Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A year in words, pictures, and stitches

So, this is it. Today's entry means that I blogged every day in 2008 and exceeded my commitment to Blog 365, which permitted skipping leap day. I did not.

As a matter of fact, I've written something here every day since March 22-24, 2007, a comparatively enormous gap caused primarily by lack of internet access. (For the stat-heads: I didn't post on just seven days all of last year.)

I took up the daily blogging challenge per Donna's recommendation. I'm glad I listened and followed her lead. I view myself as a writer, even if not a professional one. Whether I had something worth saying or the motivation to type it out, pledging to blog each day gave my writing muscles a regular workout. Hopefully they're a little more toned than they were a year ago.

I had some days when I posted filler--obligatory entries whose nutritional values were nil--but I don't think that I resorted to publishing too many of those. Sure, I imagine I tacked up many self-indulgent posts, but then again, doesn't this blog's very existence hinge on some narcissistic need to write about oneself and think anybody cares a whit to read it? My hope is that you can pardon the entries you come across in which I am boring, cantankerous, or whiny and will return the next day to find something more to your interest.

You see, this blog is me, for better and worse, so when I feel like I'm being less than a good guest on your computer screen, I'm let down too. As a writer I aim to use my voice and not affect a persona. One may have emerged anyway, although I feel like I'm pretty true here to who I am. (I'll leave it to others to attest if I am how I appear.) Yes, I realize the seeming contradiction in saying I'm writing as myself rather than a construct while maintaining pseudo-anonymity, but it is that illusion of semi-privacy in a public forum that permits me to write more openly and directly about myself than I would otherwise.

If there's one thing I've come away with from a year of daily blogging, it is a better understanding of myself. This blog was predicated on the notions of journey and discovery, albeit more in the knitting realm than the personal. I still consider this a knitblog first and foremost, but I'm well aware that it's much bigger than that too. Writing every day has allowed me to reflect on who I am, how I became who I am, what I want, and what I can (maybe) do to change what I'm not satisfied with. I don't publish every rumination or go into all of the specifics, but the process of blogging every day has spurred the thoughts and internal monologues I sometimes share. The experience has been invaluable to me.

2008 is almost gone. It's been a year of ups and downs, although I suppose that's true of each twelve-month cycle. It's been a year of seeming isolation. It's been a year in which the nation feels like its been put through the wringer. While the news plays out like a contest to see who can deliver the bleakest forecast, hope exists as well. I know I need to be reminded of it from time to time. Whether it's through my knitting successes or something else I write, I'll try my best to remind you of it too.

And with that, I bring this year-long daily blogging experiment to a close. A new one starts tomorrow.

Happy new year.

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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

In the arena

Earlier this year I wrote about what University of Dayton Flyers basketball meant to me growing up. That blog entry is probably one of the best pieces I wrote all year, so I'm not going to dare try to repeat it tonight. But what to do when today's quick trip to Dayton and back was to squeeze in my (likely) one game for the season and is the only thing I really have to blog about... Mere reportage?

I picked this match-up because UD was hosting George Mason, a scrappy competitor whose unlikely run in the 2006 NCAA Tournament made them the underdog darlings of the college basketball scene. I figured it would be a good game--it was--and I wasn't sure if my plan to take my dad to the Flyers game at Toledo on Friday, weather permitting, would happen. As I learned via a phone conversation during the drive home, my aunt and uncle are visiting my parents in the coming days, so chances are he can't meet me in northwest Ohio even if the snow and ice hold back. So, it turns out that going to tonight's game was the right decision for more than one reason.

Of course, the fun that comes with going to a tightly contested game attended by a near-sellout crowd of 13,000-plus was reason enough. Since I arrived plenty of time before tip-off, I could quietly marvel at how the arena was spruced up in the last however many years.

It looks quite nice for a building nearing forty years of age, and the exposed, less glamorous parts, like above the concessions area, manage to be invisible. This isn't a sleek, spiffy gym, but it looks plenty sharp and feels cozy like a basketball arena should be rather than like some of the new, slick caverns. The seats look pretty much the same as I remember them, so I'd venture to guess that if they're not the originals, they've been in place for some time. For instance, there are no cupholders. Honestly, I didn't miss them, in part because it gives one more room in the seat or at one's feet.

I enjoyed the game and wish I could see the team in person again on Friday; however, my dad may be doing me a favor in saying he probably can't go. It's been a hectic month and a very busy week. I could use to stay put. Tonight's game was a nice break, but my next break should be parking myself at home. After all, a new year is coming, and next week is sure to bring a flurry of more activity.

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Stocking stuffers

My maternal grandmother made the stocking at the top of this entry. She made one for each member of our family, and they are hung at my parents' home every Christmastime. She died around twenty-five years ago, so this is always a nice reminder of her during the holidays.

The stockings were least I believe so. I don't think she was a knitter, and I faintly remember looking at the stockings more closely once I sort of knew what was what when it comes to stitches.

I wish I'd been able to share my knitting with both of my grandmothers--the other quilted and sewed--but it's nice to know that I am carrying on some kind of handcrafted tradition. I taught my mom to knit last Christmas. She made her first scarf and hasn't done anything since.

Speaking of mothers, mine is bombarding my inbox with photos taken during the holidays. As I write, I have seventeen e-mails with attached photos taken in the past few days. Many of these e-mails contain multiple photos. I am being a bad son and not looking at them because it's unwieldy to access pictures in this way.

I don't think she'd try using Flickr or something else hosted online even if I could explain privacy controls and such to her. Is there a better way for her to share these photos without sending so many e-mails? Should I just continue to keep quiet about it even though it annoys me?

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Remembrance of roast beef sandwiches past

Remember how I wrote about defunct fast food franchises and discovered in the process that Rax restaurants, although few in number, are still out there serving roast beef sandwiches? Well, check this out.

That's right, it's a real, live, honest-to-goodness, in-operation Rax in Bellefontaine, Ohio. I stopped on Christmas Eve day en route to my parents' place. And get this... When I had my Thanksgiving experience with unstoppable cruise control, I was a mile or less from this very eatery and didn't know it. They were probably open then too.

You see, this Rax seems to be an all-purpose, 24/7 dining option for hungry travelers exiting state route 33. (You better know it's there, though. It's not listed on the exit sign but an Arby's is.) If you enlarge the picture, you'll see signs stating they are open 24 hours, including all day on Christmas, and sell non-Rax-like food such as pizza.

The inside of the restaurant looks like the chain's latter day buildings: bright interior, no solarium. Most conspicuous in its absence was the salad bar, although like I mentioned, this seems like a place optimized for those on the road. The prominent drive-thru makes that apparent. The interior menu looked more or less like I remembered it. I wouldn't be surprised if the menu board is exactly the same except with higher prices. I wasn't brave enough to snap a photo inside, but I did take one of the drive-thru menu.

Having not been in a Rax in who knows how long--ten years?--that's an imposing menu to navigate. Plus, they list no combo meals, so you have to look over this monster to find everything you want. I knew what I wanted before I set foot in it, but it still overwhelmed me. The prices seemed a little on the high side for fast food, especially with no combo meal break but whatever. I was happy to find the presumed dead franchise.

I ordered a regular roast beef, medium fries, and a medium chocolate chip shake to go. Except for the bag, the food came in nondescript packaging and with non-branded napkins. My hypothesis is that the bag is leftover inventory, although maybe this visit wasn't representative. I stopped by on the way home and got a large fries in a container bearing a logo. Lack of branded packaging isn't necessarily indicative of the restaurant's economic health, but with an extra charge assessed if you wish to use a card to pay, I have to wonder if their margins are really thin.

As for the food itself, the fries were good and may be like how I remember, although really, how would I know? I liked the sandwich too, but I can't say how it compares to those from the past.

The shake, though, was definitely different. I had wanted mint chocolate chip, but those weren't available for order. Rax used to coat part of the cup's walls with chocolate and nicely decorate the top with whipped cream and chocolate chips like coffee shops top mochas and hot chocolates. (In fairness, my shake might have looked like that, but I couldn't tell with the flat lid.) This shake was thicker, and the mini chocolate chips wouldn't travel up the straw, meaning I essentially had a vanilla shake with a couple scoops of chips resting on the cup's bottom.

If you must know, I didn't buy bags and bags of Rax's regular roast beefs to maintain a ration like Bill McNeal does with his precious, old vending machine sandwiches in Newsradio. I liked what I ate, and I might stop by on future drives to visit my parents. I've had my fill for now, though.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Stars upon stars

Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf

Yarn: Misti Alpaca (100% Baby Alpaca Hand Dyed; worsted weight)
Color: EZ20
Needles: US 9s (US 11s for cast on row)
Stitches: 25
Size: 3.5" x 60"

If this scarf turns out to be my last FO of 2008--and it may well be--I'll have ended the year on a high note. This scarf looks pretty magnificent, if I do say so myself. My sister-in-law was very pleased to get it this afternoon.

Try as I might, the photos are making it appear more purple than it is. The base color is more of a deep blue. When I saw the yarn, I knew that it was the right choice for this specific project. The star stitch knit up beautifully.

It's a good thing I made this a skinny scarf--and a little skinnier than I intended. I have some yarn left over from the single skein of the soft, luscious Misti Alpaca but not a lot. I may not have had the patience for this if it were wider. The narrower size is better suited for where the recipient lives anyway.

So yes, it's worth the initial trouble of figuring out how to purl three together. The tips passed on to me were to cast on a couple needle sizes up and knit loosely. Now I've passed them on to you. (Thanks for pointers, by the way. And the recommendation to knit this scarf in the first place.) If you use the right yarn, I guarantee your result will be a stunning FO.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Lessons from a seemingly simple scarf

With some perseverance and focused knitting, I finished the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf today. I finally fixed the problem from the mistake I made two weeks ago. Repairing a dropped stitch wasn't that big of a deal after all.

Although the only thing I was supposed to be learning on this scarf was how to purl three together, it turned out to be a good educational experience for me in multiple ways. I learned to knit more loosely, which absolutely must be done if you're to have a prayer of sliding the needle into three stitches at a time.

I learned that undoing three stitches purled together isn't as bad as it might seem, although it certainly helps to have variegated yarn that sort of does the heavy lifting for you in helping determine what's what. I also discovered that I am substantially better at undoing knitting than I was a year ago at this time. I made enough goofs on this where I had to tink a few (or more) rows. In the end such situations were not worthy of panicking.

What else? Even if a pattern is four rows and the odd ones are knit, keep track of the blasted rows with a counter or suffer the consequences. Losing track of which row I was on happened far too many times to mention, even after I employed the counter. It doesn't do any good to have one out if you don't change the number after each row.

I'll have more pictures and the details on the scarf tomorrow. I finished it after the sun went down, so I'd like to have the showcase photos with some nice natural light.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Gifts of the past

Christmas has come and nearly gone. I got about what I expected to get, with the one surprise being an old Star Wars cup from my childhood--I was obsessed like any other kid my age--and a mug from Hawaii with my name on it.

When I was little--pre-kindergarten, I think--my dad earned a trip to Hawaii because he sold so much seed in a year. (At least I think that's what the story was.) The mug, with my name in English and Hawaiian, was a souvenir from that trip. It and the Star Wars cup were mom's way of unloading some stuff from their house, but it was nice to get them all the same.

I know I've mentioned it before, but it bears repeating. Since I became a knitter, Christmas means anticipating the giving of gifts more than the receiving of them. Certainly I enjoy getting presents, but there is a little thrill in waiting to see the reactions of friends and family discovering what you've made for them. This year I planned to cut back on what I made, at least in terms of bigger projects, but I ended up making something for almost everyone in my immediate family anyway.

Now, one family trait is being non-committal on practically anything imaginable, meaning that everything is "fine/OK". Determining where on the like/dislike continuum such answers fall can be tricky, although it's probably safe to bet on the middle. (This kind of passive-aggressiveness can be maddening at times, and it makes me wonder if my critic side is a way of compensating for a familial resistance to quantifying likes and dislikes.) My gifts were received happily enough, although most of that came from my mother. My brothers were non-committal as usual.

Then I observed a funny thing. While two of them were outside, I noticed that they were wearing the hats I made them last year. (The scarves from my initial knitting year were not in sight, but they'd be the type to not wear them because they're trying to tough it out.) They've never said anything about the hats, and I didn't know if they'd used them in the past year. Seeing them wearing the hats said a lot, and I know it wasn't for my benefit. Obviously the hats have been useful to them, so I'll take what I saw as a big endorsement.

I hope you've had a fun and enjoyable holiday. I know I've had a good one.

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In the nick of time

Indiana dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Jute
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 38

Santa's workshop was able to knit up this dishcloth before The Big Day arrives. It's for a brother who lives in, all of places, Indiana. Imagine that!

It was kind of a crazy day for me. I woke up to what looked like monsoon season. Then I dithered around my apartment all morning waiting for a UPS delivery while fearing that my delayed departure was setting me up for all manner of snow, ice, and other wintry weather on the drive to my parents' home.

I did find one of the few Rax restaurants still in existence, but it seems crass to write about that on Christmas Eve. I'll touch upon it in a future post.

My four-hour drive was uneventful but definitely patience-testing. Snow and ice are all over the place here. As long as I'm not traveling in it, I'm fine with it.

This knit was done in record time. I didn't figure the brother who is receiving it would be paying attention, so I knit it in the open. From start to finish, it took me less than two hours, which I can hardly believe. It isn't difficult or large but still...

Christmas Eve service was moved up to 9 p.m. (Hallelujah!) It always seems akin to an out of body experience to go to these because my mom's church is small, and there's the distinct feeling that I've witnessed the service before. Of course, I have attended this service before. Her message was a repeat, although not to this congregation. (Apparently she delivered the same sermon at a different church six years ago. I thought it sounded awfully familiar.)

I have presents to wrap, the cattle are lowing, and Santa ought to be dropping by any moment. Merry Christmas to you.

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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Slip or slide

We received a nice freezing rain here today. It wasn't anything major, just enough to be potentially hazardous. I had a ticket for the hockey game tonight, so I ventured downtown despite feeling less than thrilled about going. (The way the team played, they must have felt the same. Bums.)

The streets and sidewalks were a little icy before the game. While it didn't appear that much precipitation had fallen during the contest, afterward it was slick like fury and daunting to walk on, especially if you happened to be donning cross trainers with most of the traction worn off. That would be me.

I made it through a couple patches, the kind where you keep sliding after you've taken a step and have stopped moving your feet. Then I faced a decline in the path. Sometimes you have to know when to give in. Rather than take a spill (and possibly tumble into the road and in front of traffic), I sat down, slid down the pavement, and suffered no worse than a wet backside. I was doomed to go splat otherwise, so the trade-off wasn't so bad.

I know that rain, which will become freezing rain and snow as I go west, is forecast for my trip tomorrow. Safe traveling to you if you'll also be on the road.


Monday, December 22, 2008


Cold enough for you? It was in the single digits for a decent part of the day and "warmed up" to the low teens. At least there's no snow and ice. If that could stay away for the next few days, I'll be ever so thankful.

Speaking of freezing of another kind, I'd like to put everything on pause as I've realized that there's a lot to do before Christmas (and the end of the year) and not a lot of time for it. If I thought I was a blur today, tomorrow is really going to be something.

Nothing to report knitting-wise. I have a couple of quick things I'd like to get done in the next day-plus, but I better prioritize my sister-in-law's scarf. I may be knitting it until her flight arrives late on the 26th at the rate I'm going.

I already had a designer listing on Ravelry for my Reds design experiment, but I feel like the designation is more legitimate now that my A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag is in the pattern database. If/when I take that experiment into project form, I think I'll have to delete (or request the removal) of the trial design because, honestly, it's just clogging it up.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008


I'm not typically among the hordes doing Christmas shopping, but having received an e-mail coupon for 40% off any book, I decided to drop by the local chain store last night to see if they might have what I was looking for. The parking lot seemed more occupied than usual, but I didn't pay it much attention. Was I ever in for a shock when I set foot inside the store.

The line had already curled around once and was winding its way toward the customer service desk. I'm not sure why I didn't just turn around and leave right then. I possess a lot of patience, but I wasn't particularly willing to wait however long--a half hour or more?--it was going to take to check out. They didn't have what I was seeking, so that resolved any potential dilemma. I was going to get a magazine, but it can wait until I can pop in and out of there.

With four days until Christmas, I don't have much shopping to take care of. I've knit some gifts--yes, the clock's ticking on what's undone--and bought some others. There may be an online purchase yet. Two-day shipping is free, and overnight is less than first class priority. (Depending where they're shipping from, I've had two-day come the next day.) Why in the world would you subject yourself to the long lines at stores when chances are you can likely find better prices online, more inventory, and avoid all that hassle?

I get the sense that some people do enjoy the shopping experience. Maybe it is part of the holidays for them. Knock yourself out if it works for you. I will browse for the sake of it, particularly if its CDs, DVDs, and books, but more often than not, when I go somewhere to get something, I know what I want and don't mess around. Lines like the one I saw last night remind me why.


Saturday, December 20, 2008

Short attention span knitting

Notre Dame dishcloth

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Dark Pine
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 37

I've been struggling of late to follow through on longer knits, but the quick ones have been getting done just fine. I don't recall knitting dishcloths as fast as I have been, but I flew through this Notre Dame dishcloth. It took about three hours to knit up this one repeat from a scarf pattern. I don't expect it'll get any reaction from my brother when he gets it on Christmas day, but I know his grad school stint as one of the Fighting Irish made him a fan.

The pattern for the logo is ingenious. Most dishcloth patterns render their subject in purls, but here stockinette stitch makes up the overlaid N and D. It stands out quite nicely. I'm not sure what I'd think of it in a scarf, but it works really well in this project.

Basic Cup Cozy

Yarn: Plymouth Encore (75% acrylic, 25% wool; worsted weight) and Cascade 220 (100% Peruvian Highland Wool; worsted weight)
Colors: 1233 and 9404
Needles: US 6s
Stitches: 42
Pattern: 2x2 rib

This cup cozy in Christmas colors was another quick knit for spreading the spirit of the season. The 2x2 ribbing has a four-stitch wide rib where I joined in the round because four doesn't evenly divide into 42. I was following the pattern instructions and realized that I needed to adapt it after knitting the first round, but I didn't care and kept on going. It doesn't look bad or anything, but the mistake does irritate my perfectionist tendencies.

The nice thing about not doing a bunch of Christmas knitting is that I have time to make small items like these if I get the itch.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Little WIPs

Twas a rainy day in the capitol city, so much so that I'm glad it was warm enough to keep us from being up to our knees in snow. Yeah, it was a soaking wet day, but cooler temperatures could have made it a whole lot worse.

After nearly a week of blogging about the formerly secret project, you're probably wondering what else I'm working on. At knit night I cranked out a quickie Christmas gift that I'll show in a few days.

I still have my sister-in-law's Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf on hiatus after last week's knit night error. I've just not felt settled enough to sit down and undo what needs to be undone and then get back to knitting the thing. I've been terribly unmotivated. Worst case scenario gives me until the 27th to get it done, although I'd like to have it finished before hitting the road for the holiday.

I'll be converting this Notre Dame logo scarf into a dishcloth for one of my brothers...or at least I think I'm clever enough to do so. (On the cleverness scale, this ranks pretty low.) I was kind of excited to come across it as it meets my needs. I'd do it as a scarf for him if Christmas were a month away.

An Indiana dishcloth may be in the offing too, but we'll see what kind of time I have to do it.

I'd like to have a project for me on the needles while I'm away for Christmas, but I'm not sure if I will have identified what to make or have the yarn for it. Hopefully some of my inspired choices of late will continue.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Christmas spirit

The A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag

Yarn: Lily The Original Sugar'n Cream (100% cotton; worsted weight)
Color: Bright Navy and Jute
Needles: US 7s
Stitches: 40

I'm sure you're sick of me writing about these by now. Rest assured that I'm posting this part just to fulfill the FO details for my own purposes, although they do lead into what I want to write about today: the holiday season.

As you already know, I did the design and made these dishcloths as Christmas gifts. Christmas is a week from today. For the most part it couldn't feel less like the holiday season to me. I realized this after hearing two different discussions on the radio about holiday traditions. Aside from the pleasure of preparing and mailing the package and knowing how it's been received, this time of year doesn't feel unlike any other series of cold, gray days. Knitting with a deadline of the 25th evokes it a little,but I finished most of what I wanted to do far enough in advance.

So I'm listening to these people on NPR talk about what they like to do and watch to get them in the spirit, and I'm thinking that I don't really have anything going on that directly reminds me of the season.

What does this time of year mean for me? It means attending screenings almost every day of the week--if not more than one per day--and finding delivery notices on my door that screeners have been delivered. In theory this should all be very enjoyable, albeit exhausting, as the prestigious, awards-grubbing titles are trotted out for approval.

I've been mostly underwhelmed by what I've seen this December, which has made it seem more like a chore than usual. Between the screenings and DVDs, I reckon I'll take in somewhere from 30-40 films this month. It's bad enough to consume at that rate. To spend that concentrated period of time on mediocrities doesn't help. Also factor in that this season's crop is relentlessly downbeat and dreary. Even Marley & Me isn't pure feel-good fluff, something I welcome now.

I don't mean to come off as Grinch-like or ill-tempered. I'm not actively avoiding holiday cheer. I simply don't observe it, not at the movie theater and not in an empty office building. I haven't had the need to go to the mall or do much in the way of shopping, so I'm not visiting the typical spots where it's in abundance. Except for the occasional Christmas-themed episodes of TV series I watch, there's been little to distinguish right now from mid-January or late February. That doesn't seem right.

I'd like to inject some Christmas spirit into these days. After all, isn't the anticipation part of the enjoyment this time of year? When I've been wrapped up in a project, knitting has done its part to summon the seasonal mood. Making something for others feels good, but it's especially true in the final month of the year. Apparently I just need to be doing more of it to make up for the deficit.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag

This Christmas I wanted to make something special for my friends who write for The A.V. Club. What could be better than their outlet's logo knit as a dishcloth? Probably many things, but coming up with this pattern was within my skill set.

Readers of comments appended to A.V. Club articles know that there is no greater or more versatile epithet than "hipster douchebag" for challenging someone's tastes. Face it, you and your movie, music, and book preferences make you one in somebody's eyes.

But how can the self-regarding aesthete express a smug sense of superiority and quirkiness while doing the dishes? Enter The A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag. Knit it and use it with the knowledge that when it comes to being ahead of the curve, your partiality includes not just everything in pop culture but also the kitchen sink.

The A.V. Club Hipster Dishrag

Yarn: 1 ball of Lily Sugar'n Cream or any worsted weight cotton

Needles: US 7s

With US 7s, cast on 40 stitches using the cable cast on.

First six rows: Beginning with the purl row, knit k3, st st 34, k3.

The A.V. Club logo

Row 1: k3, p13, k9, p12, k3

Row 2: k3, k10, p13, k11, k3

Row 3: k3, p10, k5, p5, k5, p9, k3

Row 4: k3, k8, p4, k9, p4, k9, k3

Row 5: k3, p8, k3, p3, k7, p3, k3, p7, k3

Row 6: k3, k6, p3, k2, p11, k2, p3, k7, k3

Row 7: k3, p6, k3, p2, k13, p2, k3, p5, k3

Row 8: k3, k4, p3, k2, p15, k2, p3, k5, k3

Row 9: k3, p4, k3, p2, k16, p2, k3, p4, k3

Row 10: k3, k3, p3, k2, p18, k2, p3, k3, k3

Row 11: k3, p3, k3, p2, k18, p2, k3, p3, k3

Row 12: k3, k2, p3, k2, p20, k2, p3, k2, k3

Row 13: k3, p2, k3, p2, k20, p2, k3, p2, k3

Row 14: k3, k1, p3, k2, p3, k2, p2, k3, p2, k2, p2, k2, p4, k2, p3, k1, k3

Row 15: k3, p1, k3, p2, k3, p3, k1, p4, k1, p3, k1, p4, k2, p2, k3, p1, k3

Row 16: k3, k1, p3, k2, p2, k1, p4, k1, p3, k1, p2, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p3, k2, p3, k1, k3

Row 17: k3, p1, k3, p2, k3, p3, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k4, p1, k2, p2, k3, p1, k3

Row 18: k3, p3, k2, p3, k1, p4, k1, p3, k1, p2, k1, p1, k1, p1, k1, p4, k2, p3, k3

Row 19: k3, k3, p2, k4, p3, k1, p1, k2, p1, k3, p1, k1, p4, k3, p2, k3, k3

Row 20: k3, p3, k2, p4, k2, p2, k1, p3, k1, p2, k1, p1, k2, p5, k2, p3, k3

Row 21: k3, k3, p2, k24, p2, k3, k3

Row 22: k3, p3, k2, p24, k2, p3, k3

Row 23: k3, k3, p2, k4, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, k1, p2, k4, p2, k3, p2, k3, k3

Row 24: k3, p3, k2, p3, k2, p4, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p1, k2, p4, k2, p3, k3

Row 25: k3, k3, p2, k7, p2, k5, p6, k4, p2, k3, k3

Row 26: k3, p3, k2, p4, k6, p4, k4, p6, k2, p3, k3

Row 27: k3, k3, p2, k6, p4, k5, p1, k2, p1, k5, p2, k3, k3

Row 28: k3, p3, k2, p5, k1, p2, k1, p5, k4, p6, k2, p3, k3

Row 29: k3, k3, p2, k5, p2, k2, p2, k4, p4, k5, p2, k3, k3

Row 30: k3, p3, k2, p5, k4, p4, k2, p2, k2, p5, k2, p3, k3

Row 31: k3, k3, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k4, p2, k6, p2, k3, k3

Row 32: k3, k1, p3, k2, p5, k2, p4, k2, p4, k2, p3, k2, p3, k1, k3

Row 33: k3, p1, k3, p2, k22, p2, k3, p1, k3

Row 34: k3, k1, p3, k2, p22, k2, p3, k1, k3

Row 35: k3, p1, k3, p2, k22, p2, k3, p1, k3

Row 36: k3, k2, p3, k2, p20, k2, p3, k2, k3

Row 37: k3, p2, k3, p2, k20, p2, k3, p2, k3

Row 38: k3, k3, p3, k2, p18, k2, p3, k3, k3

Row 39: k3, p3, k3, p2, k18, p2, k3, p3, k3

Row 40: k3, k4, p3, k2, p16, k2, p3, k4, k3

Row 41: k3, p5, k3, p2, k15, p2, k3, p4, k3

Row 42: k3, k5, p3, k2, p13, k2, p3, k6, k3

Row 43: k3, p7, k3, p2, k11, p2, k3, p6, k3

Row 44: k3, k7, p3, k3, p7, k3, p3, k8, k3

Row 45: k3, p9, k4, p9, k4, p8, k3

Row 46: k3, k9, p5, k5, p5, k10, k3

Row 47: k3, p11, k13, p10, k3

Row 48: k3, k12, p9, k13, k3

Next 6 rows: Beginning with the purl row, knit k3, st st 34, k3.

Bind off.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Rough drafts

How did I make the secret project? Begin with knitPro. Use a pen to trace where three distinct circles should be and a colored pencil to indicate which blocks should be used for letters. Label row and stitch axes. Find an old envelope to scribble the pattern on. Count stitches, write down, knit the row, repeat. End up with this.

Notice that the ends want to curl up like a scroll and that the stockinette border wants to behave likewise. Since I incorrectly used the Knit Portrait option to generate the image, I ended up with a squashed image that's more octagonal than circular. (This photo is kind of deceptive as its boxier than it appears.) This also meant that the dishcloth is larger than intended, although it's still a nice size for one. My first iteration is 54 stitches wide and 68 rows tall. Compare to the final version, which is 40 stitches wide and 60 rows tall.

I knit the background, separating inner circle, and letters in stockinette and the outer circle and inner circle in reverse stockinette. I like the raised logo. The dishcloth looks like it is embossed. It might have more dish-scrubbing power. Unfortunately the stockinette separating circle gets lost amid the purls, and the letters don't have quite the graceful curves that they could have.

For the second version I corrected for the stitch size and used the Knit Landscape option on the knitPro web app. That fixed the dimensions, but I still had to determine what kind of stitches to do where, especially for the letters. I felt like I could do better with the A and V in A.V. Club. I tried out different combinations on traditional graph paper until I came up with symmetrical letters that came closest to those in the logo design.

To make things easier, I also chose to plot out the points on the graph paper, which was just wide enough to accommodate the design. I had to add a second piece behind the first, taped together with the sticky part of a UPS delivery notice, to make a sheet tall enough. Then it was time for more coloring. You'll see that I made some mistakes and had to incorporate other colors to cover them up. It's a good thing I have the pattern typed out because I'm not entirely sure what all of those "fixes" mean.

Since I knew the pattern well enough by now, I wrote it all and then knit the project. Imagine how pleased I was when it turned out how I envisioned. I switched to a purled background, separating circle, and letters with a reverse stockinette outer and inner circle. The change was a big improvement. I also added a garter stitch border on the sides to spruce it up.

Was this process easy? Well, I wouldn't call it simple, but it went more smoothly than I anticipated, particularly after I did the first failed draft. I spent far more time coloring in all those squares for the second draft than was probably necessary, but it paid off when it was time to convert those blocks into stitches. The knitting was pretty easy, surprisingly quick, and worth the effort I put into designing it.

Tomorrow: the pattern.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

It is revealed

I know that I've been tantalizing you all with talk of a secret project. Now that it has reached its destination, I can reveal what it is.

The dishcloths you see are my best attempt at reproducing The A.V. Club logo. My friend Donna, also a knitter, and her husband write for the site. In a stroke of inspiration, I decided to try to figure out how to convert the logo into knits and purls to send as part of a Christmas gift package. For obvious reasons, I needed to keep this project strictly hush-hush. I didn't want to spoil the surprise.

I'll admit that it was hard to keep quiet about this. That's why it's been a favorite blogging topic of late. I was giddy with anticipation of the reaction the secret project would produce. It was very satisfying to crack the problem of writing the pattern and exhilarating to know that those receiving the FO evidence would have no way of seeing it coming. I inadvertently titled one blog post with two words that have meaning for one of their site's features, but it still would have taken keen powers of observation and prediction to put it together.

I'm going to squeeze a couple more entries out of this designing process. Still to come are pictures of the failed, oversized first knit and the rough draft on graph paper. And of course I'll publish the pattern. Like I said when first writing about this secret project, it is going to have limited appeal and was pretty much unguessable, but I'm happy to know that it was the right thing for the right people. Honestly, that's all that matters.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008


I've cut back significantly on the Christmas knitting this year. I'm finding that decision to be a great relief. I've been in a bit of a knitting funk this December and am taking longer than usual to finish things. I've been busy, although when am I not? Maybe it's having fewer free evenings that has slowed me down. Whatever the reason, it's been a good thing that I haven't had a deadline to work hard to meet.

Or maybe that's the problem. Without a pressing need to get things done, I'm not completing them. OK, so the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf for my sister-in-law has had enough backwards movement and requires so much increased concentration that it's easier not to pick it up than to knit it. So yeah, I'm kind of stuck.

I am getting the itch for small, quick projects in time for the holiday, though. (By quick I mean something that can be done in one sitting.) Any recommendations? Quick knits for guys--mom's the only female in the house until my sister-in-law arrives--are most needed.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008


Some tastes and preferences can be explained and rooted out. Some small, pleasant things defy explanation or don't need any...

-Catching the scent of the goods baking inside the Wonder Bread factory while merging on the westbound stretch of I-670 from I-71.

-The forlorn sound of train whistles in the distance at night.

-The musical plunk, like the sound of a coin placed in an old arcade game, in Google Talk to signify a new instant message.

-The smell of the Budweiser brewery while driving past it on I-270. Perhaps it's because it reminds me of being able to smell the Cargill plant as a child.

-Getting the DVR fast forward timing down so that when you hit play, the program resumes at the moment when it returned from break.

-The weight of many blankets on a cold night.

-The lit-up exteriors of shopping malls on winter evenings.

-The lucid moment between dreaming and wakefulness.

-Light dissipating above the audience like powdered dreams that can only become tangible upon reaching the screen.

-The faint flickering sound of reels turning in the projectionist's booth.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Whaddya know

When I wrote about color work, I didn't expect to get all the helpful tips in the comments that I received. I'm not saying that I don't think you all are capable and knowledgeable. Au contraire. I've benefited from my readers' wisdom and assistance on many occasions. I guess what surprised me this time was the depth of it. Funny what happens when you go look at some knitting help videos in part because you had nothing else to write about that day.

Anyway, I really appreciate the advice. I don't know when I might be bold enough to give one of those techniques a try, but I will definitely be referring to those comments whenever that time comes.

Although I don't have a knitting tip to share, I have one that might be useful if you shop online. Every now and then I'd been checking on a Blu-ray player at to see if it was at a price at which I was interested in making the purchase. It's not an essential by any means, but I know that now is potentially when good deals are there to be had.

I noticed that as I checked it and similar machines, the price was coming down. Wednesday morning it reached the price where I was ready, but I wanted to take a look at the item in a store before buying.

A few hours later I refreshed the page, thinking that maybe I could get that price to decrease a little more. (I recalled reading that Amazon does dynamic pricing, something I'd also seen firsthand with this item.) Bzzt! The price had jumped about five dollars. Fine. I'll wait. I checked again later that night. It had gone up another five bucks. Before the night was through, it was twenty-seven dollars more than it had been twelve hours earlier.

Obviously I was going to have none of this. I waited about a half day before looking again. The price was up another seven dollars. Now I was getting angry. One of my brothers directed me to Price Protectr as a means of finding out about price drops without having to check the actual item page. It's apparent that my searches for and visits to the item page have caused the price to increase.

I'm still waiting to get my first e-mail notice from them because the price has continued to rise. Out of curiosity, I checked the Blu-ray player's price again. It went up a whopping $35! In two days the price has shot up $61 and practically no discount off the manufacturer's suggested retail price.

I've gone from ready to purchase to a disinterested buyer, or one who may not get it from them. (They still have a deal associated with the item, though, that makes them the most attractive seller if the price falls again.) I'll be interested to see if Price Protectr--yes, there is no second "o" in the name--will deliver news of a price drop. At the very least, it may stave off exponential price increases from overly curious searching and checking.

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Thursday, December 11, 2008


A new local yarn shop opened here this month. Since it is near where knit night takes place, I thought I'd swing by beforehand and check it out.

Now I'm not terribly familiar with the businesses along the street in question, but I didn't figure it would be too hard to find. I had scratched out some directions, but bah, who needs to look at them? It's exit, turn left onto the street on the exit sign, and turn right at the street where the shop is. Really, it's simple, simple, simple.

Except for one thing. I didn't write down the address of the shop. I thought I knew the name of the cross street it was near, but it turns out that I was misremembering. That street is the one I turn onto to get to the knit night location's parking lot. So here I am driving along looking for the place, not seeing it, and knowing that I've gone too far because I'm practically to Ohio State.

I turned around and resumed looking for it. I had a fair idea that I knew the address number, but that is helpful only when you can see them on the buildings. I frantically scanned the business fronts, but I wasn't seeing any numbers. So, having missed it again, I drove the extra mile and a half to the knit night spot, turned around, and made a mental note of the odometer's trip mileage. I knew how far the LYS is from the café, so it stood to reason that if I drove that distance and then stopped the car, I should be able to find the place.

I stopped a little short of the distance because I saw a parking spot along the street and felt I better take it. I thought I recalled the address number, so I walked a thousand or so south. Finally, there it was. I'd say more about the place, but there's more to the story in getting there than what I observed inside. (They have yarn and a nice space. Umm, the end.)

At knit night I also filed my brain somewhere else as I lost track of the rows on my sister-in-law's Christmas scarf, tried to rip back in the restaurant's darkness, and ended up dropping a stitch along the line. I'm trying to figure out how I correct this by ripping back as the dropped stitch is a p3tog after a yarn over. I thought about it and thought about it some more. I decided it was better to call it a night rather than mess it up further. Plus, I couldn't really see, which is one negative about where I was.

Tomorrow it will all come to me like a bolt out of the blue, won't it?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Two in one

In a moment of bravery I elected to look at Knitting Help's video for Fair Aisle knitting. (Apparently Fair Aisle is a specific type of stranding method, so the video is listed under the latter.) Carrying two pieces of differently colored yarn together on the same row is one of those things that scares me a lot as a knitter. It looks incredibly complicated and difficult and, most importantly, Not Worth The Inevitable Headaches. Still, I would like to know how to do it as there are some projects--my secret project, for instance--for which I'd like to be able to apply it.

The video demystifies the technique, although it's not entirely clear to me. That can only come with actually trying to do it. For a second I thought that I'd give it a go for the secret project, but if I'm not mistaken, Fair Aisle (or whatever it's called) looks as though it can only be done in stockinette. Am I right? The dictum that one should carry the yarn past more than a five stitch gap creates problems too.

The project in question could be done in stockinette, although I think it would probably lose some utility in that stitch. Of course, in this instance it would also mean rewriting the pattern (or doing a mistake-free version on graph paper) as the whole point of my process has been to determine which stitches should be knits and which should be purls. I may be up for that eventually but not any time soon.

I skimmed some of the intarsia video, but once she starts talking about the various ways one needs to overlap the strands depending on how things are leaning, I tuned out and quietly swore off color work. (All the ends to weave in doesn't make it appealing either.)

I've tried double knitting and found it also more suited to stockinette, not to mention that it becomes confusing after awhile with having to knit two strands for everything.

It seems like there ought to be an easier way than these methods, but from what I've found, it looks like I'm best sticking to one color at a time or variegated yarn. Those other techniques just might make me lose it.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Out of season

It's been a busy day here with nothing worth writing about, but I thought I'd found the answer in a Christmas meme. The more questions I saw, the more familiar it seemed...and for good reason. Shoot.

There are only sixteen days remaining until Christmas (and closer to fifteen considering the late hour at which I'm writing this), but it just doesn't feel like that time of the year for some reason. Work at the office has been less, but work involving staring at silver screens has increased. About the only person I run into is the janitor, who's bored beyond belief with it being break. Half the time I feel like I don't know if I'm coming or going. The weather has been cold and spit some light flurries, but mostly it's just gray and dull outside with a lack of precipitation that sticks. Overall, it's just not very festive.

Outside of my feverish work on the secret project, knitting time has been sparse of late. I've needed knit night to get something done at all. It's nice not to have that knitting deadline hovering over me, but I think having it did make me more mindful of what time of the year it is. Right now it's more like a seasonal limbo.

Does it feel like the holiday season to you yet?


Monday, December 08, 2008

Secret success

Version 2.0 of the secret project as pattern and FO is finished, and it looks mighty fine. The sound you hear is me patting myself on the back for a job well done.

Seriously, though, I am impressed with what I learned through the process. knitPro certainly deserves some of the credit as it provided the basis from which I determined how many stitches to use for the different parts within the design, but I did a fair amount of heavy lifting in figuring out how to divvy up the stitches and what should be knits and purls.

This process is yet another tip-off to me that I have a fundamental understanding of knitting. The mathematical element in writing the pattern is fun for me because I do like working with numbers (just not as much as I like working with words). Finding the symmetry and converting it into rows of knits and purls not only speeds up the process but also pleases my inner aesthete.

For what seemed like the longest time I had difficulty reading the knitting, or seeing the difference between knits and purls. To be able to envision a pattern before knitting a stitch of it definitely gives me a sense of pride, even if in this case my first attempt was a nice mental cheat sheet for picturing it the second time around.

I've said before not to get too excited over something that it seems like I'm hyping up. (Hopefully all can be revealed in a week or so.) This project isn't the be all and end all. Still, it has given me a great deal of satisfaction.

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

Stitch by stitch

My second pass at designing the secret project is finished. Now comes the knitting.

While I'm glad to be done with coloring in graph paper boxes, counting them, and trying to keep track in my head which stitches should be purls and which should be knits, it was fun to plot the points and convert them into directions. The practice I got on the first attempt made this redesign go faster. I wouldn't call it quick, though.

I may have to learn how to do Fair Isle after all as I believe this would look really nice in two colors rather than the one, but let's take this one step at a time. This month is already speeding by. If I want to finish the secret project in a reasonable period of time, I better stick to what I know how to do.

In addition to changing to ratio so that I had fewer stitches but more rows, I'm doing an inverse image so that the main design elements are raised on the surface. In essence the design is on what would ordinarily be thought of as the wrong side. Yeah, I realize this will mean more when I'm not speaking in unknown generalities. All in good time.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008


I considered declaring my first FO of this week's new secret project good enough, but I think I've figured out how to use knitPro to get the final result I desire. Although one page of standard graph paper isn't big enough for plotting the pattern, I've pulled it and the colored pencils out to give me something more flexible than the monochrome knit landscape pattern printout that the free program produced.

I think that I've corrected what I didn't account for on the first go-round. Plus, I may be able to translate the pattern into stitches without having to knit a row and then write the next one. This will go much faster if I'm able to write the entire thing and then follow my directions. Doing the pattern in two colors on the graph paper will be a lot easier to decipher than the black, white, and multiple gray shades I worked from the first time.

Speaking of edits, I might as well point out that I've scrubbed this blog of the single link to my other site and, for the time being, removed the primer in the sidebar that provided links to entries about significant moments in my knitting progress. In the case of the former, there's something that has me a little creeped out that made me want to cut the most direct (and readily accessible) evidence of my identity. The primer has been removed for a similar reason, although I think it's more likely to reappear eventually. I hadn't updated it in forever anyway.

On a completely unrelated note, I found out that this blog appeared in a Penn State University newspaper opinion piece about Obama being in touch with popular culture. In my coverage of The Arcade Fire's free show in support of Obama during the March primary, I relayed that the lead singer mentioned that the candidate had called him. It's nice to receive credit, as this blog was named as the source of the information. How strange and amusing for what I wrote to end up where it did.

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Friday, December 05, 2008

The spirit of the times

26 days remain in 2008, but those like me involved in surveying the pop culture landscape are waist deep in evaluating the year's best and worst. Films rolling into theaters over the next few weeks are screening like crazy and showing up with regularity on the doorstep. Shortlists are assembled in hopes of giving preliminary shape to one's final canonization for the year.

While I don't have any links handy, many of my colleagues believe this has been a bad year at the movies. I agree completely. Even awards season, the time when the prestige pictures get paraded in hopes of earning plaudits and statuettes, has been mostly uninspiring.

When all is said and done, I'll have seen around 300 new films released in 2008. I can't say that there's been a lot that's elevated me. Rachel Getting Married was the last one. The Dark Knight and WALL-E are no-brainers, but those are in short supply. Light may shine through the darkness at some points in these films, but there's a good deal that's bittersweet in them all.

Tonight I was messing around in iTunes to flex my old radio programmer inclinations and put together a CD-length playlist of the year's best music (or songs from my favorite albums). I didn't necessarily have a difficult time doing this as we live with music differently than we do with films. Favorite songs are like family and friends we see or hear from on a regular basis while favorite films are more like people we see once or twice a year.

What stood out, though, was that many of the songs are in a minor key, downbeat, or both. "Love Lockdown", "Mykonos", and "Joke About Jamaica" are thrilling listens and provide catharsis, but I don't know that any of them are going to get a party started.

There's a priori convenience in proclaiming pop cultural glumness as an indicator of the economic downturn and country's mood. Really, I think it's impossible to draw any overarching conclusions purely on the basis of there being so much out there to support any number of theories. It also overlooks the fact that a good deal of the art was conceived and made before financial woes lumbered onto the scene. Nevertheless, this stuff isn't made in a vacuum, and the recession's roots are long enough to have influenced creative endeavors.

So, is the collective unconscious producing work that mirrors the zeitgeist, or is finding pop cultural uneasiness ascribing intention that wouldn't be given if times were better? I don't know.

(Tip of the hat to Donna and Noel for this entry's inspiration.)

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Thursday, December 04, 2008

On and off the needles

The secret project, an item of my own design, is finished. Overall I'm happy with it despite the knitPro pattern image looking squashed a bit when translated into actual stitches. I'm wondering if I should have used the landscape size instead of portrait. Now that I've looked at that option, I probably should have. Maybe a second attempt at the secret project will be made. I sort of know what I'm doing now. If I knew how to do do Fair Isle, it would make the finished result snazzier, that's for sure.

After mostly not knitting the Holding Hands, Feeding Ducks scarf for my sister-in-law these past two weeks, I made some good progress at knit night tonight. I'm probably halfway done. I lost track of rows the last two times I sat down with the scarf, so I pulled out the row counter to avoid having to frog this thing. I'm pleasantly surprised that I've been able to undo p3tog, but I'd rather not do it again if I can help it.

I can't believe that Thanksgiving was a week ago. The past few days, filled with awards screenings and the arrival of several screeners, means I have plenty to do work-wise and enough knitting-wise in the three weeks leading to Christmas. Time flies, doesn't it?

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In the laboratory

Last night I had an idea for a knitting design that really energized me. I think part of my trouble getting to sleep was because I wanted to start working on it right away; however, I had to wait until today to begin. I got cracking on it after getting home from work and have been designing and knitting all evening. Not to be coy but I'm going to keep the project secret for the time being.

I feel pretty safe in saying that probably no one has ever designed or knit what I'm making. Don't get too excited, though. While this item may be unique, I doubt interest in the design will be high. That's reality, not modesty. Still, I'm pretty excited to see how or if it turns out.

If you remember, I fried my brain trying to come up with directions for knitting the Cincinnati Reds logo. I never did carry over my work on the experimental piece into what I intended to make, but the experience was a helpful step in what I'm designing now.

Fortunately, I was able to put the graph paper and pen aside and give knitPro a spin. The free program converts images into a pattern with rows and number of stitches, although there's still a fair amount of calculation you have to do yourself, not to mention vagueness in how the image is displayed. It saved me from freehand tracing and supplied me with a general idea of size. It's a convenient way to undertake this project, but it's not a magic solution.

I've been writing a row of the design, knitting it, and moving on to the next row. It's a tedious process, so my initial enthusiasm helped carry me quite a ways. Although I'm finding it hard to figure out what to do next, mostly due to dulled mental faculties, I'm about three-quarters of the way through the trickiest part. I'm blogging in hopes of letting me look at it again with fresh eyes.

The design I envisioned is being realized, more or less. That said, I remain uncertain whether it will fully meet my expectations. I thought I'd botched it initially, realized it was indeed correct, considered whether I should have left a part out, decided it was working satisfactorily, and cycled through those opinions again. It's a project of folly, so if it isn't as perfect as I'd hoped, well, I think it will be good enough.

I figure I'll have it finished one way or another by tomorrow night, although I won't be revealing the result for awhile yet. This tease will just have to suffice.

As far as finishing goes, is there an equivalent bind off to the cable cast on?

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008


The iPod is an invaluable companion on a long drive, and I had it firing for my trip home Monday. Nevertheless, all those choices can be crippling, and sometimes I don't particularly want to listen to music. Hearing someone talk can make the time pass faster than grooving to songs or albums, especially if one has a vague sense of how long they are.

For a change of pace I turned to podcasts. I'm terrible about listening to those I have set up to download. As I scrolled through them, I noticed that many podcasts were recorded last year and either haven't updated since or weren't being downloaded because I haven't cracked their proverbial cases.

I selected some knitting podcasts to tide me over during the last couple hours. One was a little too estrogen-infused or poetry reading-like at times for me to bother with it again, but at least it served its purpose of engaging me while I sliced through Ohio's flat countryside.

Another featured an interview that was more diverting. The author claimed that 80% of patterns are knit in the same color as the depicted FO. Aside from wondering how such a claim can be calculated, I pondered whether I do this.

I can think of one instance when I've copied the colors, but more often than not I don't pay much attention to recreating the photographed project's palette. I have a fairly strong sense of the color or colors I want to use, perhaps before even picking the project. I substitute yarn a high percentage of the time too. How about you?

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Monday, December 01, 2008

Road observations

I began the return trip home from my parents' this morning. I did hardly any knitting while there, so can you stand another day of random observations?

The snow seen in this entry's photos is what greeted me on my drive. It was a wet snow perfect for packing into snowballs and snowmen but not so great if you're behind the wheel of a vehicle. I didn't have to worry about it as where my parents live must be on the edge of the lake effect snow. About ten minutes into my drive the accumulation was inconsequential.

One of the strange things I saw while going to my parents' place on Thanksgiving was someone out in a glider of some sort with a rainbow colored parachute. It was too far away for me to get a great look at it, but I thought that a vehicle was underneath the parachute. I don't really have anything to say about it other than it was a weird thing to see on a cold Thanksgiving morning while driving through farmland.

I also came by a fair number of cars abandoned along the side of the road. I'll see one along the interstates or state highways every now and then, but this trip made me wonder about these automobiles and their owners. Who leaves their vehicles behind? Why? How do they get wherever they were going?

Remember my oddball, dream-inspired entry about defunct fast food franchises? Driving home today I saw a road sign for a Rax, although I suspected that it surely couldn't be open. (I was also in something of a hurry to get back in time so I could turn right around and catch JCVD before going to the Blue Jackets game.) I've checked the official Rax site, and it lists a Bellefontaine location. I am so going there when heading to my parents' for Christmas. (I think I may have exited on the right street and not known it when my car was acting possessed. Maybe it just wanted a roast beef sandwich?)

This was the third trip I've made to my parents' current home. I've taken three different routes, although the first one doesn't count because I had to go out of my way to pick up my great aunt. I swear that Google Maps gave me a different route this summer, although I won't complain because alternating my path kept the monotonous drive slightly more interesting.

Since driving directions were the bread and butter service of AAA, I wonder how internet driving directions have affected them. I'm still a member, although primarily it's for the assurance of roadside assistance should I need it. I haven't in awhile, but it's been very handy the few times I did.

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