Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Beautiful Art of Corruption

I've blogged about corrupting short people before.

Starting with my own Things was logical. The last two Things are still working on their garter stitch dogs, but Thing Two did complete a crocheted project.

It was supposed to be a scarf. A blue scarf. Thing Two was very into blue.

She obediently hooked row after row of single crochet, measuring the scarf at the end of every row. At some point, she stopped and calculated just how much longer it would take to get an entire scarf, and instead continuing on with the endless blue, she whacked a bright red few rows onto the end, cheerfully tied the extra yarn in granny knots and, without bothering with the silly practice of the weaving in of ends, presented it to me.

I told her it was wonderful. Then, thankfully, she informed what it was before I had to think of a way to ask without asking.

"It's a book holder, Mommy!"

And so it remained for years on my bedside table, patiently holding my books for me. (Now it does duty beneath a basket of yarn, its unwoven ends hanging cheerfully over the shelf edge. I am nothing if not sentimental.)

While this should be enough to satisfy any crocheter, it obviously just whetted my corrupt others gene's appetite. So, yes, I have progressed to the corruption of other people's children (Hey, you're talking about a person who has a basket solely filled with fun, variegated yarns and clear, colored plastic hooks and kid sized needles, like some benign version of that kid-tempting, cookie-housed old lady).

What I didn't expect in return for running up the fiber bills in friends' households was this:

(Please pretend there is a photo of a wonderful bookmark, done in the calm blues of the sea, with accompanying hand-made card, also beautifully created. Because there will be such a photo as soon as find the cord which connects my camera to my computer...)

(Well, the cord wasn't found, but a new card reader was purchased :))

The card said this:

Dear ---------,

I wanted to thank you so much for teaching me the beautiful art of corruption. Because of you, I now have a lovely hobby and the power to create amazing things out of yarn. You are an awesome teacher.



P.S. The bookmark you receive is my first finished project.

You expect to receive firsts from your own Things. But from other people's?

Hey, Friend of Thing Two? You just gave me so much more than I gave to you. Thanks, chica. :)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Placating the Sock

The Yarn Harlot is in Boston tonight. Boston is only a few hours from where I live, but since I am new at work and already know I will have to take time off for IEP meetings and student-lead, parent-teacher conferences, I did not ask to leave early .

I did not ask, even though I very much wanted to. I'd missed her talk in the Midwest because Thing Four was singing and reciting at school and what parent wants to miss a whole program about food? Not me. Instead Thing One (chaperoning non-knitter) and Thing Two went in my stead, and the last two Things and myself caught up with the YH at the signing.

But I was proud of myself. I pulled up my big girl panties and did not whine because I couldn't go to Boston.

I can't say the same for the Shetland Lace socks. They whined enough that I began to leave them plates of cheese near their carry bag (after all, every good whine should have its accompanying nibbles to munch) .

The Shetland Laces (or rather, The Shetland Lace Sock of the Present and The Shetland Lace Sock Yet to Come) were having none of it. The Sock Monkey Butt socks had their picture taken with the Harlot. The Shetland Laces were more complex and therefore lots cooler. That slightly bigger yarn over every fourth repeat in was not their fault, afer all. Surely the YH would understand that they were at the mercy of an incompetent.

I did the only thing I could think of to shut them up.

And they are satisfied. For now, anyway.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Landladies and Designers and Mothers, Oh My

Or, In Which the Hands Figure Things Out While the Rest of the World Blurs Together

I should be sleeping right now. But I'm not (obviously). Instead I am up in defiance of unpacking and new jobbing and going to the storing (Why the hell did I throw out so much stuff in the last two moves? It means I've got to buy it all again, and I never remember all it is I need until after I get home from what I was sure was the last trip.)

First on the list of only slightly knitting related is that the very nice house that wasn't available until the end of October became available earlier, because the landlady moved early so she could have us as renters.

The Things are thrilled. Acres to play on and trees. Especially the apple tree with some of the best fall tart/sweet apples we have ever had.

I am thrilled. Because of the house, yes. But mostly...well, mostly because when we were unpacking, I found a lost treasure.

I'd had a nice set of Lantern Moon dpns for sock knitting. I managed to maim and mortally wound two needles in two days on the mad, cross-country, Stanley-infested job interview some months back. Jedediah, stalwart friend that he was, did emergency tape surgery, but knitting was sluggish every third needle. I had them replaced, though sadly, the two new Lantern Moons were not as pointy as the fallen LMs. I sighed, decided I could not live in the past, and knit (sporadically) on.

And now here we were back in the state we love and staying with friends and looking for houses and one of the kids knocked my knitting off the table in my room and a needle went MIA. One of the last of the two pointy needles. Of course. We went over the room with a fine tooth comb when we moved everything out, and still no needle. I substituted a Clover, but it wasn't the same. The yarn made a raspier sound as it moved along the needle.

Then, as I was unpacking a Styrofoam cooler of bathroom odds and ends (don't ask) I decided the best thing to do would be to tip the random cotton balls and Q-tips that had escaped their boxes into the trash. Something thin, brown, and beautifully pointy came rolling out too, and my hand caught it before it hit the bin; before my eyes had told my brain what was happening, even.

What other omen does a bistickual crafter need? This will be a happy home. Thank you, dear landlady, for moving early. I don't think I would have survived another two weeks of mismatched needles.

But the hands were doing double duty for me even the week before we moved. I mentioned how my brain and my hands were at war over the Shetland Lace socks. My solution was to (timidly) email the designer the following very confusing query:


I'm knitting your pattern for the Shetland Lace socks and have loved it so far. Very well-written!

I have a quick question though, as these are only the second pair of socks I have knit.

I'm knitting on 3 dpns (because I like imitating a porcupine) and have the stitches even distributed with 20 on each needle, and that pattern had me consider the stitch marker as the center of the heel. With my last sock pattern, then, I moved stitches so that I used only one needle while doing the heel. This meant moving the end stitches from the heel needles onto each of the other two needles so that I had the correct number of stitches for the heel and the instep.

For your pattern, however, will I have to do it differently? Especially since you specify that the purl stitch needs to be moved to make the 29/31 split. With the last socks, I did basic ribbing so there wasn't any worry about altering the pattern. But with the lace, I want to be careful that I do not alter anything if it will effect the look of the sock.

Sorry that this is not very clear. I'm relatively new to all this and kind of knitting in isolation, though I did just find a great LYS where I moved to, so as soon as I get unpacked... Thanks for your help and for creating such a beautiful pattern.


(well, me, of course)

Somehow, from that maze of confusion, the designer, who should be sainted or knighted or at the very least be gifted a lifetime supply of warm cookies, responded quickly and clearly:

Oh how I wish we could just sit down together for a minute or two. It would be so much easier than trying to explain.

Well, here goes. If this still doesn't make sense, we can try again.

In the pattern, one circular needle is the instep and the other is the heel.

The easiest way to convert this to double points is to use two needles for the heel and two for the instep instead of splitting it into thirds like you have it. With four double points you can pretty much follow the pattern as written using 2 dps = 1 circular.

A second option using three needles, when you get to the heel, put the heel stitches on one needle and the instep stitches on two needles.

The purpose of the 31/29 split is to center the lace panel down the instep of the sock. Knowing that should help you figure out stitch placement.


Reading that should be quite clear, but the minute my brain tried to envision, it began to second guess itself, a sure sign that mental lock down would be commencing. My hands came to the rescue once again. They quietly hushed my brain and, using the pale Clover needle to advantage, inserted it into the knitting directly after needle number one. They slipped stitches from one needle to another, splitting the numbers evenly, then slipped the last stitch on the left as called for. My eyes and brain blinked, then thought, "Oh, that's it? Why didn't the hands tell us earlier?"

(The hands probably would have, if the brain hadn't been so pushy and know-it-all.)

But right now the hands don't have time to make the sign language equivalent of nah nah na nah nah to the brain. The hands, which have been feeling rather cocky due to their moments of cleverness and dexterity, are now paying the price for their pride.

My mother repacked several boxes, mostly belonging to Thing 2 and mostly squashed, as Thing 2's boxes included lots of airy spaces. My mum valiantly pulled boxes apart and repacked while the rest of us loaded up the ABF freight truck with other items.

Now, my mother is a woman who can pack. Seriously. She can fit things into one small space that even those sadists who squash sleeping bags and tents into coverings that a normal human can never get back over the rerolled bag or refolded tent would envy.

She's also a woman who managed to slip in a good deal of extras in her "repacking of your things, dear."
Finding the mixing bowls and measuring utensils was a lovely surprise. I adore baking, and my mother knows that. And really, can one have too many measuring spoons? I think not.

I was a bit more perplexed, I'll admit, by this:

Call me stupid, but it wasn't even the stuffed cow that caught my eye first. I recognized the Tupperware and the thermos (probably because I'd seen them at my parents for years), and stared at the mini-food processor. I hadn't bought that, had I? I mean, I was happy to have it, but still. Where did I get that?

Then a Thing passed by and said, "Cool stuffed cow. His name's Joe. " A Thingish hand reached out, then paused, considering. "I can have him, right?"

And that's when the Tupperware dropped. Only a Nana would pack a cow with kitchen stuff.

And only a Nana would stow away extra bedding for a family on a budget. She was generous to a fault. The only problem is that she had forgotten that she had done similar for me sometime between the births of Thing 3 and Thing 4. I already had a largish box of the last bunch of sheets and blankets she bequeathed me. Rather very largish.

Dust gets into boxes on long moves, and Thing 4's dust allergy is not one to brook much of any sort of dust. This meant washing. Lots of washing. And for the poor hands, folding a stack of sheets and pillowcases that came out almost as tall as Thing 4, who is slightly taller than average for his age.

So, if anyone has any ideas on what to do with a billion sheets and limited sheet closet space, my hands and I would be ever so grateful. I mean, I live in a one-story house. It's not like I could even use them to heroically lower Things to safety in the event of a fire. Given the short distance to from a first floor window to the ground, all I'd have to do is chuck them out the window.

(Note: next ramble will be lots shorter. Promise.)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

And it really is the first (of November...)

Believe it or not, I have some October blogs written. I was forced to take one night off from unpacking to just write, as there was this funny little tic under one of my eyes and my Things had begun to gathering in a little knot to hold whispered conferences that always ended abruptly whenever I entered the room.

I confronted them on this and the fact that they had ulterior motives for these chummy gatherings. They denied this, saying that Things always consulted each other. And got along. I was hallucinating if I didn't think they were always this way. I eyed them suspiciously, then returned, twitching, to the mountain of boxes, telling them and myself that I was fine, just fine.

It was the missing knitting & crocheting books and yarn that did me in. After a week and a half of having them safely packed away, I cracked. I opened every single box in the house and garage, tumbled their contents, and did not rest until every tin full of yarn was stacked in an untidy heap in my room and the boxes of books were sitting on top of the box containing the bookcase I had not yet put together. I think at this point I may have just sat in my little craft-filled corner, rocking back and forth and chuckling maniacally while I held a hank of baby alpaca against my cheek.

It was then that Things gathered in my doorway. Things Three and Four shoved Thing Two, the obviously newly-appointed leader, into the room with me. She approached cautiously.


I chuckled softly under my breath and clutched the the soft fiber more tightly.

Thing Two put her arms around me and hauled me to my feet (she's a strong Thing). She led me over to my laptop.

"Why don't you blog awhile, Mum?" she said in that soothing tone that psych ward nurses reserve for mental patients who might go beserker at any moment. "Now let's put down the yarn and write, okay?"

The tricky little blighters had already pulled up the blog page. They knew how to hook me.

And so I wrote. And wrote. And gradually the twitch under my eye faded away and my head began to clear.

I finished some blogs with a grand flourish, announced that I was even up to making dinner instead of ordering out, and watched as the Things heaved a collective sigh of relief.

"Just let me throw the pictures in," I said.

It was then that we realized that in my frenzy to find yarn and books, I had somehow managed to bury the camera.

It's always the little things, isn't it?

So, with the camera finally re-found, and the boxes gone enough to justify me returning to the computer, the first few days of November will be a stroll down memory lane, as it were.

Hope you don't mind.