Monday, February 11, 2008


It's a Bill the Cat, hairball kind of day.

I should have known it was coming. When one has to go to bed with an extra blanket (most likely crocheted by one's aunt or grandmother) and use one's wee heating pad as a sort of bed heater, and furthermore must wear two layers of clothing and wigwam socks (which are, short of creating oneself a thrummed pair of socks that would make one look as if one had been attacked by a swarm of deranged bees, the preferred warmwear for the discerning feet), one should suspect that the following day will be…fraught. Fraught with what, you ask? Read on.

~One large amount of cold.

It's freakin' -20 F out there this morning and I'm writing this with a blanket wrapped around my shoulders rather than turn up the heat (heat costs, the blanket doesn't). When I walked my son, the Thing Four one, to school this morning, the snow that generally looks like dirty brown rock salt strew across the hardtop (from the street salt spread out) was frozen solid. The snowdrifts were so tightly packed that we could walk on top without breaking through. My hair, which was dry when I set out, was frozen due to me having the temerity to breath.

And on the way back from the school, the freakiest thing happened. A guy stopped the delivery van he was driving to let me cross the street. I've never seen any car so much as slow down around here. Kudos to the driver, and here's hoping he wasn't in the delirium stage of hypothermia (did I mention it's freakin' cold here?).

Not enough? Oh, there's more.

~One kid with the flu

(and I'm thanking my stars for Nintendo DS, trying to adjust to teenage coolness that will not permit a mother to fuss over him and praying that not all of the other three get it).

~One car that thinks it has the flu and had to be jumpstarted

(we won't talk about the interesting sparks I generated, okay?)

~One application

that asks for so much personal information (it's for the government) that I freaked and had to read a whole month's worth of the Yarn Harlot blog—September 2004, to be exact; I'm playing extreme catch up—just to calm myself down. These people want to know every address I've had for the past ten years. When I considered that a) I used to be married to someone who generally wasn't happy unless we were somewhere else every few years and b) I forget addresses and phone numbers if I don't use them for a long time (like a week), I realized that I would have to call the ex to get some of the addresses. It's enough to make me go back and read the October 2004 blogs as well.

And (since these blogs are supposed to be about knitting and/or crocheting, it had to be coming)

~One hat.

I've been very pleased by the hat. I found the basic pattern at (and if that doesn't show up as a link, save yourself a lot of hair pulling and just Google London Beanie) and tweaked it for the different yarn I was using. I added a few stitches and adjusted the number of rows I would need based on how many inches tall another hat I had knit that fit the kid was (I felt so mathematical).

I found the train pattern at Knitting Any Way and tweaked it as well by adding another car to match the number of stitches I'd figured the hat should be (the youngest son thinks trains are seriously cool at the moment). I'd cast on, and had fun doing alternate color ribbing (pattern tweaking again).

Things proceeded well at first. After the five color Christmas stocking, I felt I was ready for anything (the fact that I would be carrying five colors at the same time rather than two or three at a time should have warned me). But the knitting seemed to bear witness to my good feeling. The knitting was lying nice and flat. Like this:

What few bumps there were straightened out beautifully with a gentle tug. Hello blocking, you will be my hero. It was working, and I was finally shrugging off the title of the world's slowest knitter of lumpy objects.

Then I got to here:

Okay, so it was suddenly a tad lumpier. Not to worry. I pulled gently, confident I would see the knitting smooth like an abyssal plain.

Instead, I got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Well, that's a lie, actually. What I got was a bunch of yarn strands telling me in no uncertain terms that they were a bit uptight and if I was fool enough to think I could block them into relaxation then I was, well, a fool.

Still, I was undaunted. I finished the last bit of all red rounds and then jammed the thing on Thing Three's head this a.m., hoping it would stretch enough that it wouldn't really matter.

Did I mention that Thing Three has rather a large head? As in, bigger than his 13-year-old sister's head? You can already guess the results, can't you?

Aside from getting "the look" from a kid who still wears footie pajamas with moose all over them (namely due to the indignity of his mother trying to jam a too small hat that still had dpns in it onto his head before she would even let him have his breakfast), I was sure I could hear that damn hat sniggering at me. Sniggering.

(and if you are too, don't tell me.)

Now the hat looks like this:

But this is not bad, right? I mean, I can go back and add pale yellow for the window openings so they look more like windows; I'll like that better than the red, I'm sure. Floating one more color for a few more rows is really no big deal.

But….I now have this hideous scary feeling that the hat will be too tall and will fall over his eyes when he pulls it on. And I should mention that even the part that stretched over his head was still an extremely tight fit (why, I ask you why? This was a beanie for teenagers/adults, I added stitches to allow for the extra floats in back, and it was still very…snug. Either British teenagers' heads are incredibly small or my kid's head is freakishly large instead of rather large) and I'm wondering if it will really fit it the end or if I'll have to add more stitches, rechart the train and start back at square one? No, I shouldn't mention that. No worries; it'll be fine.

And, I tell myself as I straighten out skeins of yarn, it's interesting to learn that floated yarn tangles just as much when you frog out as when you're knitting and furthermore, if I have to frog out all the way, then I can use that cool technique I learned about in Meg Swansen's last newsletter to get rid of the purl bump when I increase (that random bit of blue did show up well in the red and if I have to do everything over at least I won't have to convince myself the blue purl bump makes the hat "unique").

And either, way, it has to be better than a 32-page application for a job, right?

That last sentence just killed off every positive thinking gene in my body.

All of them. I can hear taps playing softly in the background.

Think I'll go do the math for my simple, custom-fit, uber-basic ribbed sock in pretty self-patterning yarn now. Self-patterning yarn is good.

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