Wednesday, December 21, 2011


I finished the replacement Owl Mitten, and, truth be told, I like the colors better than the original left mitten.

I'm looking forward to giving these back to Rachel. Oddly, it's rather warm around here right now (warm = 40s in December), so the need for mittens isn't as great as it usually is the week before Christmas.

After I finished the mitten, I was searching for a new project. I decided that it would be a treat to knit something to give to someone randomly.  Well, okay, not randomly, because, really, this is me we're talking about. I wanted to knit something I hadn't planned on knitting to give to someone who wouldn't expect it. It would be something I hadn't planned to give as a Christmas gift, so there would be no pressure to get it finished quickly.  Even so, the first half of the project went quite fast.

Della Mitts knit in Knitpicks Stroll Tonal in the Gypsy colorway

Pleased with myself, I started the second. I was knitting a great gift with leftover sock yarn!  Hooray!  Not surprisingly, I then promptly ran out of yarn.  Boo.

I'll order more and get these finished soon.

On Friday, we celebrated Christmas with Andrew's extended family. While there, Andrew's grandpa asked me if I'd knit him a scarf.  Bien sur.  I love Andrew's grandpa.  When I asked him what color he wanted, he said blue. When I asked him what color blue, he said, "You know, just normal blue." Then he pointed to his Colts baseball cap.  Aha.  Gotcha.  I went to the yarn store yesterday at lunch and bought three skeins of Cascade 128.  After work, I started this:

Rupe scarf knit in Cascade 128 in normal blue* 

We all know I'm a whore for cables, so this is a perfect knit for me.


While I was shopping for the yarn, the owner asked me if I was trying to get the scarf done by Christmas. I took a moment to be grateful that I was not buying yarn on December 20 for a gift on December 24.  (Yes, we have another Christmas with Andrew's family even though we had one on Friday.  I cannot explain why we have six different Christmas celebrations every year, but we do. Luckily, we like our families, so it's fine.)  A tiny voice in my head said, "Hey, do you think you could get it done by Christmas Eve?"  I am trying to ignore that voice.  I have a cold and all the tiredness and crankiness that brings with it, so I'm trying to give myself grace and tell myself there is no way I'll have this done by Christmas Eve.

Maybe New Year's.

I hope you are all having a great week leading up to Christmas, and, if you're Jewish, happy Hanukah! I celebrate Christmas and work in a synagogue, so I get to enjoy both holidays.

May your days be merry and bright!

*Okay, it's not really called normal blue, but I left the ball band at home.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Shortcut, With the Emphasis on Cut

I'm making a sweater. I hope to wear it to various holiday functions, which is a clear sign of impending disaster.  

It's the Off-Rib Cardigan by Stefanie Japel. If you're desperate to see it and aren't on Ravelry, click here and look at the goldish cardigan (second row, middle photo).  Pretty, right?

I had trouble getting gauge. I decided just to start and hope for the best.  There's no need to point out how stupid that is.  I know. 

The body was mostly done when I reread the pattern and realized I was knitting with needles size 7 and 9 instead of 5 and 7.

I'll wait a moment for your pain to wane.

The body was going to be fine (maybe). The neck was not.  I put it away and knit something else quietly.  As I lay in bed that night, I figured out my next step.*

I would just unravel the neck and reknit going the opposite way!  A tiny voice in my head said, "Didn't you read that the only stitch that can be unraveled backwards is garter stitch?" I told the tiny voice, "Maybe that knitting expert was wrong."

That's probably it.  Happens all the time.

The next day after work I unraveled the cast on edge.  Of course, at the end of these two hours I found that the neck wouldn't unravel from the top.

So I got out the scissors.

I very long time later, the neck was unattached.  (Yes, it's a tall collar.  We're not talking about 15 minutes of knitting here.)

That ball was all that remained of the collar when I was finished.

I could bore you with the hell that happened after that, but all it would do is highlight my own stupidity and I think that's been demonstrated enough in this post.  Let's just say that the collar and I had a difficult time, but I did eventually succeed.

Until the needle separated from the cable.  As in, the knitting needle fell apart.  While on live stitches.

Again, I'll wait while you recover.

I'm not ashamed of the words I said.  

We're on much surer ground now, the sweater and I.  I'm on the second sleeve and the end is in sight, so I fully expect the yarn to spontaneously combust.  

Does alpaca burn?

 *Let's take a moment to note how much life gets in the way in times like this. I can't call in sick to work because a sweater is jerking me around.  I'm sure the time spent away from the sweater is actually beneficial, but it's difficult to go to work when my brain wants to be Fixing a Problem.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


My favorite person to talk knitting with isn't a knitter.  Rachel has a profound love of knitwear, and she's a joy to knit for.*

As happens, she experienced a mitten tragedy.  Her sorrow was profound...

... and unnecessary.  I'm going to knit her another, and I'm happy to do it.  All that's left is to hope that a person missing her right hand found the mitten and believes it is a gift from the universe.

*I know it should be "with whom to talk knitting" and "a joy for whom to knit", but you have to admit that sounds ridiculous.  Stupid grammar.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Stabbing Things with Family

Well, huh. Apparently I never posted this.  It's a jillion years old.  Since I also didn't upload photos of the current sweater-in-progress I took over the weekend, I might as well let this see the light of day!

On Saturday I went to my cousin's house and we played with wool.  She made a little rabbit, and I made brightly colored baubles to sit in a piece of glass we have on a bookcase.

Needle felting involves laying pieces of wool over other materials and stabbing them repeatedly with little barbed needles.  I've done it once before.

Five years ago, I had absolutely no idea this impulse to make stuff was going to take hold of me.  I'm often surprised by my life.

Friday, December 9, 2011


Before anyone thinks something bad has happened, let me assure you it has not--at least not to me.

I work in a synagogue, which means I watch Bar and Bat Mitzvah students arrive in the afternoon to meet the Cantor to practice their Hebrew, babies carried through on their way to baby namings, dressed up couples arriving for pre-wedding photos.

And there are funerals.

There are doors closer to the sanctuary than the one that goes past my office, but people who have been members for a long time often come to the office door out of habit or to speak to the Rabbis before the service. I sit at my desk and watch the family slog past my office looking shocked, sad, stressed, and broken.

My father died when I was 21. I have no idea what the minister said during the funeral.  (A friend told me later that was a very good thing. Apparently his theology would have made me violent.) I kept looking at my father in the casket, and I was sure I could see him breathing even though I knew he was not.*

On the way to the cemetery from the funeral home, we drove a road I have driven hundreds or thousands of times.  It was late October, and one of the fields we passed was being harvested.

The farmer stopped the tractor, took off his hat, placed it over his chest, and sat immobile until the entire funeral procession passed.  I can still see him, and I bow to the ground to him.

When someone you love dies, the most gut-wrenching part is that the world keeps going. People go to work, go for coffee, help their kids with their homework, pick up their dry cleaning. They keep living their life as if the whole world hasn't shifted with the loss of the human being you loved. Your world is changed, but their world has not.

On days when there's a funeral at the synagogue, I dress up and wear black. If the family glides past my office, I stop typing and sit quietly. It's not enough, and it probably isn't noticed by anyone, but I remember the farmer who was trying to get the harvest in before it frosted, and I remember how he stopped and covered his heart to show respect for the funeral procession of someone he may or may not have known.

For that moment, at least, the world did stop. I knew that nothing was ever going to be the same, and I knew that this stranger understood it, too.

Today I am wearing black.

*I want to be cremated.  Seriously, write it down.  Give away everything you can--organs, eyes, whatever--and then burn the rest. Don't pump me full of chemicals, put me into a cushy box inside a concrete vault and put me in the ground.  Don't.  Thanks.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fantasy Letter

Dear Work,

This letter is to inform you that I will only be working two more days this month, the days I handle payroll.

Having carefully considered this issue, I have come to the conclusion that I cannot be expected to work this month. There are Things To Do. I need to wrap presents, cook, and, most importantly, sit on my couch and knit. I'm working on a sweater, you see, and it is much more engrossing than the current data cleanup project I've been slogging through at the office.

I know, I know. I preach "garbage in, garbage out" until people want to throttle me.  I understand that data cleanup is important. But is it really so important that it can't wait until January?  That's what I thought.

In case of emergency, I may be reached at home.  By "emergency," I mean "building is burning down and there are puppies and kitties inside."  All other items can wait until January.

Speaking of January, I will not be working the two weeks surrounding my birthday.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and I know we will enter February with renewed appreciation for one another.  Have a happy holiday season.