Thursday, February 26, 2009

"Read these instructions through first."

I've been cruising along on the Honeybee Stole.
laurens shawl 120608
It's an old photo but it really doesn't look much more interesting yet
I've been staying right on track to finish by my self-imposed deadline. I've been knitting what I need to, and no more, so that I can work on other more satisfying projects. I'm almost finished with the second section, and today I scanned ahead to take a gander at the third and final section.

It turns out it isn't the final section.

Granted, the (newly discovered) section four is only 16 rows (per side), but that adds 12 days of knitting at the scheduled rate of 2.75 rows per day. Aack!

Also? While I thought I was being all smart starting both sides at the same time, I just read the last page and see that this wasn't what I was supposed to be doing. Instead of being a continuous patter from one side to the other, I'm going to have a row of stockinette grafting. Eh. I can live with that (though please don't remind me when I'm in the middle of grafting 101 stitches of laceweight).

There are lots of advantages to having patterns on the computer instead of printed out, but this is one downside: I'm just not going to sit down and read 10 pages of a pattern on the computer screen.

This has become something of a gripe with me about patterns I've been knitting: People are too wordy. The beauty of blogging is that you could blog all you want about a pattern, and keep some of that chatter out of the pattern itself.

I do enjoy reading about how a pattern came from idea to reality. I appreciate reading about some of the technical details - for example, learning why a particular series of increases or decreases creates the desired results. But usually I've already read that on the designer's blog before I decided to knit the project in the first place. I really wish the more wordy pattern writers would include a bare-bones one-page pattern at the end. Since my projects are often portable (if only from couch to bedside), I hate paging through 6 or 10 pages to get to the two lines of instructions I need for a particular step. Or if I'm on the second sock I don't need the elaborate explanation of why I'm doing things as written rather than some other way. In the Francie sock there is one page per step - one page for the leg patterning, one page for the stitch descriptions, etc. And oftentimes I need more than one page to get things done (i.e. a reminder of the stitch descriptions when I'm working the arch shaping). Ugh. Since this is my current "on the go" project, I have 5 tri-folded double-sided pages in my purse. The Jaywalker (Ravelry link) is better - only 3 pages - but it could certainly be trimmed to two pages to make it more earth-friendly. (what, you think I'm going to be monogomous while I knit the second Francie? Of course I'm starting a new pair.)

Making up the time for this has seriously cut into my sock knitting time. I'm only to the heel on the second Francie sock. I should be wearing them. Whine. Distract yourself with this little man:
first snow 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009


In a world as slow as knitting - or at least knitting in my household - there is something imminently satisfying about completing a project fairly quickly. Or maybe I'm just high on wool fumes from all of the recent FOs...

First FO of 2009: Mom's socks
Rushing Rivulet pattern from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways book with the addition of 8 plain stockinette rows and a feather and fan repeat for the cuff.
Time to complete: 6.5 weeks
mom's socks (good)
My mom has fraternal feet, so I made appropriately sized socks for each. I started these just before Christmas (I was going to just give her the yarn and a promise, but then it dawned on me that I might be able to take advantage of her being here for some preliminary sizing - so I cast on Dec 18). Using my gauge swatch, I cast on for the smaller sock first. As often happens, my swatch LIED and I learned that I was instead knitting the larger sock.

I've decided that I'm no longer super excited about these sock patterns. The arch shaping starts so early for toe-up socks that there is a lot of ripping to be done if your row gauge is off even slightly. I was lucky because I had two different feet to knit for, but in any other case the first sock would have had to be frogged. As it was, the pattern is nice and airy and will hopefully make for comfy, warm-but-not-too-warm socks for Arizona.

Second FO of 2009: Neptunesmoon socks
Nutkin pattern
Time to complete: 4.5 months
This yarn was a gift way back last summer from Sarah. She bought it specifically because the colorway was "Neptune." The yarn had its first run as a pair of inadvertant socks for BabyMan, and as such there wasn't quite enough for a pair for me...but there was almost enough.

The pattern is really clever - a cable-looking design without the bulk and cinching-in of real cables. Unfortunately, the yarn has so much sheen that even though the color variegation is fairly subtle, the pattern gets lost. As pretty as they were, these were obviously back-burner socks. To make up for my yarn shortage, I knit the foot flat, subbing in some KnitPicks Essentials yarn for the sole. As a result that meant quite a bit of purling on DPNS, not my favorite thing. It also meant sewing up the seam on one side of the foot. But now that they are done (and on my feet for about 24hrs after the last stitch was woven in), I'm thrilled, thrilled, thrilled. Wearing them with black shoes and grey work pants, they're just a hint of personality shining into the dark hallways of science. The fit is perfect. Happy happy happy.

Third FO of 2009: Francie socks
Francie pattern
Time to complete: well....
photo taken over the weekend - since finished!
While these aren't yet finished, there is no question these will be the 3rd FO of 2009. I've been staring at this yarn for over six months now. I wrote about the purchase earlier, and the yarn cake has been sitting on my son's dresser (don't ask me why) for a while. I would glance at it every evening as I nursed/rocked/cajoled my son to sleep. From the day I got it I knew it was destined to become a pair of Francie socks (again, don't ask my why). I guess some yarns have ideas of their own, and we are but minions to carry out their wishes. It's so bright and pretty - have I mentioned that yet?
I patiently waited to cast on until Mom's socks were dutifully finished and on their way to their new home. And it's a good thing. This sock just took over. The lovely Neptunesmoon socks that were less than an inch from wearability languished for a week while I obsessively worked on Francie. Even though my row gauge was off by quite a bit making the sock come out rather different from the pattern as written - I'm happy. One sock in 8 days. One lovely, slightly big around the ankle, a tad short in the length sock in 8 days. I'm a bit afraid to cast on the second sock as I do have laundry and grocery shopping and such to catch up on.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

But I don't wanna....

I'm having one of those weeks where what I want to do is in conflict with what I should do. This is a bit of a problem for me because I'm a grown up. There is no one standing behind me to nudge me toward doing the right thing, just the far-away doom of that-which-will-catch-up-with-me.

Case #1: home - I should be painting the stairs and nudging the other adult in the house toward finishing the trim so that we can reattach our handrail and prevent all sorts of dangerous accidents. But I'd rather be organizing the closets. (I know, right?)

Case #2: work - I should be keeping an eye on employment opportunities in the area, as my company is evaluating its "talent pool" for "streamlining" and "aligning to the matrix" and maximizing "the right caliber" of personnel. But I'd rather watch movies in the evening than web search for jobs.

Case #3: knitting - I should be focusing on winding down a project that has a real deadline, but I'm soooooo tired of knitting the shawl right now. I'd rather start three new pairs of socks and wind up yarn for a couple more. April is ages away, right?

Case #4: blog - I should be uploading the photos I took this past week for a decent post instead of yet another stream-of-conscience blather. But I'd rather knit this week than dink around with photos of things I knit last week.

The procrastination is yielding fruit - I started a sock on Monday (mere moments after casting off Mom's socks) and I have the first leg finished as of this morning. Thank you doctor - your tardiness gave me precious knitting time in the waiting room. At this rate I might have two new pairs of socks before winter is truly over. Mother Nature - the race is on!

Friday, February 06, 2009


Yesterday morning I woke from a terrible dream, and I asked B to be particularly alert and cautious at work that day. When he came home, he asked me to tell him about my dream. I'd dreamt that he'd been on assignment, at the roadside, and a car had crashed into the scene, killing him and injuring the others. He was smirking the whole time I described the horrific dream.

"Our ambulance was sideswiped today. I was closing the back door, on my way to go to the patient. A car clipped the door I was holding."

No injuries and only the most minor vehicular damage. Weird, eh?


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Sickness and Single Parenting

First let me say that I am not a single parent. Though the days may get very long, there is always another adult coming home at the end of the day. My son has a delighted and devoted father, a father who listens avidly to the smallest minutiae of our day as I relate it to him each night.

That said, this weekend was another experience in mostly-single parenting while sick. While there are some advantages to 12-hour work days, most notably having several days off during the week, there are some serious drawbacks. Working every other weekend. Leaving before the family is awake, and returning home after the baby is asleep. Also? No sick days when your family is sick. Ironically, it was just last week that I was lamenting to my mother that I'm essentially a single mom several days a week, as I juggle running to the grocery store with child in tow, and making dinner with child-who-needs-attention after being at daycare all day on my hip. I know others who have it worse - those with spouses who travel for work and are gone for weeks on end. Those who truly do not have a spouse living with them. But being drop-down sick, running up and down to the bathroom a couple of times an hour with a freaked-out child who doesn't understand what's going on, struggling to stay awake just to keep the wee one from getting into serious danger - it was hard to keep perspective. I felt the double-whammy of my own physical misery combined with concern for his well-being.

This week I heard third-hand about a single-parent situation that rings so many emotional and moral bells for me that I'm not even sure how to process - which is why I'm presenting it here. You've probably heard. Somewhere in this country, a mother to a large number of children, born at the rate of one per year, gave birth recently to a batch of children that more than doubled the size of her family. I'm specifically leaving out details - I don't want to be part of the media swarm that is already making their lives difficult.

  • I grieve for those children - it will be like growing up in an orphanage there. I know some communities have large families, but these families would spread out as many children over 15-20 years, and these families would have help from each other.
  • I grieve for the mother - what adult can remain sane in the face of so many diapers, runny noses, dirty laundry baskets, hungry bellies?
  • I feel for the social workers who must - surely someone must - evaluate this situation and decide in an unprejudiced way how to best help the children.
  • I am frustrated by our broken, isolationist social network, that there are so few resources to help this family, and that there was no one to assess the mental health of this mother before this last pregnancy or to help her realize what she truly needs in her life instead of more children.
  • I feel anger toward a doctor who would implant so many embryos, regardless the number of children she already has (NJ, the only state to fund infertility treatment, limits implantation to 4 embryos). The success rate for implantation is just too high anymore to justify so many eggs.
  • I feel desperation toward legislators who don't know how to place restrictions on such treatments.

Although I wish no ill upon this family, I do hope this situation emboldens our legislators to get involved with placing limitations on fertility treatment. Each child deserves a loving parent, and a solid foundation for self-esteem that is rooted in the devoted adoration of that parent. Each parent deserves the opportunity to enjoy the tiny milestones of their child. While it might not matter that the baby first sat up at 5 months and 3 days, it matters that the parent noticed, and applauded.