge the past few days, which corresponds with a lack of knitting and exercise. Coincidence? Probably not. The weather was unpredictable early this evening--one fierce storm blew in briefly--so going for a run was out of the question. Knitting, on the other hand, was a safe option that could quickly be shifted indoors in the event of a downpour.

I knit on one of my balconies for about an hour. (Before you get the idea I have a pad with huge balconies capable of bashes you might see in rap videos, I should clarify that they're only wide enough to fit an ice cream parlor table.) The humidity slowed me down some and moved me inside eventually, but I was happy to knit, knit, knit on my secret project. I finished the first ball, measured the piece, and determined that the second ball would not be enough.

Since I was in the mood to get out of the apartment, I left to buy more yarn and then settled onto the couch at Starbucks to knit some more. I even knit "naked", meaning I wasn't in my own bubble listening to my iPod. I felt really comfortable and thought it might be fun to listen for any comments that might be made.

If there were, I couldn't understand them. It must have been Unofficial International Night, beginning with the piped in tunes. Peppy Latin music transitioned into opera, something Italian if I were to guess. I couldn't tell you the difference between Verdi and Puccini, so the best I can do is peg country of origin. It sounded faintly familiar. Of those customers who weren't reading books, one couple was speaking (most likely) Chinese while five teenage girls were conversing in German. I studied enough German in high school that I can pick out some words--I plucked "twenty" and "maybe" during my eavesdropping--but not enough to follow. This ambient symphony of foreign language was probably helpful in attuning my focus on the secret project.

Wouldn't you know it? I felt better after all that knitting time, and I'm ready to return to it when I'm done with this post. It may not be the most exciting way to spend a Friday night, but the prescription gets the job done.

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 26, 2007

This is just a modern rock song

Evenings have been busy this week, so there's not much knitting-related to write about right now. I need to do some serious knitting this weekend. I need to get something finished! I have no FOs--zero!--this month.

I can't squeeze a whole entry out of revealing that Marge is witnessed knitting in The Simpsons Movie--honest to goodness--so I must dip into the Ask the Secret Knitter mini-stockpile of questions about yours truly. Feel free to add to it. (I only have two left.)

Donna asks a series of questions:

1. Donald or Daffy Duck?

It's been ages since I've seen anything with either of them, so this is not the most informed choice. I'd have to go with Daffy. He's more of a wit whereas Donald is merely a hothead.

2. What's one toy or possession you had as a kid that you wish you still had?

That's a tough one. As you may recall, there was much purging of childhood things at the end of last year when my parents moved. I have my favorite teddy bear, one that my maternal grandmother made. Or at least I'm pretty sure I have it in one of the boxes in the closet. I seem to remember that she made a couple others for me--I recall one bigger and one smaller than my favorite--but I don't know where those are or if they're still salvageable from my parents' home. Of my grandparents I only knew my grandmothers. My mom's mother died when I was in second grade, so it would be nice to have more things to remember her by, especially items she made.

3. Do you have a great tale of unrequited love that will make us all weep buckets?

Just one? All kidding aside, I'll say that this is a sensitive subject. I don't know that I have anything remarkable to relate, just an ongoing tale of woe regarding matters of the heart. I think this is the point when "How Soon Is Now?" should start blaring in the background.

4. What do you think of as your true vocation -- television production or writing? Or something else entirely?

First and foremost, I think I'm a writer. It may not be what's on my job description--a stunner, considering my official title has eight words--but writing is what I'm meant to do and what I wanted to do from early on.

In third grade I wrote a story called Purple Men, the plot of which has long since been lost. It was well-received, or humored, by adults. I followed it up with Red Men, which made the teacher angry because someone was killed in it. (In both cases I think said Men were aliens.) I mentioned before that I liked writing book reports, and my eighth grade parody piece Indiana Egg and the Mixing Bowl of Doom was printed in the junior high creative writing publication. (I still have that, I think.) I loved the etymology class I took in high school.

I wanted to be a sportswriter, but when I got to college, the broadcast media attracted me. Despite my nearly 150 hours of the movie review TV show and hundreds of ballgames between radio and TV to the contrary, I was and still probably am on the shy side, so the whole interviewing thing may have scared me off print somewhat.

I never intended to do TV production as a career. I sort of fell into it. I like it, but I feel more at ease with my writing. As long as I can remember, teachers told me that my work was easy to read. I've developed a voice, perhaps a clunky, rambling one at times, but it's what seems right for me. Am I any good at it? Who knows? Most of the time I'm adequate, and occasionally something better will sneak out. I'm also a terrible self-critic, so ignore my hesitation to say that I think I'm good.

5. If you had to be admitted to one TV hospital, which one would it be and why?

I may be pop culture savvy, but if memory serves, the only TV hospital show I've watched with any regularity is E.R. No Quincy M.E. or Trapper John, M.D. or even St. Elsewhere. I've never seen a full episode of Grey's Anatomy. So while the Chicago emergency room might not be the most desirable place to be--half the time the ward resembles a combat zone--it wins the prize by default. And Maura Tierney is a babe, even for a depressive, recovering alcoholic TV doctor, so why not?

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More contemplative twaddle

It is undoubtedly true that the more I learn, the more I realize I don't know. I'm not intending to relate that to knitting, although it certainly applies. Rather, I mean it regarding life in general.

For a long time I've been self-sufficient, partly out of necessity and partly out of a sense that I know what's right, yet I'm finding that not having all the answers is OK. I've understood this all along, of course. Plenty of people are smarter and more experienced than I am on a garden's variety of topics, so why shouldn't I tap their knowledge and opinions to help me make more informed choices?

If the opportunity exists, it's better to be humble and seek the input of others than stumble along on your own. Time and again the readers of this blog have demonstrated the benefits of asking for help, and I guess it's been within the last year or so that I've become more comfortable ceding to the wisdom others possess.

Which is all a big build-up to a mundane matter. I needed to get a new muffler for my car. (I figured I'd go deaf if I were to drive for my upcoming vacation without fixing this.) I'm insecure when it comes to auto repairs. I don't know much about cars. Even if the garage employees are being fair and square, there's something about the transaction that leaves the lingering feeling they've pulled a fast one. (I'm a trusting person. Honest.)

I did the responsible thing and called a place to see what I might expect to pay. It was more than I anticipated, but a co-worker said that it sounded like a typical price. Asking him paid off, though, because he told me to try some place that wasn't a brand name muffler shop. He rattled off the name of an independent, one that he hadn't used, but said that it might be worth calling them. Their estimate came back as less than half of the national chain's quote. Two guesses where I went.

I could have knitted while waiting to get the muffler replaced, but I chickened out. With its voluminous stack of well-thumbed, yellowed magazines, cracked vinyl seat covers, and staticky TV with dials(!), the waiting area didn't feel like the place for me to work on a sock. Maybe next time.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

High Tension

I guess I touched a nerve writing about gauge and swatches. Thanks for your comments.

I haven't attempted anything where failure to knit a swatch and obtain gauge was critical, so my swatch spurning hasn't been costly...yet. Well, maybe that isn't quite true. The first pair of slippers I made were too big, and this hat is kind of tight. (For the hat I blame my knitted cast on. If I'd known the long tail cast on then, it would be fine. As it stands, the ribbing is imprinted on my forehead for awhile.)

I read more of Knitting Rules! last night. As it turned out, I was at the section about, you guessed it, gauge swatches (or, as the book clarifies, tension squares for my Canadian readers). It was good to read that I've not been knitting dangerously by avoiding this part of the needlecraft, but I took note of the reasons for making swatches and washing them. When the day comes that I start a sweater, I promise to knit a swatch. You all are witnesses. That doesn't mean I have to like the idea of wasting yarn on a swatch, but I accept it as a necessary part of the process.

Stephanie Pearl-McPhee writes how state of mind can affect gauge, that knitting in different moods will change what you get. I find something really fascinating in that idea. The soul of the knitter truly is in the hand-knit item's DNA. Things acquire meaning based on the individual's perspective. Hopefully everyone can see the love and care put into knitting for someone else, but in the end, putting ourselves into projects is what makes knitting special. Even the mistakes become more precious because they're an expression of who we are. I imagine that's worth remembering when we're not talking about yarn and needles too.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 23, 2007

Continuing ed

The secret project is in full swing. Already it has been an educational experience.

I'm knitting from a pattern in a book. The secret project seemed like something I considered within my abilities even if it's calling for learning some crochet. The listed materials are the author's fancy-schmancy yarn, but I knew I could find the equivalent at a local store.

I questioned the number of rows that should be worked for ending on a wrong side row--the book listed an odd number--but I figured that knitting one more or one less wouldn't present a problem. Upon reaching that point, I learned two things.

First, the yarn I am using is not giving me the gauge called for in the pattern. The width is as it should be (or close enough), but I have to knit a couple extra rows to match gauge. (Moving down a needle size might have been enough to obtain it.) By the time I realized this I decided that I liked the way everything looked, so who cares if I have to knit more? I should have plenty of yarn to get the job done and would rather not start over.

Now it's time for me to confess my dirty secret. I have never knit a gauge swatch. Not one. I probably haven't made anything so far where it's mattered, but I am aware that this could get me in trouble down the line. I like knitting plenty. I'm not wild about pointless knitting, which is what most swatch knitting strikes me as being. I'm willing to listen if I'm way off target, though.

Second, I shouldn't automatically assume that a pattern in a book is error-free. Indeed, the number of rows to be knit was incorrect. It should have been an even number, as the corrections page on the author's website stated. Although it's probably a fluke that the last two book patterns I've attempted have had mistakes--and this latest one was fairly apparent, even to me--I have learned that it doesn't hurt to check the publisher's site before beginning.

I was knitting the secret project on straights, but as I went along, it seemed like circular needles would be more sensible. I got the proper circs and knit the secret project onto them. Sure enough, it will be easier to manage the secret project on circular needles and easier on my wrists when I've knit a significant amount.

After knitting socks almost exclusively for the past month or so, it's nice to use some bigger needles. The US 9s felt unusually large at first, but I like that the project is taking shape quickly.

I would be remiss in posting today if I didn't pass along my thanks for this dishcloth.

Jennifer made it for me as a housewarming gift. For as many dishcloths as I've made, I could use some for myself. This will be quite handy. She did a great job with the colors. Actually, it's a perfect match of my high school's colors. Thanks Jennifer!

Apropos of nothing, although maybe I can tie it to my personal reading history post, take a look at this pizza box.

You see the spelling error, right?

Labels: , , , , ,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Turn the page

Since it's been a reading weekend--543 pages down in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows--and the question has been posed regarding reading remembrances, let's stay on the subject of books.

I don't particularly recall learning to read, although I know that I liked doing it and was told that I read from a fairly early age. I asked my mom for some specifics because she would know. She's filled in some of the blanks, although it's amazing what comes back to you when you think about it.

I didn't attend preschool, and due to my birthday falling near the cutoff date, I was among the youngest in my class by starting school at the age of four. (I turned five after a couple weeks. ) I began spelling and recognizing words with the help of The Letter People in kindergarten. I still remember the program's theme song, found at the beginning of this video for Mr. H. The knitters will have some affection for Mr. S and his Super Socks. While it might seem crazy for Miss O's identifier to be Obstinate--an awfully big word for the kids the show was aimed at--the meaning and spelling stuck. (My parents might be inclined to say I took the word to heart at the dinner table. I was a picky eater.)

My mom says I was "really reading" in first grade. I can visualize a bunch of slim yellow soft-cover readers probably bought at a garage sale, but supposedly the first book I read was a Star Wars picture book that condensed the story of the first film (otherwise known as Episode IV: A New Hope). I know that I also tore through the Sweet Pickles books. Later on I heard that my parents were a little worried I would be an "egghead"--for some reason that still sticks out to me--because I was a voracious reader. (They were relieved when I got into sports.) I won a prize in second grade for reading three hundred books, the most in my grade.

I read a great variety of stuff in elementary schools, from Choose Your Own Adventure paperbacks to Laura Ingalls Wilder novels. I loved Lloyd Alexander's The Chronicles of Prydain five-book series and was laughed out loud at Gordon Korman's books, which I probably bought through the Scholastic Book Club mail-order forms passed out in class. (It seems that many of the Canadian Korman's books from that time, such as No Coins, Please, are out-of-print in the U.S.) Of course, there was the Weekly Reader and periodic school visits by the bookmobile, a fire engine red caboose with wall-to-wall books for purchase.

By fifth grade I had teachers pointing me toward bigger books, such as those by James Herriot. My mom was a long-term substitute teacher in the building's other fifth grade class that year, but she was the reading teacher for all students in that grade. I remember asking her to assign book reports, which I loved to do. (I suspect my fellow students would not have been crazy about this if they knew.) It's no wonder I'm a critic now, isn't it?

I was reading Agatha Christie mysteries by junior high. Again, this would be per my mother's influence. She loved to watch the PBS program Mystery!, the (at the time) Vincent Price-hosted anthology show whose animated opening credits were inspired by Edward Gorey drawings and featured Charles Gounod's "Funeral March for a Marionette" as the theme song. (You can hear the familiar theme starting at the 2:21 mark here. Furthering my nerd credentials, I learned this on the piano.)

I continued to read books for fun through high school, saw a dip in that during college, and have experienced ebbs and flows in novel reading since. If I find a new author I love, I tend to read everything I can get my hands on. I may then go months without finishing a book.

Reading Deathly Hallows this weekend (and likely into tomorrow) reminds me of how wonderful it is to be swept away by a book. It seems that an entire generation of readers has discovered that sense through J.K. Rowling's books. Hopefully it sticks. If Friday/Saturday night's crowd was any indication, the printed novel isn't dead yet.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter and the Release Night Frenzy

You could say that I underestimated how many people would show up at Borders to buy their copies of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. As I neared the center with the bookstore and other shops shortly after midnight, I saw that the entire parking lot was full. There were scattered single spaces, but it took some driving around to find them.

The line was out the door just to get wristbands that were needed for another line to buy the book. I've never seen anything like this. Inside it was semi-controlled chaos, with hundreds of people hanging around the store like it was a college dorm lounge. Many were dressed as characters--Gryffindor scarves were a popular adornment--and the excitement level was something like what you might feel standing in the pit at a rock concert before an anticipated show.

I had no idea what I needed to do and asked around until I was pointed in the direction of the table for obtaining a wristband. That's how crowded it was. I didn't see the table upon entering the store. I got number 727, so I wouldn't be surprised if they had nearly a thousand book buyers for the extra hours Borders was open.

By now I knew I was going to have a decent wait, so I headed toward the café hoping to get something to drink, preferably an eye-opener. Although a worker was behind the counter, a handwritten sign read, "Closed and your magic cannot open us." Oh well. I had my bag with me, so I set up shop in the seating area and knit my sock. I knit for an hour while wizards, witches, and their patient parents milled about.

The seating area was closed at 1:15. Luckily by then it was time for me to get in a line that snaked through the fiction stacks, past the children's books, through the music section, and by the film books near the restroom. I wasn't finished with my round when I had to vacate the seats--I was in the middle of the instep stitches--so I knit the rest of the round standing up with the little bit of the remaining skein stuffed into my pocket. After finishing the round I put the sock back in my bag and shortly thereafter was able to procure my copy of the last book in J.K. Rowling's series. I was out the door at 1:30, a much later night than I had expected, but I was curious to see what the experience would be like. Anyway, the knitting made the time fly.

In between two naps, a trip to the yarn store, and a combined lunch/dinner I've read 283 of the 759 pages. I doubt I'll get it finished this weekend, but it's been a very good read so far. No mentions of knitting, though.

I've been enjoying knitting socks, but I also feel like I need something else for a change of pace. I checked out a book from the library that provided an idea for a secret project I began tonight. It calls for some crocheting with the finishing. I'm not sure about that, but I checked out another book that I'm hoping can get me through the necessary crochet work.

Back to the needles or Deathly Hallows? Decisions, decisions...

Labels: , ,

Friday, July 20, 2007


It's an early post for a change. I'm going to the home of friends to spend some time with them and see their baby. Then I'll brave the bookstore. Have you heard that there's a new Harry Potter book being released tonight?

It is truly amazing to see the feverish coverage there is for a book--a book!--and how newspapers are tripping over themselves to publish early reviews from copies obtained through unofficial channels. The other day I read that CBS News promised not to reveal who gets killed on their Saturday evening newscast. How generous of them.

The lid had been kept on any spoilers for quite some time, but this week they bubbled over, especially from a mass media all too eager to tell everyone what happens despite the book being unavailable for purchase until 12:01 a.m. Saturday. I've been able to avoid most of them, but even an article about J.K. Rowling expressing her displeasure about it managed to reveal how many characters die in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Film critics take a lot of flack for spoilers, justifiably so in some cases, but publications usually don't make a point of turning the biggest surprises into front page news prior to or on the day of release.

Many fans plan self-imposed media deprivation this weekend so they can discover all the twists and turns of the final novel in the series for themselves. I'll take my chances, but I intend to get through the book as quickly as possible lest some jackass ruin it.

I picked up the first book because I thought I ought to read it in preparation for reviewing the first film. I zipped through the first three and waited patiently for the next four. I wasn't feeling the anticipation that some people have, but less than six hours from getting it in my hands (or waiting to pay for it), I'm getting excited. American culture has mostly fractured into niches so that even the most popular music, movies, TV shows, and novels are consumed by fewer and fewer people. To take part in the buzz around the true blockbusters like this Harry Potter book is to regain a smidgen of that.

Back tomorrow with knitting content and maybe, hopefully, possibly, a finished sock.


Thursday, July 19, 2007

Suddenly everything has changed

Donna suggested I catalog the knitting techniques I've learned in 2007. Bless her heart for giving me something to write about and not have to come up with something myself. She's correct that in my first few months as a knitter I was all about garter stitch. Only a basketweave scarf broke up the garter party.

Here's the Reader's Digest version of what I've learned on my knitting journey for the first 200 days of 2007:

-How to convert a hank into a ball
-How to unknit stitches
-How to rip out stitches
-How to pick up stitches
-How to pick up dropped stitches
-How to sew on a button and a pin back
-How to use circular needles
-How to use double pointed needles
-Kitchener stitch
-Knitting in the round
-Long tail cast on
-Mattress stitch
-Seed stitch
-Sock knitting
-Spit splice
-Stockinette stitch
-Yarn over

I also did the following for the first time:

-Bought a knitting book
-Knit alone in public and and became comfortable doing so
-Participated in an online knitting swap

It's possible that I've overlooked some things--I've sort of written a lot this year--but that ought to be a fairly accurate accounting of my knitting education in 2007. I have a lot to learn, but I am startled to see how much I've picked up. Maybe it's easier for me because I began knitting with no expectations of what I could or couldn't do. Foolishly or not, I jumped into it and have worked hard at trying to improve and learn new things.

I've been very lucky to have a terrific teacher and plenty of help from those of you who read and comment. If I'd tried to learn by picking up a book--something that simply wouldn't have happened...but if it had--I expect I would have been easily frustrated and abandoned my efforts. Knitting is (or can be) a solitary activity, but the community is what makes it something special.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Guess I'm doing fine

Looks like Knit Picks will be getting another sock yarn order from me. I have around four inches of knitting remaining on the sock. There may be enough to finish the foot, but I will probably come up short on the toe. To think that when I placed the order I wondered if one ball would be sufficient for two socks. I'll cross my fingers that yarn from the same dye lot is available. Otherwise I'll need two more.

Yesterday I wrote about how I've come to understand that being a knitter is a key part of who I am. (As always, thank you for the wonderful comments. Whether you're a longtime or new reader, I appreciate your feedback.) It's hard for me to believe that the guy who struggled to see where his mistakes were, let alone manage to fix them, in the early months can now spot them and usually figure out where things went wrong and repair the errors. I had to do it again tonight when I discovered I was short a stitch on my instep needle and had one too many on one of the sole stitch needles. You're probably assuming that I knit an extra instep stitch onto a different needle. That wasn't the case.

A few rounds earlier I knit the last sole stitch on the needle twice or got a wraparound. I dropped the last stitch on the needle holding the instep stitches. I tried the sock on to see how it fit, so I'm guessing I knocked it off when sliding the WIP onto my foot. I was curious how it would feel. It's probably going to be too loose at the top, perhaps because there is no cuff. (It's all k2, p2 ribbing from the top to the heel flap.) Maybe I'll cast on four fewer stitches for the next one, or should I hope that it'll shrink slightly after being washed?

Obviously it's aggravating to make these mistakes, but as I tell the students learning TV production, they learn more when they mess up. Not to get all philosophical--meaning that's exactly what I'm going to do--but isn't that how life is? We don't like to make mistakes, but our biggest breakthroughs tend to come from how we learn and deal with our shortcomings. As upsetting as our knitting errors can be--remember that second sock I still need to frog?--they're not so critical in the grand scheme of things. Think of them as good tests of our patience.

Remind me I said this the next time I moan about my latest major screw-up.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Dyed in the wool

I'm reading Knitting Rules! and finding good information and more than a few observations that I can relate to, even if I haven't crammed every corner of my apartment with yarn. (That space is reserved for those boxes I haven't unpacked yet.) I took like a duck to water upon learning to knit, so I don't think there was any doubt that the craft was going to catch on with me. Thanks to many of you who have been reading since the early days of this blog, I was accepted as a fellow knitter right away. It's been nice to find a new community of friends along with the hobby.

So it might sound strange for me to say that it's only recently that I realized how much I am, excusing the pun, a dyed in the wool knitter. In her book Stephanie Pearl-McPhee writes, "If you never leave the house without your knitting, and only a house fire would make you think twice, your knitting 'hobby' may have become a lifestyle." I can't confess to taking my knitting with me every time I leave home, but I have it with me more often than not despite circumstances usually keeping me from working on it. This sentiment and the attendant awareness of how closely it comes to describing me drove home what I've felt: I'm a knitter and unapologetic about it.

I no longer get nervous knitting in public on my own. OK, maybe a little bit sometimes, but for the most part I can go anywhere and take out my knitting and not worry about what others might think. (It's harder to be self-conscious when most people act as though there's a bubble around me and avoid coming near.)

I'm even getting somewhat lax in guarding my secret. At work I was using one of the cozies to hold a coffee cup. A student admired it and asked about it. I let slip that I made it. Oops. I did follow up by saying that such information wasn't anything I cared to have spread around, and I trust that this student doesn't see it as something freakish. I acknowledge that I'm probably tilting at windmills, though. We are talking about a small college campus, even if I've managed to keep the secret from practically everyone at work.

You know what? If the secret does leak out, I'm not as concerned about it as I once was. I inadvertently dropped the secret with someone else when talking about getting free things. (I mentioned receiving the gift certificate for a free book, something which I couldn't explain without talking about knitting.) The person's reaction was more of the quietly stunned surely-you're-joking variety, but again, I don't really care if he thinks I'm certifiably crazy. I understand it regardless of if it doesn't make sense to non-knitters. Trust me, I know it doesn't make sense to non-knitters.

If this sounds like the lead-in to an announcement that I'll be posting under my name, you're wrong. I'm still going to keep my nom de blog because of the freedom and minor security it affords me. I don't foresee any switch there. That'll be our little secret as I continue on this journey. After all, who knows knitters better than other knitters?

Labels: ,

Monday, July 16, 2007

You say it's your birthday

I didn't want to resort to doing the meme I found on Jennifer's blog, but it's all I have the energy for after spending a good part of this evening unpacking and arranging CDs and books. (I get tired thinking about what to do with the DVDs.) Plus, I repacked the few things I'd unpacked in my office at work because the furniture company came to rearrange the layout per my request. I'll take the burst of unexpected housekeeping--I certainly should have done this before now--but it means the brain's ready to go into shutdown mode.

The rules:

Go to Wikipedia and type in your birthday month and day only. Then post 3 events, 2 births and one holiday that occurred on your birthday, then tag 5 friends.

September 7, here we come:

1927 - The first fully electronic television system is achieved by Philo Taylor Farnsworth.
1969 - Monty Python's Flying Circus records first episode.
1998 - Google was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University.

1533 - Queen Elizabeth I of England
1936 - Buddy Holly, American singer

Brazil - Independence day (from Portugal, 1822).

Wikipedia doesn't list it, but as I hinted in my eight random things entry, it is the last possible day for Labor Day.

Play along if you so desire.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer knitting

This weekend's weather was quite pleasant, so I made sure to take some time to sit on one of my balconies and knit. The sock is a little farther along than what you see in the photograph, but it gives you an idea of where my progress stands.

I'm concerned that I may not have enough yarn in this ball to finish the sock. From the heel I've knitted about five inches of the foot, leaving another four for the foot and two for the toe. I have another ball, but if I need to use some of it, obviously I won't have enough for a second sock. Ordering another isn't a problem as long as I get the same dye lot, of course. Who would have thought that more than 231 yards of yarn could go into one sock? Not me, obviously.

If it seems like I've been working on this sock forever--it does to me--the explanation is that I haven't been engaging in marathon knitting sessions. Being comfortable in my new place means that I'm getting to bed at a decent hour--midnight or shortly thereafter--rather than staying up late knitting to combat my disruptive neighbors. But that's a good thing. I'm also using the smallest needles and finest gauge yarn in my knitting history. I'm probably sounding like a broken record, but I could use a more immediate satisfaction project about now.

I finally thought of a fifth item to add to my "way of the dinosaur" meme. For organizational purposes I'll append it to yesterday's entry but include it here too so you don't have to follow the link. So how else am I clinging to things likely to become obsolete? I wear a watch. I wouldn't have considered that to be something on the way out, but I read a newspaper article suggesting that cell phones and iPods, among other electronic devices, do well enough as timepieces for people. That sounds reasonable to me, although maybe watches will hang around as a fashion accessory after they're less essential for their primary purpose.

Labels: ,

Closest book meme

It's bonus post day! A more substantive blog entry will come later on, but for now I'm playing along with the closest book meme:
1. Grab the nearest book to you.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next 4 sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Don't you dare dig for that "cool" or "intellectual" book in your closet! I know you were thinking about it! Just pick up whatever is closest.
Knitting Rules! and The Knitting Answer Book were closer to me by a foot or two, but you all are far too familiar with anything in those books for me to bother using them. Instead I'm going with John Steele Gordon's A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable. I heard an NPR piece about it years ago and finally tracked down the book at the library. I have yet to read a page. Maybe this will provide the impetus to do so. Anyway, here are sentences six through nine from page 123:
"The daily newspaper," wrote the North American Review in 1866, "is one of those things which are rooted in the necessities of modern civilization. The steam engine is not more essential to us. The newspaper is that which connects each individual with the general life of mankind."

Many people, deeply disappointed at the latest failure and influenced by the pessimism of many members of the board, had decided that the Atlantic cable was a wild-goose chase.
There was all kinds of synchronicity in the air last night. In a way this touches upon what I wrote regarding newspapers today. Replace "newspaper" with "internet" and it applies to what Donna wrote last evening about blogging and writing.

We take the ease and speed of modern communication for granted, so I'm fascinated to learn how much work was required to connect the world in a manner that, while not rapid by today's standards, was a watershed event. (The book is about the laying of the transatlantic telegraph cable in 1866.) I don't think twice about being able to chat online with friends in Arkansas, but before the telegraph, it surely took weeks for a letter to travel almost eight hundred miles. Now imagine sending a message across the ocean. It is truly amazing how we can speak with one another instantaneously from practically any point on the planet.

Labels: ,

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The way of the dinosaur

I'd like to think I'm a progressive guy. Tradition is valuable, but it isn't the be all and end all when it comes to utility or philosophy. I don't believe that everything was better the way it used to be. Nevertheless, it occurs to me that I am swimming upstream as far as some things are concerned.

1. Not only do I read the daily newspaper, I also subscribe to it. Reports of declining and aging readership have dogged the industry for years, and most of the people I know get their news online, not delivered to their front door. I read plenty on the net too, but I'm still fond of the print product. (Don't get me started on those who would push us to read books on digital displays.) I read a lot as a kid and developed the habit of reading the paper each day, especially when I would put in a couple hours at the grain elevator--the family business--after school. The print version isn't going anywhere yet, but I suspect it will be gone sooner than later.

2. I prefer buying CDs to downloaded music. I'll leave it to others to debate the quality between what you can buy on disc and what you purchase from iTunes, but I like having that physical copy. (Is it any surprise why I had to break myself of pack rat tendencies when I moved?) Part of it's practical. One hard drive crash and an entire collection could be gone. I'm certainly not opposed to digital music storage. I love that I can grab my iPod and not have to make any decisions over what CDs to take on a trip. I can take them all (or the ones I've ripped). Still, I like being able to look at the cover art and liner notes, even if I don't handle the CDs as much as I used to.

3. When it comes to church services, give me traditional over contemporary. I've been looking for a new church since I moved--there's an entry in itself--so I'm well attuned to the fact that I am out of step with most my age on this subject. All I need to do is look around me on Sundays and see that I'm almost always one of the youngest people there as long as I remove kids from the equation. After four traditional services at four different churches, I decided I'd give one of the contemporary services a chance and see if my demographic was better represented. Sure enough, it was like night and day with who was in the pews. This service was better than others I've attended, although would it kill them to "rock out" to the old standard hymns once in awhile? That's one of my big sticking points with contemporary services: the music is often flaccid, particularly in comparison to the stout songs of yesteryear.

4. So help me, I always type in http:// when entering URLs. I know I don't need to do it. The browser will get me to my destination perfectly well without those seven keystrokes, but I do it anyway.

5. I wear a watch. I wouldn't have considered that to be something on the way out, but I read a newspaper article suggesting that cell phones and iPods, among other electronic devices, do well enough as timepieces for people. That sounds reasonable to me, although maybe watches will hang around as a fashion accessory after they're less essential for their primary purpose.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Gussets, geneses, and gift certificates

The end is in sight for the garter rib sock that it seems I've been knitting for ages. I finished the gusset decrease earlier this evening. I'm concerned that the divided stitches between needle 3 and 1 are too loose, especially for being in the middle of the sole, but I suppose there's nothing I can do about it now.

Do you see what I'm talking about? Should this tighten up once I get the stitches off the needle? If not, any idea what I may have done to create this and what I can do to ensure that it doesn't happen next time?

I also think there's likely to be a hole near the top of the gusset on one side, but there is absolutely no way I'm undoing stitches back to that point. There's always the next sock...

Thanks to those who shared their knitting origin stories. Please feel free to add your genesis tale. It's interesting to read how long you've been knitting and why you started. To clarify, I don't see knitting as being a fad, although I can see it being treated that way in the press, especially when the Julia Roberts knitting movie hits theaters.

The good people at Martingale & Company don't mess around. They responded quickly to my question about what I believed to be a pattern mistake. Today I received a gift certificate for a free book (and complimentary shipping) for pointing out the error to them. Impressive. Anybody have a recommendation from their catalog?

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Alternative nation

Whether it's being a fan of a marginally known band or filmmaker or being involved in a subculture like knitting, it's often interesting to get the mainstream perspective. What's taken for granted by those in the know is viewed with surprise and, in some cases, bemusement by those on the outside. Until I became better acquainted with the knitting universe, I didn't have the foggiest idea that it was hip or enjoying a resurgence.

Essentially, that's the tack taken in a couple recent newspaper pieces. The New York Times talks about the influence of the domestic arts on fashion while the Kansas City Star looks at edgy projects unlikely to have been made by your great-great-grandmother.

Although neither of these articles state that knitting is merely the fad du jour, these kind of trend pieces tend to imply as much. It would seem, though, that the substantial population increase--according to the Times report, four million new knitters since 2003--indicates that this isn't something one sticks with on a whim. If anything, knitting requires a time commitment that will quickly separate the trendoids from the dedicated.

You know that I'm relatively new to all this, but I'm curious how long the rest of you have been knitting. What got you started? Did you get caught up in this current wave, or is it something you've been doing since childhood? And do you feel hip yet? :)


Wednesday, July 11, 2007


Knitters are the best.

I have big thanks to offer Kate, first for her detailed confirmation in the comments about how to get out of my semi-confused state regarding continuing on my sock. I kept the computer beside me to help me through the gusset and referred to her excellent tips to get back on track.

As if that weren't enough, I received Stephanie Pearl McPhee's Knitting Rules! from her in today's mail. She had an extra copy and thought it would be helpful for me to have. I've flipped through it and agree that it will be a beneficial addition to my library. I'm touched by her generosity and grateful for the knitting assistance. Thanks Kate!

I suppose in my own way I did my part to help other knitters by spotting an error in the pattern and bringing it to the book publisher's attention. It isn't on the correction page yet, but I expect it will be soon. Customer service responded to my e-mail in record time and is sending a gift to me for finding the mistake. How about that? I'm amazed how fast someone got back to me and that I must have been the first person to mention this to them. Crazy.

Knitting-wise, I'm working on the gusset decrease. I had a mini panic when I noticed a dropped instep stitch but thought I still had the proper number on the needle. (I didn't.) It's a good thing I bought some smaller gauge crochet hooks over the weekend. JoAnn's had a clearance sale on them, so I bought three for $1.50. The smallest I got was a 3mm hook, and it was the perfect size for the job. I'm good to go again.

OK, now I'm ready for the stretch run on this sock. No more mistakes, no more confusion, and if those problems crop up again, it's good to know that I've got several different places and people to turn to for help.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Boy Done Wrong Again

OK, here's what the sock currently looks like. Heel, turned. Error, below.

See that piece of yarn a smidgen below the needle that doesn't match up with everything else? That's the mistake I was talking about yesterday. Obviously it shouldn't be like that. Beats me what it is, but I can live with it. I don't think it's going to create any problems as I proceed.

Make that when I proceed. I am having a momentary lapse of comprehension with these directions.

From the instructions: "Note that for ease of instructions, beg of rnd is now at center of bottom of foot. The needles are renumbered at this point. Needle 1 is beg of rnd." OK, I've got 24 stitches on needle 1. 22 stitches are on needles 2 and 3. The instructions for the gusset is where I'm getting thrown: "Divide heel sts evenly onto needles 1 and 3. Sts. on needles 1 and 3: 12 sts. Needle 2: instep sts, then: PU 22 sts from side of heel flap, PU 2 sts at top of gusset."

As I understand that, the 22 stitches on needle 2 should be transferred to needle 3 (which then becomes needle 2)and 12 of the 24 stitches on what is now needle 3 should go to the new needle 1, giving me this breakdown:

Needle 1: 12 stitches
Needle 2: 44 stitches
Needle 3: 12 stitches

See why I'm kind of confused?

OK, I think that makes sense now that I've typed it all out, but I appreciate any insight and advice you might have.

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 09, 2007

Careful, seriously

To the heel turn!

Yesterday I pointed out that the instructions were forcing me to pay extra careful attention to what I should be doing. And how. Yet somewhere along the line I got a stitch way off from where it should have been. I can't really describe what happened. I wasn't even sure what was up until it was too late. Anyway, on my last row of the heel turn I did a sssk--yes, three slips--and no k of the last stitch because there wasn't one. There is definitely something not right. I can see it, but I think I can get away with this mistake. It's most noticeable on the wrong side, but even then, we're talking about something that will be on the bottom of the foot. I know my track record should warn me off leaving this error...

Perhaps it's because the other socks I've made were knitted in a different manner, but this pattern seems to add unnecessary complications. It doesn't help that there's been a sizable gap since I finished a sock and returned to working the trickier parts of another, albeit one that isn't in the same pattern. I'm finding that I get to spots and have to think about (or look up) what I'm supposed to do. I nearly slipped the stitches purlwise for ssk and saved myself that grief by double checking how the technique is supposed to be done.

I guess what I'm getting at are familiar themes for me with knitting. A little bit of knowledge is a dangerous thing, and I need to stay in practice. Oh, and I need to remember to be patient.

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Instructions may vary

It is a good thing that I'm being overly cautious with how I'm knitting my Knit Picks Essential Tweed sock. I expected that the instructions would be similar to my Dark Horse-Fantasy sock, but it deviates enough from the Knitty pattern that it threw me.

My confusion over right side/wrong side seems to be a thing of the past. My increasing comfort with reading the knitting and the patterns makes me think that I might be able to tackle something more complicated soon, but I better not get ahead of myself.

The pattern I'm using from Sensational Knitted Socks calls for doing the heel flap differently. Not substantially so but enough that it took me awhile to figure it out. I almost chose to improvise and go with how the other sock took care of the flap, but I'm glad I didn't do that. I would have either had a mess on my hands or needed to do some serious recalculation for every step the rest of the way.

I wish this pattern were written more specifically--tell me how many stitches to knit rather than telling me to knit within one stitch of the gap in the heel turn--but I suppose I'm just going to have to become more adept at following the directions.

Since I wanted to make sure I'm doing everything properly, I read ahead and was puzzled by the instructions to divide the stitches evenly over four needles. Consider this a lesson learned. A search for the book turned up the corrections page. I still assume that any confusion means there's something I'm not getting, so it's nice to know that I wasn't wrong this time.

I'm enjoying sock knitting, but I'm getting a serious itch to finish a project. This sock may take me the rest of the week, and then there's another one to go. I demand satisfaction!


Saturday, July 07, 2007

Eight random things

There's nothing remarkable about things on the knitting front. I'm ready to start the heel flap, but that's what qualifies as news. So, in lieu of knitting content, I turn to the good old standby: the meme. I wasn't tagged but given a token to redeem if in need of an entry. With no further ado, in a meme suspiciously similar to seven random things, here are eight random things about me.

1. I have no idea what my blood type is.

2. My birthday falls on a holiday but not every year.

3. One year I told my mom I wanted a chocolate sheep cake for my birthday. I meant a sheet cake. (Keep in mind that I was a kid.) I'll lay blame on family members who don't clearly enunciate but whatever. My family still has a laugh about it. I don't think it's so funny.

4. Although it was against my reserved nature, my senior year in high school I had roles in two student written one act plays. I'm not sure what this says, but in both I received a beatdown of some kind. In one I was on the receiving end of an accidental wallop upside the head with a baseball bat. We used a wiffle ball bat with a pseudo wood grain, so it looked like the real thing. There were audible gasps from the audience when my co-star hit me. The other play was about Lt. William Calley's trial for the My Lai massacre. Really. (Music fans, take note. It was called The Big Parade after the 10,000 Maniacs song.) I played dual roles as the presiding judge and a soldier in a flashback scene. In the flashback another soldier, played by a classmate trained in martial arts, throws me to the ground.

5. I've never had contact lenses because I dislike the notion of putting things in my eyes. On the few occasions I've needed to use eye drops, it was a bit of a challenge.

6. I can't really pinpoint the reason why, but I like airports. It's not as though I've spent a lot of time in them, although in high school I would go with some friends to the Dayton International Airport for fun. (Honestly, I have no idea why we did this. With the way things are today, it would no longer be possible to wander around the terminals without a ticket.) Perhaps this affection for airports influenced my positive reviews of The Terminal and Unaccompanied Minors. I would still make a case for both without this predilection but...

7. I have broken one bone. I fractured my left fibula at the ankle trying to stretch a single into a double in a church softball game. I slid too late and *crack* caught it underneath me while jamming it into the base. To make it worse, I was out. I wasn't sure I had broken it, but I knew I couldn't continue playing. I sat on the bench for the rest of the game and had to have someone drive me home because my car had a manual transmission. (There's no depressing the clutch when your left ankle is busted.)

8. I bought my first two cars for $600 each. I had a 1982 Datsun 200SX for four years and was sad to have to get rid of it. (Long story short: I broke down on the interstate. While waiting for the tow truck to arrive, someone in a passing car threw a beer bottle and shattered the rear hatchback window. That alone would have cost more to replace than the car was worth.) I'm no gearhead, but I loved that car. Next was a Toyota Corolla, which I had for a year and a half but never bonded with on the same level.


Friday, July 06, 2007

I knit, therefore I write

This article about knitting and blogging could be filed under Tell Me Something I Don't Know, but I suppose that's true for any niche activities that get covered in mainstream media. I had to laugh at this line: "There are teenagers, stay at home mums, older women and even men are getting involved." (I added the bold text for emphasis.) Stop the presses!

I'm making my way through Stitch 'n Bitch and was very surprised to see this statement on page 116: "Today there are well over a hundred knitting Weblogs, and more are created every day--just type 'knit blog' into any Internet search engine to find the current batch." No, it wasn't the use of "Weblogs" or the capitalization for it or internet that jumped out at me; it was the idea that there are "well over a hundred" knitting blogs. The book was first printed in September 2003, a lifetime ago in technology terms. Needless to say, there are a few more knitting blogs out there now.

I started my film blog in December 2003 and have been writing online since June 2000, but it sounds like knit blogs didn't take off until after that. You know that I began mine because I was being all quiet and coy about my knitting in the offline world and needed a place to share. I assume that the majority of you reading also have your own sites. Why did you decide to blog, whether about knitting or something else? How long have you been doing it? What makes you continue to write?

Labels: ,

Thursday, July 05, 2007


I'm back on track!

The sock in Knit Picks Essential Tweed is being worked in the right direction again after hours of unknitting. I know that we learn more from making mistakes than doing things the proper way, but I was getting sick of an education in fixing my screw-ups. There will be plenty more to come, no doubt. I wouldn't mind if the character building was delayed for awhile, though.

What else is new? The absence of the Favorite Color Swap 2 blog on my Blogger dashboard (and the internet) tipped me off that Favorite Color Swap 3 will be taking place in the near future. Get in line.

Is there something I'm missing with the Harry Potter phenomenon being a big thing among knitters? I've read the books and seen the films, so I'm not questioning the popularity. My casual observation is that there are a lot of knitterly activities around all things Potter, which I guess I didn't expect. I finally pre-ordered my copy of the seventh book, and I'm going to a press screening of the fifth film tomorrow. I don't see myself knitting a scarf in one of the house colors, though. That's a bit much for me. But knock yourself out if that's your thing.

OK, is that enough padding for today's entry? It'll have to do.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Independence Day

A happy 4th of July to everyone. For the first time in years I didn't have to work on the holiday. So of course I made sure to rise at 6:15 a.m., which is much earlier than I normally get up. The reason for waking up at an ungodly hour: a 5K road race.

My dedication to running on a regular basis could be represented as a sine wave, but even during my lack of running enthusiasm, I've tried to participate in this 4th of July race each year. It's not always been the best idea. One year I had a sore foot but really wanted to run anyway. A mile or so in it hurt too much to run, meaning I walked the rest of it and finished dead last.

Although I have no chance of winning, I enjoy running in races a couple times a year. I find that race excitement provides a boost to my time, in part because you can try to keep up with or pass those in your part of the pack once it's shaken out. There may be a little bit of a competitive sense--c'mon, you ought to be able to beat this guy!--but for me it's more internal than external.

I've been running as part of my exercise routine, although I didn't do as much as I should have in preparation for the race. The most I had run continuously was a mile and a half--not quite half of the race's distance--but I thought I would be OK. Prior races have demonstrated that I'm pretty good at grinding out distance once I hit a groove.

My goal was to finish in less than thirty minutes. Usually I don't time myself when I run, but during a recent session around the track I found that I was averaging between nine and half and ten minutes a mile. If I could keep that pace, I'd be on the cusp of doing 5K in less than a half hour.

This year's race was on a new course and an hour earlier. The course's novelty probably helped me keep pushing because I wasn't sure how much I still had to go. The weather was perfect: light air, cloud cover, and just slightly cool. With part of the race on a bike path, there was less sucking of car exhaust.

The bunching up out of the starting gate kept me moving slower than I would have liked, but I found a good pace once we got onto a wider part of the road. The first mile went down easily. The stitch in my side abated, although my calves burned some. The clock at the second mile marker let me know that I was on pace, if a little behind. I try to sprint the last stretch, so I thought I was in the position I needed to be in.

Well, I didn't hit the wall, but the final mile-plus required finding extra mental and physical stamina. I was charging up the mild inclines, but I could tell my energy was starting to flag. The finish line seemed like it would never arrive.

I turned the last corner and saw the finish ahead of me. The clock informed me that I wouldn't meet my goal, but I summoned up one last surge to get the best time I could. (I got thirty seconds shaved off because the microchip in the wristband is activated when you go across the starting line instead of when the clock begins.)

Officially I finished in 30:35, for an average mile of 9:52. I would have liked to have squeaked under thirty minutes, but I'm very happy with the result. I did last year's race in 39:10, so that's a pretty steep improvement from then to now. (Last year my eat better and exercise regimen was about a month underway at race time.)

For one thing, I felt like I truly was running rather than moving at the pace of a fast walk. I had an actual stride. While I could feel my body starting to say, "OK, that's enough," I held up well. Legs and lungs were good.

That was plenty to do before 9 a.m., so I took advantage of not having to work and napped a couple times. I found black raspberries at Whole Foods yesterday--I haven't been able to find black raspberries in a long time--so I made a pie this afternoon.

I completed the arduous process of undoing stitches for my sock, and now here I am tapping out this blog entry. I can hear the fireworks exploding. They're a hair to far to the south for me to see them from my balcony, and I have to strain to glimpse them from my bedroom window. But no matter, it's been a good, restful holiday, and I can't say that for the last decade. Hopefully I'm not tempting fate by returning to the sock now.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I shall be a master of unknitting whether I desire the title or not.

I tried picking up a stitch where a hole exists in the sock, but that wasn't working. For one thing, there wasn't a stitch to pick up. Time to bite the bullet and undo the four rounds I've knit (and probably one more) after I tried my other method for fixing the problem.

The best explanation for what happened was what miss ewe called "cornering" in her comment to yesterday's post. It looked weird when I dealt with it initially, not quite like a real stitch yet more integrated into the WIP than yarn just wrapped around the needle.

For this kind of intense work I knew I'd have more concentration if I weren't at home, so I purchased a cool cup of caffeine at the coffee shop and got to it. In the early days I had trouble seeing where I needed to put the needle to undo the stitches. The idea of undoing purled stitches presented another set of potential pitfalls. I've got it now, something that was in evidence as I slowly made my way through two rounds. And I do mean slowly. In the blink of an eye it was time for me to get home to liveblog ON THE LOT for my other site.

I still have a couple hundred stitches to unknit. There's the rest of the evening. Guess who has literal knowledge of what "a stitch in time saves nine" means. I've learned (again) that it's best to solve the problem at the source rather than think you can pull a fast one on the knitting. I've lost every time I've tried to do so. If I'd unknit one round, that probably would have taken care of it, but nooooo, I had to take what appeared to be a quick fix.

Note to self: if it's wrong, stop or go backward. Whatever you do, don't knit more.

Labels: ,

Monday, July 02, 2007

Extra extra

This is the second take for today's entry. Based on Donna's comment about aesthetics, I started writing about that issue, but I bailed on it when I saw that I might be up all night trying to say what I wanted. I'll save it for when I'm stuck or maybe spring a dual entry day on you. Who knows?

My sock knitting has hit a snag. I don't know how, but the lovely brown sock ended up with an extra stitch on the needle at the end of the round. It would have been the last thing I knitted at the coffee shop, so perhaps the yarn was accidentally wrapped around when I stuffed the project in the bag. Since I encountered this after already working 87 stitches in pattern, I purled the last two together, knitted three more rounds, and hoped that would take care of things.


It looks like there's a dropped stitch in that spot. (I also might have dropped a stitch on needle 2, although I think I caught it in time.) This seemed like a good stopping point last night. I haven't been able to work on it today. Considering the hour, it doesn't look like I will. So, if you're going to warn me off doing something I will regret, now is your chance.

My instinct is to pick up the stitch, and have one extra on the end again. I'm working in a k2, p2 pattern. Before I k2, p1, p2tog to fix the problem that wasn't fixed. Now I'm thinking I should k2, p2tog, p1. Does that make sense? Will it make any difference?

The pattern looks fine, as far as I can tell. I really don't want to unknit hundreds of stitches. I won't have to, will I?

Labels: ,

Sunday, July 01, 2007

June knitting progress report

I was getting squirrelly sitting at home this afternoon, so I decided to go out to a coffee shop for some caffeine and knitting in public. I probably should have gone for a smaller coffee--I could feel its aftereffects during my early evening exercise--but it was the right amount for the nearly two hours I happily spent working on my sock.

Although I was in public, I might as well have been in a cocoon. I zeroed in on the work at hand while the iPod spun Feist's The Reminder, Fountains of Wayne's Traffic and Weather, and, because I must have been in an F band mood, part of Franz Ferdinand's second album. (It's been awhile since I've listened to Fountains of Wayne's latest. I'm not sure why I didn't love it before. It's near perfect. Shame about the cover, though.) I might still be there if it weren't for the warm seat by the window making the yarn stick to the needles.

I have a couple inches to knit before I can begin on the heel flap. I really like how this looks already, which could mean that the other green sock may be backburnered while I concentrate on these.

It's the first of the month, Bone Thugs-n-Harmony's favorite time and when I take a look at my progress toward my new year's knitting resolutions. In the FO department I have:

4 dishcloths
1 practice baby sock
1 baby sock
1 adult sock

For tally purposes, I'm only going to count the dishcloths toward my monthly total since socks need to be made in pairs to be truly finished. That's 38 FOs for the year. I have three WIPs in the form of two adult socks (one still awaiting massive frogging) and a dishcloth.

Predictably, my production dropped in June, which saw me get adjusted to my new apartment. What I lacked in output, I made up for in learning new things. I learned how to do the long tail cast on and knit socks. I became better at reading the knitting. I am knitting with yarn lighter than worsted weight, which was one of my resolutions.

Here are links for previous progress reports: January, February, March, April, and May.

In July I hope to update the primer in the sidebar and add a photo to the header. (From what I can tell from a Blogger dashboard entry, it's easier than it used to be.) So the site may get a slight facelift. It's probably time for me to try making a baby sweater, which is one of my goals that I haven't attempted to fulfill yet.

Labels: , ,