Monday, October 30, 2006

Vermont Cabled Hat

My first knitting pattern, created on the fly as we drove up through New Jersey and New York into Vermont this fall. I've had this lovely yarn sitting on my shelf since my birthday yarn shopping spree last year, and just decided to grab it on the way out the door. Unfortunately that means Rowan is no longer making it (though it can be found...) so I'm going to knit it again with a diffrerent bulky yarn. The pattern below makes a lovely hat for a small-medium size woman's head (18-20 inches), but alas my noggin is a full 22", thus the display on my friendly blender. A friend is test knitting for me, so expect updated pics when she finishes. Please send me a picture if you test drive it for me.
vc_hat on blender

Yarn: Rowan Polar, 100yd/skein, requires less than 1 skein
Gauge: stockinnette stitch: ~3sts/inch, ~18 rows/4"
Needles: size 10 ½ 16" circular, spare needle (any size)
Finished Size: small/medium female (18-20" circumference)

Minicable (MC) - K2tog but then before you slip the two stitches off the left needle, insert the right needle between them and knit the first stitch again, then slip them both off the needle. You will end up with two stitches on the right needle, and the stitches will be twisty.
4x6 turn - This is a 4 stitch right-turning cable that is turned every 6 rows. Insert a cable needle or spare needle into two stitches on left needle. Hold these to the back and knit the next two stitches. Move the stitches from the spare needle back onto the left needle and knit these.

Cast on 64 sts, join in the round.
Repeat the following 6 rows a total of 5 times (there will be 5 big-cable twists)
Row 1: [K4, P1, K2, P1] repeat 8 times
Row 2: [K4, P1, MC, P1] repeat 8 times
Row 3: [K4, P1, K2, P1] repeat 8 times (same as row 1)
Row 4: [K4, P1, MC, P1] repeat 8 times (same as row 2)
Row 5: [K4, P1, K2, P1] repeat 8 times (same as row 1)
Row 6: [K4, P1, MC, P1, 4x6 turn, P1, MC, P1] repeat 4 times

Row 1: [K1, K2tog, K1, P1, K2tog, P1, K4, P1, K2tog, P1] repeat 4 times (52 sts)
Row 2: [K3, P1, K1, P1, K4, P1, K1, P1] repeat 4 times
Row 3: [K1, K2tog, P1, K1, P1, K2tog, K2tog, P1, K1, P1] repeat 4 times (40sts)
Row 4: [K2, P1, K1, P1] repeat 8 times
Row 5: [K2tog, P1, K1, P1] repeat 8 times (32 sts)
Row 6: [K2tog] repeat to end (16 sts)
Row 7: [K2tog] repeat to end (8sts)

Draw yarn through remaining stitches, pull tight and weave in loose ends.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Under Control

Last night I came to the awareness that there may be a small problem. I became aware of this when I completely unfurled the Clapotis shawl and said, "Wow, I knit a lot." Brant responded with "Yes, you do." The disconnect was: I meant, 'I knit a lot more on this shawl than I'd realized, isn't it lovely?' while he meant, 'I never see you without kniting needles in your hands.'

So this morning I laid everything out on the table:
oct06 in progress2

And there is a lot going on. All of it is "just so close" to being finished, but collectively I fear nothing will get done. So I broke it down and decided to assess each piece on its own merits.

The Clapotis Shawl:
clapotis in progress
I'm really enjoying this. Ripping the dropped stitches is fun, and it actually knits fairly quickly. The colors are such a fantastic contrast to the dreariness of the pending winter. I also did the math and found out that there are only about 11 hours* of knitting left (I'm half-way done). I can totally get this finished to wear this winter.
Score: Keep on keepin' on. A few rows each day gets the job done.

The Vermont Socks:
vermont socks in progress
One done, halfway through the other. I've knit two pairs for Sock Wars victims, don't I deserve a pair for myself? Plus I've done the math and there are about 4 hours left on these and they're the perfect working-on-the-train project.
Score: Maybe I should just hurry up and finish them this weekend.

The Cabled Aran Skirt:
aran in progress
I've invested a lot of time in this (like, two months monogomous knitting time), but then I got tired of it. So it's been sitting in a bag by the couch for 3 weeks. It's the perfect design for this fall's fashions, and I can hardly say that about anything else I wear. I haven't done the math on this one, but I think that's in order.
Score: Simple enough really. Get over the stagnation and finish the damn thing. Maybe I need a deadline. That always seems to help.

The Despised But Much Needed Hat:
hat in progress
I'm really not loving this. I hate knitting out of necessity rather than out of desire. But the trek to the train each morning is chilly, and I lost one hat to Mt. Mansfield, and the other is worn out. I know, I know, I could just go buy one, but there's something inherently wrong about doing that.
Score: This needs to be my new working-on-the-train project. I'll be chilly from the walk, and maybe that will urge me to knit on the drat thing.

The Tank Top:
tank in progress
I love the yarn in this, and the shape is really nice. Problem is, the yarn is bulkier than that called for in the pattern, so even though I'm on target with the measurements, it has a different drape than it should. I'm going to have to rip back the top (can you see how close I am to finshed?) and make it tighter. Probably have to futz with the top to make it look right.
Score: Sigh. This one is going to have to go in the closet for a bit. Although it'd be nice to wear under blouses to work, there's really no rush to finish it, and I need to devote the time it will take to get it right.

Final Tally: I have a grasp on the time commitment required for two projects, I have a strategy for a third, and the fourth (the skirt) is just going to take cold, hard, determination. See? Totally under control.

* Yes, this involved an Excel spreadsheet and a timer. Lest we forget, I'm a scientist first, crafty-girl second. I don't think it's at all strange that I know I knit at a rate of 17.2 stitches per minute.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sock Wars update

Hallelujah. My assassin's assassin's assassin's assassin's assassin's assassin's assassin emailed me to let me know that I'm dying. Funny, I feel just fine. But thank god - do you know how much knitting I need to get done? My last victim is sending me sock yarn - the socks she was (were?) working on had a fatal accident and won't do, so I was going to start my third damn pair from scratch. It's getting cold here and I'm hatless and have only a small selection of scarves to choose from. And mittens? Gloves? I need to get knitting for myself! So bring it on Cupdeville - gimme those Socks of Death. It's nice to know that I made it to the top 20% - more than 600 people went down before me. How many more would I have taken out if there were fewer deserters?

Socks of Death sent to Dr. Purl:
(don't they look like a computer screen circa 1972?)

Come here so I can tell you why I love you

My morning started thusly:
"Come here so I can tell you why I love you."

I toddled over to the bed and let him throw the covers over me again. I needed to get dressed for work, but who can resist a request like that?

"Yesterday I came home to feed Sequoia and let her out. The woman I was working with said, 'Oh, you have a dog?' and so I told her to come on in. She played with the dog and the cat, and then she looked around the house and said, 'I can see you've done a lot of work here, drywall, paint...' and I agreed, but told her that there was a lot left to do. I mentioned the cabinets needed to be replaced and she gave them a look, said, 'They aren't so bad. But you know, I'd get rid of that one first thing.'
"I looked where she was pointing, and she meant the big cabinet! I told her we bought it, that we want, that one. She thought I was nuts and said, 'Well, I hope you didn't pay much for it!' I told her to get out of my house."

I laughed, not at all sure what this story had to do with his initial request.

"So I love you because you appreciate old wood, old things, not just the brand new shiny stuff."

{Note that this is probably only loosely what he actually said, as I was warm and snuggly and not recording his words as well as I should have been. Isn't he the cutest? Wouldn't you let him hack into your forest?}

In other news: we rearranged the upstairs ("the waiting room") and I couldn't be happier. Instead of cardboard boxes and things shoved on shelves, we have an actual office with actual decorative items artfully displayed. It can get better, and it will, but this was a huge improvement. I was going to include a picture, but it already looks very, very lived in.

Monday, October 23, 2006

The Long Farewell

I only learned days before her departure that Cathy was to be leaving me New Jersey for the Golden State. I mean, I knew she was leaving at some point I just didn't know how soon.

So I wasn't crushed when the fates laughed at her plans. On Friday what should have been a simple oil change turned into a game of "How Much Stress Will it Take to Make Cathy Snap?" Something about a gasket, spark plugs, and a warranty.

Round 1: "Find a dealership that is open on Saturdays." No problem, Cathy wins round 1, she and I drive her care a mere hour to Flemington and leave the keys in the drop box. We end the evening with a slumber party in my living room. Sequoia sleeps with her head against Cathy and her ass in my face. Like I said, Cathy won.

Round 2: "Get Suburu to honor their warranty," also known as, "Learn to be assertive without pissing off your allies," also known as, ""Learning to love having no control." Again, Cathy handled the round smashingly, though with a penalty of two days due to car mechanics' needs for weekends off. She managed to enjoy the weekend with friends, to wrestle anyone silly enough to oblige, and to make some knitting head-way (no pun intended) on a hat.

Round 3: "Wait patiently while they finally fix your car." Duration: 2 days. Cathy was successful in cleaning her apartment to the point of compulsion (no one said waiting had to be an idle time). No harsh words were said, at least none that this monitor heard. Score another round for Cathy.

Round 4: "Load everything you own in a healthy Suburu Outback." Build and strap on the bike rack and surf board rack, load the back, fix my furnace. The bike rack and surf rack were a 4 person job, but fixing the furnace was all Cathy. She was so not ready to snap at this point, a full 48 hours after she'd hoped to be on the road, that she took the time to drain the furnace overflow and start the pilot, which much to my embarrassment, I was ready to call a plumber about.


Round 5: "Drive, drive, drive." 3.5 days, two women, 2915 miles.

Word awaits on the successful completion of Rounds 6-9: "Find a place to live," "Learn the roads and transportation system," "Meet some snazzy folks," and "Surf the Pacific." But so far Cathy seems to be a righteous contender in the game, and I wish her continued luck.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Those evil pharmaceutical companies

Here's the thing about side effects: they aren't side effects. A drug that is meant to treat an illness is a pretty barbaric entity. It isn't quite on the level of blood-letting and enemas, but on the molecular level drugs are bulky and inexact. Drugs are chemicals, they are small, and as specific as the brilliant chemists might make them, there are many parts of the body that will see that chemical and at least think about dancing with it. There is no magic bullet - our bodies are too beautifully coordinated and integrated for such specificity to be possible.

Once the drug enters the body, a lot of things can happen: the stomach can cause changes to the drug due to the high pH; the intestine can alter the drug during absorption, or it can avoid absorbing the drug altogether; as soon as the drug hits the bloodstream it goes straight to the liver where it will almost certainly be modified. Once in the bloodstream, that drug goes everywhere. Want to treat a headache? That pain reliever is going to hit every major organ and tissue before reaching the brain. One of my favorite examples of a "side effect" is the anal leakage of Olestra. Anal leakage is not a side effect - it is a direct result of too much fat in the large intestine. You put fat in your mouth, your body is supposed to break it down, shuffle it around, and then get rid of what it can't store or burn. Trying to put it in your mouth and then trick the system and bypass the absorption step - it just doesn't work.

Likewise the issue of COX inhibitors and the ongoing lawsuits against Merck and Pfizer (oh, what, you haven't heard that people are suing Pfizer? Of course not because that would require education and back-tracking by the media. Pfizer makes two Cox-2 inhibitors and didn't withdraw theirs when Merck did, even though the presumed mechanism of heart damage by Merck's drug is the exact same as Pfizer's.). People were prescribed Vioxx because the other similar pain relievers caused stomach bleeding. COX-2 receptors are everywhere and inhibition of them always had potential to cause other issues. But every drug is like that, and the role of the scientist/pharmacokineticist is to watch how these drugs interact with animals and then draw a line regarding whether the "side" effects of the drug (more appropriately called "off-target" effects) outweigh the usefulness of the "desired" effects.

Just as in life, there are consequences for every choice. Want to live with less pain? What are you willing to compromise for that goal?

(this rant can be attributed to the doctor who wrote on one message board about Vioxx "I will never ever prescribe a Merck product if there is an alternative!" Give me a break. Go read a medical journal.)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

'roid rage

I came home today and was angry and feuding. Stupid traffic, morons cutting me off, tailgaters. Yet another letter from the fucking insurance company harrassing me about replacing the perfectly good windows in my basement. Garbage that the garbage men didn't pick up, strewn over the lawn. Then it dawns on me...the doctor shot my lip full of steroids today. This is just 'roid rage.

Somehow that made me laugh. But this has been a very emotional day.

I cried this morning listening to a somber voice read the names of the five small girl children who were executed at school this week (It isn't more horrific because they are Amish; how can the murder of children have a range of horrible?). I gasped this afternoon when an elected official said on national radio that homosexuals are preoccupied with sex and aren't fit to hold office (when challenged by the interviewer that it was his opinion he confirmed that it was fact as established by many psychiatrists). It's just too much today, 'roid rage or not. I much prefer my insulated world where the news is filtered through co-workers and friends, or distilled down to five-word-or-fewer headlines on