Winter Sports

After reading Yarn Harlot’s blog today, I see that one of my issues with winter is that I don’t do winter sports. Unless shoveling counts as a winter sport, that is. I did some of that today, and if the weather report is accurate, I’ll have more to do tomorrow. Rah, rah.

I can appreciate the beauty of winter. Dry, powdery snow looks awfully pretty in the right light: it’s so sparkly.

Our winter sports seem to revolve around the TV. I watch lots of TV in the winter, and this year I’m glad that we upgraded to an HDTV. Wow, what a difference! I’m sure many of the folks on camera are horrified when they first see what they look like on HDTV. (Oprah, I’m sure your makeup artists are very skilled, but they just can’t hide those bags and dark circles under your eyes from the HD; please give yourself a rest.)

The incredible irony for us is how we receive our HD signal: from a plain vanilla roof antenna.

In November 2005, we lost the connection to our roof antenna in a wind storm. We called around trying to find someone who would reconnect it for us, but no one wanted to get up on our roof in the late fall/winter. So, after a couple months of vainly trying to pull in a decent signal with an indoor (“rabbit ears”) antenna, we bit the bullet and signed up for satellite TV. (I was not going to even entertain the idea of signing up for cable TV. The company that owns the cable franchise in our area, Comcast, is just plain evil in my book. E-V-I-L. Never getting any of my business at all.)

So, last February the satellite dish is set up and we got TV again. I was happy to have TV, but not so happy to be paying for it. I just don’t understand the concept of paying for TV unless I get it ad-free. Then, I can see why I’d have to pay for it.

In the spring, we got a call from one of the guys we’d contacted that he could reconnect our antenna. Even though we had the satellite, we decided to go for so we could have a back up TV-viewing source.

We got the new HDTV in November. We noticed our old TV (12+ years old, and still kicking) was starting to have picture challenges, so we decided to upgrade. We didn’t get an LCD or a plasma; we found a nice TV with an HD tuner and a traditional picture tube (very reliable technology) that was thinner than average. (But not lighter than average. Oy, I forgot how heavy a picture tube is!)

The HD tuner is built into the set, and it was capable of using dual antenna sources. So, we hooked up the roof antenna as well as the satellite and tried to tune in an HD channel through the roof antenna. (We weren’t paying for an HD satellite service, so that wouldn’t work). The only HD channel we tuned in was CBS, none of the other local channels worked. We were very disappointed, and figured that we needed a new roof antenna to pull in HD. So, we just gave up.

After the new year, we were seeing all these notices about local programming being broadcast in HD. So, we gave the roof antenna a try again. Voila! We got LOTS of HD channels: CBS, NBC, ABC, WGN, etc. Our local public broadcast station, WTTW, broadcasts over 3 channels now, 2 of which are HD and show different programs during the same time slot. Awesome!

I swear we’re watching the local broadcast channels more than the satellite channels that we’re paying for! Hmmm…maybe it’s time to get rid of the satellite, eh? Although I would miss Comedy Central and my South Park fix…Maybe after the winter TV viewing season is over. Excuse me now while sign off to go catch some TV.

Secret blogging

Shhh…I’m actually on a conference call right now for work. It doesn’t require 100% of my brain, so I’m slipping in a little blogging while others are talking. (Yes, it is currently after 8 PM local time; I have one of THOSE sorts of jobs that can conveniently be done remotely: anytime, anywhere. Note the emphasis on conveniently…sitting at home on a Thursday night working when I could be out drinking wine with friends is not ideal to me.)

Not only am I sort of underwhelmed here (no criticism, but I’ve been through this agenda many times before), but I wanted to blog about my latest finished object: more socks!

Neatby inspired socks I knitted these from some Lorna’s Laces Shepherd Sock acquired during the special tour for the Windy City Knitting Guild. The yarn was labeled “Millends” and I didn’t recognize the color from the usual LL lineup, so I don’t think it is widely available. It may just be one of a kind. *smirk*

Aaaannnyyyway…the socks were knit top down using the general “recipe” and garter rib pattern from Charlene Schurch’s Sensational Knitted Socks book. I started these after I took the sock knitting seminar from Lucy Neatby (also through the Windy City Knitting Guild), so I incorporated some of the techniques I learned: the garter stitch heel and the garter stitch toe. I figured with a garter rib pattern in the “body” of the sock, the garter stitch heel and toe would fit in nicely.

According to Lucy, the garter stitch in the heel and toe are more durable. The heel is knit from the other end of the yarn ball, so it is possible to replace the heel later if there is a lot of wear, too. While I haven’t noticed a lot of wear and tear on the heels of my handknit socks, I have noticed it on my store-bought ones. So, we’ll see how this heel wears compared to the typical slip stitch and stockinette heels I’ve worked before.

Here I attempted to upload a link to a photo on my Flickr account showing more detail on the sock, but unfortunately Blogger is sucking ass tonight and not allowing me to publish the photo. (If you offend easily, pardon my language…I’m angry and have been watching a lot of South Park and listening to a lot of Dawn and Drew podcasts. Why? Because I like them! Yes, I am a potty-mouthed smartass at heart.)

One final note about these socks…I began sock #2 on the second segment of my return flight from Hyderabad, India (the Frankfurt to Chicago flight, to be exact) and completed it through the heel turning. I guess I’m impressed with how much knitting I can do when I have 8 hours of uninterrupted knitting time.

I’m going to start a pair of Widdershins socks next. I’m really intrigued by incorporating a heel flap in a toe-up sock. I just have to master the cast on technique first.

If it seems like I (and others) are knitting a lot of socks lately, that’s probably because they are such a fabulous summer project. Not only are they highly portable (making them my favorite commuting project), but working on socks doesn’t involve having heaps of knitted fabric resting in your lap. Even if that fabric is cotton or linen, it can get pretty annoying when the humidity and thermometer are soaring.

But you already knew that, didn’t you?

I bet you didn’t know that I harvested my first homegrown tomatoes yesterday, did you? I don’t eat them (they smell evil to me), but Mark said the one he ate was delicious. I would attempt to photograph one of the beautiful tomatoes and post the photo here for you to admire, but see my previous nasty comment about Blogger and photos.