Saturday, January 30, 2010

There's a Group For That

Is it my imagination or is it silly that the new iPad has 140,000 applications (or "apps" as we technorati call them)? And by the way, it doesn't make phone calls or take pictures.

Can you say overload?

Or maybe I'm just jealous because I don't have an iPhone or an iPad or anything at all i, except my iPod which half the time doesn't work for me. (And, as my grandchildren continue to remind me, it's second or third generation ... Not The Latest Kind, So Why Bother Anyway?)

Yes, I know that three year old children can operate an iPod, but I can't.

I guess that means I'm NOT a technoratous. Oh well.

But speaking of apps and such, Ravelry now has some 600,000+ members and there is a group for almost anything you can think of.

There are groups for knitting groups in towns you've never heard of in states you're proud to have avoided for your entire life. And groups for shops in those towns, each one proudly waving their six members. (That sounds sort of obscene--waving members, ewwww!-- but it wasn't meant that way.)

Of course, there are groups for people knitting a specific pattern or knitting everything by a certain designer or using a yarn that is Better Than Any Other, I Promise You!

And there are groups for virtually any TV show you might follow, or actor, or vampire wannabe, or anything else that interests you.

But today I stumbled across a group for knitters who support finding a woman who, it is widely assumed, has been killed by her husband in Utah.

Now, I support finding this woman as much as anyone else. In fact, I'd be royally ticked off if there was a group of people anywhere that DIDN'T support finding her.

And, I would probably join a group supporting torturing her husband until he told where the body was if it was available. But having a knitting group for a dead woman (or a Presumed Dead Woman) smacks of the "in memoriam" things that bereaved people pay to put in the newspaper on the anniversary of their loved one's death. Like, "it's been a year since you left, Danny, and we miss you every day...."

And this all takes a little willing suspension of disbelief. First, are there newspapers in the Great Beyond and does Danny subscribe? Because here in Atlanta, our newspaper is definitely going to hell in a handbasket and I hope no one expects Danny to get it throughout eternity. I'm pleased when it shows up in my driveway for one more day, all six pages of it.

Does he read the paper every day, or only on the anniversary of his Big Day? Does he subscribe to the newspaper on his Kindle? For god's sake, doesn't he have anything better to do for all of eternity than hang out reading the obituaries section of the newspaper?

Which brings me back to the woman in Utah. Does this imply that (a) one of us killed her or knows where her body is or (b) we know the husband and maybe we can persuade him to tell all by knitting him a sock or a nice cabled sweater?

What does any of that have to do with knitting?

Never mind--it's the power of the Social Networking Site. Maybe if enough Ravelers post enough about this woman something good will happen.

Or maybe we just need to go find the husband, like 600,000+ villagers using knitting needles as pitchforks. Now there's a group I could join!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Yes, I'm Still Knitting ... What About You?

Saroyan is finished. It feels wonderful--how could it not, being made of Malabrigo Worsted? But what was I thinking?

This is a smallish shawl--a scarf really. It's narrow, about 12 or 14 inches at the widest part, and about 66 inches long. So, on someone, a shoulderette or I guess "shawlette" is the new word. On me, definitely a scarf.

Okay, so it feels wonderful, and looks good and was highly satisfactory to knit--the lace edge was fun and easy to memorize.

But ... I hate having anything around my neck.

Let's be honest. If someone wanted to give me an exquisite gold necklace from Italy that weighed what this piggy weighs, I'd find a way to wear it, and be highly grateful. But yarn ... and Malabrigo worsted at that ... it's hot. Not itchy, just hot.

So, once I get it blocked, it will go into the box to be set aside for this year's Christmas gifts. Or pulled out if I go to Utah during snow season. 

Any way you look at it, it's a Finished Object and that's never a bad thing. 

Also OTN: 

The ever-present sock, this one from Opal yarn from the stash. And, by the way, I'm pretty used to my wild socks, and you probably are too. But I knit with a new (to me) group of knitters out here in Pug Country (which some of my friends call, not too affectionately, East Alabama), and two of them visibly flinched when I pulled out the sock.

"Oh, my!" one said, shielding her eyes. "That's really ... bright ... isn't it?" 

"Whew!" said the other. "What are those colors anyway?"

Answer: fuschia, orange, and purple, of course. Thanks Opal Neon!

And, finally, the ubiquitous multidirectional scarf:

I bought two skeins of Koigu and thought it would be long enough but I had to break down and buy one more skein the other day to make it a wearable length. Thanks to Cast On Cottage for putting it aside for me.

So the socks and the scarf are my car knitting ... the stuff I do when I wait in the ATM line at the bank or in Atlanta's lovely traffic. But I guess this means I need to pull myself together and get back to the sleeves on my patchwork jacket if I think I'm going to wear it to The Mountain in three weeks.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Ain't We All Amazing?

I got the nicest comment on one of my posts calling me "an amazing woman."

And, while I was ever so pitifully grateful that SOMEONE, somewhere, thinks I'm amazing, I know in my heart of hearts that I'm not.

Or, more to the point, that we all are.

When I look around at the women I know, we're all pretty darned amazing. We manage jobs, and houses, and spouses, and children, and grandchildren, and even our own parents, and somehow we manage to fit knitting  and friends in too.

Now, mind you, the women of previous generations managed most of those things, too, but I don't think they had nearly as much fun doing it as we do. Most of the women in my family were proud in a dour, Scottish/New England pilgrim kind of a way of the fact that they ... survived. They struggled through, with complaints never voiced but with an attitude that screamed that they were eking out a barren existence for themselves and their families against all odds. The sense of pride of accomplishment was often accompanied by a grim mouth and frown lines across the forehead.

And, by the way, we Never Air Our Dirty Linen in Public, so those women probably couldn't sit down at the local coffee shop and complain about what ungrateful rats their husbands and kids were, or that the bank was coming to foreclose on the South Forty.

That Massachusetts blood still runs through my veins and every so often I can get that cranky feeling that I'm holding the entire world on my shoulders and damn it, you better appreciate the sacrifices I've made for you!

But not too often.

Most of the time, I have a pretty good time.

Of the women I know well, most have gone through something crappy in the last year or two--a husband with a health problem, or a kid with a divorce or a drug problem, or even the death of a parent or a spouse or a sibling or their own health issues.

And, amazingly, we're all still laughing and buying yarn and knitting wild and crazy knitted objects and taking and teaching classes and reading books and playing games and, basically, just enjoying Life on Life's Terms. We sit around tables and knit together and share our successes and occasionally our failures and we don't worry too much about our frown lines.

Amazing, isn't it?

EZ was right: Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Lure of the Sock

There’s a man on the Sockknitters List who washes his handknit socks annually. No, that doesn’t mean he wears dirty socks—it means that he has a pair for every single day of the year, never repeating. Once a year, in a sort of Mythical Ceremony of the Soap, he washes 365 pairs of socks and hangs them up to dry. Then he meticulously matches them, folds them, and puts them away for the year to come. Some time last year he posted a photo of this on his blog (the 365 pairs hanging up, side by side, dripping contentedly in unison).

I do not have 365 pairs of handknit socks.

I have, maybe, a dozen pairs in constant rotation, not counting the ones that are strictly to keep my feet warm in bed. During the colder months of the year, which here in Atlanta consist of December, January, and occasionally part of February, I wear socks most days, with an exception every so often for those days when I want to pretend to a level of professionalism at work.

I’ve never had a job before where I could wear corduroys or wool slacks with socks most days. Before I came to Atlanta, I had a suited kind of professional life, and, of course, I was considerably … shall we say, younger. I wore panty hose and heels at least five days a week. (I don't think anyone wears panty hose any more--they've gone the way of the Playtex rubber girdle, thank god! It's Spanx or nothing, these days.)

Even when I worked as a real estate appraiser, I worked much of my career for a man who wanted a certain level of professionalism. He used to insist that his female appraisers (well, I was the only one at the time) wear a dress or skirt, sort of like the good old days when girls all wore skirts to school. (I tell this to my granddaughters every so often, just to frighten them with the horrors of the good old days, when dinosaurs roamed the earth and we had to run to escape from them wearing skirts, stockings with a garter belt, and stiletto heels.)

And, in those heady days of real estate appraisal, I climbed fences, jumped creeks, and crawled up muddy hills as I pursued lot lines. I even climbed down from the second floor deck of a townhouse once--the door to the inside had slammed behind me and locked me out there.

And weather was not a consideration—a lady wore a dress. My final day under those rigorous rules came the day I inspected an older house in Vienna, Virginia. As I wandered through the house, which I already knew would not meet any of the rather lax (in those days) Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac standards for a mortgage, I felt a tingling sort of a sensation on my legs. I ignored it but had one of those nagging suspicions that Something Was Not Right.

When I finally looked down, my legs were covered with teeming fleas. They had crossed the knees and were sprinting for ... well, never mind. Let's just say it looked like I was wearing black tights. I ran outside, grabbed my state-of-the-art 12 pound car phone attached to the dash, and called my boss with two messages: (1) if he wanted that house appraised, he better get his butt over there himself and (2) I’d be wearing slacks from that day forward. He arrived shortly thereafter, finding me standing in the street still shooing vermin off my legs, and acquiesced immediately to the new rules.

Anyway, back to the socks. I love my socks for many reasons: warmth and coziness, of course, but also the pleasure of looking down at my clogged foot and seeing what the fashionistas call “a pop of color” or maybe an intricate lacy pattern. But I could buy socks that gave me those things.

No, I knit socks not for warmth or beauty but for the pleasure of the process. The process of knitting itself, of course, which challenges the mind and stills it at the same time, and the process of seeing those stitches turn into a garment in a surprisingly short period of time. But the whole thing is hard for people who don’t knit, or who don’t knit socks, to understand.

So here’s the conversation I had on Monday, sitting in the cardiac surgery waiting room:

Me: (knitting along on a toe up sock, Opal yarn if it matters, magic loop)

Other Man: Wow! This surgery thing is taking a long time.

Me: Yup.

OM: There’s nothing to read here.

Me: Nope.

OM: I can’t stand this TV show and I can’t change the channel.

Me: Nope.

OM: What do they expect you to do here anyway?

Me: I couldn’t say.

OM: I can’t stand much more of this.

Me: Mmmmm …

OM: I mean I’m losing my mind.

Me: I can see that.

OM: What are you doing?

Me: Knitting.

OM: Yeah, my mother crocheted too.

Me: Uh, huh. This is knitting.

OM: Oh. What are you making?

Me: It’s a sock (holding it up).

OM: Oh. Can’t you buy those?

Me: Yes, but …

OM: I mean, they’re, what? About half a dozen pairs for five dollars?

Me: Probably, but …

OM: I bet your husband thinks you're crazy, right? You could buy socks at WalMart. Or won't he let you buy them?

Me: Well, no, actually he …

OM: I’d let my wife buy them. Actually, she could buy them with her own Social Security check. Isn't that amazing? She never worked a day in her life after we got married, just stayed home with the kids, and she gets a check. Damned socialist country!

Me: Yes, well, I …

OM: These people must be crazy! There’s NOTHING to do here while you wait. What are we supposed to do while we wait, huh?

Me: Uh, huh.

So, I ask you … who’s the crazy one?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Two Down, One To Go

Thank you to each of you who have asked about Mr. P and his status. He's fine and we appreciate your concern.

The heart cath revealed three blockages (and one "iffy" one) in his heart. Two stents were inserted in two of the blockages and he'll have to go back and have one more done in about 3 or 4 weeks. It was a relatively simple procedure, as such things go, and went well. 

I won't say he was a happy bear all day because it's hard to be happy when you have to lie completely flat for four hours in the ICU while your TV is stuck on CNN coverage of the Haiti situation. He was a tad ... er ... grumpy, to tell the truth.

I just kept knitting, on the ubiquitous multidirectional scarf (all the in the right direction, thank you) and on an Opal toe-up sock. An annoying monitor beeped loudly every 7 seconds, relentlessly.  He complained. I knit.

By the time grandson Jake showed up in the evening, he was sitting up, fed, combed, color back, and in almost every other way, Mr. Pug As Usual. I went home. My work was done.

Altogether, a good day.

Thank you again for caring.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Mr Pug Update

Mr. Pug continues to languish in the hospital, surrounded by books and magazines and with the TV going full-blast-all-the-time. I suppose that's every man's dream, to have full control of the remote and no one to tell him to change the channel or lower the volume. His roomie went home on Friday night as did, apparently, 95% of the other patients in the hospital, and so he's, temporarily at least, The King Of The Remote. (I can't remember--is that what Wendy Johnson calls her SO? If so, I apologize, Wendy. Go knit a sock and let it go--it's only temporary. Once he gets home, I take over!)

Question: So, if they're all gone, why isn't there a visitor chair to be found ... anywhere on the second floor? Did the departing patients all take them with them? Are visitors chairs like every other commodity in the hospital, personalized and disposable? Is there a locked bin somewhere in the alley, chock full of visitor chairs that were contaminated by previous visitors?

Anyway, to update, he's stuck there waiting for a procedure on Monday (a heart catheterization, to be exact). 

In fact, we got to watch a video about this procedure yesterday because apparently that's how medical education works in hospitals these days. I asked for more information about the procedure (because Mr. Pug had told me they were doing "a heart thing") and here's what happened:

  • Nurse's aide -- "oh, no, I don't know nuthin about that ... I'll get the nurse" (Okay, I'm fine with this--she's not paid to dispense medical information.)
  • Nurse -- "I've got this video right here. Oh, and this brightly colored, double-sided handout with a colorful drawing of your loved one's innermost organs."
  • Doctor X -- "I'm Doctor [fill in the incomprehensible foreign name] and I understand you have a question. I can't tell you anything because I'm the hospital doctor, not the cardiologist. Nice to meet you." (And ... you do ... what?)
  • Nurse -- "I'll just turn on this video and let you watch it."
  • [Cue to 5 minute video seemingly designed to explain a relatively complex medical procedure in which your heart could spontaneously combust to a five-year-old who's accustomed to getting her information from The Wiggles. Apparently, the loved one's innermost parts DO resemble a cartoon and are, in fact, animated.]
  • Nurse -- "They use this wonderful local anesthesia that keeps you awake and participating and it's really wonderful and I don't know if I can stress how wonderful it is."
  • Me -- "Oh, yeah, Pug, we've had that before. That's the same one you had when you had the endoscopy and the one that killed Michael Jackson."
  • Nurse -- [leaves room]
  • Doctor Y -- I'm Doctor Young-and-Charming and I work with the cardio group. Everything okay? [Not waiting for an answer...] Hey, not to worry -- it'll be fine except if it isn't and then we'll tell you on Monday. Okay? Cool! See you later. Oh, and by the way, we're doing this really cool study with Johns Hopkins but we're not actually cleared to do ... uh ... bypasses ... so we usually don't. Unless we do. But not to worry. We'll send you somewhere good [within our corporate infrastructure of mega-hospitals] if we need to. But we probably won't. But if we do ... well, we'll see on Monday.
Thank God for Google!

Friday, January 15, 2010

What Would We Do Without Our Knitting?

It's been a stressful week. Mr. Pug is temporarily in the hospital while his intrepid team of physicians figures out what's making his heart slow down to the pace of a lemon. So far we've heard multiple theories, each with a different solution, but no consensus. Sounds like I'll be picking him up today and then we'll wait for someone to bring us into the loop, with some future action to be identified later.

In case I sound like I'm complaining, I'm not. I'm grateful that (a) we have access to all these specialists and tests and (b) he has insurance to pay for it. We're among the very lucky ones these days.

But it's a lot of Hurry Up and Wait. And thank goodness I have my ubiquitous knitting, which is great for passing the time and starting conversations with strangers.

On Wednesday, we sped to the emergency room, at the primary care physician's directions. Sped there so we could ... wait. And wait. The triage process at this particular hospital works very well--I was really impressed--and we were obviously among the less urgent among the broken limbs and the acute head injuries and the who-knows-what that resulted in a young mother dying while we were there. 

I, of course, was the only person among the 75 or so people in the room who had brought my knitting. (Well, I had a book, too, but never had to break it out.) 

I was carrying the ever-present mindless knitting, in this case a Koigu multidirectional scarf. I knit, and I knit, mostly only peripherally aware of the drama going on around me.

(Sample:  A young man who was probably challenged in some way since the EMTs kept talking about his "caregiver," was talking on the phone to someone in a very loud voice explaining that he had been beaten up by his roommate. "I'm unconscious and dizzy," he repeated over and over. Well, not exactly.)

At midnight we were told that Mr. Pug would be admitted and I went home. I still had to take care of the dogs and get enough sleep to get to work the following day. 

But about 11 pm, I looked at my scarf for the first time since we'd gotten there. 

Now talk about mindless knitting. The multidirectional scarf is one of the simplest patterns known to man (at least once someone fixed Iris Schreier's original pattern and made it knittable) and I've made several of them--less than 20 but more than 10. You simply cannot make a mistake with this puppy and it ends up looking like  you did something magical because of the short rowing.

So, imagine my surprise when one of the hospital personnel, who said he was a crocheter, asked to look at the scarf and I proudly held it up and ... it looked like the letter "V" instead of the letter "I." 

Somewhere between 4 pm and 11 pm, I'd just kept short rowing off the wrong side of the damned thing and now I had rather odd looking jabot or cravat. 

But you know me. I wasn't about to admit that the fricking thing was a total disaster!  And this kid didn't know any better--after he's a crocheter, not a knitter! 

"Beautiful," said he. "I wish I could do that. It looks amazing."

"Oh, thanks," said I, thinking that "amazing" wasn't exactly the word I would have used--"spec-crapular" was more what I had in mind. "It's easy--you could learn to do this in a heartbeat!"

The minute he left the room I frogged down about 12 inches. Now it looks like a scarf again.

Thank goodness I had my knitting so I had something to do--INCORRECTLY, but I did it.

Monday, January 11, 2010

First FO of the Year

Okay, now the new year is officially off to a good start. The first pair of socks of the year is finished! Mini Mochi, we love you!

Now, on to Saroyan and Patchwork Jacket.

Oh, wait, you want to know about Saroyan? And what in the world it has to do with "Bones"? 

First off, "Bones." I love, love, love Kathy Reichs' books about Temperance Brennan. They are wonderful mysteries about the anthropologist known as Tempe, who splits her time between Montreal and Charlotte. (This fits into my love for regional mysteries--the kind that make you feel like you're really in the city where the story is set.)

Anyway, the "Bones" TV show doesn't have a whole lot in common with the mysteries except the name of the main character and the fact that Reichs does some of the writing and presumably makes a pile of money from it. But it's an intelligent show and one that stands on its own. It's also full of really strong women and you just can't beat that. It's the perfect show to TIVO and then knit to, preferably with a pug on your lap, if there's no football to watch. (OMG! How about those Arizona Cardinals! Woot!)

But I digress. On Ravelry (how much do we love Ravelry!) I found three wonderful (free!) patterns designed by Liz Abinante for three of the female characters. So, there's a shawl called "Travelling Woman" designed in homage to Angela Montenegro, the artist who works with Tempe. Then there are the "Temperance" socks. Finally, there's "Saroyan," a scarf inspired by Camille Saroyan, a forensic pathologist.

Make sense now? I knew it would.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Best of Intentions

I was determined that I was going to finish the Mini Mochi socks before I cast on anything new. And I swear, my intentions were pure. It wasn't my fault. 

I was working on my list of things that I would really like to make this year ... yes, I know I never make anything but socks, but this year is my Garment Year. I'm determined to wear the Patchwork Jacket to The Mountain in February and I really only have sleeves to go. So, it's looking as if I might actually complete A Garment in 2010.

And that, of course, got my confidence level to the unreasonable point and I started thinking about Cheryl Oberle's Three Sisters Jacket and what would be the perfect yarn and that made me think Malabrigo. At the same time, I was watching some old Tivo'd episodes of "Bones" while I waited for football to start. Anyway, I got online to see who has Malabrigo worsted at what kind of price and the next thing you know ... I pulled out some Malabrigo from the stash and well, it had to be Saroyan.

I've completed four repeats (above is one leaf motif repeat) and it feels so good ... well, I just have to find some Malabrigo for that jacket. 

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Could This Explain My Lack of Productivity?

Have you ever taken one of those surveys, the ones with a few demographic questions at the beginning to establish who you are and what products someone might be able to sell you in the future? 

There's always a question about your level of physical activity. And the responses are always things like "walk twice a week," "run every day," "just completed a marathon."

Uh, yeah ... I always lie. Don't tell me you don't ... I won't believe you. It's like those questions about family income ... who's going to admit that they really earn somewhat less than the national  poverty level? And with that level of education? What does that say about our success level as individuals? Basically, the surveyors have to be really dumb if they think we're telling the truth about those things. But I digress.

Have you ever noticed that no one ever queries the fitness benefits of knitting? After all, my hips may be ... er, overlarge ... but darn it, my wrists are incredibly flexible and my fingers are limber as all get out. Well, that might be explained by the outrageous number of hours they spend hanging out on keyboards, but you get the point.

But actual exercise? Not so  much.

Now it turns out it's not my fault, and I can prove it. 

That big furry thing on the left is a pugbutt. A 20 pound pugbutt. The rest should be self-explanatory:  handknitted socks on feet, blue corduroy leg, rounded turquoise colored belly ... yep, that's definitely me. With a giant furry pugputt on my lap. The computer is to the left of the pugbutt, on the arm of the chair.

Oh, yeah, that other stuff? Yeah, that's yarn, part of the inventory process if it matters. My big opportunity for Task Accomplishment for the day.

I thought yesterday would be a great day to sort through yarns and get them entered into Ravelry. (I continue to delude myself by thinking that if I have it identified and labeled and entered in the Ravelry database, maybe I'll be (a) inspired to actually use it, or (b) give some of it away to a charity specializing in the yarn-challenged, or (c) be too embarrassed to buy more. So far, this methodology has proven to be flawed, but you never know when a yarn miracle could occur.)

And it's a physical job. Get up, find yarn, photograph it, sit down in chair with laptop and dive into Ravelry..

But the bottom line is that once I got settled in the chair with my laptop and the yarn that needed to be added to the list, Lucy settled onto my lap. I shifted the laptop around her, on top of her, behind her ... nope, she wasn't going to move. And I wasn't going to get anything productive done. 

I had no choice ... I just relaxed into my enforced Snow Day With Pug and knit. Well, I might have played in Ravelry a little.

Not that bad a day, when you think about it. Just don't go to my Ravelry page to see my progress. You'll be sorry.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Awww ... It Looks So Pretty!

Once a year, usually sometime in January, the entire city of Atlanta stops because of precipitation. Not snow--we all agree that snow is pretty and we're glad we don't get too much of it. Nope -- it's ice that stops Atlanta.

My friends and family in Virginia and Maryland have been talking to me recently about the snow they've had, and it brings back some good memories and some bad. Let's see:  Snowmen (good); Broken Wrist (not so good).  White Christmas (good); White Christmas if you haven't finished your shopping yet (just plain ugly).

The mid-Atlantic region just had 18-24" of snow a couple of weeks ago, depending on which area you're talking about. That amount of snow definitely has an impact on the whole area, because it generally takes a day or two to get the roads clean enough to get into work. And there's that day of cleaning the driveway, only to have the street cleaners block you back in. But basically, the street folks have been out most of the night before salting and sanding, and the snowplows are on the road immediately, and most of us are out doing errands the same day and our bosses expect us back at work the next day.

Here in Georgia we just don't get that kind of accumulation but the sight of a flake sends us all into Red Alert. Take yesterday, for instance.

Last night was our guild meeting, always held the first Thursday evening of the month. But flakes were coming. Several of us spent what seemed like hours on email debating whether to cancel the meeting.  Finally, with the gravitas usually reserved for declaring a raising of the Homeland Security alert level or deciding who should play in the BCS championship game, we cancelled. Turned out to be the right decision, but it could just as easily have gone the other way -- all of us sitting at home while the first flake turned out to be the last. Definitely a crapshoot, no matter what The Weather Channel says.

And, by the way, in the South, The Weather Channel is GOD. Well, next to high school football. I know people who won't walk to the end of the driveway to pick up their newspaper without checking with TWC.  I will admit to a more cynical viewpoint--I see meteorologists as closer to crystal ball gazers and less as all-knowing beings. Because I've spent too many evenings sitting home while the first flake turns out to be the last, surrounded by my stockpiled milk, bread and spare batteries.

Anyway, when I first came to the South, I scoffed at the way we run around like well-bred chickens with our heads cut off when we spot that first flake. I harkened back to Life in The North where Men Are Men and We Know How to Deal With Snow

But the first year I was here, I almost got run off the road by a guy in a black pickup truck who slammed on his brakes in front of me, traveling on black ice. He hit another car, I steered into the skid and only hit the curb. Whoopsie! 

So, a few truths:

1.  We're really NOT prepared here for snow or ice. My little rural county apparently cannot afford  a bag of sand. I know this because the streets outside my subdivision are a solid sheet of ice and there's not a sandtruck or even a probationer with a shovel anywhere to be seen.

2.  One of the things that makes driving in snow easier is that you're driving on packed snow which gives traction. Here we don't have that luxury--it's just a thin layer of ice that freezes and thaws and freezes and thaws and becomes the Dreaded Black Ice. Not a Good Thing.

3. And, no, we really don't know how to drive in this stuff. It's hard to become an expert when you only get one day a year to practice. And that whole "drive into the skid" seems so counterintuitive. Much easier to slam on the old brakes and see how that works out for you.

Bottom line: I'm hunkered down in the house, surrounded by dogs and yarn. I've given up on going to work and I'm going to spend the day doing something really important, like Knitting. Or inventorying yarn and planning to knit. What's your excuse?

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tensile Strength ... Check!

Remember when we were talking about whether Mini Mochi can hold up to wear? The second sock OTN got its first test yesterday ...

About 4 pm I was running late (to get my hair cut, if you must know) and raced out of my office to my car. As I neared the car, I saw something on the ground behind the driver's side and said to myself, "wow, that's really a pretty blue ... it's almost the same color as my Mini ... OMG! That's my Mini Mochi sock!"

There it was on the asphalt parking lot, its faithful HiyaHiya circular still in its magic loopy place. And there was the yarn stretching, stretching, stretching from the ground into the driver's side door, across the driver's side seat, and into its little project bag on the passenger side.

Not a crimp, not a tangle, not a knot. Not a dropped stitch. Not even a snag. Perfect.

It had been there since 7:30 in the morning. I guess everyone who walked past it just thought, "well, there's a half-completed sock lying on the asphalt" and none of them thought to ask whose it was. Well, they should have known whose it was ... it was still connected to the car by that unplied yarn that everyone says is so weak.

Mini Mochi, I love you!

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Oh, You Wanted Details?

Why didn't you say so? 

Here are the Zauberball Crazy socks #1 -- see the tubular cast-off on the left? Perfect, if I do say so!  Just not wearable. 

But perfect!  Here's the completed pair--both wearable on my more ... full-figured ... legs.

And here's Zauberball #2 -- check out the completely different hues of similar Zauberball yarns:

By the way, loving my new camera--a Nikon Coolpix 12 megapixel variety. Two of my grandchildren plus Mr Pug all got cameras, and my own little Kodak 8 megapixel had gone mysteriously missing. Okay, clearly a message from a Higher Power (that would be the Higher Megapixel Power).

Somehow the whole camera/Christmas thing got out of hand. Let's just say that, in my zeal to provide The Perfect Christmas, I bought and returned and bought and returned and bought ... and ended up with an extra camera that either needed to go back to the store or be retained by a person who had lost her Kodak. I caved ... the Nikon would be mine!

Needless to say, the minute I got the Nikon out of the box, read enough of the instructions to be able to take the first picture, and saw the stitch definition I could get with 12 little megas, Kodak reappeared from its hiding place in the middle of a pile of placemats on the kitchen table. 

That, of course, was Jake's fault. If he hadn't been coming for dinner, I wouldn't have checked out that mysterious lump in the placemats until, say, March, and then I wouldn't be feeling guilty right now.  Oh, well ... never hurts to have a backup.

On a slightly different subject, I'm meeting Joyce later so we can pick out buttons for a project you haven't seen ... an actual garment. More details later.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Good Start to a New Year

This will be posted later tonight  because it seems that using my new internet solution (T-Mobile wireless) on a big national holiday is sort of like revisiting the old dial-up days. I can't seem to upload photos to Blogger or to Flickr.  (Makes me wonder why my former employer, The Big Corporation, still thinks dial-up is a viable option ... might explain the stock price!)  It still beats the crappy service I was getting from Bellsouth so I'll hush my crankiness now.

Anyway, there's an old wives tale that the way you spend the change of years will determine how you spend the coming year. There was a time in my life when that would have boded for some very exciting times in the next 12 months. Nowadays, it's a little different.

At  midnight I was casting on a new sock--not a new pair of socks, but the second sock in a pair started October-ish of last year. Debra gave me two lovely skeins of Mini Mochi and I knit the first sock up quickly and then ... er ... misplaced it. I unearthed it yesterday in a fit of organizational frenzy and the new sock is on the needles. 

I've read several critical reviews of this unplied yarn but I have to say I really love it. It's VERY soft and I don't know what that will mean for long-term wear but I'm willing to take the risk. Beautiful!

Since last night was also the  first Blue Moon since 1990 and the last one expected until 2028, the color is completely appropriate, don't you think?

And this morning I finished off two more pairs of socks--one just needed the ends woven in. That's the newest Zauberball Crazy socks, which were originally intended as a Christmas gift but which have reverted to their most deserving owner, Me, or maybe they'll go into the gift box.

And the pair completed just before those were also Zauberball Crazy, but totally different. This pair needed a little more surgery to finish them. Here's the story:

In October when Candace Eisner Strick was here she taught us several new bind-offs, including the tubular cast-off. I couldn't wait to try it on the Zauberballs on the needles and the result was absolutely gorgeous--elegant, even. I think it's the nicest looking sock top I've ever made. Unfortunately, as elegant as they were, the top would barely stretch over my heifer-like ankles. Yet, it was too beautiful to frog. A problem, no? The second sock was made with my traditional stretchy top and fit like a champ. But still I couldn't bring myself to fix the first sock.

This morning, I frogged. And let me say, not only is the tubular cast-off the most elegant of all the bind-offs, it's also the most structurally sound I've ever seen. It took the precision and patience of a CSI investigator to get it out. Anthropologists in the next century will be trying to deconstruct socks with tubular cast-offs without success. The equivalent of the knitting cockroach--can't be killed! But now it's gone, and replaced with Old Faithful (which is knit first stitch, knit second stitch, then place both back on the lefthand needle and knit together through the back loop, then repeat, using that stitch as the first stitch.)

By the way, both of my sisters are probably thinking I've lost my mind right now. I can tell this is so because of the stunned silence emanating from Arizona and Virginia, where they've both opened their Christmas packages and found ... Zauberball.  

It's not exaggerating to say that I have fallen deeply in love with Zauberball, in a way heretofore reserved for Opal and Malabrigo. Neither of my sisters reads this blog, so they'll just have to wait until their curiosity gets the better of them and they ask why, why, why I sent that weird yarn to them.  

Debbie has two new granddaughters so I'm sure she's not even contemplating knitting socks for grownups at this point, but eventually she has to come out of that mode and remember that she and her sons and even Caitlin need socks. And Deirdre has only recently begun to knit socks and I'm sure she's more conservative than I am. 

But one day they will know The Truth and they'll be ready for Zauberball. And then they'll realize the sacrifice I made in sending Zauberball to them that I could have kept for myself.

(There's a rumor in the lace world that Zauberball now comes in laceweight. Elyse from Only Ewe and Cotton Too has ordered it but I haven't heard from her so I'm assuming it's not in yet. When it is ... oh, my!)