Friday, June 29, 2007

Those *&^*(& Socks

... are finally finished. I have to say that this project has just about killed me for toe up socks. I loved every aspect of the toe up sock right up to the bindoff. Now I'm not sure I'll ever knit another one! Well, I'll never say never, but for right now...I'll just knit on my multidirectional scarf.

I finally did the right thing and checked out stretchy bind-offs online. Here's what I found:

Weebleknits has a resource with four or five different stretchy bindoffs.

But in the end I used Grumperina's method.

Whew! Pix later this weekend, I hope.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Stephanie’s Fine Line

A week or so ago Stephanie Pearl-McPhee reminded us all that we are a community and that what we write on our (personal) blogs may impact others in our community. (I almost said “little community” but I think it’s obvious we’re not so little any more.)

When I read her comments, and there were none that weren’t true (yup, can’t argue with that, I said to myself), I wondered who had yanked her chain. Again speaking to the only person who ever reliably listens to me, I said, well, someone’s done something that set ol’ Stephanie off. She’s definitely on a tear.

And that’s as far as I got with it. Because (a) it’s nunna my business and (b) well, it is my business but I don’t have any way to figure out what happened and whose butt she was chewing. Don’t ya just hate that, when there’s obviously some good gossip and you’re not in the loop?

Like those old “teasers” that gossip columnists used to use in their columns? “Who was the handsome man in tweed seen lunching at The Four Seasons with our town’s most eligible bachelorette?” Or the announcement over the school PA system: “Due to the unfortunate incident in the lunchroom yesterday, meat loaf will no longer be served. And, by the way, the school cook has taken early retirement.”

As I say, I’m definitely Not In The Loop (in the words of Sgt Schultz, “I know nothing!”) But I knew Someone was, because Someone always is. It’s just hardly ever me.

So, imagine my surprise, as I read blog after blog this week, to learn that an awful lot of bloggers think that Stephanie was talking about them. This one thinks that maybe her review of a bad yarn shop caused Stephanie to single her out. That one thinks that she shouldn’t have criticized a fellow list-member. Still another can’t think of anything she could have written that would have offended Stephanie, but is still not quite sure Stephanie isn’t talking about her.

A couple of comments: First, there are a lot of similarities between the online knitting community and middle school (or junior high, as it was known when I was at Leland Junior High School). As one of the girls who was Definitely Not Cool then and am Probably Still Not Cool today, I feel that mixture of paranoia and exclusion that comes from the occasional accidental intersection with the Cool Girls. The only thing worse than knowing that they didn’t know I was alive was the fear that maybe they did.

Me: OMG, Barbie noticed me...was my hair too curly? Did she think my hair was too curly? Should I straighten it? Should I cut it off?

In fact, Barbie might simply have remarked to one her friends that I had a booger on my upper lip, without really even knowing who I was at all. But it was an honor to be noticed by her in the first place.

The second thing about our blogging community is that it is a group of humans who are sharing their personal musings with strangers. That means that we do have some responsibility not to libel someone or unfairly criticize someone who can't respond. We have that responsibility no matter how we communicate in this world. Unfortunately, the magic of electronics has made it possible for me to publicly insult someone in a country I've never even seen, without even really understanding how my words might impact that person. At the same time, however, as a blog-reader I WANT to know what you're thinking, who really ticked you off and what she did to do it, and full details of that crappy yarn store where you were treated badly.

And I think there are different rules for different situations. We need to deal with individuals as though we were face to face. But business owners, for instance, are almost like publicly held companies--they've put themselves out there for praise or criticism. I've owned a business and, for me, customer service is ALL. If you're not prepared to give good customer service, you're in the wrong business. And you shouldn't expect to be spared hearing about it when you don't give it. At the same time, everyone has off days sometimes and it's hard to be labeled for one of those days. But I think a fair review of a business, including ambiance, inventory, and courtesy of the staff is fair game for a blog. Rant can relax now.

Anyway, for the record, I do not think Stephanie was referring to me. I do not feel guilty about anything I may have written. Although I may have been guilty of a few impure and frankly rude thoughts about other knitters and yarn pushers and others who have strayed into my tiny knitting world, I haven’t named them on paper (or bandwidth, or whatever else you call where we’re communicating).

So, there! Stephanie, if you’re reading this, I double dare you to say anything bad about me and my pugs. (OMG, Stephanie, I’m, really, you’re my favorite...I didn’t really mean it...just kidding! Can I carry your books to class? Your hair looks really good today ... not that it doesn't always!)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Another of Those Frickin' Opportunities

When we do employee performance reviews in the Big Corporation where I am employed, we identify employees’ strengths and “opportunities,” because, God knows, we wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s tender feelings by pointing out they might have “weaknesses.” The idea is that you applaud the employee’s strengths and the employee has the chance to use his “opportunity” to improve himself. What I generally tell the people I manage is that what is important in the process is (1) how you handle finding out you have an opportunity to improve, and (2) what you learn when you try to improve in that area. Let’s just say that my Higher Power gave me a performance review on my knitting today, and I have some opportunities to learn from.

But I don’t want my feelings hurt either, although right now they are. So, let’s put the whole thing into perspective.

I have been knitting away on the Ann Budd “On Your Toes” socks for about a month now, at a desultory pace. Two socks on two circular needles, magic loop style. This is a great project because:
• Working on two socks at one time means no DSSS (Dreaded Single Sock Syndrome)
• Except for the toes and heels, the pattern is totally mindless, 2X2 rib
• Although I’m an obsessive stitch counter, no need with this sock because the pattern is so obvious—any dropped stitches would stand out right away
• Because it’s toe-up, I can try it on at intervals and make sure it fits …
• And the sock cuff can be longer because I won’t run out of yarn
• Because it’s virtually foolproof (see bullets #2 and 3 above), it’s my computer and/or car project.
• Basically, so simple a caveman could do it. I can plod away on these socks and put my big brain on intricate lace projects that are more worthy of my superior intellectual capacity.

Uh, uh. Nope, not me. Or maybe I’m just not as smart as a caveman. I got all the way to the end of the socks—both of them-- and was in the home stretch to finish them off today. Was writing the blog entry in my head as I knit the last row, something on the order of “it’s good to have a mindless project because you can read blogs and balance your checkbook and never miss a stitch.” Planning my next toe-up socks (since I had so obviously mastered the genre). But as I contemplated binding off the cuff, I became concerned. I’m a cuff-down sort of a gal, and I’ve read (in those damned blogs!) that it’s sometimes difficult to get a really stretchy cuff that will be comfortable.

Time for research: two schools of thought: (1) EZimmerman sewn cuff (too lazy to look this up), and (2) bind off by K2TOG, place stitch back on left needle, K2 TOG, repeat. Cool. Number 2 sounds good to me. Bind off first cuff—piece of cake. Bind off second cuff. Here’s where I might have considered trying the socks on again—or probably before I did the second sock. Nope—I’m a Knitting Guru. Quizilla says so. Cut the yarn and hide it really well in the ribbing. Repeat for second sock. Wow! Two socks finished, ready for the photo, write the blog entry, you’re golden!

Try on sock for photo. Arggghhh! Remove sock before circulation to foot stops completely. Rub calf frantically trying to get blood flow going. Try on second sock. Repeat removal, repeat calf rubbing. Two socks, both beautifully bound off, both unwearable. Only an hour ago, they were comfortable and cozy; now, embolism-inducing.

Again, not to hurt anyone’s feelings, back to the perspective:

Good news: Two socks knit, not one

Bad news: Two socks screwed up, not one

Good news: Lots of yarn, long cuff

Bad news: Long cuff, higher on leg, up where leg is (not to put too fine a point on it) fatter. Should have more width, not less

Good news: Bind-off is very sturdy, yarn hiding exemplary

Bad news: Can’t find the damned yarn end, can’t pull it out, can’t pull out the cast-off

Good news: I do a really meticulous job of un-casting-off the cuff of Sock #1 using tweezers and a Chibi needle; 34 minutes elapsed

Bad news: I cut top of cuff of Sock #2 with scissors and unravel to an intact row; 2 minutes elapsed

Good news: 62 stitches on Sock #1 properly remounted on needles, ready to bind off

Bad news: There are supposed to be 64 stitches, you idiot—whoops, you dropped two about 3 inches down the cuff (See bullet #3 above)

Good news: Unraveling that cuff didn’t hardly take any time at all…

Bad news: Now Sock #1 is 3 inches shorter than Sock #2—you got some knitting to do, Ricky.

Every so often I’ll read a posting on the Knitlist or the Sockknitters list by someone who says, “I started knitting three months ago and now that I’ve mastered socks, I’ll be moving on to something more challenging—like designing and knitting Kevlar vests for the SWAT team while I complete the master knitters program in my spare time.” And I think, well, wow—that person really has it together. But what I know about myself is that I’ve been knitting for over 40 years and some days I still make rookie mistakes, usually caused by overconfidence or inattention to detail. It’s all about learning opportunities.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Now This is More Like It!

What Kind of Knitter Are You?

You appear to be a Knitting Guru. You love knitting and do it all the time. While finishing a piece is the plan, you still love the process, and can't imagine a day going by without giving some time to your yarn. Packing for vacation involves leaving ample space for the stash and supplies. It can be hard to tell where the yarn ends and you begin.Take this quiz!

Quizilla |

| Make A Quiz | More Quizzes | Grab Code

I Just Don't Think This Can Be a Good Thing ...

You Are Rain

You can be warm and sexy. Or cold and unwelcoming.
Either way, you slowly bring out the beauty around you.

You are best known for: your touch

Your dominant state: changing

Where else would a queen knit?

Mr. Pug (aka the semispouse) has been working hard to create a backyard oasis for us. There are several stages:

(1) Build knitting perch (yes, I said perch) for the queen (Ms. Pug) - check!
(2) Build pond/water feature - check! (well, except for a couple of details)
(3) Add ground cover (pachysandra in this case) - check!
(4) Fill in other miscellaneous bare spots
(5) Build screened porch addition

The perch is my favorite. He called it a porch, but it's really just a spot for me to perch, maybe with a pug or two for company, with my knitting or a book. The little plastic box on the shelf under the table is a waterproof hiding place for my bird book (so I can identify the guys that are nesting in our birdhouses and otherwise inhabiting the yard) and a lighter so I can fire up the bug candle. Poifect!

Lucy likes it too. Bluto likes it, but from the floor level. He's pretty timid and not too coordinated, so he has to be lifted onto the cushion. Once he's up there, he's got a short attention span and won't stay long. Lucy will stay as long as I'm there--she's a people pug and just wants to snuggle up with anyone she can.

And Lightning's very excited about more pachysandra ready to be planted--she actually got into the flat and rolled around when we brought it home. Hurry up, Dad!

Finally, the water feature. This is one of those pond kits that you buy from Sam's Club and it looks like it will (a) be simple to install and (b) be complete. Wrong on both counts, although I can't blame Sam's for that. I'd call those assumptions naivete on our parts.

But many hours of digging, filling, digging, filling, etc. later, plus several trips to the stone store to buy the perfect stones and the plant store to buy the perfect plants, it's just about done. It's burbling along pretty nicely and now I just have to worry that Lulu will dive into it. She's definitely the most adventurous of the pug babies and if one of them is going to fall in, it will be Lulu.

Finally, in other pug news, Lightning has a foot abscess on one of her back paws.

She and I both ended up needing medical assistance last weekend, she at home in Georgia and me in Charlotte. It hasn't escaped my attention that Mr. Pug remained in Georgia with Lightning instead of racing to my side--where, to be fair, I would have been annoyed to see him. But still ...

Anyway, Mr. Pug and Jake drove Lightning to Virginia yesterday to visit their other mothers, aka flatmates, Linda and Cathy. They are giving her all the nursing care that any pug could want. Thanks, flatmates!

Friday, June 08, 2007

Date With a Living Legend

Barbara Walker came to our guild last night. Yes, you read that correctly. Barbara Walker...the Barbara Walker.

Barbara lives in Venice, Florida with her husband and flew to Atlanta to speak to the Atlanta Knitting Guild at our regular monthly meeting and then to teach a class on Mosaic Knitting on Saturday. Yes, of course, I'm taking the class. Wouldn't you?

She spoke about her obsessions, and what she said was very familiar to most of us. Most of us have obsessions...hers have been serial. Sort of like Elizabeth Taylor is a serial monogamist.

As a lifelong scholar, she has had a passion for learning, research, and writing. She described the process by which she began collecting stitches for her first book, because no one else had ever done it. Makes sense to me. Her latest obsession (which she says she's almost at the end with) is gem collecting.

Three things I found especially interesting: First, she has no stash to speak of. All of the swatches for her books were done with very dull-colored neutral yarns so they would photograph properly in black and white. The thing of interest for her was the pattern, not the yarn. (I bought three of her swatches--more on that later in the weekend.)

Second, she has no interest in computers, and seems largely oblivious to the world of knitting online. Someone asked her how she felt about the project where knitters can submit photos of her stitches online for a stitch compilation; she was not aware of the project and didn't seem all that interested.

Finally, the books Barbara is most proud of are her feminist books. She feels those are the books that have had the most impact on women. I'm not sure she's correct but who am I to argue with THE Barbara Walker?

Monday, June 04, 2007

The Community Sock

I'm posting from one of my favorite places on earth, Albuquerque, New Mexico. I'm here, staying at the Hyatt Tamaya Resort and Spa, attending a conference on sustainability. Important subject, beautiful environment, great food, really terrible internet. I mean really slllllooooooooowwww internet. I'm losing my mind.

But I have my knitting with me. This means that, while I wait interminably for my email to download, I can knit. Knitting fast, connectivity slow.

I've brought my Ann Budd socks and I'm about two thirds of the way up the cuff. Just a very simple 2x2 rib--basically mindless at this point. Well, should be. My experience is that, just about the time you think you're going to go to sleep because the knitting is so boring, you find a mistake...a K where there should be a P, and all of a sudden, the ribbing is a mistake rib.

These socks went with me to the Noble Knitters last Wednesday night. There, my friend Nancy asked, "is that Magic Loop? can I try?" and then knit a few rows. Then Joslyn asked Nancy, "is that as easy as it looks? can I try?" So Joslyn knit a few rows. Then the socks and I went home and now I'm sitting here, 2,000 miles away from my friends, and I can see (or I think I can see-it might just be my imagination) where my friends' tension was a little different from my own. My friends are in my socks and I love it!

And, speaking of the knitting community, I sat last night at dinner with a man from Boston University and, of course, we began talking about knitting. Well, what's wrong with that? You're sitting at a business conference, 2,000 miles from home, listening to inspirational speakers about saving the environment through corporate involvement, and you're talking about knitting because...well, you're a knitter.

And the point is, his wife is a knitter. And he was, I think, genuinely interested in hearing about the internet knitting community, helmet liners, community knitting. He made me promise to bring him more information today on how his wife can find that helmet liner pattern (she used to sew liners for his helmets when he was a pilot in Vietnam in the late 60s because even then they weren't made of the right material!).