Thursday, March 26, 2009

Not that kind of knitter

I often read blogs that talk about ripping back a large portion of knitting to fix a relatively minor (to my eyes) mistake, and I always wonder - am I that kind of knitter?

It turns out I'm not. Not even close

Case #1
For some reason I'd been absolutely convinced that the Francie sock pattern was the match made in fiber heaven for my sunshine yellow sock yarn. My stitch gauge was right on, but the row gauge was way, way off. Did I rip back and start the pattern with new yarn or select a new pattern for the yellow yarn? Nope. Just kept plugging away, even at the expense of some of the cool architectural details of the pattern. I kept going even when I had to completely rewrite the toe decreases. Ah well. They're comfy, scrunchy, and finished.

Case #2
I cast on for the Central Park Hoodie a few weeks ago. I added 4 extra stitches to account for the slight difference in gauge I was getting...but after dutifully knitting 4 inches of ribbing I started the cables and discovered, oops, I'd screwed up the pattern. The pattern carefully incorporates the ribbing into the start of the cables for a nice, seamless transition. But after sitting on it for a few days I decided that I couldn't bring myself to start over - to rip back to the cast on and reknit, all for a minor change that no one but me will notice. Other knitters might fret, unable to wear something that has even a small error that they know about. Not me. That wee little mishap is going to be on my butt, and I avoid looking there as much as possible anyway.

Case #3
The wedding shawl is slowly coming to a close. I've worked hard on this, unkniting and reknitting several rows when I encountered mistakes. But yesterday I realized that I'd messed up the yarn overs several rows down. Instead of alternating and making a netting kind of pattern, a couple of rows had the holes stacked on top of each other like a Connect Four gameboard. I didn't even flinch - no way was I ripping that back. I'm not enjoying this part of the pattern anyway, and I'm sooooo ready to cast on for something new to take its place. Maybe I'll offer the bride a special prize if she can find the mistake....or maybe I'll wrap it beautifully in tissue paper, tuck a few silk flowers inside, and call it a day.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Hit and run

Madness at work. I know lots of folks have witnessed downsizing and layoffs, but this is my first time seeing it up close and personal. It's intense. As a result, my intended post didn't get written today.

In the meantime, go check out this graph at the NYT website, which does a beautiful job of depicting the gender wage gap for many professions. I was surprised to note that what I'd consider my field (medical scientist) had the largest gap of all (37%). I really would have expected it to be smaller, at least closer to the chemists (27%). I wish they'd done this on an hourly rate basis rather than a weekly rate, because it's possible that men might work more in overtime than women which would skew the results. I also wish they'd accounted for years of service to make it a truly fair comparison. Many of the higher paying jobs don't offer pay for overtime (instead paying a flat weekly/monthly salary), so that excuse for the difference certainly doesn't hold water. Disappointing that this is still such an issue.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Lately I've been thinking of all of the ways I could have spent $85,000.

I could have taken a fabulous vacation every year for the past 10 years.
I could have purchased two super fuel efficient hybrids.
I could have had a massage at a spa every single day for the past 3 years.
I could have saved enough to one day pay for my son's college education.
I could have taken a year off (and then some) to stay home with my baby.

But instead I have a run down house in a run down neighborhood that I've spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on. My house is now valued at less than I bought it for, even though I bought I piece of crap and now I own a very comfortable home. We can't afford to sell it and move, so our one hope is that I lose my job so we can take advantage of the benefits for desperate homeowners. It's a crazy world.

Mr. Obama, I know you can't save everyone, but how am I supposed to feel when witless people who got in over their heads are being rescued, while cautious little me is getting screwed? When people who weren't hurt by the plunge in housing values can get a great deal (with government support) for buying their first home, while those of us who have owned are dead-broke without any assistance or incentive to buy again?

I have some photos of recent home improvements, and I'll post them here if I ever get access to the computer at home.
I've been knitting like crazy because knitting is the only thing that isn't a helpless trainwreck right now. Even if I royally screw something up, I can always rip it out and start again. And I've not forgotten that I have the most amazing and charming little boy. The boy and knitting might be all that stand between me and a total break-down.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Knitting with company

One of my goals for 2009 is to knit myself a sweater. I made on attempt back in 2002 making this sweater, but it didn't turn out well. I don't love the high-contrast of the waist band, the neck is far to wide to ever stay on my shoulders, and it overall just isn't my style.

Enter this (in celtic mist) lovely yarn, a gift from mom, and Carolyn. Carolyn suggested making a Central Park Hoodie, and while the sweater seems immensely popular on Ravelry, I take that as a positive sign. Plus, just because ___2,346___ (as of today) people have made this sweater, it isn't like I'm going to run into many of them. Also? Sarah has made TWO of these, and she knows what she's doing.

I was feeling a bit conflicted about using my yarn for this pattern - I didn't want to buy any new yarn, but I'm not sure the Tweed and the pattern are a good match. The recommended stitch gauge is 5.5 stitches/inch, but the pattern calls for 4.25. That's a pretty big difference. So after playing around with needles for a bit, I have hit on something in the neighborhood of 4.33 sts/inch with larger than recommended needles. I fear this might make for slightly airy fabric, but I hope the yarn will bloom into something lovely and perfect. Is it possible to meet somewhere in the middle, between my hopes and fears? I'm swatched and ready to go - just need to find some uninterrupted time when I can reliably count to 170.

I've also signed on for SockWars IV. I participated in the first Sock Wars, and that was in fact the first (and second) pair of socks I ever knit. The first battle didn't go so smoothly, but with hundreds of participants around the world and a tornado in Scotland affecting the organizer, who was surprised? This round seems to have learned a lot from previous battles, so I'm hoping the flakes will be weeded out, reducing disappointment. The game works like a game of assassin: you have your "target's" shoe size, and you try to knit and mail them the killer sock before your assassin does the same to you. It's a weird kind of game, because the loser gets to knit maybe half a sock and gets rewarded with a whole pair, while the winner might knit a dozen or more and he/she still gets rewarded with one pair. But knitters are already thought of as odd by the muggles. I'm obviously not all that fast at making a pair of socks, but when my feet are to the fire we'll see how fast I can go. There's still time to join, if you feel up to the challenge.