Sunday, November 30, 2008

Ashes of time

Since this blog's inception I have written a lot here. I didn't plan on writing every day, but that was almost happening prior to taking up the Blog 365 challenge this year. (I'll have 366 entries for the year since I wrote on leap day anyway.) I'd have to look, but the last day I didn't post something here was in March 2007.

The better question--one that plenty self-righteous persons in print media and/or old media would insist be asked--is if any of that writing is worth anything. If so, to whom?

I think it's a fair question. I may not slave for hours each day composing blog entries, but I put a decent amount of time into it. What good is going to come from all that time and energy?

Except in instances in which I'm looking for information on an old FO or a knitting question I posed that was answered, I don't make a habit of reading what I've written after publishing it. As a matter of fact, if I'm sifting through old entries, I practically make a point of not reading what I wrote if I can help it.

The reason why shouldn't be a mystery. I dread discovering that what I've tapped out over months and years is dull, whiny, or cringe-worthy in some way. Maybe it's simply too soon to be looking over my contribution to clogging up the internet. Somehow I suspect that what I think may be the most tedious stuff--recounting of what happened during the day--may be the most valuable to me in the long run. The things I would never remember, like some minor details of being with the family for Thanksgiving, are there for time eternal...or until Google deletes it.

While this blog is knitting-centric, I've tended to treat it as my journal, as a way of putting down some thoughts while putting a cap on the day. Some days I'm less profound than others--that's probably the majority--but we can only have so many big ideas and big life-changing events.

Most of life, all the little things that make up our days, is lost to failing memories and the sands of time. (We may wish that were true of some specific parts.) Yet something like this blog helps inadvertently preserve such personal trivia. Maybe I and all the bloggers like me will come to regret storing this minor history in our digital cubbyholes, but I think it's more likely that the opposite will be true. Just don't ask me to reread it quite yet.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

In the year 2000

Every now and then I have to stop and marvel at what technology gives us. This evening I was in my parents' basement watching the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State football game with the sound down. My dad pulled up the Dayton-Marquette basketball broadcast over the internet. I considered bringing up the Blue Jackets radio call on my laptop. My mom watched a movie she was streaming from Netflix. My brothers were upstairs either playing a game on the Wii or watching Notre Dame and Southern California on the gridiron.

There's nothing all that remarkable about what we were doing. I suspect many other people in this country and around the world do the same. That's what is so amazing if you stop to think about it.

Where to begin? I don't remember exactly when we got a computer at home, but the IBM-compatible with the 5 1/4" floppy disk drive (maybe two) didn't appear there until I was in high school. I recall typing some papers on an electric typewriter, so I'm guessing that it may not have been until my junior year. Compare and contrast that with tonight's set-up. I count four computers, two of them brought by us kids. That doesn't even include the Wii or my iPod, both of which have more memory and processing power than that old computer certainly possessed.

The availability of entertainment, movies in particular, has changed dramatically too. I remember being excited when we got a VCR. It was 1985, if memory serves. Home video libraries were basically unheard of as the market was definitely rental-driven. Now you don't even have to leave the house to have a wealth of movie options at the press of a button.

It used to be that if you were beyond the broadcast signal of your favorite sports teams, you couldn't listen to the games. At best you wouldn't have known the scores until later that night, if not until the next morning. Now it practically doesn't matter where you are to be able to listen or watch live.

Granted, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but stop and think about how amazing this is. Technology becomes so invisible in our lives that we lose sight of the fact that we're living in the future of our dreams, minus the flying cars and personal jetpacks.

Here I am, a couple hundred miles from my childhood home and current place of residence, yet I can find out how my favorite teams are doing as they play. On a whim and without leaving the house I can decide to watch movies that I might not have been carried at a local video store. And I can write about my amazement and share it with readers worldwide as soon as I'm done. There's plenty of awful news out there and plenty for everyone to be concerned about, but seriously, isn't all of this pretty cool? Our twenty years younger selves would lose it over things we don't even blink at.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Blah Friday

With as busy as I've been the last couple months, I've had the nagging feeling that I fell off the face of the earth. Metaphorically, of course. It's what happens when the perpetual motion you are in makes it a challenge to know if you are coming or going.

Having not left my parents' home today, I get that same feeling of having disappeared, although in a completely different sense. Time itself has slowed, and there's the possibility that nothing exists beyond this small town.

I don't say that as though it is a bad thing. I've sorely been in need of taking it easy after the academic quarter's pandemonium, and this is providing it. I would have liked to have been at least slightly more productive. I'd hoped to knit and read more. The knitting has not progressed much, and the reading has not even started. Still, I could use this family time even if the only moment to myself all day is in the bathroom.

So what has comprised my day if I'm not finding knitting and reading time? There has been the playing of bowling in Wii Sports. (It's the rare video game my dad will participate in, let alone request to play.) There has been eating of leftovers. There has been napping. There has been the playing of euchre. There has been listening to the Dayton-Auburn basketball game via the internet. There has been fussing over the dog, who must be one of the most spoiled creatures around because he knows how to play and manipulate with the best of them.

Sure, I suppose I could have made better use of my time, but if it's between this kind of lazing about and getting into the Black Friday madness, I'll stick to this end of the spectrum. I'd rather have a Blah Friday post-Thanksgiving.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

One big holiday

I'll get to the thanksgiving from a broader perspective in a moment, but I would be remiss in not starting with being thankful for getting to my parents' home in one piece today. I got up early, was making decent time, and wasn't encountering much traffic. About 45 miles into the drive I thought it felt like the car's cruise control was slowing down and speeding up some, but I paid it no mind as I was going through some some small inclines and declines in the road.

Shortly thereafter I saw that my speed was a good five miles per hour over where I'd set the cruise control. I tapped the brakes or turned it off--I don't remember which I did first--but the car wasn't slowing down. It was like something out of a bad thriller in which modern technology is a thing to be feared. I could stomp on the brake pedal, but once I took my foot off, the car rocketed forward back to the higher speed. Mind you, this was with cruise control off.

It took some effort to bring the car to a stop, but I managed to regain control. I exited, parked at a closed restaurant, and turned the car off in hopes that the computer or whatever that was acting up would reset. I didn't know what else I would do if I couldn't control the speed.

After five or ten minutes I restarted the car, tested it in the parking lot, and resumed my drive westward. Cruise control was not used again for fear of the car wanting to zoom away with me mostly helpless to stop it.

The rest of the drive went mostly without incident. There was the twenty-mile stretch when I was stuck on a two lane road behind the semi pictured above while the person behind me tailgated, gesticulated, and nearly drove off the road into the ditch. (She probably drifted left of center too.) In the end I got here without the car exercising a mind of its own or someone ramming into me, so it's all good.

As for what I'm thankful for, the basics are always a good place to start. I'm in good health. As much as I complain about the cost of health care, I'm grateful that I have insurance to cover for what I've needed to use. I paid more than I think is reasonable, but I realize I'm lucky to have what I have.

I'm thankful for having a job I like and which is more stable and settled than it was a year ago. I'm thankful for family and friends who are there to support me. I'm thankful for zeroing out my debt this year.

Recent but normal maintenance costs and the story at the top of this entry aside, I'm thankful for a reliable vehicle. It runs well and has never required major repair work outside of the usual upkeep needed over time.

I'm thankful for a home where I can relax without the noise of neighbors and where I feel safe.

I suppose I could go on and on, but I'm getting tired at this time of the night. I think I've covered the big stuff. I hope you've had a happy and relaxing Thanksgiving.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The facts were these

Last week Pushing Daisies was canceled, but the airwaves will still see the remaining completed episodes. The news that the show will be no more may be sadder for fans because with the November 19 episode and tonight's it really was hitting its stride. The scene with Ned, the piemaker whose touch can bring dead things back to life, entering a trophy room full of pelts and taxidermied animals was a hoot.

Of course, the reason I bring up the show--aside from my lack of blogging material today--is that knitting again was on the periphery of tonight's episode. The victim in the murder mystery was the inventor of the mechanical ball winder. (I wonder, do they exist? If so, is it really that hard to crank it yourself?)

I got a kick out of seeing a ball being wound in Emerson's office while he met with a client. With the occasional knitting asides in Pushing Daisies, someone involved with this show must know his or her way around a yarn store. This quality doesn't make or break the show, but such flourishes seem a little like winks to those who enjoy spending time with needles and yarn. Enjoy 'em while they last.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Unconventional wisdom

Articles about knitting's popularity and/or resurgence are an everlasting renewable resource. Search Google News for "knitting", and I bet you'll find one with relative ease. They all tend to hit the same points: "not just for grandmothers", it's cool, celebs are doing it, even some men knit.

It is unusual to find a piece about knitting's decline, so I was surprised to come across this article filed from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. The hectic pace of modern life is one reason given for women there not knitting. Machine-knitted items are more affordable and less time-intensive. Television viewing is a preferred way of spending one's down time.

The article really threw me for a loop. I knit because life moves so quickly and I could stand to slow down. I knit while watching television and when I might otherwise be bored. (I'll grant the point that purchasing machine-knit clothing requires less money and time than doing it yourself.) Is knitting now a luxury and an indicator of a country's prosperity?


Monday, November 24, 2008

Cram session

It's exam week at work. While I don't have any tests or final papers, I do have plenty of work to cram in before the Thursday holiday arrives. So, knitting has taken a back seat, and I am nearly at wit's end. I need to make it through two more days. Hopefully I can then take it easy for a bit, excepting the eight hours of driving round trip during the long weekend.

This is all a way of saying that a) I don't have the slightest idea what to write about tonight and b) even if I did, I can barely keep my eye open at this time. I appreciate that being on an academic calendar (to an extent) does set aside time for lulls/breaks, although that's not always how I experience them. In my opinion, the upcoming one can't get here soon enough.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Cheap as free

I've not spent a lot of time perusing the Ravelry message boards, but I'm certainly aware that copyright is a primary, if not the, hot button issue. Some will not abide xeroxing a pattern from a library book or even loaning books or patterns to friends. While such stances verge on the extreme, if not downright ludicrous, in my mind, I suppose one could make the case that those actions are no different than ripping a borrowed CD to one's hard drive.

Suffice it to say that it's a complicated matter. This article details one solution for knitting pattern writers who get compensated for their work but don't necessarily benefit as much as their publishers. (This tends to be the argument employed by the most active music and movie downloaders. They're not hurting the artists but the corporation raking in voluminous profits.)

Twist Collective's idea seems like a good, sensible one to me. I've never checked out the site, but one of the founders designed the famed Clapotis. It's interesting to read how she made out for writing that exceptionally fared pattern.

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's that time of year

How's your holiday knitting coming along?

I've finished two scarves and am working on a third. Beyond that, I don't know how much more, if any, I'll be doing. I kind of exhausted the options--scarves and hats--the previous two years. This Christmas season's FOs are an attempt at knitting revisionism to replace items made by a newbie with the needles. These projects were also requested, more or less, so I know that they'll be welcome. It's been tough for me to get a read on whether or not the other gifts I've knit have been wanted or not. Better to give it a rest, I think.

I may still make another item or two for Christmas, but I don't have any firm ideas. I've been thinking of making some slippers for my dad, but I probably need to find something that doesn't require sewing soles onto them. Other than that, I don't know what to make even if I'm up for doing it. Something fast would probably be best, but that's about as specific as I can be.

I've considered knitting a pair of gloves for myself, although I haven't looked at any patterns to know what I might be getting myself into. With as cold as it has been this week, I'm definitely of a mind to knit more for me. I'd like another hat, maybe one that's a little bulkier, and maybe a different scarf just to mix things up.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Radio radio

Coming out of college I was interested in getting into radio programming. I held the music director and program director positions, among others, at the campus station. I devoured Radio & Records and kept tabs on industry mags like Billboard and the usual suspects (Rolling Stone, Spin) in music publications. I was interested in what had come before, but I was also interested in what was new and exciting.

I listened to the radio quite a bit. Even before I had any aspirations to get into the business I can remember listening to the radio waiting to hear a new song from a favorite band or, if luck would have it, an entire new album at midnight before it was in stores. For that matter, I recall being in junior high and taping songs off the radio, usually trying to get versions without DJs talking over the intros and hitting posts.

When I got an iPod a couple years ago I almost stopped listening to music on the radio entirely, although in all fairness I had already been ignoring the medium in favor of CDs for awhile before then. Station playlists were ridiculously small and resistant to anything slightly unusual or untested. My tastes went more indie too. Still, there were some circumstances in which the radio had to be relied upon to hear something desired, whether it was yet to be released or an old favorite. You just couldn't lug around days' worth of music in your pocket.

No longer. The new (and perpetually delayed) Chinese Democracy by Guns N' Roses and Kanye West album are streaming online prior to release. (For what it's worth, I'm kind of surprised that the GNR record isn't terrible.) If my iPod could hold a charge long enough, its current contents would take almost eighteen days to play before repeating anything.

Advertisements, movies, music blogs, and, in my observation, video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band have become better avenues for breaking new songs and repopularizing catalog tunes. Granted, the radio industry has consolidated ownership and standardized their product to the point of hastening their obsolescence.

Do under-30s even pay attention to the radio? It used to be that one's favorite station suggested something about the listener just like any other brand preference. What is the future of radio when we can easily program our own personal, portable stations without commercials or inane between-songs patter? Is losing what used to be community voices important?


Thursday, November 20, 2008


Thanksgiving isn't until a week from now, but I feel like I need to get a jump on it in the sense that I should acknowledge some of what I'm grateful for.

This has been kind of a rough week. Part of it stemmed from my concern over an inflamed bump on the back of my neck at the hairline that appeared last week, if not a little before then. I tend to assume the worst, although it took me until Tuesday to decide that I needed to call a dermatologist to get it checked out. (Basically it came down to the pain being too much, especially if I happened to lay on the trouble spot.)

The first place I called said they couldn't get any new patients in for three months. The next dermatology office could do better and scheduled an appointment in a month. I wasn't thrilled, but it was better than nothing. Luckily, they called me when a cancellation made an opening, and I went in today to have my worst fears confirmed or allayed. (I preferred the latter outcome.)

It turns out that I had a sebaceous cyst, which the doctor drained and removed and then bandaged me up so that I kind of looked like I'd been shot in the neck. The procedure wasn't painless, and that area remains a little sore. Still, I am extremely relieved that it wasn't anything serious and will gladly put up with the temporary discomfort. So I'm thankful for good health and fears that have been wiped away.

I'm also thankful for the peace of mind that comes with judging that my front brake pads and rotors needed replaced. (Yes, it was an expensive day.) Sure, I'd rather not have had to shell out for car maintenance, but last time I needed this, I didn't realize it until the brakes were completely gone.

To end on a frivolous note, I'm thankful that I know enough of what I'm doing that I was able to frog three rows on the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf. I don't knit in fear of making mistakes, but I try to be ultra-vigilant that I don't. Perfectionism runs in the family, but I also worry that I won't be able to undo my errors. I've been stumped by p2tog, so doing several p3tog stitches spooked me. I did it, though. The scarf is fixed, and I feel like I might legitimately have a clue about this knitting thing.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The state I am in

After bitching and moaning yesterday, I feel like I ought to brighten the place up today. So, for lack of anything better to write about, here's some music that currently is getting it done for me:

-Belle and Sebastian The BBC Sessions

Not a revelatory collection, but I do love this twee Scottish band so. They've been quiet for awhile, so I'll take this solid assortment of live recordings as a stopgap release. Somewhere around here I have an audiotape with a copy of their then hard-to-find debut LP Tigermilk on the A side and some of this limited edition 2-CD's tracks on the B side. With the mystery surrounding the band at the time, having that tape was like knowing a secret password.

-Roy Orbison The Soul of Rock and Roll

It can be difficult to sort through the numerous CD compilations of rock and roll pioneers and find what you're looking for in one place. Rights to essential songs can be split among several companies, and the sound quality can be an iffy proposition. Years ago I bought a Roy Orbison hits disc that looked like it had the most bang for the buck, but I didn't realize that the versions on it were re-recorded in the mid '80s.

This stellar box set makes that CD irrelevant. There's plenty here I'd never heard, but it's pretty great stuff. As this review points out, the second disc alone is a treasure trove. His simple, devastating take on "Love Hurts" owns the more familiar Nazareth cover. And of course "In Dreams" is one for the pop canon and an unforgettable part of Blue Velvet (not safe for work language at the end).


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

For crying out loud

I'm in the final week of the quarter at work. During this time I usually see an increase in activity regarding some of my responsibilities, but the regular stuff stays pretty consistent. Between yesterday and today, though, it's as though the proverbial ceiling collapsed.

Important things that students were entrusted to do were not accomplished even though they have successfully been doing said things all quarter long. Unfortunately I catch the flack from the public when students do not meet expectations. To the students I am the disappointed parent while to the public I am the child to be scolded. Never mind that my job is to put the students in a position of responsibility and allow them to succeed, hopefully, but to fail if they choose less wisely.

The unexpected and unwarranted outbreak of failures piled up the last two days and has brought a discouraging end to the quarter. I won't even bother going into the bitter adult (by which I mean student of a nontraditional age who could be my father) whose joy comes in telling us we do everything the wrong way or the high school mentorship students who have stretched the truth, to put it in generous terms, to their teacher regarding how much time they've spent under my tutelage. So much wasted time, so much wasted energy trying to clean it up.

But hey, one of my Blue Jackets package tickets was for tonight's game, so that ought to be a nice break from it all. Well, it would have been if they hadn't gotten pasted 7-2.

Wednesday's got to be better after all this in the first two days of the week...

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Monday, November 17, 2008

Fashion vs. utility

The Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf is coming along nicely. It may turn out to be a much faster knit than I was anticipating, although its 3.75" width may have something to do with that. (OK, it has everything to do with it being a quick knit.)

Since all of a sudden having enough yarn becomes a non-issue, the question turns to length. This is where I could use some input. It's going to my sister-in-law who lives in the Dallas area. While it can get cold there, I expect they didn't receive their first snow of the season like we did today.

So I'm envisioning this scarf as serving more of a fashion purpose than a cold weather-inhibiting one. If being used as an accessory, how long should the scarf be? I'm thinking longer than usual, but I accept that I also have no idea what I'm talking about.

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Try, try, try

By now you probably know I can be a pretty patient person. For instance, I tried and retried (and retried a few more times) to wrap my head around knitting the star stitch in the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf and picking the right needles. Purling three together, doing a yarn over, and purling three together again (and finally slipping those stitches off the needle) is as daunting in practice as it sounds in theory. I spent a couple hours trying to figure out how to do it. The tight cast on row presented an immediate challenge. Accidentally dropping stitches while doing the star stitch added to the frustration.

Nevertheless, I pressed on, trying various pairs of needles and casting on 21 or 25 stitches over a couple needle sizes up or two needles. I was excited to knit the Misti Alpaca Hand Dyed Worsted yarn, but my consternation with the star stitch and increasing aggravation with the slipperiness of the yarn on my Options needles was really pushing the limits of my patience.

I stopped my attempts after spending the better part of the afternoon in search of something to show for my efforts; however, all that time yielded zero stitches on the needles. I was ready to punt the project and find a different pattern that wasn't going to have me ripping out my hair.

Difficulty with the star stitch was definitely a big part of it, but finding the right needles factored in as well. I tend to get confused when switching needle sizes and yarn gauge as specified in patterns. I know that such things don't particularly matter for a scarf, but I can never remember if going up needle sizes means I'm using more or less yarn. (I think smaller needles means more yarn is being used, which seems kind of counterintuitive to me and is thus the problem.)

I received some good advice from those I asked about the project--luckily a couple of you have made this--so I gave it another go this evening despite my impulse to quit. Having done a fair amount of experimentation, I decided that the best tactic was to cast on 25 stitches with US 11s and knit with US 9s. This meant that the unyielding cast on row had more room for sliding in the needle. It also produced a scarf nearly four inches wide, which should conserve yarn well enough for one skein to give me all I need for the project.

I knit the first few rows slowly. At least they were going faster than my failed afternoon attempts. Gradually I began to find a steady, albeit overly deliberate, pace. On my last couple projects I've been trying to knit more loosely. This scarf is perfect for loose knitting because it's a necessity. I've discovered that I need to bring the stitches to the end of the needle and loosely do the yarn over to make purling three together doable. There's always the risk of bringing the stitches too far to the end of the needle and dropping them, but if I take my time, I'll be fine.

The variegated, hand dyed yarn is a must, not only because it showcases the star stitch to beautiful effect but also because it makes it easier to see if you're pulling the right piece of yarn through on the purls. I've knit enough that qualifies it as a gauge swatch. I'm thrilled with how the scarf-in-progress looks, if not exactly thrilled with how long it's taken me to produce such a small square. I was cursing it for most of today, but now that I have it down pat, I can begrudgingly admit it has been and will be worth the effort.

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Saturday, November 15, 2008

To the high seas

Seaman's Cap

Yarn: Plymouth Encore (75% acrylic, 25% wool; worsted weight)
Color: 1233
Needles: US 7 and 8 circulars
Stitches: 102

With all my stitch-twisting troubles in my last hat knitting attempts, I'd forgotten how quickly I can knock out one of these. Per the yarn's gauge I went up a needle size, which made this thing go even faster. I made the hat slightly longer than the others I've knitted because I wish my hat could be pulled down a little more to cover my ears entirely. Since it's headed to the Christmas at Sea program of the Seamen's Church Institute, I imagine a bit more coverage can't hurt.

It's not a flashy piece of work, but it should get the job done. I think the hat is knit pretty well, so it has that going for it too. There's no ladder where the project was joined in the round. I have that problem sometimes, so I'm pleased that it might even be able to pass as a store bought hat. The cable cast on row looks nice and has a good amount of stretch.

I'm half tempted to get started on another one of these hats for myself, but Christmas knitting must resume. Plus, I'm curious to see how my latest yarn purchase knits up in the pattern, assuming I can make sense of or stand to do the star stitch in it. Looking at the pattern again I realize that I may have made the mistake of not purchasing enough yarn--it calls for one and a half to two 100-gram skeins--but we'll see what happens. Sometimes when buying yarn I misremember yardage and skein weight. Note to self: write it down.

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Friday, November 14, 2008


For whatever reason I wasn't feeling too swift all week. If it was built up stress catching up with me, hopefully things have evened out by now. Today marked a right step in correcting the lousiness I felt all week. Although I'm speaking more of having felt run down and grouchy, it didn't hurt that two knitting dilemmas got fixed this morning.

First of all, I found the missing Options needle and cable it was still attached to. I have a habit of putting things in places where I tell myself I'll remember and then promptly forgetting such clever locations. I also have a habit of stacking things as an "organizational" principle, meaning that the needle and cable were underneath a CD box set. I'm glad I found the needle because I'm knitting the hat so quickly that I may have it finished tomorrow. If I hadn't found it, chances are I would have been waiting until next weekend for the replacement needles to arrive.

I've also identified the yarn with the missing ballband. I had a pretty good idea what kind of yarn it is, but narrowing it down to two possibilities still left me in search of a definitive answer. I took the yarn in question to the place where I purchased it several months ago. The color, one of those numerical vagaries, is still in question, but the store employee was able to provide a confident verdict between the two options. Another problem solved.

Another bright spot for the day was finding the yarn for my sister-in-law's scarf. I had a pattern in mind even though I wasn't sure it would work so well in the requested gray/silver. I ended up going against the recommended color and picking the hand dyed Misti Alpaca worsted weight you see up top because I think the stitch will look beautiful in this yarn. When I first asked, she said her favorite color was blue, so I'm of the opinion that this yarn will produce something far more interesting and acceptable. I can't wait to start knitting it.

It feels nice to have been able to take it easy today and recuperate from whatever was dragging me down the past few days. I'm looking forward to a weekend of little demands on my time. I expect there's much knitting to be done. Parking myself on the couch is what I need right about now.

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Thursday, November 13, 2008


The hat is coming along nicely now that I'm not twisting the stitches. I cranked through enough rounds during knit night to get me to the point where I was before I had to frog it all. OK, maybe I knit a round or two less because I lost count, but the cuff will be plenty big. Apparently I'm getting a gauge more in line with the pattern as this hat will have a larger cuff than any of the others I've made.

I'm five rows from having to change needles, which means that the hat may be going on hiatus. You see, I'm afraid I may have accidentally thrown out one of my Options needles. Recently I had a US 8 needle and join pull loose from the cable. I've found that one, but I wasn't able to locate the other needle still attached to the cable. In my haste to straighten up, it's possible I gathered the cable and needle along with some newspapers that went in the recycling bin yesterday. I'm going to take another look around my apartment tomorrow, but not finding it this evening is a bad sign.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Let's not do the twist

I'm well aware that my patience has been wearing thin and I've been tired a lot lately. That's not a good formula for knitting when mistakes are being made. (One could make the argument that that's why mistakes are being made.)

Since I was dissatisfied with the newly learned cable cast on that would have taken me twenty years to finish for the hat, I ripped it out and decided to give it one more shot before reverting to the long tail cast on. Funny how actually following the advice I was given made it go much smoother. (I was pulling the last stitch too tight before putting the needle between the two newest cast on stitches.) Can't say I was lightning fast casting on 103 stitches, but I was quicker than my super slo-mo knitting last night. Not being gassed probably helped.

Of course, I've been here before with a cast on row. The bigger trick was joining the blasted thing in the round without twisting the stitches. I laid the needles flat as instructed and made sure that nothing was corkscrewing on me. I joined the first and last stitch and made my way around the first time.

Everything looked good after one round, even if I had to purl the last two together because I'd cast on one too many stitches. The second round was progressing fine, but then I had to deal with the needle and cable doing something funky. The working yarn somehow got wrapped around the cable. As I was untangling it, I accidentally slipped nine stitches off the needle. By now I know that the knitting can still be salvaged. I tracked down a smaller needle, slipped it into the stitches, and was back on my way.

I still had to be careful to make sure that the stitches weren't twisting on the second round. So far, so good. If memory serves, once I have a few rows on the needles, I won't have to be as diligent about this. The cable will likely be tamed by then.

I haven't a clue why I didn't face this problem for most, if not all, of the hats I made as Christmas gifts a year ago. I suppose the good thing is now I've had it explained to me and can identify it on my own. I've learned a new cast on in the process too. It's all good now, right?

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

With a twist

There's no doubt about it. I'm twisting my stitches when joining in the round. The Moebius strip hat in progress you see above is proof positive.

It's since been ripped out--and not without more difficulty than you might assume. I have no idea how I created the mess that this became in reverse, and I hope I don't encounter it again.

The hat has begun anew, and I've been shown how to do the cable cast on, which will be a new trick in my arsenal. I don't know that it's going to take for this hat as I'm setting a world record for most time used to cast on and am ready to rip it out and go back to the long tail. I know it, though, even if I'm taking an exceptionally long amount of time to do it.

And with that, I collapse with a thud for the evening. I'm beat. I need to get up early to straighten up before the apartment maintenance workers come through to check on things sometime tomorrow. (Glad I found that out when I got home late tonight. Or not.) When's the break coming?

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Back where it all began

Here's a better look at my brother's scarf. The natural light makes it look a lot better.

Maybe this shot gives a better idea of why the pattern reminds me of waves. Or not.

And one more for good measure.

I started knitting a hat for the Christmas at Sea program and was feeling pretty good about it. I'm nearly done with the cuff, and the color is perfect for its intended recipient, whoever that may be. I was also really glad that I cracked the problem of the Moebius strip effect that was plaguing me earlier in the year. I don't know how I did a bunch of hats without having it happen and now can't make one free of this issue until now...or so I thought.

Of course, there's a reason why I wrote about my positive feelings in the past tense. Looking at the hat now, I'm 100% certain that the 23 rows I've knit will all have to be frogged. I swear I'm not twisting the stitches. I'm going to blame the cable for twisting and making it harder for me to figure out what's happening. As good as I was feeling about the project, I've suddenly lost my taste for it. Ugggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggggh.

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Sunday, November 09, 2008


Mystic River

Pattern: What a Mighty Good Manly Scarf
Yarn: Cascade 220 The Heathers (100% Peruvian Highland merino wool; worsted weight)
Colorway: 2424
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 28
Size: 5 inches wide, 72 inches long

Another Christmas gift can be checked off the nonexistent list. I underestimated how much time it would take me to finish this today, but considering I was cooped up at home for most of it, I had plenty of time to work on it between naps and TV viewing.

I'm crediting the pattern linked above because I followed it, but as far as I can tell, there's nothing particularly unique about this than if you start knitting in moss stitch. My usual method is to give the FO the same name as the pattern, but I couldn't bring myself to call this scarf that name. I've chosen Mystic River because the stitch pattern reminds me a bit of diagonal waves and the color reminds me of the blue-grey tint to the film's cinematography (or maybe the poster).

There's a row or two near the middle where I may have goofed up something. The pattern looks just slightly off to me, but it's only on one side, so maybe it's all in my head. I'm really happy with the scarf's square, rounded cast on end, so I'm disappointed that the sewn bind off end has my usual problem of curving out into a bell-like shape. It's not as extreme as others I've made but still...

I'll admit to getting bored with this on several occasions. Since the pattern is a four row repeat (which is really just doing one row twice and then reversing those stitches for the next two rows), it took more concentration than I expected to keep track of what row I was on. That got annoying. The only reason why I didn't weave in the cast on edge before finishing was so I had something that I could use to keep track of what row I was on. A row counter would have been excessive for this project.

I'll take better pictures tomorrow. I finished the scarf after the sun set. Taking photos in my place at night usually means the colors come out strangely.

I'm not sure what's next, although I'm thinking I ought to get the charity hat knit soon.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

Hibernation mode

For the most part this fall has been warmer than usual. Football weather doesn't usually mean wearing short sleeves, but until this afternoon, game day has typically seen the crowds dressed as though we're in late summer. I can't say that I mind too much, especially on the Saturdays when I'm keeping the official gridiron statistics, but I've missed the season's cooler--but not cold--temperatures.

Today was definitely on the chilly side with the mercury rising no more than the high 40s. I don't know that I'm ready to pull out a heavier coat, but the briskness in the air felt more appropriate to the season and the early darkness. I came home from the game and conked out for a short but deep sleep that felt like hibernation in miniature.

Now that I've shaken off the lethargy brought on by being in the cold and enduring another hectic week, I'm ready to take it easy for the rest of the weekend and maybe finish knitting my brother's scarf. I potentially had one or two movies on my docket for Sunday, but at the moment I don't feel like leaving home for more than church and lunch.

I frogged about twelve rows on the scarf tonight. During knit night I lost my place on a couple rows and ended up with some ribbing instead of moss stitch. Easy fix, no big deal. I have about a foot more to knit, which could mean three hours tops if my productivity the other evening is an appropriate gauge. I should be able to do that on a Sunday afternoon without any problem, but we'll see if I get bored with it.

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Friday, November 07, 2008

Chance of exposure

I have a skein of yarn for which I cannot find the ballband or cannot match with the ballband. I bought it several months ago and started using it for something that never came to fruition because I was having problems with it twisting in the round.

Today I decided I would drop by the local yarn shop where I purchased it to see if I could identify what the yarn is. I pulled into the tiny parking lot behind another vehicle. As I parked I noticed that the other car had a current parking sticker from where I'm employed. It's going to sound crazy, but I seriously considered turning the car right back around and leaving.

I was not particularly close to where I work, so I was shocked at how unlikely it was to encounter this situation. I haven't been to this LYS in a long time, possibly since I bought this yarn in the winter, so go figure that on the rare occasion I'm there, this happens.

I decided to take my time getting out of my car and crane my neck to see if I recognized the person who drove the other vehicle. She looked vaguely familiar but was not someone I could place with a name or a department. I have no idea how recognizable I am. (The whole TV thing means I run into people I've never met but who know me from the show.) I chose to risk identification and slunk in.

Fortunately she was not browsing but instead picking up an order at the cash register. This allowed me to slip by and try to become invisible, or as invisible as a guy in a yarn shop can get. I kept my back to the front of the store as much as possible. She soon left and I relaxed a bit.

I know this scenario and my behavior sounds ridiculous, but for those who are unaware, I have made a point of keeping my knitting secret at work. It's probably only a matter of time that I'm found out.

I kept waiting for someone to come by at the knit night I attended on Tuesday and spot me. The location is close enough to campus that it's not out of the realm of possibility that a student or college employee might be there as a patron or worker. A few weeks ago at the knit night I regularly go to on Thursdays I saw an old professor of mine who is retired. I don't know if he saw me, although in that case I wasn't so concerned.

So yeah, I'm probably due to be seen knitting in public or shopping at a yarn store eventually. It doesn't mean I'll be pleased.

As for the yarn mystery, I wrote down the names and numerical colorways of two yarns with similar colors. (It would have made so much more sense to take the yarn with me.) I'll dig through the ballbands I have and see if I come across any with a matching colorway. If not, I can always attempt the burn test since one is an acrylic/wool blend and the other is 100% wool. Or I could bypass playing with fire and take the yarn into the store.

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Thursday, November 06, 2008

Projects current and future

Slowly but surely my brother's scarf gets closer to completion. Currently it measures approximately 59 inches in length, although I have to rip out a couple inches due to accidentally knitting the same two rows over four rows and producing a ribbed section that should be moss stitch like the rest of the scarf. It seems like the scarf that won't end, but in actuality I should be able to finish it this weekend.

But then what? My sister-in-law has asked for a scarf to replace the one I knitted for her two years ago. I've been considering making one that's cabled, but I'm not sure if I will have the patience to do that. Pattern and yarn selection continues to wait.

As for the rest of my Christmas knitting, I'm thinking about making a pair of slippers for my dad. The only slippers I've made were knit flat and then seamed, and that was back in the relatively early days I had as a knitter. Now I can knit in the round and take into account the stretch factor, things I didn't especially concern myself with back then.

That may do it for gift knitting this holiday season , although I still owe a hat for the Christmas at Sea program. I pledged to make one for it months ago but haven't gotten around to it. Guess it's time to put up.

Of course, I also have that new pair of socks to cast on again now that the one I made that needed frogged has been undone. I've heard the suggestions that I make a sweater. The time of year is right for it, but I'm not sure that I'm ready temperamentally. I'd prefer to wait until I've lost some of the weight I regained, but there's the risk of that being a perpetual excuse for not doing it.


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

He doesn't know why

The end of the election cycle left me feeling flattened this evening. In other words, I took two naps after work. I don't really have anything to say today, so how about a music video?

I picked "He Doesn't Know Why" because I'm a big fan of Fleet Foxes' self-titled album and thought this would be a nice, mellow selection for a post-campaign time. As I mentioned when I wrote about seeing them in concert last month, there's the potential for them to seem hippy-dippy. The video will not dispel such a notion. Good grief, just look at the still in the video player.

Nevertheless, I like the visual texture of the piece. It looks like it could have been shot forty years ago (and sounds like it too, for that matter). In this instance it's a plus.

I've been hungering for some classic rock n' roll sounds in new music this year. Fleet Foxes don't bring the crunch and swagger of, say, The Raconteurs or The Hold Steady, but there's room for folk-like harmonies too.

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Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Regardless of the candidate you support, there's no doubt that today is a big day. So, like I've done on some travel days, here's a bloggy--read: really self-indulgent--walk through it. For those not inclined to read something political, what follows is not particularly political although certainly has stronger election elements as the day progresses.

12:11 a.m.: Go to bed.

4:19 a.m.: Wake up and glance at the clock. Ugh. I fall asleep again without much trouble.

pre-8:00 a.m.: Honestly, I don't remember when I got up, but it was between 7 and 8. My circadian rhythm is all off from the time change.

8:40 a.m.: Go across the street for a breakfast of one blueberry pancake (no butter) and sides of bacon and home fries with coffee and water. Although the place has a television, I'm blissfully out of earshot and can ease into the day.

9:30 a.m.: Arrive at work. Yes, I know I said I was taking the day off, but there was one thing that I needed to do but had forgotten. I take care of this quick but important task and then decide to see democracy in action.

10:00-11:20 a.m.: Go to two polling places to shoot video for the news. Since the TV station is only available in the community where I would be taping, I figured that I had a better-than-average chance of getting to shoot footage inside. Sure enough, I received approval. The school where the voting was occurring was my old polling place. The line was similar to what I experienced in 2004. Poll workers reported waiting times ranging from 45 minutes to an hour fifteen. The nice thing, unlike the rain-spattered Election Day four years ago, is that today is beautiful, sunny, and warm.

I walked around the neighborhood shooting various campaign signs and then skipped over to another elementary school for some other shots. Again, I didn't have any trouble gaining permission to videotape inside, which surprised me a little. A poll worker approached me about it, but once I pointed to the person who said it was OK, he backed off. I shot as quickly as possible and tried to deflect a few glares I received. The lines were longer, but there were also more voting machines. All things considered, people seemed to be in a good mood.

12:25 p.m.: Go to see Changeling. I missed the screening when I went to do early in-person absentee voting, so there was some nice symmetry in seeing it today. I wasn't expecting to receive a call to help with volunteering, although if the theater had been empty, I would have left my phone on. Anyway, I figured it would be nice to take a break from the election, especially since there isn't news at this time of day, even if it meant seeing a depressing movie.

There's a small detail in the film that has nothing to do with anything, but it prompted a memory. Angelina Jolie's character works at the telephone company. Mention is made of a party line. (Mind you, the film mostly takes place in 1928.) It got me wondering if party lines are still in use and reminded me that my great aunts and uncle had one at their farmhouse. One of the other parties on it was a cousin, which, I suppose, reduced the potential appeal of eavesdropping...or maybe it did the opposite. I can vaguely recall answering their phone once but having picked it up on the wrong ring.

3:15 p.m.: Call the parents to hear what they experienced at their polling place. They walked right in without any wait. There's a small town for you.

3:29 p.m.: Decide to go to another knit night for awhile this evening instead of heading downtown for the Democratic Party party. It would be cool--or crushing (see: four years ago)--to go to the shindig, but I don't know that it is worth the effort. Plus, I've seen the big line of network satellite trucks lined up outside the Statehouse and been in the same room as Jerry Springer on an Election Night. I suppose I could check out the other event with Jay-Z, Mary J. Blige, and Sean "Diddy" Combs, but I'm starting to feel wrung out from today's anticipation and prefer to watch the returns at home.

3:48 p.m.: See that the campaign has sent an e-mail pointing out volunteer opportunities still available in the area. Win or lose, the organization I've seen is astonishing compared to other campaigns I've helped with. Nothing's being taken for granted.

7:00 p.m.: LittleWit invited me to a knit night that's in my office's neck of the woods--and not particularly out of the way from home--so I took a break from obsessively checking news sites to attend. If I'd been uneasier about the result I'm expecting, I probably would have stayed home.

8:56 p.m.: Get in the car after knit night and glue my ear to NPR for election updates. Sounds encouraging but my home state has yet to chime in.

9:25 p.m.: Ohio!

9:57 p.m.: Received an excited IM about Ohio going blue. Considering the beating that this state has taken regarding the last Presidential election, it's gratifying for it to play a key role in signalling the direction things are heading tonight.

11:00 p.m.: Looks like it's officially over. I don't know what to say, and I don't know that there would be any need for me to say it if I I knew.

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Monday, November 03, 2008

Where is my mind?

The eve of Election Day feels a little like Christmas Eve in that the big day seems like it's taken forever to get here. I can't say for certain--and I'm too lazy to look it up--but I'd wager we've had two Christmases since this long journey began. Perhaps it was better that I had better things than politics with which to preoccupy myself today. I might have exploded with cautious optimism otherwise. So where has my mind been?

-My car

I make no claims on my automotive knowledge, but I take some satisfaction in identifying that the serpentine belt was indeed part of the problem with the screeching hell on wheels that my car became Saturday night. (Seriously, I was embarrassed to be in the driver's seat and sitting in traffic while the vehicle screamed like a banshee. For that matter, it was painful to my ears at times.)

Unfortunately, that was merely a symptom of a greater problem. The spring in the tensioner broke, which in turn caused the belt to get chewed up. While I wasn't thrilled to shell out more than I'd anticipated to get the car fixed--who is?-- but it would appear that I also caught a break. The faulty tensioner could have caused other items to stop operating, which potentially could have led to catastrophic engine failure. Yikes.

So, as perturbed as I was that this car problem emerged, I'm relieved that I didn't drive much after noticing it and got it fixed without incurring major damage (and probably the need for a new car). All in all, the local mechanic charges fair prices and gets the work done quickly, so this was a lot less painful than it might have been. Sometimes it pays to admit that you don't know what you're doing and leave it to the professionals. I have no problem doing that with cars.

-More student drama

I hoped that the drama from last week might have dissipated by now. If it has--and I'm not certain it has--more stuff took its place. Gossip and other social interaction conflicts are stirring the pot. Small schools have their advantages, but these qualities are not part of them. There was also an issue with some serious work study timesheet padding that I had to address. Ugh. Anything else you want to throw at me today?

-Election volunteering

I've offered to volunteer on Election Day, although how much I'll be needed in the capacity I'm willing to work is up in the air. I've been told that they need people to knock on doors, which I'm leery about doing considering my job. I've donated some supplies, although I'm disappointed in myself for not doing as much as I'd planned.


My brother's scarf is 44.5 inches long after one skein. I'm satisfied with how it's turning out, but I admit that the ridiculously simple pattern is starting to bore me.


I've been kicking around the idea of liveblogging Tuesday, but I'm not sure what I'll be doing or how frequently I'll have access to a computer. I haven't decided whether I should bother going to the big Democratic party downtown (where I'm unlikely to know anyone anyway) or stay home to watch the returns (where I'll miss out on the group celebra....I can't say it just it). My decision regarding where I'll be in the evening will be a major factor, so I guess all I can say is that if you see an entry with individual times and comments on it, check back as I'm probably updating it throughout the day.

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Sunday, November 02, 2008

The long Sunday

Daylight savings time meant today was for falling back. What a weird day this 25-hour day has been.

It's not that anything exceptional happened. I only got to one of two movies I intended to see, and I had a hard afternoon nap. Other than those non-stories, the biggest development was an unwelcome one.

Last night I noticed--it would have been hard not to--a noise coming from underneath my car's hood. Based on my preliminary assessment of the sound, I thought maybe I needed more power steering fluid. I couldn't tell where the line for full was, but I quickly discovered that I probably exceeded it.

Turning the steering wheel was a workout for awhile. Of course, my car still sounded like a shrieking angel of death. My best--and, let's face it, terribly uninformed--guess is that the serpentine belt is acting up. I just had it replaced at the end of January, so I'm not sure why it's already turned my car into a mobile noise ordinance violation.

The time change means that it gets dark, well, an hour earlier. By 6:30 p.m. it felt like the dead of night. I've slipped into that state where if you removed all timepieces from view, I'd have no idea when it is. While necessary, that nap probably means I've goofed up my sleeping pattern even more.

Thankfully, I did find time to knit for the first time since Thursday. I've finished half of the scarf in progress and shouldn't need more than another hour or so to polish off the first skein. I'd hoped to cast on for a new pair of socks this weekend, but the opportunity didn't present itself. Thanks to LittleWit's persistence at knit night--she gets a gold star for her efforts--the sock that refused to be frogged has finally been unwound, though. Am I courting trouble if I set Thanksgiving as a target date for actually finishing socks from this yarn?

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Saturday, November 01, 2008


Some photos not taken in the voting line yesterday... Above is a view of downtown Columbus from my car at Neil and near Long.

After voting I decided to stop in at Tip Top Kitchen and Cocktails for lunch. I'd eaten at this downtown establishment once before months ago and really liked it, and I was not disappointed with the pot roast sandwich on a pretzel roll and a side of sweet potato fries. Unbelievably good.

The Ohio Statehouse. Umm, I parked my car underneath it while I had lunch.

It is a little weird seeing the disembodied head of Andy Warhol gazing at downtown while walking south on 3rd to Broad St.

Yeah, it was pretty bright yesterday afternoon. This is the north side of the statehouse.

Looking east from the northwest side of the statehouse lawn. I imagine this will be a slightly busier place for the Obama rally Sunday.

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