Loser?

The Knitting Olympics closed yesterday. I hate to admit it, but I guess I’m a non-qualifier. To be perfectly honest, I probably don’t even rate a Bronze medal. See, here’s where my project was near the end of the closing ceremonies.

Unfinished gloves
Notice all those ends waiting to be woven in? And you can’t see all the holes between the fingers that need darning.

I suppose if I stayed up late last night and completed all that finishing, I could fudge it a bit and say I completed my Olympic project. But, I had an early start at the office today so I was a good girl and went to bed at a decent hour. (Tomorrow I have to be up at 5 AM. If I want to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, I should be in bed right about now.)

No doubt about it, work seriously cut into my knitting time last week. Don’t take this for whining; it’s not whining, I’m just stating a fact. (You try being at the office for 12-14 hours per day and then see how much knitting time you can fit in.) I also made a decision to NOT push myself in working on my project Friday night or Saturday during the day or evening. Since I had been at the office so much last week, I needed to spend time with my husband and my pets. Spending time with them recharges me, and they deserve some of my time.

So, I guess I’m not an Olympic contender. But, I have a great relationship with my husband, my pets, and my friends, OK? (If this entry is starting to sound too saccharine, just hang with me.)

Speaking of friends, I watched the closing ceremony with Jamie, Rachael, and Shannon. Jamie finished her Olympic project: a Clapotis in Knit Picks Andean Silk (color = Lettuce). Jamie's Clapotis Doesn’t she look smug, sitting there with her Clapotis around her neck? And look at Rachael smirking in the background. Rachael didn’t even join the Olympics team. (Of course, having major surgery just before the opening ceremony probably rates an automatic honorary disqualification.) Shannon wisely stayed out of the way of the camera.

We had fun watching the bizzare closing ceremony and eating Jamie’s homemade chili with Shannon’s homemade cornbread. I attempted to amuse with my impression of a Russian ice dancer (just get in a squat position and spread your legs…pretty easy), followed later by my rendition of a snippet from the video for My Humps by the Black Eyed Peas.

What can I say: I really needed to unwind after a long week.

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My competitive spirit…

is apparently alive and well. I don’t like to think of myself as competitive, but I guess I have at least a little bit in me.

1) I emailed the link of my last blog entry to several friends. By doing so, I not only released it into the wilds of the Internet to frolic and spawn, I intentionally promoted it. Then, I quickly added a free hit counter from BraveNet because I wanted to see how many people it would bring to my blog. I’ve been checking my site stats and my comments every night, too. (Thanks for the comment, Erica!)

2) I find the fact that I’m one of the folks bringing up the rear on the “Buy More Yarn” competition discouraging. After looking closely at my position last night and carefully reading over the rules, I’m thinking that the forerunners must be spinners buying fiber. I mean, really, who could buy more than 100 skeins of yarn in two months? Did you win the freaking lottery or something? Or are you thinking that you should be reporting your yarn buying in ounces instead of skeins? Or are you buying teeny, tiny little skeins of yarn? (If so, I want to know what it is for competitive intelligence purposes, at least.) WTF?

3) Despite the fact that I’ve been working really long days this week and had a very busy weekend, I’m proud of the progress I’m making on my Knitting Olympics project: my first gloves. First glove Above is glove #1, completed last Saturday night. While this isn’t exactly trick photography, I did strategically position the glove to make it seem that all the inevitable little holes between the fingers had been closed up and the ends weaved in. (If you have a tip to share on how to avoid those holes between the fingers, please do share it. I’ve reviewed all the knitting material in my home library and tried a Google search last night to find some tips, but I’m coming up short, here. I mean, other than the obvious “twist the stitches you pick up” trick.) In other words, I do still have finishing work to do here. second gloveAnd here is glove #2. I’m well into the thumb gusset and feel pretty good about the progress. Am I over-confident? Only time will tell. Unlike the brave atheletes of our Winter Olympics, if I falter or stumble at least I won’t find myself with my face plowing into the ice and/or being carried out on a stretcher, right?

An honorary Darwin award?

This is NOT knitting or garden related at all. I am going to record here a story that sounds made up, but it is not. Sadly, it is absolutely true.

Be warned: this story is totally hilarious, but definitely off-color. If you offend easily, don’t read below the line.

The story was related to me by my sister first, and I verified the facts with my mother. Mom relayed it from her husband, who was told the story directly by his uncle. I have recorded only the facts, and am not exaggerating (for enhanced amusement value or any other reason).

Let me also emphasize that this uncle and the rest of the family in question are NOT blood relatives of mine. They are related only by marriage.

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My stepfather’s family is large and a bit odd. They are salt of the earth people that don’t place emphasis on schooling. The family owns a fairly large piece of property in the far suburbs that they refer to as “the farm.” At one time it was an actual working farm, but now it is pretty much a collection of odd buildings, machinery, one house, a few mobile homes housing various relatives, and whatnot. This family has experienced some pretty peculiar (and at times tragically sad) events.

So, my stepfather has this uncle: Uncle Butch. Apparently, Uncle Butch has been sleeping in the barn for several years. (Don’t ask why; it’s complicated.)

It’s winter, and the nights are cold. Uncle Butch decided that he was tired of getting up during the cold night to urinate. (At a certain age, guys often need to do that, you know.) Uncle Butch’s solution to the problem was to catherize himself.

Yes, that’s right: he catherized himself.

Let’s pause here for a moment to ponder a few details.

  • What did he use as a catheter? We don’t know for sure what he used, but Uncle Butch is not in the medical profession. It’s therefore highly likely he did not have access to real medical supplies. [Update: it’s been confirmed that he used aquarium tubing.]
  • How large was the tubing? We can only guess that he found some tubing somewhere small enough to pass through his urethra. We have no idea of the actual size, though.
  • What about the risk of infection? Well, Uncle Butch apparently realized this could be a problem, so he sterilized the tubing and his hands with rubbing alcohol first.

This scenario alone is bad enough to contemplate. Anyone who has had a catheter inserted knows that it is very uncomfortable to have one, and that the process of insertion is pretty bad. I understand that it is much worse for men, too. But, Uncle Butch thought it felt good. (Yes, those were the exact words: it felt good.)

Uncle Butch would take the catheter out during the day, and put it back at night. So, he went through the process of insertion and removal several times.

It gets worse.

One morning, the catheter tubing got stuck inside him. Uncle Butch could not get it out of his urethra. This made it really difficult to urinate. He was able to get some urine out by milking his penis, but not enough to relieve his swollen bladder.

Uncle Butch did visit a doctor. (This is a pretty extreme measure for a male member of this family. Usually they avoid doctors like the plague.) When he realized what was going on, the doctor directed him to the hospital. So, Uncle Butch then had to have “an operation” to remove the catheter tubing from his penis.

Apparently, the events above took place several weeks ago. I’ve only just heard about it, as my mother and stepfather were on vacation during the time it took place and therefore didn’t know about it until recently. I can only imagine the exchange between my stepfather and Uncle Butch after my stepfather returned from vacation.

Uncle Butch: So, how was your vacation?
Stepfather: Pretty good. How’d things go here at the farm?
Uncle Butch: Not bad. I had to have an operation on my penis, though.
Stepfather: Say again. What?
Uncle Butch: Yeah, I got a tube stuck in my penis and had to have an operation to take it out.
Stepfather: [Total silence for about 20 seconds.] Why did you have a tube in your penis?
Uncle Butch: Well, it was like this…

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Again, let me emphasize that this uncle and the rest of the family in question are NOT blood relatives of mine. They are related only by marriage.

Random Fun

So, Val came over tonight to visit with Rachael. She brought her friend Rick (a visiting Australian swing dancer…doesn’t that sound intriguing?) and Chinese carry-out.

Val is really good with a camera and she had fun taking some shots with mine.

Linda working on gloveMe working on my Olympic project, gloves.

Sadie
Sadie, guarding her “squeaker toy.” (One of 3 squeaky toys she jealously guards from Hannah.)

HannahHannah, wondering if Val is going to toss her some treats.

Val Valerie, in a dramatic pose.

glove at rest The glove at rest. Notice I am working on the “fuck you” finger (as my husband, Mark, calls it.)

Rachael's hatRachael trying the hat she’s knit for her boyfriend on Rick. (Rick has a large head, so she thought he’d be a good head model. He also was extremely tired and slept in the chair much of the night, so he was very obliging to be used as a model.)

We watched the Men’s Figure Skating on the Olympics. We were so inspired by Evgeni Plushenko’s performance, we created a new cocktail: the Gay Russian.

Valerie (the only non-drinker present) came up with the distinguishing ingredient. We knew we needed something sort of sweet, and she suggested a raspberry flavored liquor. Luckily, I had a teeny, tiny bottle of Chambord on hand (along with the other major ingredients), so we mixed up a test drink. Four of us (me, Mark, Rick, and Rachael) gave it a try and agreed that it is drinkable. Why don’t you give it a try and let me know what you think?

Gay Russian Cocktail
1.5 ounces vodka
.75 ounces Kahlua
.75 ounces Chambord

Serve over ice and enjoy.

Holey Moley


It appears I’m sort of zooming through glove #1, despite my original miscalculations that resulted in frogging down to the cuff. I made a stupid mistake in measuring my gauge. Recall that I noted my stitch gauge as 8 sts per inch? Well, that was actually my row gauge.

Duh! I measured vertical stitch count (row gauge), not horizontal stitch count (stitch gauge) and merrily cast 64 stitches on during the Olympic Opening Ceremony. It wasn’t until I got well into the gusset that I realized that I had made a huge mistake.

These gloves are for my mother, who, while fairly petite, is also fairly…uh…heavy. So, I figured that having a larger diameter cuff was no big deal and decided to just rip back to the ribbing. Rachael bravely did the frogging after she tried that technique of picking up the stitches with a smaller diameter circular needle. It worked well, and I was able to decrease down to the 48 stitches I originally should have cast on. (I just love Lucia’s knitting calculation tools. Thanks!)

I’m not liking the little holes at the base of the fingers. I keep thinking there is some trick to avoiding the holes that I just don’t know yet. But, I’m trying not to be too tough on myself; this is my first pair of gloves.

I’m hoping to finish up the knitting on this glove by Friday and get a good amount of work done on the second glove Saturday. Why the push? I’ll be really busy at work next week and am sure that I’ll get little knitting time. So, I really must get more done.

Onward fellow Olympians!

Finere e Inizio

For those of us who don’t speak Italian, the above (very) roughly translates as Endings and Beginnings. (Or so I hope. I don’t really speak Italian, and visited one of those dictionary sites to try and figure out a decent translation.)

Why the emphasis on endings and beginnings?

1) I finished my Jaywalkers Wednesday night.

Completed Jaywalker socks I think they came out looking very nice and the Socks that Rock makes for a comfy sock, too. The flashing is kind of bizzare, though. On the first sock I completed, I thought it may have been due to a minor error. (Yes, I had a minor error and I didn’t fix it. I had an argument with Jamie about it, much to the amusement of several friends, because I refused to frog several inches after I discovered I had accidentally increased the stitch count in the middle of the sole. I decided to just decrease and accept the fact that I would not have perfect socks. Jamie kept insisting that I must rip the work out and do it “right.”) However, on sock #2 I got the same flashing effect once I had moved into the straightaway and wasn’t increasing or decreasing anymore along the foot.

2) Last night, I cast on for Mom’s gloves, which I’m making for the Knitting Olympics. (No photos yet, as I don’t have much to show at this point.) This will be the first pair of gloves — first pair of handwear, actually — that I have ever made. I’m using Filatura di Crosa 501, a light worsted/DK weight superwash wool and size 4 needles. I had thought about using fingering/sock weight yarn, but I just couldn’t get myself to figure out how to translate the pattern gauges for such fine weight yarn. (I’m using the generic glove pattern from Ann Budd’s The Knitter’s Handy Book of Patterns, and the smallest gauge in her chart is for 9 sts/inch. My swatch in sock yarn was much smaller than that. With the 501 yarn and size 4 needles, I get 8 sts/inch. It’s much easier to follow the Budd charts as written, instead of recalculating gauge.)

The week has been pretty intense and busy. Lots of work, and travel thrown in to boot. Next week will be more travel for work, but I don’t mind that much. Travel gives me time to knit, so I should make some good progress on the gloves. Yay!

Although, with all this travel and work, etc. I’m glad to have Rachael around all day, spending some quality time with the “girls” (i.e. dogs Hannah and Sadie; knitten Fiona). Rachael’s been here while recovering from her surgery because it’s really not advisable to walk up 3,000 stairs right after major abdominal surgery. (OK, maybe her third-floor apartment really isn’t 3,000 stairs up, but there are a lot of stairs.)

Rachael’s recovering well (yippee yay!) and has been feeling so great that she actually created a blog yesterday. Today we went to the grocery store and made stops to visit Val and have a coffee. The best news of all is that the pathology reports came back A-OK, so she is now cancer-free; no need for chemo or radiation either.

Gotta get back to the Olympics now. If I don’t finish at least a cuff tonight then I’m going to have trouble keeping up with the competition.

Reflect/Think/Pray

Today one of our own — a kind, intelligent, lovely, talented knitter — goes under the knife. Rachael has cervical cancer. She is only 30 years old, but will have a hysterectomy today. She has no children, and while she has been a bit amibiguous about whether having children was a personal goal, the sad fact is that the choice will be taken away from her now.

Rachael describes herself as an ethical humanist and doesn’t follow a particular creed. Personally, I’m not sure what I would describe myself as: an ethical humanist? an agnostic? a pagan? Whatever the case may be, I don’t think creed or dogma should play any role in what I’m requesting here.

I have a simple request for everyone I connect with today:

If you pray, please pray for Rachael today.

If you meditate, please spend a few moments meditating on Rachael today.

If you don’t do any of these things, please stop for a minute and think about Rachael today.

Rachael can use all the positive, healing energy we can send her way today.

And in the coming weeks, please think about including Rachael in your daily reflections/thoughts/prayers.

Thanks.