Week Fifty-One: Chocolate Versus Cancer


Are you sick of cancer? Are you afraid of cancer? Are you angry at it? Do you feel helpless in the face of it? Decades ago the mere word “cancer” was a death sentence. What power the word gained over us! These days we have screenings, treatment options, special diets, alternative care, and support groups. But hearing the words “you have cancer” still means that your life has significantly changed and you need to prepare for battle. This week I’m going to give you some suggestions to help wipe out cancer, or make it easier to deal with. And I got a lot of help from my friends, whose contributions are shown indented as quotes. They have been there, and they know from very hard experience what they’re talking about. I cannot thank them enough for sharing their stories with me during the preparation of this week’s post.

1. GET TESTED. This is the Number One thing you can do for yourself. Many, many cancers are treatable if detected in their early stages, so that’s when you should try to find them. Make that call, set that appointment, and get checked. If you don’t have health insurance, look into programs like the Well Woman Program in Wisconsin that covers uninsured and under-insured women. Set money aside. Ask for help to cover the cost. But get checked on a regular basis for everything that you should, and make sure you are performing self exams as well.

2. REDUCE YOUR RISK. Stop unhealthy habits as soon as you can, and replace them with healthy ones. I shouldn’t have to give examples here — you know what changes you need to make. If you don’t know, ask your doctor or an honest friend. Losing weight and stopping smoking won’t guarantee you will be cancer-free, but it certainly improves your odds for avoiding cancer or for surviving rugged courses of chemotherapy or radiation.

3. TALK ABOUT IT. Many cancers take root in “private” places. We may not want to talk about breasts, testicles, or cervixes (cervices?), but we need to be talking to each other about breast cancer, testicular cancer, and cervical cancer to make sure we know the latest information, know what we should be tested for, know what treatments are available, and know how we can support friends who are fighting for their lives. Our shyness and ignorance help cancer win when we can’t afford to lose. In October and November this year I got back some “bad” test results, and was waiting for weeks for a follow-up procedure and then for the results that would tell me whether or not I had cervical cancer. I shared this information with only a very few friends, only to find out that a cousin was undergoing a similar cancer scare at the same time. How many women would have benefited from my sharing my experience sooner rather than later? I’m sorry I was shy… I just didn’t want to make extra worry for my friends. Anyway, as of right now, I’m cancer-free. Now go get yourself tested!

4. BE THERE. Talk to your friends with cancer. Talk with them about the cancer, or about whatever they want to talk about. It might be cancer, or it might not. Keep being their friend, and keep being there. Be reliable. Be helpful. Fighting cancer is hard work, and it’s harder if you feel alone, abandoned, or ostracized because of an illness you didn’t ask for. So call them. Email them. Visit. Be there. Show up.

Talk to them. So many of Mark’s friends did not know what to say to him — so they said nothing at all. He felt so isolated and alone, especially when he was really, really sick. Even if it is just a card or phone call — it is really important. — Sarah, caretaker

Keep visiting! Call, write, visit as much as you use to if not more. Of course, be guided by the person’s cues. Your visits may need to be very brief. — Anita, caretaker

Be a true friend by asking the person with cancer to do things to keep their mind off the situation. Don’t treat them like they are sick and exclude them from activities. The person will decline the offer if they aren’t up to it, so don’t decide for them what you think they may want. Exclusion sucks, we’re still the same people we always were! — Michele, 2X cancer survivor

My experience is that cancer can be very isolating and consuming. I would suggest making a sincere effort to connect with the person fighting cancer. Don’t just ask, “how are you.” Really make an effort to ask about the kind of things they are dealing with since being diagnosed. If they have no one to go with them on appointments, offer to go along. Ask if you could come sit with them during chemo treatments. Ask the person out to do something fun. It could be something simple like coffee or ice cream but it might give the cancer patient an hour of his/her day to NOT think about cancer. — Deb, caretaker

5. PUT YOUR MONEY IN THE RIGHT PLACE. Buying a pink object to “raise awareness” of breast cancer mostly raises the profits of the company who manufactures the pink object. You know who needs the money? People fighting cancer, that’s who. Have you ever heard a cancer patient say, “Thank goodness my health insurance covered everything! I’m completely cured and don’t owe a penny!” Me neither. Look around your neighborhood and talk to your friends. Ask around. You do know someone who needs financial help, even if you don’t know them yet. You can give them money to help with their bills, which are likely to be huge. Every bit helps. Ask at your bank to see if they are accepting donations to help out a local family who is struggling. You can give anonymously, but give. They need you, and the time is now. Besides, do we really need to spend waste another dime on “awareness”? We’re aware already. Let’s move on to treatments and cures, please.

6. MAKE YOUR COMPUTER GO BOINC. My friend Cory told me about BOINC, the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, which lets you add your computer’s untapped resources to a worldwide network so that scientific projects can get access to the extra computing power they need for their research. He set it up on my computer in a couple of minutes, and now my computer is running calculations to help combat AIDS and childhood cancer while I sleep. Check out the website. If you’re interested in participating with me, leave a comment. If there’s enough interest, I will start a team you can join. Personally, I can’t think of a better use for my plethora of vintage Macintoshes.

7. LET THEM DRIVE. Each person is an individual; people fighting cancer, more so. Each body reacts to disease differently and responds to treatment differently. When you’re being attacked by cancer, you need to understand what’s working and not working for yourself, and what your limits are for each different activity. If it’s your friend or family member who’s fighting accept that they are driving the car on this trip, and you are their crew. You may not like how fast or slow their car goes — you may have wanted to map out a different route — but you need to respect that they are in charge now, and you are there to assist in the way that they need your assistance. Check your ego and assist.

Dean and I talked about this and decided that the one thing would be UNDERSTANDING. This would be to understand the kind of FEAR the family is facing with the prospect of no longer having this person around. An understanding of what multiple doctor’s APPOINTMENTS mean to the family planning and how to handle them. An understanding of how ONE’S HEALTH CHANGES affect the whole family. An understanding of the LIFE CHANGING process that happens to an entire family with the diagnosis of cancer to one of its members. Basically to be UNDERSTANDING of the fact that this diagnosis doesn’t just impact the person, but the whole family. If someone is distracted it isn’t because they don’t want to talk about it, but they are dealing with the cancer on so very many levels it is hard to see past all the things it impacts. — Bonnie, 2X cancer survivor

The most important thing you can do for someone with cancer is let it be their journey. We discover that a loved one has cancer and that affects us tremendously. Sometimes, and it’s human nature, it can be difficult to stop thinking about ourselves and really allow the patient to absorb, come to terms with, and dictate their own cancer journey. We just want to help. We want to swoop in and save the day. But, we are not superman. Being angry at our own lack of ability to DO anything can take away for the true matter at hand. The one best thing to do? Let go. Let it be about the person with cancer every minute you are with that person. Let him or her tell you what that journey looks like and accept it as it is. — Paula M., caretaker

The one best thing that I feel you can do for someone fighting cancer is to make sure that they understand that this is their battle and that they have to make their own decisions regarding their own treatment. — Paula R., caretaker

8. BE POSITIVE. Telling your cancer-fighting friend about your other friends who have died from cancer IS NOT HELPFUL. Neither is it supportive, kind, or necessary. Take your friend seriously and give them credit for their perspective. Don’t undermine them by comparing their cancer to your inconvenient hangnail, or whatever. Don’t pester them with “facts” you picked up from WebMD, recommend quack cures, or suggest they need an attitude adjustment to make everything all better. They have a whole medical team thinking of appropriate treatments to try: YOUR job is to provide emotional support. Stay their friend, hug them and touch them if it’s safe and welcome, and keep smiling.

Moral support. — Ken, 4X cancer survivor

9. DO SOMETHING. If you want to help, ask what you can do. This is not the time to treat someone as you think you would want to be treated; take the time to find out how they want to be treated. You can’t make their cancer go away, but maybe you can pick up that gallon of milk for them so they don’t have to make an extra trip. Maybe what they really need is for someone to just tackle that mountain of laundry so it doesn’t upset them any more. Ask, then do.

Be as supportive as the person in need WANTS and ALLOWS you to be. This may mean dropping everything else to be by someone’s side. Or graciously backing off and giving them the space they need. Or taking care of their loved ones by grocery shopping, picking their kids up at school. — Rona, caretaker

10. REMEMBER THE REST. Cancer may reside in one person, but it attacks a whole family structure. It saps strength, strains relationships, and adds extra tasks and expenses. Often the primary caregiver at home is rapidly becoming as worn out as the cancer patient. Giving them attention or respite care can ease their burden for a bit.

I thought it was really great when people came and did things with the other kids too! Sometimes they felt a little forgotten… and really loved a little bit of attention. The meals were also fantastic!!! We were spoiled. — Liz, caretaker

and, of course….

11. NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER! Life on earth is rare, precious, and all too short. You do not get a do-over, so don’t give up. Live the best life possible. Ask for help if you need it. Offer to help when you can. Love the people you love.

Published in: on December 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm  Comments (4)  
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Week Nineteen: Something Was Missing

This week I had intended to write about cars — all the cars I have ever owned. Last night I discovered I had more to say about this topic than time would allow. So I’m still working on it for next week’s blog post. That might give me time to find pictures of most, if not all, of my cars.

In the meantime, here are some interesting chocolate bars I recently discovered. Yes — chocolate. No — I hadn’t given it up.

Citrus Ginger Chocolate

Indulgence Chocolates Citrus Ginger

I picked up this chocolate bar at a classy grocery store in Delafield. It was part of a display that was NOT with the candy; it was next to the floral shop. I guess they figure that if you’re the kind of person who stops to buy an orchid, you might also be the kind of person who throws some fancy chocolates in your cart too. I suppose that I am, because I also bought an orchid. (Fancy that, I’m in someone’s demographic!) It was a nice bar to nibble on over a week’s time, though the ginger flavor was more subtle than I’d expected.

Sweet Dark chocolate

Lindt Sweet Dark Chocolate

Just yesterday I was at the Johnson Creek Outlet Mall and discovered there was such a thing as a Lindt Outlet store. Uh-oh.

You know how the candy store at the mall (if you still have a mall) has a wall rack with every possible flavor and color of jelly bean? Lindt does this with chocolate bars. All those impossible-to-find flavors, like Chili, Black Currant, and whatever-suits-your-fancy, are right there in your face. I was tempted to whip out my smartphone and take a picture of the display, but I had announced, “I found lunch!” to the staff, and one of them came over and pressed a free-sample truffle into my hand. I was distracted.

Anyway, I decided to pick out two flavors that not only had I never tried before, I had never even known to exist.

Sweet Dark is basically dark chocolate without the bitterness. If a 65% cacao feels strong to you, try this. It’s very smooth. nomnomnom smooth.

Wasabi Dark Chocolate

Lindt Wasabi

The staff at the outlet store advise, “If you don’t like wasabi, you won’t like this bar.” It’s not really about heat (although it could ambush you if you thought you were picking up a square of Hershey’s Special Dark), but about that unique flavor that is wasabi. This bar definitely has it. I was told that the flavors would fight each other, taking turns in your mouth, but I thought they blended very well. Then again, I’ve gotten myself used to snacking on Blue Diamond’s wasabi and soy sauce roasted almonds. It’s delicious, but I’m trying to limit my portion size in case some of the heat turns out to be cumulative.

Have an interesting chocolate today! I’m off to look for old car photos for next week’s post.

Published in: on May 9, 2013 at 1:40 pm  Comments (1)  

Progress on Aisle 2

The first week is going well…. I finished a WIP on January 4, then created a blog page for my finished works of 2012 so I could document it there.

I do realize that pages don’t exist for anything I completed in 2011, 2010, and actually the end of 2009…. but that’s not important right now. If I get the flu or break my leg or something and suddenly end up with lots of free time I may copy those words and pictures over from Ravelry. Then again, I might not.

The finished work in question is a hat of my own design. It was started on a circular needle, so even though it took me two sets of DPNs to finish it off, it actually only liberated a single needle. Humph.

Jamie's MIL's Freakin' Hat

Completing that project gave me psychic permission, if you will, to cast on for something else I’ve been wanting to do for a while — the DNA Scarf. As it happens, the Scientific Knitters group on Ravelry decided to have a knitalong for this pattern and all derivations of it. Other people have turned it into hats or socks, but I’m going to play it straight as much as possible.

I got off to a rocky start. I’m using some pseudo-vintage Blue Sky Alpaca yarn, three skeins from the orphan table at Knitch of Delafield. And you start out with 8 rows of seed stitch (The Bane Of My Existence) on size 2 needles. I got four rows in, realized I had committed an error I did not know how to fix, and had to take it off the needles, wind off the yarn, and start over again. The second time I finished the 8-row section of seed stitch, and am now “ready” to start knitting with larger needles and work the real pattern, which includes 5-stitch borders of seed stitch on each side, mirrored mini-cables on each side, and the 20-stitch, 38-row Double Helix pattern. No sweat.

In fact, I did my first repeat of the pattern last night at Late Night Knitting at The Sow’s Ear. The seed stitch border turns out the be the easy part. There was much raising of blood pressure during the first few rows, but eventually it got easier. One thing I did discover is that I no longer know how to do left twist mock cables. But for this project I will settle on doing the same technique consistently, because I am NOT going to start this over and redo it. If I muck this up so badly that I have to frog it, I swear that the yarn will become Something Else. (And, oh, Note To Self: put in a lifeline now.)

DNA Scarf - 1 repeat

If I run into problems while I’m working on this new project, my evolving Rules of Play state that I may work on the next WIP or any long-term project I have on the needles. Considering that I have two Doctor Who scarves on the needles and another one planned, I think it’s safe to say I’ll always have something to make steady progress on. BUT, I cannot cast on for a new project until the current “new” project becomes a “finished” project.

In other news, we discovered this:

Dark Fudge Chocolate Chip Kettle Corn

Oh, my goodness gracious. This does not bode well for trying to lose 30 pounds, but it’s not the kind of thing one eats every day.

Anyway. I haven’t weighed in again yet, so I don’t have progress to report there. UPDATE: I did a 20 minute free run on the Wii Fit Plus for 4.233 miles, and at weigh-in (before the run) I had lost 1.5 pounds since Wednesday.

Since January 1
Saturday blog posts: 1 of 1
WIPs completed: 1
Needles liberated: 1
Clutter reduced: took 1 bag of books, and 2 bags of clothes, to the thrift store. Filled one cubic-yard box of sheets and blankets to take to the thrift store next week.
Grades: school hasn’t started yet
Pounds lost: 1.5

Published in: on January 7, 2012 at 7:20 am  Comments (3)  

Four of Ten

After I stared at the red mittens for a few days, I finally got my act together and knitted their thumbs. After the sad experiences of my previous mitten-making stints, in which the second mitten invariably emerged from the needles as a 10 percent reduction of the first one, I wanted to be able to concentrate on what I was doing, keep careful track of my rows, and make sure the two mittens were as darn close to identical as I could make them.

So, I packed them off to Late Night Knitting at the Sow’s Ear last Friday and went forward. With the help of just a touch of Chocovine and some bites of panko chocolate. (Seriously, a dark chocolate bar with panko bread crumbs and sea salt. It’s hard to express just how yum this is.)

In the end, I was pleased with my efforts.

So, I went on to finish knitting Zoom, a swiffer cover made from dishcloth cotton. I haven’t seamed it up yet, but the Actual Knitting ended about 15 minutes before Late Night did. I was pleased with how that turned out, too.

The impetus for knitting Zoom is that last month the thin carpeting in our rented farmhouse was replaced with laminate flooring in the kitchen and dining room. And while I’m no longer obsessed with the thought of a rotten carpet, pad, and subfloor every time one of the kids spills a Capri Sun, I did quickly realize I was going to have to make something to help me keep it clean and dry. I’ve had a Swiffer broom for years, but I hated having to spend so much money on the little wipes. And they always dried out in their packages before I got to use them all. A reusable cotton cover made so much sense to me. Now, I almost have one. There are several patterns for this kind of thing; I selected Zoom because it had a little texture to it.

Anyway, then I pulled my 198 Yards of Heaven project out of the bag. It stared me in the face. It taunted me. You don’t have time to work on me properly, just enough time to start a row and thoroughly screw it up. What’s the matter, can’t you count? I put it back in the bag. There were more mittens to do.

Sort of. When I asked my daughter if she still wanted brown mittens, she said no. She had wanted brown woolen mittens with decorated backs that looked like either horseshoes, or initials made from yarn that looked like a cowboy’s rope. I don’t remember exactly. It sounded pretty complex to me, and I wasn’t looking forward to it. I was relieved to hear that she had changed her mind.

“What kind of mittens do you want, then?”
“Ones with fingers.”
Oh crap. “Gloves?”
“Yes! Gloves! In purple.”

Now, the closest I’ve come to knitting gloves would have been…. oh, let’s see. The red mittens in the picture in this post. Well, I did want to please, and it was time to stretch and challenge myself a little bit, so I looked through my pattern files.

What I ended up doing was combining the measurements I’d taken for Jack’s hands (Colleen is older but slight, and Jack is younger but robust, and most times they measure identically) for the Fittin’ Mittens pattern with the recipe given in a Winter 2003 article from Interweave Knits called “Progressive Gloves.” There will be plenty of new things for me to learn, including the way the thumb is allowed for (you knit several stitches with waste yarn to create a provisional cast on you’ll pick up later).

I picked a pretty variegated purple yarn from the stash (Rhapsody from Dark Horse Yarns, a Merino Wool from Turkey of all places, an orphan skein I adopted from the Sow’s Ear last year), cast on last night, and immediately modified the pattern so her gloves would have ribbed cuffs. That I already know how to do.

I’ll need to measure her hand this morning to determine how far to knit before I put in the thumb stitches, and I need to know where her “finger line” is, but so far it’s been good knitting. The yarn measures out at 205 yards for 100 grams, so it’s big fluffy Merino. So nice to knit with after the Bernat sock-weight nylon/acrylic blend I just wrestled into a pair of mittens.

In other news, UNWIND registrations are starting to roll in. By the time I log in the new ones there should be about 15 out of 200. It’s all more real every day. Please, if you’re planning to come, do help me out by registering as early as you can so we’ll know better how much we’re planning for.

And, oh. Top Chef. See ya, Tim!

Published in: on July 18, 2010 at 6:03 am  Comments (2)  

So, this one time, at Sheep and Wool…

…we had this little party, and about 40 people came? And had cheesecake? And won door prizes?

And then we all got massively tired and wished we could sleep for weeks and weeks. But we did take some pictures. They’re not great, but they’re pictures, and they’ve already taken Stage One of their journey and now actually reside on the computer rather than in the camera.

I’ve got a few things to do first (like shower, and run out for diapers and wipes) but I want to take advantage of this being a 3-child school day and put up a very nice blog post with some of those pictures and lots of words.

Here’s our display at the Country Store on Saturday morning. I don’t know why the camera was doing that! (Hi Brandy!)

Here are some sheep (including Shetlands). Check out the horns on that Jacob!

The lamb in this picture is 4 days old. It was soooo small!

Four-day-old lamb, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool



Shetland sheep, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool

Shetland sheep, 2008 WI Sheep & Wool


Jacob Sheep, horns and all![/Jacob Sheep, horns and all!]  

The feed is sweeter in the other pen!

The feed is sweeter in the other pen!

Here is the food at the Afterparty before anybody had some. Chocolate chip cookie pizzas in three flavors, pizzelles in two flavors, chocolate dipped pretzel sticks in four varieties, and two types of cheesecakes with three fruit toppings. Coffee, soda, water, etc. The wine was a door prize ONLY.


Chocolate dipped pretzel sticks

Chocolate dipped pretzel sticks



Cheesecake bar — New York style and chocolate mint chip

Cheesecake bar — New York style and chocolate mint chip



Chocolate chip cookie pizzas

Chocolate chip cookie pizzas


Here are the door prizes, almost all of them. Some people came to the party and dropped more items on the table.

And here is the TARDIS I made just for the party. You won’t believe how cool my children think this is, and where it is now.

Off to do errands, then I’ll fill it in later.

A tremendous thanks to everyone who attended, everyone who just stopped by the table to say Hi even if they couldn’t come, everyone who helped in any way, and especially to Cheesehead with Sticks, who really made it all possible. I really hope there’s an event like this next year, even if I’m not involved with planning and running it.

September 11: OK, I almost give up. Sorry about the formatting. If I can figure out how to fix it, I’ll do so one picture and caption at a time, saving in between. Meanwhile, I’m on with the rest of my life.

I’m not panicking

No matter what I tell you, I’m not panicking about the Sheep and Wool Festival. All this week I have managed to stay right on my baking schedule. I even received the key to the party site a few days early, and was able to transfer some of the desserts to the fridge over there. I’ve been taking ticket reservations, making sure I could set up a table at the festival to hand out said tickets, collaborating to design a flyer for the party, noting all promised door prizes, and making arrangements to meet everyone who has volunteered to help me.

You may notice that a baking schedule was perhaps not the only schedule I should have established.

Today, for example, I need to cash a check at the bank, purchase the rest of the party supplies, get more cheesecake ingredients, make at least one tabletop display, get flyers and maps copied, bake said cheesecakes, and start setup at the party site.

One child will get home between 11:30 and noon, so I need to be back from my errands in time to meet him. Then I do tasks with the two youngest underfoot until 4pm, when all four are home.

If you’re coming to the festival and still need a ticket, my table will be set up 8 to noon on Saturday in the east vendor barn (Country Store), near the Handspun Skein Contest area. Mention my blog and I’ll give you a hug! Or just a ticket if that’s what you want.

Hmm, let’s talk about something else. This week I cast on for a Doctor Who Scarf. If you’re a fan, it will make a difference to you to know it’s a Season 12 scarf make with Brown Sheep Nature Spun Sport, 42 stitches wide. If not, the only thing that might interest you is that it’s almost 9 inches long right now — just a baby. These scarves can get to 20 feet long when stretched out. But it’s for me and I am trying not to impose a deadline (though I hear TARDIS Day is November 23 and it is the traditional gift on that day). I work on it when I want to relax, or if I’m watching BBC America or SciFi Channel.

And… apparently I’m not working on anything else right now. The “boots” are done but one of them needs to be re-seamed. Everything else is just sitting around waiting for the party to be over.

Published in: on September 5, 2008 at 6:45 am  Comments (2)  

Life after Ravelympics

If I didn’t have the Sheep and Wool Afterparty (and the upcoming school year) to occupy my time right now, I’d be feeling kind of low. The post-Ravelympics period is kind of dull.

No deadline for urgent knitting. No support to give to others’ urgent projects on the other side of the ocean. No photo sharing of completed projects.

Christmas knitting will have to fill the void!

After the Afterparty, that is. I have two official sponsors for the party, one of whom has already sent Actual Money, and this week is Recipe Test week, which nobody seems to mind so far. Yesterday I baked a chocolate chip cookie pizza, and today I should get ingredients for the more upscale version (dark chocolate chips, dried cherries, and slivered almonds) as well as for Real Cheesecake. I thought about doing the mini cheesecakes, the kind you do in the muffin cups with Nilla Wafers in the bottom, but I’ve never done the recipe before, and it took more cream cheese to make a dozen of those than it did to make a whole actual cheesecake. So.

If you’re planning on coming to the party and haven’t told me yet, please RSVP! If you can volunteer with setup or cleanup, that’s even better and very much appreciated. I have lists for both, and don’t want to leave someone out.

I will be at the Sheep and Wool Festival on Saturday morning to hand out tickets, flyers, and maps, and to pick up the rest of the door prizes. I should be outside the East vendor barn.

Knitwise, what am I working on?

Cotton footies for my grandmother — just have to re-seam the second one.
Mystery project (Whovian) — this is a striped scarf that will need a lot of ends woven in before I can start knitting again.
Mystery project (Christmas) — haven’t picked this up in a while.
Tyrone, Cursed IHS, Lace stole — yadda yadda yadda.
Bamboo socks — need to find black yarn for the toes. Anyone have a ball of Crystal Palace Cotton Panda in Jet Black?

Mmm, time to test some cookies!

Published in: on August 26, 2008 at 9:23 am  Comments (2)  

Big Tom

When I turned two I was really anxious, because I’d doubled my age in a year. I thought, if this keeps up, by the time I’m six I’ll be ninety.
— Steven Wright

Happy Birthday #2 to my little man — my friend Jen calls him Big Tom since he’s been underweight and behind the eight ball for so long. But he is catching up fast. He is such a sweetie and a ham.

Of course, the State of Wisconsin thinks he turned two yesterday. Silly trusting me didn’t bother to double check his birth certificate until after his first birthday, so apparently I need to do some legal filings to get it corrected to his real birth date. I was going to get this done in time to be a birthday present — but I didn’t.

My oldest son has wrong information on his birth certificate, too, oddly enough. Right after he was born, someone said brightly, “Look! Right at nine o’clock!” Everyone in the room turned to look at the clock, which was one of those enormous schoolroom types that you can see from the other end of the hallway. It read 8:50. Sure enough, when the birth certificate came, it said 9:00. That genius was the person responsible for reporting accurate information to the state. Sigh.


Thanks so much to everyone who entered the comment contest. I met a bunch of new (to me) knitters and read a bunch of new (to me) blogs, got a lace washcloth pattern to work on, discovered that there’s a whole blog dedicated to tracking knitting blog contests, and found out a lot more than 10 people read my blog. (Who knew! Well, now I do.)

Congrats to Molly Bee for winning! She has yet to pick her prize package.

I guess now I need to knit, and write about it, and post some !@#$% pictures every once in a while.

And everyone has been so kind not to bring this up, but I haven’t been mentioning much chocolate in the blog lately. I certainly haven’t stopped eating it.

That may change. There’s a local (within walking distance) pizza place that would like to offer desserts, and when I stopped in to tell the owner I was thinking of going to baking school, and would he be interested in my homework, he about flipped. I just bought a new pizzelle maker and will be making some samples for him soon. If that works out, I may be baking at his shop one or two nights a week. So I will have dessert pix to share! If WordPress lets me share them.

I’ve also got the WIS&W afterparty to bake for, and I gave myself a pretty ambitious menu to learn. But I’m one of those people who needs deadlines. Desperately. So blast it, it’s time to get started.

But knitwise… I decided to cast on for the bias square for the Doctor Who afghan. The plan is to collect enough squares for two afghans — the U.S. one auctioned to benefit Doctors Without Borders, and the U.K. one auctioned to benefit a hospice that helped care for David Tennant’s mother when she recently died of cancer. They are easy peasy 4 inch garter stitch bias squares, not even mitered squares (I guess that’s next), made from sock yarn. My first one is more than half done, and my plan is to just keep making them until I run out of leftover sock yarn. NOTE: I am NOT coordinating this effort. It originated in the Who Knits? Ravelry group (come and join us!), and I am just making tiny little squares.

I may start doing this with larger amounts of oddball yarn, too, and just tucking them away until I have enough for an afghan for myself. Maybe I’d better put an explanatory note in with them in case I get hit by a bus and somebody finds this bag of squares and thinks WTF.

Next on the list is starting the second Panda Cotton sock, so I can work two heel flaps right in a row and have a cigarette. I’m figuring it will be Just. That. Exciting. (I’m kidding, folks. I have never smoked anything I was offered.)

Knitwise the other projects are the Red Heart tube scarf, the MCY IHS, and Tyrone (sigh). I will probably knit that lace washcloth before I start any of them! That’s just the kind of knitter I am. I have to have a plan so I can thwart it. 🙂

ETA (edited to add): The Yarn Harlot has just shamed me into putting Tyrone at the top of the list. If anyone can encourage me through the weird first few raglan rows of sleeves-meet-body, please comment with said encouragement. I haven’t touched the sweater since last October, and it’s quite likely I don’t know what I was doing, or what to do next.

Contest time!

Hi folks….sorry for the lack of posts. The Internet connection is continuing to be crap, but now that we have DH has rearranged the living room, it seems to be better. (I know, WTF. It’s like the “magic” sticker on the big VAX servers in the Olden Days. Don’t touch it and everything will be fine.) Not knowing when I’d get dumped has kind of tarnished the relationship, yaknowwhatImean?

But anyway…..I just looked at my blog stats and saw the Comments total is at 987. You all know what that means, a goodie bag for the 1,000th comment! (Nothing for you, Mister Spam. Move along.)

I don’t know for sure what the prize will be. Odds are high that it could be a styrofoam head on which you could pose your latest knitted hat. Or, you could pick What’s Behind Door Number Two: a classic Chocolate Sheep care package from good ol’ Wisconsin. This will probably involve both yarn and chocolate. I’m planning an intimate party for 200 during WI Sheep & Wool Festival this year, so maybe I can test some recipes on you. If that sounds good, comment away!

Back to the knitting. The brioche scarf got totally frogged and converted to a tube scarf so I can have something for my hands to do when my brain is otherwise occupied. So that’s grinding along. In fact, I think that’s how I’m going to use up all my acrylic: cast on for tube scarves on 16-inch circs. Merry Christmas!

I’m a few inches (6!) into the first of the Crystal Palace Panda Cotton socks. The pooling is fabulous, like a fractal swirl around the sock. I think one more inch and it’s time to knit me a heel flap. And now that the Yarn Harlot herself has annotated Page 144 of Knitting Rules for me, I’ll never forget how to slip those stitches again. (Hint: the needles are tip to tip.) But before I get to that point, I’m going to take someone’s advice and cast on for the second sock and work it up to the heel flap, too. Then I get to do two heel flaps in a row, squee! (That may also mean I have to buy another set of size 2 dpn’s, oh darn.)

I did one repeat on the IHS-with-cursed-yarn and set it aside again. Just not in the mood, I guess. There are still at least three skeins to be wound up, so it’s miles to go before I sleep, it’s for me, there’s no deadline, yadda yadda yadda.

The Packer Hat was mailed out, and I never heard from the guy again. I don’t know if he even received it. I think I’ll just assume he’s on vacation in Door County or something. Hey Brian, give me a shout out when you get back.

I haven’t been brave enough to pick up the Tyrone sweater yet — what is my problem? But in other Backyardigans news, my BY blog Backyardiknits just got a comment from a Spanish language Backyardigans fan blog. I just finished adding them to the blogroll over there. See how trusting I am that my connection will be stable long enough to do such things?

OK, I’m not brave enough to try to add a picture. I’m sure there’s something I want to say that I don’t want to lose in the inevitable failure to connect.

Top Chef related: I totally called out Nikki on this one, though I would have been thrilled to see Dale go home after this episode. Whenever someone’s this poisonous and they get the feedback and they get to go on to the next round, it certainly doesn’t discourage them or their tactics. And bravo Stephanie! And Richard for giving Stephanie his prize sight unseen. She deserved it.

What else is going on? Mr. Chocolatesheep has a state of the art iMac in the other room so he can make other magazines at home in his spare time, when he isn’t at work making magazines. It is freaking awesome. It is so freaking awesome I knew he wouldn’t mind if I snuck away and did a blog post. Mind? I don’t think he noticed.

Next thing to cast on? Maybe that can be what I judge comments on. What should be next on my needles. Socks for myself? My Dale sweater I actually bought the pattern and the yarn for? A knitted thing for my Birthday Buddy Swap on Ravelry? Or a mitered square for a Doctor Who afghan?

I’ll be in touch with you, number 1000.

Still reeling

Knit Night was awesome. (Gee, can you tell I was an English major?) The Sow’s Ear was packed and rockin’ when I got there. There were even knitters on the porch!

It was all pretty overwhelming, and when you go into a busy packed place like that when they’re celebrating, you always feel like an outsider, a party crasher, an interloper. The kind of feeling that makes you retreat to the yarn wall and pretend to browse, all the time wondering, where the heck is the wine, anyway?

Lucky for me Molly Bee tracked me down and I scored a chair in what turned out to me Knitblogger’s Row. Between Molly and S.A.B.L.E. and Dale-Harriet and her daughter the Lovely Mary, I was in heaven and gradually I got brave enough to go up and get a piece of cake. (Still didn’t see the wine, though everyone else seemed to have some.)

I can’t even begin to describe the evening. It was loud with talk at first, then later in the evening as the younger/louder knitters left, the conversation was punctuated with the distinct sound that wooden sock needles make when they strike a well-polished wooden floor. The colors of the yarns and FO’s on the wall as a customer art show were intoxicating.

Some of you know I taught myself to knit from a book, and have rarely seen real live people actually knit. Everyone here was knitting. Everyone. At the same time. While talking and eating and drinking and laughing and…. I thought my head would explode.

I stayed in my chair and nibbled at my veggies-and-dip, and cranked out inches and inches of my Wonder Skein Bias Scarf, feeding off everyone else’s conversational energy. Had a little root bear, hoarded a piece of chocolate chunk biscotti, knit a little more. Listening and listening.

Molly Bee had to leave just a few minutes after I got there, but she did introduce me to Dale-Harriet. I think it was love at first sight and we are already trying to work out future meetups. I would adopt her but I think both my mother and Lovely Mary would think that was kind of unnecessary.

One of the best parts of the evening came after the young-un’s took off (pikers!) and the knitting conversation regularly included “Elizabeth,” she-who-should-need-no-introduction. It was wonderful and I was so glad I already “knew” Elizabeth. Whether the knitter liked or disliked a particular pattern of hers, “Elizabeth” was always spoken of with reverence — not as a god or goddess, but the way you would refer to a beloved, wise friend. Which, of course, is what she is.

Otherwise over the weekend:

  • Celebrated my BIL’s birthday (my son informed said BIL that he is “catching up” to me. Thanks honey)
  • Received a handknit sweater (a regift, and it’s not knit by anyone we know, but still, it fits perfectly and somebody handknit it)
  • Got more boxes stored in the basement
  • Reorganized some rooms
  • Watched the Packers game (and of this We Shall Speak No More)
  • Knit enough of the Wonder Skein Bias Scarf that I can feel the end in sight
  • Got our tickets for They Might Be Giants’ Milwaukee show (!!!!!!!!!)

I’m still enjoying playing on Ravelry. If you’re not addicted enough, try this: Click on Forums, then on the Radar tab. And don’t blame me!

Published in: on October 8, 2007 at 8:11 am  Comments (13)