Saturday, January 28, 2006

Energy knitting

A couple of weeks ago, one of the Knitwits announced that she had signed us all up to attend a lecture on “Healing with Energy” at Adult Ed. From the class description, it sounded like this would be a presentation intended to drum up interest in two courses on Reiki and whatnot that the presenter would be offering later in the term.

Game girls that we are, we all showed up Thursday night for the class, but only I thought to bring along some knitting. I often do this when I go to events at someone else’s urging. A small project, such as a sock, is unobtrusive, doesn’t require a lot of concentration, and if the event is stupid, I haven’t totally wasted two hours of my life.

I didn’t have anything in progress that was in the mindless phase – the current sock in progress is at the heel – but I did have a ball of DK weight yarn that I bought at the same time as the Karaoke for the iPod pocket. I threw the yarn and the same size 5 bamboo needles into a baggie and stuffed them into my purse before I left.

When I bought the yarn, the ladies at the shop told me the formula for making a standard rolled brim baby hat in the round. It is:

Cast on a multiple of 12 stitches. Try 72 to start, or 84 for very fine yarn.
Knit in the round for about four inches. The bottom edge will roll up naturally.
To decrease for the crown-
First row: *Knit 10, knit 2 together, repeat from * all the way around.
Next row: *K9, K2tog, repeat from * all the way around.
Next row: *K8, K2tog, etc.
And so on. They assumed I would figure out how to finish it once I got down to three stitches, and I will assume the same about you.

I cast on 72 before the lecture started, and had a couple of inches done by the time it was over. Mission accomplished – some nice progress to show for my time.

Friday was unseasonably warm (*see below), and I couldn’t bring myself to work on the sweater, so I took the hat to our bookstore knitting get-together. By the time they ran us out, the hat was finished, and I added a few rows to a long-neglected sock as well.

Here’s the hat on the usual baby head stand-in, a Winfield mug.

The yarn is Magic Garden Buttons from New Zealand, 83% wool, 17% polyester effect yarn, and washable. I believe, based on my extremely unscientific method of holding the hat in one hand and the remaining yarn in the other, that the 50 gram ball would be enough for two hats. My team of enablers, though, is campaigning to have me make matching mittens and socks. We’ll see.

Extreme close-up!

This might be the ultimate in mindless knitting, and it would also be a great project for someone who is intimidated by learning to use double points, or just learning to knit, period. It’s quick, and there aren’t too many ways to screw it up.

*About this weather we have been having: Aser and Kathy have both written about how it is unseasonably warm in their locales. We’ve been having some of that action, too. Thursday’s high was 60, and Friday’s was 58. I went to work yesterday in short sleeves, without a coat. Terry and I went out for ice cream. Today is cooler, and rainy, and we may have thunderstorms. Are you sure this is January?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Sunday's knitting

Despite my plan to not start new stuff until I've finished the old stuff, I decided I simply must have a bag for my iPod. I started it and finished it Sunday afternoon. Knitwit enabler Amy said, "It's small, it's quick, and you know you are going to finish it, so it doesn't count as a new project."

The yarn is Karaoke (appropriate for an iPod, don't you think?), 50% soy fiber, 50% wool from Southwest Trading Company. I cast on 32 stitches onto size 5 dp needles, although in retrospect I maybe should have gone down to 30 to allow for stretching. I ribbed for about half an inch, and then knit stockinette until it was long enough. I grafted the bottom, screwed it up, cussed, tried it again, screwed up, cussed some more, and finally got it right on the third try. (Many thanks to the Kitchener stitch instructions at Knitty.)

I made an I-cord hand loop. After I had the I-cord finished and attached, I realized that the better solution would have been to put it in the middle, across from another shorter loop, and pull it through as a latch. It would also keep the corner from stretching.

Anyway, it only took an afternoon, and it is done, so Amy was right.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

A day mostly off

It was a lazy Saturday in Des Moines. I brought some work home yesterday (my office pc is still out of commission) and fiddled around with it this morning. When Katie saw that I had my laptop on my lap, she hopped up to get a piece of the action. It was a very crowded lap for awhile.

No, that's not work you see. We switched over to The Piker Press so we could vote for Lichloved and Fever Dreams at various web comic sites. Lichloved is so close to getting back into the top 100 at Webcomics, and after 12 episodes, the story is developing nicely. For the most part, fantasy is a big yawn for me, but Alex knows how to tell a fantasy story and get my attention - namely, by making the star a blue-eyed, pretty-in-pink girly girl in a "Goodbye Kitty" shirt. If you haven't read Lichloved yet, go do so, and if the spirit moves you, click the buttons at the bottom to vote.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

The party's over

The balloons have all wilted and been thrown away. Today, my computer wilted as well. The hard drive is kaput. I spent most of the day wandering around from desk to desk, stealing a few minutes of access here and there. Fortunately, my teammates and I have quite a bit of redundancy in our workstations, so it's easy to sneak in while they are at lunch or something.

Kathy said:

There must have been times when you wanted to throw it in sometime during those 25 years yet you stayed. Wow!

Right you are, Kathy. The worst boss I ever worked for was about 1985. She was scheming and two-faced and not to be trusted, and she was pushing me close the edge of a breakdown. A dear friend of mine was living in Hong Kong at the time. He offered to put me up if I wanted to go live there for awhile. It was tempting, very tempting, but I chickened out and stayed put. Looking back at it now, I think, "Were you insane? That would have been great!" Yes, my life would have different, but it would also have been different. In particular, I would not have met Terry. So in that respect, it's good that I stayed put.

Anyway, the quality of my bosses has improved since then, and the last three (all of whom still work there) have been gems.

The online knitters are all a-twitter about some outfit throwing their weight around about copyright infringement over the phrase "Stitch and Bitch." I don't know all of the details, but clicking on this graphic will take you to a Cafe Press shop with some information about it, and some fun items for sale - all proceeds of which go to either a legal defense fund or a breast cancer charity.

(ETA I'm back, refreshed by a bowl of chili and some suck-up service from one of my favorite waiters. If you want to know more about the Stitch * Bitch dust up, check out You Knit What and The Knitting Curmudgeon. The Girl From Auntie, a real-life attorney, gives a succinct legal overview of the situation.

My gang of public knitters never got into the S*B name. There are several writers in the group, and several sharp tongues, so we have always referred to ourselves as Knitwits. But I believe, to a woman, that we all believe strongly in our right to stitch, and to bitch, any damn time we please.)

Thursday, January 12, 2006

25 years ago today

Today was my 25th anniversary working at the newspaper. My co-workers thought it would be fun to get me 25 balloons, one for each year, not realizing just how many balloons that would be. The good news is, I now have the only cubicle with a door.

They had to root around in the prize vault to find something to weight the balloons down, and came up with this:

It's an old trophy of a newspaper carrier from God knows how many years ago. The freshly filled balloons had so much helium that the trophy barely held them. It would sit on the ground, but if I nudged it the slightest bit, it would go sliding across the carpet.

In the afternoon, we had a cookie cake, and even after sharing it, I still ended up bringing half of it home. They also gave me a gift card to Barnes and Noble. All in all, it was a good day.

I got a couple of tickets to go to an exhibit opening at the Art Center Downtown, so Terry and I went there after work. The exhibit is "Sleeping by the Mississippi" by photographer Alec Soth. It was the perfect art exhibit for writers. Terry was a little baffled by the stark photographs. I told him how a writer would look at them - first seeing "it's a guy in a chair" - but then asking yourself more questions. Where is he? Why is he dressed like that? What's that on the wall behind him? When Terry said, "He's a Marine, and the plates belonged to his grandmother," I knew he was starting to Get It.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Alive again

I'm on the mend. My voice is ragged and I can't sing anything higher than Bea Arthur's parts from "Mame." But I'm off the cold medicine and getting by with an occasional cough drop and lots of tissues. It's been really hot at my office this week. I think I may have sweated out the cold.

Tonight, the local Nanowrimo survivors got together to write. Okay, officially I was a Nano casualty this year, but they still let me come. I took a notebook that had some poetry shards, and worked on one of those. I must be better, if I can concentrate enough to work on poetry.

Your Inner Blood Type is Type A

You seem cool and collected, though a bit shy.
You are highly driven and a perfectionist, but that's a side you keep to yourself.
Creative and artistic, you are a very unique person who doesn't quite fit in.
People accept you more than you realize, seeing you as trustworthy and loyal.

You are most compatible with: A and AB

Famous Type A's: Britney Spears and Hilter
What's Your Inner Blood Type?

I actually am type A. Blood type A, that is. I inherited that from my dad. I am quite far from being a "type A personality" - again, just like Dad.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Sniffles day 3

I'm still sniffley and have the attention span of a gnat. Nonetheless, I manged to finish a couple of projects. First, the alpaca scarf:

I used not quite two skeins. I could have finished the second skein, but it was long enough, and I want to wear it. Katie really likes this yarn, so I may make her a toy out of the leftovers.

Second, a baby hat for a co-worker who is expecting.

It's made from Velvet Spun, using the pattern that was on the ball band. It's just a basic rolled-brim hat, scaled to baby size with fat yarn. I don't know if the knot on the top is supposed to look like an umbilical cord, but it does.

I'd write more, but the only other activity that I spent much time on this weekend was blowing my nose.

Friday, January 06, 2006


I wanted to write a real entry tonight, but my dearly beloved, who once vowed to share everything with me, has given me his head cold. Feel free to post in the comments your favorite home remedies for a stuffy nose.

Since I feel less than stellar, you know what that means - it's time for a quiz.

Your Inner Child Is Surprised

You see many things through the eyes of a child.
Meaning, you're rarely cynical or jaded.
You cherish all of the details in life.
Easily fascinated, you enjoy experiencing new things.

Pretty much true. I like experiencing new things, especially if they involve breathing through my nose.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Geese of January

Terry's cold is getting better, and we had some sunshine Wednesday, so he was able to take a walk. He was joined by seven geese. Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

In a sentimental mood

I heard yesterday that some of my relatives lost homes or other property to the wildfires in Texas over the weekend. For most of you reading this, I am probably the only person you know who can say, “I’ve visited Ringgold, Texas many times, and have many happy memories of the town.” After all, the population is only 100, and there isn’t a lot to attract an outsider. (I did go to a concert there once. We saw Gov. Jimmie Davis at the school auditorium.) Now, some 80% of the homes in this little community have been destroyed. Please keep these people in your thoughts.

A few days ago, Aser wrote this:

All our writings are like that. All our stories. They may be lame, they may be of interest only to ourselves, but I guarantee you there will come a day when your relatives or friends or descendants wonder about what you thought about, and if you don't write them down somewhere, the relatives and friends will be shit out of luck and wish they weren't.

Write, you hounds. Write about it all.

How true. I can’t tell you how many times I begged my parents to write down some of the stories they knew. If I could tell you, that would also tell you how many times they didn’t do it. Now they are both gone, and I find myself thinking, “What was that story about the guy and the biscuit?”

Listen to Aser, and write down your stories while you still can. Trust me, future generations won’t care if the spelling is off or if you go on a bit. If you don’t know where to start, go find the book, “To Our Children’s Children” by Bob Greene and D. G. Fulford. It has lots of ideas to get you started.

Now while I didn’t get the stories I wanted, Mom did do one thing I asked. Once when I was looking through her recipe collection, I said, “You should mark these or something, so when you are gone, I will know which ones were the good ones.” The next time I visited, I saw that some of the recipes had red dots and the word “Good” written on them. When I cook one of the “Good” recipes. I may not be following the latest in health recommendations, not unless I make some changes, but I will be recalling how a 1960s Midwestern housewife kept the family fed.

Which is a long way of saying, tonight I made Pizza Loaf for dinner.

And it was Good.

Meanwhile, in other activities Chez Get A Grip, I finally got into the second skein of the alpaca scarf.

I love the way the brioche stitch looks with this yarn, and it’s really easy and fast to knit, but if you make a mistake (easy to do with the slip stitches), it is just about impossible to drop a stitch down and fix it. I’ve frogged it once, and tinked it more times than I can count. Amy says I am getting maximum knitting pleasure that way. Then I poke her with a needle.

(Glossary for non-knitters: Frog = yank out the needles and rip-it, rip-it; Tink = unknit stitch by stitch.)

(Glossary for knitters: Brioche stitch is worked on a multiple of 3 stitches. Yarn over, slip 1, Knit 2 together. I put an extra stitch at the beginning and end so I wouldn’t have to figure out how to YO on the first stitch.)

Don’t mind my whining, though. The yarn feels great and I cannot wait to wear the scarf.

Katie has resolved to improve her mind in 2006.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Welcome 2006

For the first time in several years, Terry and I went to a New Year’s Eve party. (I say several years. I don’t know if we have ever been to a New Year’s Eve party together. Usually one of us has had to work that day and is tired, or has to work the next day and needs sleep.)

Anyway, one of the Knitwits had a few of us over to her house. We all brought snacks, and we visited and played games. I had never heard of Mystify, but if we ever play it again, everyone will be angling to be my partner. It’s an anagram game, and my years of doing crossword puzzles and Jumble served me well.

Terry had worked all day, so we barely hung on until midnight. At midnight, Kim passed around a piece of paper and had us each write down our resolutions, which she filed away for next year. Now, I don’t do resolutions, and even if I did, I wouldn’t go yakking about it. If I want to do or change something, I am more likely to jump right into it, and let people ask about it if they notice a difference.

But I had to write down something, so I wrote, “Finish more things than I start.” The knitters, of course, understood that sentiment. I admire people who can start a project and see it through without wavering, but I have not been able to do that with knitting. When I sorted through my yarn a couple of weeks ago, I also gathered up the unfinished projects and put them together. Some of them need to be finished. A couple of them may need to be frogged, if I decide I don’t like them well enough to continue on. The sock I’ve been working on for two years? Maybe not the right pattern for that yarn, or I would have finished long ago. I need to get some of those things out of the way, to make room for other stuff that I really

I’ve been wondering what to do with my Fever Dreams calendar, since I don’t use a desk calendar. Sand assured me last week that there was no need to keep it in pristine condition, and that I should use it and enjoy it, even if I didn’t need it as a calendar. She wrote in her blog, “I'd like to produce something every day. Even if it was crappy doodles.” I’ve decided that the calendar will be my crappy doodle book. I can use the calendar part as a day book (and have already started doing so) and there is plenty of other space for flights of fancy. There are pictures, too, ready for coloring, and some free space for legitimate doodling. If I made resolutions, I would resolve to add to it every day. As it is, I will just keep it nearby and see what happens.

(addendum: Just checking this for Aser.)