Wait five minutes.

This is why I don’t have a hat when it gets really, really cold. In a few days, it’s over and I’m on to other things, and no longer freezing my ears off when I have to be outside. The fact that it’ll probably get that cold again at least once more before the end of winter never really occurs to me.


I was out on Friday with my husband and the toddler, and before we reached our destination, the toddler fell asleep. So husband went in to his appointment, and I sat in the car with the sleeping toddler, and for a change, I had my knitting with me. I hadn’t been bringing it because I would drag it along and then not have time to work on it, and if I’m not going to use it, I don’t want to carry it. I’m already trying to keep track of the toddler’s things. If I lose my knitting, it’s bad; if I lose the blankie or the Talking Percy, there’s going to be a scene.

(If you don’t know what a Talking Percy is, I’m envious.)

As it happened, I got far enough with another pair of Phalangees mitts that it seems do-able to just keep going and finish them. I promised them to a friend for her mother:

The second time around, these are really quick and easy. The pattern has an intrinsic rhythm: groups of 5 stitches shifted this way and that to make the design. The thumb increases are regular, every x many rows. I barely needed the pattern for this one, and I’ll need it even less for the second one. I can’t believe I thought these might be too difficult for me to make. If you’re on the fence, jump. People think you’re some kind of wizard, unless they’re knitters, and then they know the secret.

That’s my beloved JennieGee project bag, btw. Most of the time, I get more questions about that than I do about my knitting.


Three minutes left! And sadly, I barely have doings enough to fill them. I’m on the last Maggie Sefton book, mercifully. Other reviewers are complaining that the books are repetitive. Are they ever. I don’t know why I felt like I had to see them through, but I think I’m done now. I’m still watching The Office, after all, and that stopped being funny years ago. I started with the knitting mysteries as an effort to force myself to branch out. Otherwise, I’d hang around watching and reading only stuff I already know is good. But I think after this, I’m going to read Pyne’s book about Voyager, even though it’s a paper book and I’ll have to prop it to read while I knit. I can be reasonably confident that won’t make me feel like my brain is melting and running out of my ears. Perhaps if I get through the sweater and the afghan, I can knit Celestarium with a relatively clear conscience, while I read about space. Meta!

I’m going to try to get out of the house by myself next weekend. Fiber Loft is having a Super Bowl sale and while I don’t need any yarn, I do need a change of scenery.


If lightning moved very slowly…

Yes, it’s been a long time. Things around here have been backing up on me in a way that, had I advance information, I would not have said were possible. I can’t believe it’s been ten months since my husband’s stroke, nearly a year of radical change for all of us, and such a long time just focused on Surviving This and Getting Us Over This. The worst thing about it is no longer having any preconceived notions about what “over this” will look like. I don’t know. It could be years until I know. That’s a little crushing to the spirit. One mourns not only present, but possibility.

That said, I was so glad to see the Mason Dixon Knitters blogging more this year, and it seems to be because they introduced the 10-minute “lightning round” where as the name implies, they work on a post for 10-15 minutes (it seems to vary) and throw the thing on the blog. That seems like a good idea to me. The perfect is the enemy of the done, yes? So here goes:


I’ve had two projects since Christmas: the Gwendolyn sweater in green heather Valley Yarns Northampton, and the Hue Shift afghan in Rainbow from Knit Picks. The sweater has the back finished and the right front half finished–I was going to knit both fronts at once, but I was afraid that when it came time to do the shaping, I would blow a fuse trying to keep up with both, so I’m going one-at-a-time. I may do the sleeves at once, though, because they don’t have mirrored shaping. It’s been so cold that I put aside the afghan, which is about 13% finished, since it’s for a baby who won’t be here until spring. I want to be able to wear this sweater before then. It’s pleasantly warm to have on my lap, at least.

I really love to do cables. No strong feelings about colorwork, though I do enjoy when it comes out, but cables are like magic to me. When we were small, my mother made countless pairs of cabled mittens–really simple, single cable up the back of the hand in this oatmealish tweedy acrylic that is what color the 80’s would be if not for neon–and I was just fascinated by the cable stitch. It was the first “hard” thing I taught myself to knit. I think somewhere I still have these dreadful bulky acrylic mittens in double moss background with a braided cable on the backs of the hands. I didn’t know from gauge, so these things are stiff enough to stand up by themselves. I also have a green Lopi cabled sweater that I knitted 15 years ago from a Reynolds pattern that is heavy enough to wear to the Arctic, and itchy, too. But we lived in Syracuse then, and it got a lot of use.

Whatever my feelings about acrylic in general, I’m getting along all right with the afghan in Brava:

I started with the pink/red/purple corner.

It’s soft enough and the colors are nice and it’s squooshy as far as a sport-weight can be. I find it splitty, though. It’s unwinding as I knit with it and trying to wander off. The effect is great, though, and I was considering doing a second one for us in superwash wool. I like the colors. I am not usually a rainbow person. The dark green of the sweater is really my thing. My stash is full of blues and greens and purples. But this winter, I needed to see some really serious color. I snapped up the kit when it came out in the fall, and saved it for after Christmas just to have the delight of casting on something new when I knew I’d need it.

Things I’m Liking Lately:
I’ve been reading, but not especially enjoying, the Maggie Sefton knitting mysteries. I don’t like the heroine, the plots are simplistic, the characters are two-dimensional, there’s no sex, and they’re all over much too quickly. I am, however, enjoying writing scathing reviews of them on Goodreads, and also offering alternative readings and cheeky plot suggestions. Lately, I’ll take my fun where I can get it.

Still reading Miss Silver. I think I have eight or so to go. They remain delightful, with the exception of the occasional clunker. I don’t even care that there’s no sex, and that, clearly, is how it’s done.

I have also been shopping for a new dishwasher, finally, since ours has been on the bier for 16 months and a major component in my damaged psyche is facing a family’s worth of dishes every day. Only the prospect of serving them Top Ramen three meals a day until Valentine’s Day is preventing me from running right out and getting one now, but my spring contract begins paying in a few weeks and then we will have the rest of the money we need.

I believe I have become truly old. Dishwasher! Dishwasher! Dishwasher!

I feel like I should complain about the cold, but I’m okay with it. Spring is one step closer to summer. For now, I’ll take being cozy with knitting and books and new Antiques Roadshow. I also recorded The Following; perhaps I’ll get to that this week. No Downton spoilers! I still haven’t seen season 2. I could theoretically watch it in bits and pieces in the evening, but I saw the first one when everyone else was away and I got to immerse myself in it for a weekend, and I want to do that again. Finding someone to take the husband and kids away has been problematic, though. Isn’t it always?

The empress has no sweaters…still.

It turned really cold last week and I was scrambling to find a warm but thin sweater to wear teaching. Nothing! I don’t see how this is possible, but I own a Tardis of a cedar chest and everything in it was wrong for this or that reason. Too heavy. Not wool. Moth-eaten (I evidently had an infestation a few years back and didn’t know it, and every now and then, I find the unhappy evidence of it). Too big. Too small. Not dressy enough. I’ve been saying for a year that I’m going to knit myself some perfect sweaters so that this won’t happen to me on chilly Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and so far, no. So I took down a sweater’s worth of wool from the attic and despite myriad other commitments, I swear to you now that I am going to cast on for one today. I also ordered yarn while WEBS was donating a percentage to Hurricane Sandy. I have a lot of yarn, but not a lot of sweater quantities. That must change if I am to make sweaters.

Aside from the early snow, the weather’s improved, and I’ve been trying to clear things out of my WIP pile for the end of the year. I’m not knitting too many Christmas gifts this season, citing personal crisis. Husband wants a sweater from Knits Men Want, but I told him it wouldn’t be ready for Christmas and wouldn’t he rather wait until we can go to Harrisville or Vermont and get him the Shetland he wants for it. He would. I may make him a hat, since he’s started wearing his hair cropped close and has been complaining of cold when it isn’t really that cold outside. The baby will get his blanket, and the six-year-old hasn’t asked for anything, but outgrew the wool socks I made him last year, so perhaps that. The women of my clan will get to choose from some FOs from last year.

I thought about doing NaBloPoMo. Then I forgot about it for a week, and now it seems pointless. That’s the way things have been lately. I hear the growing chorus of “You need to slow down!” Nobody has a lot of solid ideas on how to do that, though.

I still live!

I’m teaching more than usual this fall, and the workload snowed me under. Fork on another crisis or two and the aftermath of the last one, and I collapse into bed every night and limp to the finish every week. This is a temporary situation, I know, but I do long for a time in my life when temporary situations last a few hours or a week at most, rather than for months and possibly years. Viewed that way, this whole life is a temporary situation, and I am not yet at an age where I can think to myself, boy, it’ll sure be a relief when this is over.

I’ve been knitting. I’m 3/4 of the way through a pair of Phalangees in the green-and-gray colorway, which are coming out nicely even if I’m having trouble keeping my gauge loose enough. I’m also 3/4 done with the Hudson’s Bay blanket and aiming to put that one under the tree for the baby’s Christmas. Though I know he’ll never know the difference, it still helps me to be motivated by the deadline. I spent a lot of hours knitting that blanket while my husband was in the hospital last spring, and it’s something I feel like will be an important part of my younger son’s history. It’s occurred to me more than once that he won’t ever remember what his dad was like before the stroke. To him, there is only After. I hope he isn’t affected by such an unsettled year as we’ve had. It’s been tough on the kids, to be sure. We work hard to make everything steady and routine and unworrisome, but they know. They see. It can’t not be scary. I’d have been scared when I was their age. My older son worries, I know, but it never comes out as worry. It comes out as severe irritation that owing to Hurricane Sandy, trick-or-treating will be this Saturday instead of tonight.

I’m not feeling the Halloween this year. I usually like it better, but between the storm and unscheduled hospital time, I’ve got enough real fear happening that I don’t need to make any up. But I don’t think I’m going to have any trouble with Thankful Month. Or Tongue Awareness Month, depending on whether you observe (though it’s almost impossible not to…now).

September, I love you.

I’m blogging to you live from Wingaersheek “How’s that spelled again?” Beach in Gloucester, MA where my in-laws have a place and we spend our summer holidays (or “summer,” if you verb that particular noun, which we do not, because it makes us sound like something we are not). Labor Day is the last hurrah, and one of my favorite times here because it’s usually nice and cool at night. It’s a bit of a bad hand for an introvert, though, because there are roughly a trillion people here for dinner each night, and that’s right about when I run out of steam and need to escape. I am currently hiding in our bedroom off the kitchen. Nobody seems to know I’m here. The wall is so thin that I might as well be in the other room, but for a little while, nobody can see me.


My small boy has gone to bed. Poor little guy, I found him in the crush just lying down on the couch with his dankie*, glassy-eyed and silent. Both boys run themselves so much at the beach that they come home with beach fatigue for at least two days after. My older boy went out with his cousins to see the fireworks someone brought for the holiday weekend. Later, it seems a game of Uno is in the works. It’s technically his bedtime, but nobody has the heart to get on his case on the last holiday weekend of the summer. Tomorrow night, we can lower the boom. Besides, he’s still high on losing another tooth last night, after a couple of weeks of copious wiggling. We didn’t bring the usual tooth fairy treats, so were in a bit of a panic about how to represent, but his Nana came up with a good substitute.

Oh, just heard someone asking where I am. I was out there the whole time. Prove I wasn’t!

I’ve been knitting my second Francie sock and getting a great deal done on it. A few uninterrupted hours (!!) and I might even finish it. Then I have to decide how to announce that I’ve cured Second Sock Syndrome. There has to be some respectable professional journal that would be interested. It’s a serious disease! Like any cure, I suspect this will lose its effectiveness over time, but in the meantime, hey, I have two pairs of socks for the winter. I still have the little matter of needing new sweaters for work, but that’s a bit of a problem because I’ll have issues affording sweater quantities of yarn for a while yet. I don’t have much. Maybe enough for one. Perhaps if I take the odd balls of Wool of the Andes that I was saving for a blanket and make them into some sort of circus-inspired garment… I’m trying to limit my plans to knit for Christmas. My husband wants a Shetland sweater, but that won’t be done by then. Nobody wants any many-tentacled sea creatures, thank goodness. I owe one baby blanket that is mostly done, and a toddler blanket that is half done. Now that it’s getting cool, I can stomach the idea of working on the Hudson’s Bay blanket again.

This is my absolute favorite time of the year.


Labors of love

I have everything done on the Rav Games mitts except the thumbs and finish work, but when I sat down to work on them last night, the wool was sticking to my sticky, sweaty fingers and I decided to browse online for new work clothes instead. Every few years, my boredom with my work clothes reaches its zenith and I think back on how frumpy I looked last year and how this year I’d like to look …not… like that, and I embark on a desperate, often fruitless search for clothes that will make that happen. This year has the added fun of a tiny, tiny budget, mostly made up of long-held Christmas money and aluminum can refunds and whatever they’re paying for plasma, plus whatever I think I could possibly knit out of my stash in the next month or so.

If I recall, I spent a lot of Augusts this way in high school, too. On one occasion, a truly unfortunate outfit was the result. It’s best not to be too specific, but I went to high school when Debbie Gibson was popular, if that paints an appropriately horrifying picture for you.

I’ve been holding on to my Caeles yarn for a few months, and since there are no sleeves, perhaps I could maybe do that. I also finally got around to winding another ball of natural Cascade 220 for my baby’s long-neglected Hudsons Bay blanket, because in weather like this, exactly what you want is to have a worsted wool blanket on your lap, yes/yes?

Other doings around here have been unexciting. Summer is winding down. I’m still volunteering at the historical society, but have managed to score a sitting-down job while other people are moving our archives to the new building. I’m hoping to get a look at our textile collections soon. There were several yarn companies in town once. My older boy has been going to municipal day camp for five weeks, and that ends tomorrow. Last night was the show: 101 Dalmatians. I bet you can guess what role he played. It felt like such a quintessentially parental moment that I spent most of it grinning like a fool and taking pictures. He goes back to school in three weeks, and we’re going to try to squeeze in some beach time before then. The baby turns 2 on Sept. 7, so we’ll have a cake on Labor Day weekend for him. I fail at birthdays, for the most part, but at least he’s too young to notice. I wonder if he’d like a nice woolen blanket…

Well, I don’t know that the Rav Games are actually making me more productive, but they’re making me moderately accountable, and I’ll take it. I have one of the Snapdragon mitts done up to the knuckles and cast off, and the other one halfway to that point. Thumbs and flip-tops will take about a quarter as much time as the process of picking up for the flip attachment; I’m saving that for a quiet evening after gymnastics is over. A few tinking incidents have shown me that when I want to watch the sport, I’m not going to get much (accurate) knitting done.

Last night I also managed to graft the cast-on to the live stitches on the Go Baby Go blanket for my cousin’s now month-old baby, and it was stupid-easy and I’m embarrassed for putting it off because I thought it’d be too hard. Well, that’s not true; it’s like this: I have severely limited free time right now. After I’ve played bedtime whack-a-mole with my boys, I get maybe four hours (if I stay up too late) to unwind and get serious work done. And I like those hours to be enjoyable. That means that if I walk into a knitting situation that all goes blooie, I have spent my only free hours in the day in frustration and tears, and probably have to face the problem again on another night, which means it might ruin at least two nights and not just one. So I’m not so much afraid of the knitting task as I’m anxious about spending an evening unhappily. I know that someday, long and idle evenings will probably be a dime a dozen, but I’m pretty sure my cousin is going to want this blanket before then, since when they arrive for me, the baby in question is going to be a lurchy teenage boy. I am motivated by that prospect, at least.

For the last few days, I’ve been hearing the Knit 1 Geek 2 podcast, and while I really love the energy of it, I don’t always share their geekdoms and have been wondering whether I even have the right to call myself one. I am in fact the last living human not to have read Harry Potter–that’s right; you can tell people you know me–so a lot of the squeeing goes right over my head. And I’m not really into a lot of SFF. I have a proper appreciation for Star Trek TOS, and I’m an actual fan of The Twilight Zone, but that’s about it. But I’d have plenty to do at Comic-Con. My sister’s been, and I’m burningly jealous. She got me autographed Futurama comics, and they’re among my prized possessions. I love Futurama. It’s not a show that lends itself well to knitting, but hey. I don’t know why I don’t care much for sci-fi. I like my entertainment to exist in the realm of plausibility, and occasionally a Sheldon Cooper-esque objection to whatever will crop up and spoil things for me. Futurama’s quick with the lampshade, so they get away with more. But I don’t slide easily into the sci-fi mindset. I like wrong-man stories best. It’s pretty easy to see the Venn diagram with The Twilight Zone and Alfred Hitchcock films when you think of it that way.

All of that was a long way of saying the podcast is giving me a geek cred crisis. But I take comfort in the fact that having a geek cred crisis is pretty effing geeky, so…solved.