Thoughtful

In 2014 I actually did a lot of knitting. It’s hard to tell this because I didn’t spend much time on Ravelry fussing with my queue, creating new project files, updating old projects, or taking and uploading digital photos of my projects at each stage of progress. (Actually, I didn’t spend much time on Ravelry doing anything.) But I always had a project to take to Knit Night, and things slowly got done.

I finished the Drunken Octopus Sweater.

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I finished Citron.

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I finished Traveling Woman.

Travelling Woman

I finished a pair of socks.

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I also knitted slippers for my appreciative grandmother, squares for a group-project blanket, and probably a few other things for people who really didn’t care much one way or the other.

In 2015 I’m still looking at my pile of WIPs (Works in Progress) with an eye to finishing them before I start any new projects of substance. A few of these WIPs are small and need just a bit of focused attention (green wool slippers) to move them to the “finished” column. Some of them are big and tedious (Scrabble blanket) and will take many months to properly complete. Others are ambitious and filled with complex lace or cable patterns, and got stalled out early.

That being said, a baby was recently born on the other side of the country, and in a fit of love and familial compassion I whipped up a pair of booties for him and even threaded them with blue organza ribbon. And then I thought up a simple baby blanket scheme (I wouldn’t call it a pattern, but I suppose you could if you wanted to) and cast on and started knitting like the wind. The baby’s already been born, you know. You have to knit more quickly after the baby’s been born, or you might as well forget the nursery accessories and start planning a size 10 Wallaby pullover.

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I’m finding now that I’m taking more time to think about which project I want to finish next, and why. I need to think about why I’m knitting it, and for whom I’m making it (if it’s not for myself). I need to think about when and where I’ll be able to work on it. Some of these projects will need some serious recon time before I might be able to take them to a public place to work on them.

This type of thoughtfulness seems to be spilling over into other areas of my life. I’m more thoughtful and deliberate about how I spend my limited time at home, what I wear to work, how I want to accomplish a task, and how I interact with friends and acquaintances. I don’t feel the need (or perceive the value) of rushing through things as quickly as possible. It’s all right, and sometimes better, to reply with “no,” or “wait,” or “let me think about it,” or “I’m not sure, but probably not.”

Quick reactions often lead to more crises for me — I don’t have the time to fully understand my situation, realize my options, or decide upon the optimal solution. It’s good to be able to slow things down when I can, to have some space around the decision point. It gives me more time to take care, to make a better choice, to think more than one move ahead. (It might even aid my chess game.)

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is my writing. I didn’t do much blogging last year, but I did start a journal. I reviewed a movie on another blog. And I wrote a lot of song lyrics. I lost count, but there were a few dozen. Most were shared with just one or two trusted friends, but some were “published” only for my own sight as I still need time to deal with both the wording and the emotional message being expressed. I intend to continue the journal-keeping, and I also intend to return to this blog with more frequency, whether I’m writing about my knitting projects or some other topic.

Resolutions are fun to make (remember my own Sheep and Wool Challenge? yikes), and intentions are just intentions until they’re backed up with action. One of last year’s epiphanies was that, to be blunt, nobody is interested in what I want to do. But if I actually do something, some people might be interested in what I did. Most people won’t be interested, and that’s fine. But I still need to do the things, for my own varied reasons. I’ll share some of the things I do. If you are interested, or appreciative, or appalled, or intrigued, give me your feedback. And please feel free to share with me the things you’ve decided to do.

The Sounds of Silence

…and it ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. Just when I had finished my Sochi shawl — including the weaving-in, the rinsing, and the blocking, mind you — the provider of my telephone, cable, and Internet access decided, for mysterious and inscrutable reasons, not to put my accounts into my name as I had requested (and had indeed signed legal documents for that very purpose), but instead to cancel all my services.

Before blocking.

Before blocking.

After blocking!

After blocking!

Yes, I was unplugged. Again. And without my home wifi signal, the smartphone I was fortunate enough to own was barely able to catch enough stray electrons to send out a text message. (“Watson, come here; I need you!”) Even more sadly, I was unable to watch the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics by any means — though I did finally find time to watch the opening ones. Sigh. See you all in Brazil!

This doesn’t classify as true hardship, as The Teen™ and I still had access to a great many hours of programming on the DVR (we finally watched the mini-movie about the making of “Doctor Who” that had been awaiting us since November 2013, and a Speed Channel special on Dan Gurney that had been waiting patiently since November 2012), and we augmented my Guitar Hero accessories with the purchase of a drum set. (Unfortunately, we can’t try it out yet because I don’t currently have any drum-compatible Guitar Hero games in the house. The day before I bought the drum set, I did. It’s all in the timing.)

So we’ve gone slightly retro here. The Teen™ is working on Lego Star Wars for the Nintendo GameCube. I’m slowly playing my way through a medium-level career on Guitar Hero II. I’ve made chicken soup for a sick friend. And with the shawl finished, I cast on for the second sock of a pair.

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See? I DO knit socks.

My Internet access is still down as I write this post, which I’m composing on an offline (gasp!) Macintosh with Microsoft Word (gasp! gasp!). I could put a brand new ribbon in the manual Smith-Corona, but I’m not feeling quite THAT retro at the moment.

I rather enjoy the relative silence we’ve had, although it has forced us to confront the paw-scrambling and wood-gnawing reality that we have been sharing our home at the end of a long winter with some equally cabin-fevered mice. We spent part of the weekend waging a violent turf war in which one rodentine casualty (so far) has been inflicted by intellectually superior human forces. I suspect that we may also have bats in the walls, but my main line of defense on that front is called “trying not to think about it.” And everyone knows that you dare not fight a war on two fronts, especially in the wintertime.

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Rattus rattus.

update

I almost had phone service again on Tuesday evening…but not quite. It took one more visit from another contracted tech guy to get that all fixed up. Funny: Mr. Wednesday took one look at the new phone modem that Mr. Tuesday had installed, and bemoaned my ancient technology [from, literally, yesterday]. He went out to his truck and brought in a single modem unit that he spliced everything into. It’s amazing to think that all this old stuff worked perfectly well on Friday night, then became obsolete as soon as my ISP flipped all my switches to “OFF” on Saturday morning.

Published in: on February 27, 2014 at 7:14 am  Leave a Comment  

Hey Nineteen

The Olympics are underway! The Ravellenic project has begun! But while project-monogamous work continues on my Music From Another Room lace-edged shawl, that means that Citron must sit and wait until Music has been finished. Here sits lonely Citron, waiting for me to work the 19th row of a 20-row repeat (section four of five).

Oh, Citron. You're so patient.

Oh, Citron. You’re so patient.

Project monogamy has its price. Not being a practicing project monogamist, I have a dozen or more projects on the needles at any given time. I can usually work on whatever suits my circumstances, timeframe, or mood by just picking up a different tote bag. I really did want to finish Citron before starting Music, but it just wasn’t feasible even if you take away the two evenings last week I spent going to Actual Live Theatre with my teenager. (I would curse Hamlet, but since he already died twice last week, it seems needless and o’er dramatic.) There are “just” 21 rows left of the main shawl, then 12 rows of ruffled edging, then a 540-stitch bindoff. If a row of about 200 stitches (knitting forwards, not un-knitting backwards) takes me 30 minutes, I probably have more than 34 hours left to put into it *before* weaving in the ends and blocking it out. When I look at it that way, it’s amazing I’ve gotten anything done on it at all.

Anyway, I cast on for Music From Another Room at the Sow’s Ear in Verona on Friday night, surrounded by a few of my favorite knitters. *waves* We were there for about two and a half hours, and I got a fair chunk of it knitted up. I didn’t take any pictures until recently, when I got into the striped section. And since I’m almost done with one of the four skeins of Peace Fleece, I’ll call it 25 percent complete.

The body of the shawl is made up of five wedges, including this one.

The body of the shawl is made up of five wedges, including this one.

While I knit on Music, my Citron will be on Row 19. For as long as it takes to knit the body, knit the lace edging, weave in the ends, wash it, and block it. Row 19 for the indefinite future. With any luck, that shouldn’t be after February 23.

That pretty much covers the knitting — slogging along on a woolen shawl until I finish it and can slog along on another woolen shawl. And when I’ve finished both of them, I have a wool sweater to seam up and finish. Then there’s this wool sock I need to cast on for. Thank goodness I love knitting!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Published in: on February 13, 2014 at 7:24 am  Leave a Comment  

Week Twenty-Eight: Quiet Time

Last weekend I ferried my Teen to another state and had the rare and disconcerting task of driving home alone. I took a new route because I could, and it was refreshing to view different roadside scenery for a few hours, but ultimately, seven hours is a long time to spend only with one’s own thoughts, particularly when one has become accustomed to having one’s thoughts interrupted every minute and a half so that one may (a) give permission for someone else to have a glass of water, (b) appreciate someone else’s capture of all three star coins on world 8-5 of Super Mario Bros Wii, or (c) accompany someone else up the stairs solely because said other person does not like going up said stairs alone. To say that my current life prepared me for that much introspection in such a large dose is like thinking that a few tennis table serves will adequately prepare you to face Rafa Nadal on a clay court.

Much of my introspection was about coming to terms with being alone. Now, of course I have my Darling Children, and my Immediate Family, and my Fellow Persons-of-the-Yarn, and my Cyber Friends, and you, my Dear Readers. I’m talking about being the one who pulls the heavy loads around here and makes the daily decisions and remembers to pay the bills and put gas in the car and snag the freelance jobs and get everyone to the doctor when they need to be there. (raises hand) I’m not terrible about doing these things; they’re all doable. The critical parts lie in reminding myself beforehand, and recovering afterwards. Being a comfort to myself isn’t something I’ve been doing.

Quiet times are essential for me to be able to let my plans, my ideas, and my anxieties to all come to the surface to be dealt with. Chatter, interruptions, and general busy-ness tend to plaster them over, so that I don’t notice any gaps until there’s a tectonic-level shift and the paint starts flaking off the walls. The old saying “If it’s to be, it’s up to me” came to mind. While on one level it would be nice to be able to pretend to live the life of the idle rich, I need to live realistically and realize I’m the pilot, the navigator, and the mechanic. I need the quiet time so that I can make better plans for the not-so-quiet times, when I’m needed at the wheel. I’m not used to having quiet times, so they’re uncomfortable now. But those feelings of discomfort are like surface tension before it’s broken though — or the sound barrier, which was perceived to be dangerous (if not fatal) for many years. They are part of the territory in which I now dwell.

And then the quiet got to be too much, and I found a hard-rock station that was doing a Top 500 countdown. Rock on and sing along! Back to the comfort of the familiar….

I just need one or two more skeins of new yarn to finish what I started with the scraps, I swear!

I just need one or two more skeins of new yarn to finish what I started with the scraps, I swear!

Knitwise, I started a simple little shawl with the leftovers from the slippers I knitted for my grandmother. I got as far as I can go on it without buying more yarn from the same dye lot, and this will have to wait until I can visit the same store. This week at knit night I cast on for a giftknit project with a deadline. I was gratified to discover that I remembered how to do the long-tail cast-on without flaw, and that I estimated almost perfectly how long said tail should be. However, working with that close of a length value tends to make the last stitch or so impossible to knit. After several failed attempts, I passed the project to Bonnie, who accomplished it for me and passed the project back. I probably won’t show a photo of that project until after it’s done; after all, it is a gift and I don’t want to risk spoiling the surprise. And right now I’m in the very early stages, so it won’t look at all like what it’s going to be when it grows up. But I promise that you’ll get to see it eventually, unless of course I cut it to tiny pieces from sheer frustration with the yarn, which I’ve never used before and might never again. The first skein of at least eight skeins contained three knots, which is unacceptable. I am saving them in a little baggie to mail to Lion Brand with a very vent-y letter when my project is complete.

I’m going to concentrate on the giftknit and the simple shawl until both are done. I also have a sock in progress, but it doesn’t have a deadline. Sorry, sock. I’ll get back to you.

Published in: on July 11, 2013 at 7:48 am  Leave a Comment  

Week Twenty-Seven: Kicking the Bucket

2007’s “The Bucket List” is another one of those Movies I Haven’t Seen (shhh), but everyone is familiar with the concept of a bucket list. Mine has music on it. Sure, I’d like to travel (Canada, Ireland, England, Spain, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Japan), but seeing bands live in concert is more likely.

My Bucket List of Performers
Barenaked Ladies
Barry Manilow
Those Darn Accordions*
Weird Al Yankovic

umm…can’t think of anybody else right now. If I saw a living legend such as Paul McCartney or Paul Simon or Eric Clapton live I might just explode, so gods like that aren’t even on the wishlist. Keep in mind that I have already been fortunate enough to have seen Don Henley (and Susanna Hoffs!), Pink Floyd, Jackson Browne, Koko Taylor, Bill Cosby, a Cinematic Titanic show on Joel Hodgson’s birthday, They Might Be Giants (twice), and Rush (multiple times). And just writing a letter of appreciation to Tom Lehrer is a bucket list item I need to accomplish. Oh, yeah, I would like to see Lydia Loveless more often, but she doesn’t get to Wisconsin very often. I may have to settle for playing Scrabble against her at Thanksgiving. 😉

Her schedule should be at this link — if she’s in your town, you’ll kick yourself if you miss her.

Last year I actually had tickets to a Barry Manilow concert, but he cancelled it when he realized he wasn’t coming back from hip surgery as well as he’d hoped. That’s totally fair, and I understand, but the rescheduled date didn’t work for us and we ended up selling the tickets. So I still have to hunt Barry down before he stops touring the world and doing shows. (But dang, those tickets are expensive.) I’ve wanted to see him since approximately 1978.

Where I was, and Barry wasn't.

Where I was, and Barry wasn’t.

Well, last week I got to sort of cross one of these bands off my list when I discovered that Weird Al had written a second children’s book and was doing a signing on the west side of Milwaukee. We were so there. Even though we so didn’t plan the evening out completely, and didn’t get to eat dinner until after our books were signed by the gracious Mr. Yankovic at 10:15pm, I call it a success. I would still love to see him and his band in concert, but if it doesn’t happen, I got to shake his hand…and forgot to ask him to sign my “Bad Hair Day” CD.

It's him! It's really him!

It’s him! It’s really him!

This week my list gets even shorter. I have tickets for my oldest son and I to see Rush — the sixth (?) time for me, but the first time for him. That alone should make for a fantastic evening, but then I looked at the festival schedule and saw there was a Rush tribute band performing twice before the Rush concert. (Okay, so we’ll go early and catch that too! Squee!) Then I did a double-take at the festival schedule and saw that Barenaked Ladies will be performing after the Rush concert. (Okay, so we’ll also stay late and catch that too! Double squee!)

They performed this in Grand Rapids on June 30, so there’s a chance I’ll get to hear it!

One of the fun songs from the “Gordon” album. It was hard to pick something representational that wasn’t “If I Had a Million Dollars.” They are so silly here but I love their energy.

The stars don’t align like this every year, which should give me time to recover from the ticket prices and save up for the next passing accordion band.

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*I am a sucker for happy party music in any language and from any culture. It can be conjunto, ska, zydeco, Celtic punk, or a Polish-language polka Mass; if it features a sprightly accordion, I’m in! This explains my attraction to They Might Be Giants, Weird Al Yankovic, and Barry Manilow (he was a good Jewish boy and faithfully took his accordion lessons). So, when I heard that there was a whole BAND named after accordions, I just had to put them on the list.

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In other news, I finished knitting the pair of slippers for my grandmother, and stunned my knitting group by working on a sock project they hadn’t seen for months. They think I’m all about the lace shawl these days. I like to get them off balance every once in a while.

And when The Teen came with me to knitting tonight, Bonnie started teaching him how to crochet. He’s already doing it better than I do. (They said so. Harrumph!)

Published in: on July 3, 2013 at 8:35 am  Comments (1)  

Week Twenty-Six: We Shall Never Speak of This Again

I started this blog somewhere around 2006. We were innocent knitbloggers then. We posted pictures of our kids and used their real names, talked about where we lived and when we were going on vacation, and basically shared all kinds of details about our lives. That changed for me the day I was checking my statistics page and noticed that people were using my firstborn son’s full name as the search term for finding my blog. All right, Search Engine Optimization is one thing, but there are very few people who are on a “need to know” basis for my firstborn’s middle name. At that point I removed a lot of kidly photos from my blog, and tried to share personal information more thoughtfully.

These days I spend quite a lot of time on Facebook, and I wince at the ways people leave themselves bare and vulnerable. They announce with great fanfare when they will be away from home for extended periods of time. They post pictures of their children for all the Public to see. They advertise their preferred bedroom activities in one post, then complain about their stalking ex in another. They complain about their jobs, then complain that they’ve been “let go.” They issue vague, passive-aggressive status reports so that cyberfriends will rush to their emotional rescue. It’s tough stuff to watch, and it makes me that much more aware of any details I post about my own life.

That being said, I marked a very personal milestone last week, and I thought it needed to be mentioned — once and only once. Last week I was divorced. Now, I have been married before, and counting from the date of my first wedding, I have spent 80 percent of the time from then to now in a married state. But I am single now and intend to stay that way.

It’s been a long time since I last called myself single. I’m finding that no matter how much time I think I need to have in order to understand myself, I’m underestimating. (Sheesh. I have a lot of me to understand. No wonder I’m hard to live with.) I also have children to co-parent for the rest of my life. Because they are important to me, and their mental and emotional health is important to me, my blog is not going to be a space where you will see me bash an ex, any ex. Life is tough enough to handle without making it hard on other people with open wounds, petty jealousy, and juvenile revenge fantasies. I may struggle sometimes, but I’m doing my best to be decent to everyone in this situation, including myself. I trust that if I hold myself to that standard, others may eventually reciprocate. (Sadly, I have some prior experience with this type of thing.) But even if they don’t… I won’t regret walking the high road.

Now it’s time to move on. Want to see an artsy shot of the geeked-up Tardisvan?

oooo-WEEEE-oooo.....

oooo-WEEEE-oooo…..

In the last week I’ve driven another thousand miles, attended a family reunion, finished a pair of socks, knitted one slipper for my grandmother, grilled hamburgers (and portabella caps), cleaned and reorganized my rental house’s laundry room (well, I’m almost done), and maybe done another thing or two here and there.

Redskin, I mean, Redhawk hockey socks!

Redskin, I mean, Redhawk hockey socks!

This weekend I have a big plan: to support my knitting friend Bonnie Stedman Dahnert. She’s the honorary chairperson for — oh, heck, read all about it here. Come back when you’re done, and I’ll put the rest in my own words.

I started our local knitting group, but Bonnie is our rock. She seems to know everyone in the county, know what to do on every occasion, and know how to teach any knitting technique you need to learn. She has taught some people to knit, and others how to crochet, and others how to spin. She has given advice, yarn, driving directions, restaurant reviews, prayers, and compassion to everyone who needed them. We half-joke that whenever we don’t know what to do, we call Bonnie. When my youngest son had a stitches-requiring accident last summer and my husband was away, I instinctively called Bonnie and she immediately said “bring the kids here.” She watched my other kids until after midnight, when Tommy finally had his stitches in.

In return we have shared her joys and tried our feeble best to help bear her own fears and sorrows. I don’t know if the newspaper article I linked to fully describes the anxiety our group felt when we realized the toll this second round of chemotherapy was taking on her, and how close we came to losing her. The CaringBridge site that her daughter Brigitta set up for her allowed us a glimpse into the minute-by-minute fight that she gave this second round of cancer. I do know that “she responded well to the treatment” is not the most accurate description of Bonnie’s fall and winter of 2012.

So, Saturday. I’ll be there for her as leads the lap of cancer survivors around the track, and as she speaks to the crowd. This morning at knitting-group she gave us pink-ribbon buttons that say, “No one fights alone!” And she’s right. We all have to fight for each other. It’s a bumpy ride, this short life, and we need to spend our time making it easier for each other.

Week Sixteen: Decisions and Revisions

The calculus train is barrelling along past Reimann Sum station now, and I’m staying in my seat and taking all the notes I can. I’m keeping up with my homework on antiderivatives, summation notation, indefinite integrals, and definite integrals. There will be an exam in two weeks covering this material, and I’m not scared of it. The biggest problems this week have been (a) slipping on the frosty ramp outside the house and bruising my hip, shoulder, hand, and ego; (b) getting almost to school and realizing I was driving the car that didn’t have the commuter window-sticker; and (c) getting so wrapped up in my homework that I lost track of time and was a minute or two late to class. They didn’t all happen on the same day (but two of them did).

The smaller the interval you measure, the closer you get to an accurate estimate of the area under the curve.

Of course, I know me by now, and when things are going well I tend to extrapolate the success to the nth degree. If I solve one computer hardware issue I think I should work as a Genius at the Apple Store. If I write a haiku I wonder how I’ll ever have time to finish my epic metered saga. One good pot of soup, and I’m thinking up graphic treatments for a cookbook series. If I think of an improved mousetrap design, I fret over my inability to purchase enough warehouse space to store all the inventory. That sort of thing. It’s more amusing now that I can catch myself in the act of making ridiculous or disproportionate future plans, and ground myself gently back in reality.

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Thoughts like these have started me wondering about my academic future. Enough people have asked me if I were going back to school this fall that I started wondering, too. I went from “no” to “probably not” to “maybe” to “I think I’ll change my major to Pure Mathematics and get a full time job too and edit at night and invent cold fusion” in the space of an afternoon. Well, except for the cold fusion. I’m sure someone else has that all worked out by now.

I caught the thought, then I held it and took a more critical look at it. The physics professors seem distressed at the thought of my being a math major. What are you going to do with a math degree? Well, the same thing I was going to do with a physics degree at age forty-coughcoughcough — learn everything I can about what I’m interested in, while I still can. I’m interested in education but not in teaching, but who knows? With four technically oriented kids, being able to teach math might come in extremely handy. I’m interested in the history of math, the history of science, and the history of language. I don’t have five lifetimes in which to read everything, so I need to choose my reading matter carefully. For that, a structured course seems like a good idea. What’s it all good for? Well, it’s going to help me become more like me. That should be the purpose of education — to help you develop your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. It’s your choice as to whether you apply that towards finding a job or not. Personally, I think that this experience and education will eventually land me in a place where I’m making a living, but I just can’t see all the details from here. Not yet.

The math-and-numbers side of me is now being balanced by my words-and-letters side. I’m not just playing Words With Friends and Scramble any more; I’ve gotten a client who would like me to edit his book manuscript and help him get published. While I’m waiting for him to sign and return his contract, I’ll go ahead and hard-copy edit his first two chapters and keep track of my time so I can figure out my rates for future jobs. I’m also editing a friend’s dissertation for chapter-by-chapter publication in an academic journal. I’m reading fiction and nonfiction. I’m writing every day and blogging every week. And I’m still playing Words With Friends and Scramble. Finding point-scoring combinations among the letter tiles isn’t interfering with my “mathing” any more, so I’m just trying to stay balanced.

Then there’s knitting, that combination of wool, coding, artistic expression, and applied topology. I’m doing finishing (weaving in loose ends) on a huge project, turning a heel on a sock, designing a mathematically and artistically geeky scarf, and knitting a lace-edged narrow shawl that’s a therapeutic exercise.  My friend Bonnie has taught me how to do a Long-Tail cast-on — in fact, this patient woman has taught it to me twice so far — so I have a new tool in that particular toolbox.

As usual, all I need is time. T.S. Eliot assures me that won’t be an issue:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
— “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Week Eleven: This Thursday Intentionally Left Blank

Did you miss me yesterday? Sorry, I’m transitioning (temporarily) to Friday posts so that I won’t miss a week when I’m on Spring Break in a couple of weeks with the kidlets.

Someone asked me this week, “So, where are you going for Spring Break?” Of course I answered “OHIO!” with a big fistpump. Even when I was in college in Ohio I took my Spring Breaks in Ohio. And it was usually in the middle of March, so even if you felt springlike, there was no getting around the fact that it was NOT a good time to start your own personal cycling season; the temperatures were usually in the range of 40 to 50°F. If I got any riding done when I was home on break, I usually had a sore throat and a cold by the next week. It… wasn’t exactly a vacation at the beach.

Okay, time for progress reports!

Last Sunday I was enjoying the lack of need to go anywhere since the weather was crappy. I sat on the couch and knitted on my Wingspan shawl until I ran out of yarn near the end of the 8th triangle. Lo and behold, the second skein of yarn for it arrived on Monday afternoon. YESSSSS. It is a different dye lot and looks a bit darker to me, but I really don’t mind or care. I get to keep knitting.

HPIM6948

In the meantime I have pulled out a pair of socks I started knitting last October or so, on yarn that has been languishing in my stash for years. (How many years? Well, I stopped in at Ruhama’s in Milwaukee [all right, really Whitefish Bay] before I saw “Mean Girls” in the theater. Which came out in 2004. That’s a pretty long time for a skein of fine-looking German sock yarn to make up its mind about what it wants to be. And who would have guessed it would actually want to be socks?) They’re intended for someone whose feet I don’t have immediate access to, so I really hope they’re going to fit. Knitting fitted items to spec is not one of my natural gifts, so while I can knit socks, they usually go to someone whose feet happen to be the right size. Locating people whose feet fit my socks is also a gift.

HPIM6951

And…. drum roll…. tomorrow I shall knit the Very Last Piece for the project-which-will-soon-be-unveiled. I cannot tell you how hard it has been this week to only knit one piece per day for this project, with the end so near in sight. There was such a temptation to hole up and crank out the knitting and finish early. I decided to join the resistance and maintain the pace, despite how eager I was to get the whole thing “done.”

In non-knitting news, the kidlets really did a lot of stuff since my last post. Middle Son won a trophy in a spelling bee, Youngest Son earned a ribbon in the same bee and then proceeded to lose his two front teeth over the weekend. Eldest Son went and turned 14, putting a real cramp in my tendency to still think of my inner self as 22. He’s almost taller than I am, and his feet are already bigger than mine (though we can still trade shoes in an emergency). And I went ahead with my valiant weight-loss plan, did two Jillian Michaels workouts in two consecutive days, and completely wrecked myself. I took Thursday off from programmed exercise, and by the end of the day I was able to go both up and down the stairs without screaming involuntarily. I’m calling that a victory and will strive to make progress from there.

Back to knitting news! Due to an unexpectedly favorable alignment of circumstances, I will be able to attend Late Night Knitting tonight for the first time in more than a year. It takes me an hour to drive there (and there might be freezing rain in the early evening), but I can stay until they kick me out at 11pm. Then (sigh) I have to drive homeward for another hour (and there might be snow in the late evening). On Saturday there is a rummage sale/bake sale at my kids’ school (for which I will be baking) from 8 until noon, so I’ll need to be there at least at the beginning of that. Then I think there’s a Pokémon tournament somewhere that needs to be Hung Out At with Eldest Son. Then there will be a Batman movie to watch, Doctor Who to view, and some test knitting for Phase Two of the Ginormous Secret Project. Then…. ah, how I like being busy.

Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 10:13 am  Comments (2)  

Week Five: Quantum of Progress

This week I’ve stayed busy, but until a few minutes ago I didn’t think I was getting anything done. Then I looked at what I did today:

  • Went to knitting and drank one chai latte. (This list gets more impressive, I swear.)
  • Turned the heel on one sock.
  • Finished one blanket square.
  • Knitted one repeat on a scarf.
  • Gave away one of my typewriters.
  • Worked on calculus homework for about an hour.
  • Read one more chapter of Plato’s Republic.
  • Left some cookies on campus for friends.
  • Filled up the gas tank.
  • Thrift-bought the shirts for tomorrow’s Spirit Day.
  • Went to the bus service to look for our lost mittens.

The list really does go on and on. And if you look at the whole week, you’ll see more of the same. Had a new washing machine installed. Had the old washing machine hauled away. Baked a batch of cupcakes. Mixed a batch of frosting. Caught up on “Castle.” Applied for one job. Made a pot of chicken soup. Swapped out the rear axle on my bike. Little things that didn’t take much time to do, when considered in isolation.

In my fantasies, it would be really nice to spend the day doing one thing all day long. Like, read a whole book, reorganize the whole upstairs, give away all the clothes that need to be donated, sew up a complete quilt, write a whole short story, watch a complete trilogy. But I don’t get that kind of time, and I suspect my brain doesn’t work that way. Besides, when I do try to spend a day that way — if I don’t almost immediately get a call from somewhere, saying someone has been hurt, and I must come and get them Right Away — I can no longer see the tree I’ve gotten done through the forest of neglected tasks.

My task is to keep spinning the plates. Not even all of the plates — spinning most of them is fine as long as they are the right plates. Some of the plates deserve to crash or be replaced with new ones. And I need to forgive myself and move on when I think I’ve broken the wrong plate, or am not spinning enough of them.

  • Wrote one blog post.

Week Four: The sum of the parts

If a pile of unrelated halves could add up to a shorter pile of related wholes, I’d have more progress to report — at least, progress in the Finis! Mission Accomplished! Level Complete! sort of way. But, to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, “That isn’t my way, is it?”

Well then, let’s see what we do have.

I finished one slipper (half of a pair) and a washcloth.

(no new picture since last week. feel free to use your imagination.)

Here is half of a sock that I cast on for while watching my alma mater play hockey against the team whose TV coverage I can actually receive in my home.

Half a sock is better than.... no, it's still just half a sock.

Half a sock is better than…. no, it’s still just half a sock.

Wait…. here’s half of a pair of socks! That’s better, right?

The sock for which I had sufficient yarn.

The sock for which I had sufficient yarn.

To tell the truth, I actually showed up at Thursday morning knitting group with this sock just to prove that I had actually knit a sock. We’re a little funny about socks, my group is. If you don’t make socks at all, we’re fine with that. It’s a lifestyle choice we can both understand and respect. If you tried making socks and you suck at making socks, we’re fine with that. Oh, we will tease you about it, but really, we’re fine with that, too. But if you can make socks and nobody ever sees you making socks, well… we seem to have a problem with that. The gang actually chipped in the summer before last and made a birthday present for me out of sock needles, sock yarn, and a sock pattern because I “never make socks.”

This sock had an interesting origin. I discovered somehow that Wisconsin would be playing Miami University last weekend. Now, if you know much about Sports of Any Kind, you should know right away that this is an Unusual Occurrence, as Miami is usually in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Wisconsin is in the Big Ten/11/12/13 Conference. However, when it comes to HOCKEY, it’s a little bit different. You play the nearest hockey teams. Sometimes, and more often than you might think necessary, you play teams in Alaska. Now, Miami has recently had a most excellent hockey team and Wisconsin, so far as I knew, wasn’t on the college-hockey-playing map. This year has been an exception; Miami has struggled, while Wisconsin built up an impressive winning streak. Even Miami’s “hockey blog” group predicted that, at best, Miami would win one and lose one over the weekend.

That’s exactly what happened. Wisconsin won the Friday night game as I cast on for this Miami-colored [and coincidentally Wisconsin-colored] sockette made from stash yarn. And Miami broke Wisconsin’s streak by winning the second game on Saturday night, when I was just past the gusset stitches. They were exciting games to watch — although the kidlets still don’t quite understand why I wasn’t rooting for Wisconsin — and I got one sock out of it. Sadly, after weighing the leftover yarn, I’ve concluded that I probably won’t have enough red yarn to make a mate for it. I’ve had plenty of suggestions that I simply reverse the colors in the second sock…. but that isn’t my way, is it?

No, it isn’t.

So I just sent a message to the only person on Ravelry who has a skein of this yarn that they’re willing to sell or trade. Come icing or high-sticking, my little hockey sock will have a mate that well and truly matches.

I haven’t knitted a stitch of the drop-stitch lace scarf, and though I did cast on and knit a couple of rows on the next Gigi slipper, it wasn’t even enough to take a picture of, so that’s all the progress that’s worth reporting on the knitting front.

But on the resolution front? Any news there?

This post takes care of Resolution #1 for the time being. And I made some progress on Resolution #3 by getting my butt down to campus this week and setting myself up for success in calculus. Yesterday I even studied and took extensive notes. I had forgotten quite a bit since I had to suspend my studies, but I finally did find the place in the textbook before which I need not go, and I will re-educate myself from there. I’ll make copies of my notes and start taking on homework problems starting tomorrow. The sooner I get it done, the sooner I’ll be ready for the Most Excellent Job in technical editing.

P.S. I’ve started watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey and should be all caught up by Sunday night. Just so you know.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm  Comments (4)