Friday, September 29, 2006

Coffee Klatch

No one can understand the truth until he drinks of coffee's frothy goodness.
-Sheik Abd-al-Kadir

On Blogging
You may recall that the beau has been asking all sorts of questions about blogging, and that earlier this week I promised some brilliant insights from that conversation. In trying to explain to him how I know or "know" the bloggers I read and who read mine, and how my dad, my best friend from middle school, and a woman in Iceland whom I may never meet all constitute my audience and all comment on the same post, it struck me that the blogosphere is like a coffee shop. We have our knitterly gathering on the couches, right up there near the front windows. Maybe we're even sitting outside under the awning in nice weather. And as we knit and drink our coffee, our conversation gets loud, the laughter raucous, and we are keenly aware that all the passersby can overhear us discussing zippers, two-handed fair-isle, and different heel stitches. Intermixed, they can also overhear the parts of our personal lives that intersect: the babies due receiving sweaters, the wedding shawls, the boyfriends we won't knit for. The man walking his dog down the block is not our intended or primary audience, but we know that we're knitting and blogging in a public space.

I'm loving the idea of the blogosphere as a coffee shop right now, because it hits just the right balance of public and private. . . which is just a great balance for blogging in my life. As you may or may not have noticed, I'm adapting to my new city, new job, new schedule (and, yes, new beau). The new plan for Knitting Underway is to post every other day. I find that if I wait more than that, I lose my momentum and sense of the community. I have a bunch of knitting to catch you up on, so I'm optimistic that it'll be a good pace for the blog. And speaking of that balance, Grumperina wants us to dig deep into our knitterly selves and bare our souls. About knitting. Go figure.

Ten Knitterly Things You Didn't Know About Me
Slowly but surely Grumperina's meme is making it's way around blogland. I can't promise that all of these are shocking revelations, but at least they all fit the qualification - they are all about knitting.

  1. I taught myself to knit from photos on the internet one night in December my junior year of undergrad. The reason? I was looking for something to do OTHER than studying for biostatistics. The thought came to my head, "well, I've always wanted to learn to knit. . ."
  2. My grandmother had tried to teach me when I was younger, maybe about 10, but I could never remember how when we got home.
  3. My first project was a garter stitch scarf for my mom out of Lion Brand Thick and Quick Chenille. I quickly realized that it was going to be too wide and take too long, so I spontaneously decreased about 20 stitches on one row, thinking no one would ever notice. (They did.)
  4. The entire first year I knit, I made nothing but scarves. Ninety percent of them were garter stitch scarves in Lion Brand Homespun. Then I hit a point where everyone I knew had a scarf. I had to branch out.
  5. I'm thinking of giving up on the whole swatching concept. Seriously, I start over as much after I swatch as I do if I don't. Swatches lie.
  6. In college, people I'd never met used to refer to me as "That Girl Who Knits." It was discussed at parties.
  7. I often choose my reading material based on its ability to lie flat so that I can knit while reading it. Hey - works for The New England Journal of Medicine!
  8. In general, I prefer solid colored yarn to variagated. (Some sock yarns are an excpetion. But only socks.)
  9. I knit. I don't dye. I don't spin. I don't even design. And while I admire those who do, I think it would only distract me from doing the things I want to do.
  10. Knitting is community. It is blogging, knitting groups, and friendly chats in the halls of the hospital with those who have their knitting. I would knit half as much as twice as poorly if I wasn't daily inspired by everything I see on your pages. Thank you.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Activity of Today

Progress is the activity of today and the assurance of tomorrow.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

I felted the first two (of what are likely to become many) of my felted toy balls. For comparison's sake, I put Month 3's denim jacket- in its entirety- next to them in the photo. Yes, I took your collective advice and ripped it out. I restarted, but clearly haven't gotten all that far yet. No matter. Isn't the felting fun?

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

They are drying on my kitchen table above, and by the time I next get home (um, tomorrow sometime), they should be dry enough to stuff and close.

Although it's hard to see from the photo, they are appealingly round. Marina was kind enough to point out that I might have just a wee little problem with knitting small, round objects. . .

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Like a Baby

People who say they sleep like a baby probably don't have one.
-Leo Burke

Ah, Month 4 of internship. My own personal purgatory of the Navy-mandated Ob-Gyn block for all interns regardless of specialty. While I'm trying not to be a conspiracy theorist, it does seem like every pregnant woman in a 100 mile radius is miserable and coming to my hospital just to make me as miserable as they are. But I digress. Suffice it to say that in the past 6 days I've worked 89 hours, with yet another call coming up on Thursday. And, yes, this is legal even with the 80-hour work week. I have a three day conference at the end of the month that does not count as duty hours, so my 4-week average comes in just under the wire. It's painful.

What makes it less painful is my fun, exciting project-of-the-month, the Felted Balls from Melanie Falick's Knitting for Baby:

Nothing says fun like garter stitch, oddballs, and felting. Seriously - the cure for stress. No matter how tired I am (very), even I can't mess this up. And if I do? It's getting felted. There's something so incredibly satisfying about using up oddballs. See the stripes above? Some of those pieces are only a couple of yards long. Not only am I using scraps of wool, but after they're felted I'm going to stuff them with scraps of non-feltable yarn. Technically speaking, there's not a lot to talk about here. But it's fun. Maybe it's just that I'm so tired, but these are about all I can knit right now. And did I mention that it's fun?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Inquiring Minds

Courtesy is as much the mark of a gentleman as courage.
-Theodore Roosevelt

Inquiring minds all around . . . It wasn't my Eye Candy Friday post so much as all your comments on it that sparked another fascinating conversation with my beau. He was a little incredulous that so many of you a) read my blog and b) took the time to comment. The collective you had all sorts of questions, and J had a whole host of his own. Still protesting that he didn't "get" blogging, he had me go through your comments (and questions).

. . . Then he proceeded to badger me about why I won't knit him socks. Clearly, it's time for a collective Q&A session.

Q: If Stephanie, Nikki, and Knitzalot all think I can make him socks, why won't I?
A: Ladies, don't tell him this, but it's the size 12 feet. Maybe I'm spoiled, but my feet are about half the size of his. Plus, that whole jinx thing. I've heard it said that

Make a man a hat, his head will turn.
Make a man mittens, he'll wave good-bye.
Make a man socks, he'll walk away.

While Rachel joined in the above call for sock knitting, she was emphatic: "I need more specs!"

Q: Does he go by J, or are you just using his initial?
A: Both. His name starts with J, so I call him J in real life and now on the blog. He calls me T, among other things. All flattering, of course.

Q: How did you meet? Is he in your residency program? Your year?
A1: Ah, yes. My boyfriend, the Navy doctor. (OK, so I'm a Navy doctor, too. But it does have a certain ring to it, doesn't it?) First, the objective details - he's a surgery intern here. He's about 10 weeks older than me and he outranks me by exactly 2 days. To add to the fun, in this current seven day span, one or both of us is on call 4/7 days. Isn't it wonderful that we can bond over all these shared experiences?

A2: And the subjective. You wouldn't think that how we met would be such a subject of controversy, would you? Let's work backwards: We recognized each other when we came to San Diego in June. We definitely knew each other as medical students at Naval Medical Center - Portsmouth (Virginia) last October, probably because we had met - if only briefly - when we were both here in San Diego last September. It turns out, however, that we attended Officer Indoctrination School ( yes, they do call it that with a straight face) together about three years ago. J is pretty convinced that we met there. I have absolutely no recollection of this. That might be forgivable, except that my mom remembers meeting him at our OIS graduation. What are the odds he'll ever let me forget that one (for a second time . . .)? Shireen, do you still think we're moving fast?

Turing back to some of J's questions. . .

Q: Aren't you worried about meeting scary predators online?
A: No. Aren't you worried that my dad had the same concern? Sheesh.

Q: So how much of your personal life is on the blog?
A: Knitting is a metaphor for life. Plus, my mom reads my blog.

He began to seem mildly reassured after pursuing this line of questioning. He thought the tone I hit with the Eye Candy Friday post was good. Just the right combination of what Liz calls "smitten-ness" and reserved humor. So after my protestations that no parolees named Bubba had ever tried to contact me via Knitting Underway, he began wrestling with exactly how these blogs function. Public space. Private space. Somewhere in the middle. (I told you he was a smart one.) Expect some inspired navel-grazing on the meaning and nature of blogging later this week. In the meantime, I'll finish up with one last Q&A.

Q: "Maybe in a month he can have a dishcloth," queried Elizabeth. More enthusiastic, Cindy thought that could be 10.
A: He doesn't need his own dishcloths. He has full and unrestricted access to my dishcloth drawer. Yes, ladies, you heard correctly. My cute-brilliant-Navy-doctor boyfriend? He also does dishes.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Eye Candy Friday

Save a boyfriend for a rainy day - and another, in case it doesn't rain.
-Mae West

I've been enjoying all the Eye Candy Friday posts around, and after much delay, I'm joining in to introduce you to the other reason (you know, other than that whole intern thing) that life in San Diego is so great (and busy):

Meet J. He's the new eye arm candy around here. Isn't he cute? He's one of the good ones - brilliant, funny, brings me flowers. Wouldn't you want to spend your time off with him if you could?

But this is not just any gratuitous Eye Candy post. No, no, this is a post about knitting. See, J knows that I knit. Has known, even since before we were dating. And to his credit, he has never once even hinted that maybe I have too much yarn. He even took this photo. He readily concedes that he doesn't "get" blogging, but we had a conversation like this last night:

Me: J, I have a question for you. You can totally say no and I won't be at all upset.
J: [abject panic] What is it? [more panic] Whatever it is, you can tell me.
Me: Can I put you on my blog?
J: [deep sigh of relief] Of course. Didn't I tell you that at least a month ago?
Me: I don't think so. But thanks. It'll be for eye candy Friday. I'm using the photo from sailing.
J: Whatever you want.
[pause] Is this about how you won't knit for me?
Me: Yup.
J: Am I going to look like an idiot?
Me: Never.

So without making J look like an idiot . . . a conversation sparked by his first view at the entirety of my handknit sock collection, all in their lovely sock boxes:

J: [in a cautious, diplomatic tone] So you, uh, store your handknit socks in special boxes?
Me: Yup, my friend Kate made them for me.
J: [abandoning that line of questioning entirely] How long does it take to make something? Socks? A hat? A scarf?
Me: You know I can't knit for you, right?
J: [indignant now] Why not?
Me: [solemnly] It's bad luck. The Boyfriend Sweater Curse.
J: The what?
Me: The Boyfriend Sweater Curse. You can't knit for your boyfriend. It's bad luck, a jinx.
J: [long pause] Well, I wouldn't want you to think we're jinxed. If that's what you'd really think.

Let me tell you, he sounded pretty disappointed for a guy who is always hot, never cold, and wore nothing but scrubs in the middle of winter in Wisconsin.

As far as The Boyfriend Sweater Curse goes, mark me firmly in the true believer column. And now for my completely gratuitous photo:

You wouldn't want to jinx that either, would you?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Blue Jeans

Blue jeans are the most beautiful things since the gondola.
-Diana Vreeland

I'm still waiting on those photos of me knitting in my camis that I know you're all dying to see. In the meatime, how 'bout some knitting?

Every month I feel compelled to remind you of my plan. Did I never tell you about what I was going to make with the denim I bought for Month 3? (We, uh, started Month 4 yesterday.) I was feeling all denim-y, like I really needed a cute - knitted - denim jacket just in time for fall. It is feeling vaguely autumnal these days, if only on knitting blogs and not in San Diego. But I digress.
I wanted a sweater. In denim yarn. There were 2 Debbie Bliss denim patterns on which I've long had my eye:

Above, from Debbie Bliss' Knitting Workbook - the Denim Embroidered Jacket I believe it is called. Miles of stockinette and a new exciting embroidery technique to learn. Pros: I've been knitting lots of st st and ribbing while reading medical journals, so it might actually get done. Cons: My other sweater in progress at the moment is the ribby cardi. I could handle something a little more exciting. And the embroidery might be a little much in some ways.

And the second (sorry about the poor photo), is also from Debbie Bliss, this one from Celtic Knits. Pros: So me. Fun but easy to memorize cables set off with seed stitch. Denim yarn looks great in cables. Cons: This one will take a little while, since it's a dark denim, hard to do at night, and just needs more attention.

Any last minute bets on which one I choose? Option Two. It's just so me. I started the back about a month ago (on knitting, but not blogging, schedule), and just got up to the beginning of the waist shaping. When I had a realization. Sizing issues.

See, I'm getting gauge, I think. The pattern is written for two sizes - 34 and 36 bust. What I didn't notice until yesterday was that the actual sizes that correlate are 40 1/2 and 42 inches. Now, I have a 36 inch bust, and I make most of my sweaters somewhere between 34-40 inches, depending on how heavy it is, how much ease I want. Usually it's a gestault kind of thing. A cardigan like this I would usually make about 38-40 inches, but I thought I could get by with a 36. . . which is turns out is really a 42. And, contrary to the sizing suggestions, this appears to be a fitted jacket. I'm going for a fitted jacket. Are you still following?

OK, so who here has worked with denim yarn in the past? Because I can make my sweater back somewhere between 39 and 42 inches, depending on which direction I stretch it. I know the yarn shortens lengthwise with washing, but I thought not so much widthwise. So, should I continue on making the larger size planning to pull it lengthwise in blocking, or do I really need to rip it out and make the smaller size? So far I've knit one of 17 or 19 balls (depending on the size), so this is the time to rip it out.

When I was frustrated with that last night, I picked out and started my project for Month 4. Details to follow, but I'm on Ob-Gyn this month. It involves babies. And oddballs of stash yarn. It is a good, good time. (That will also leave lots of time to settle my issues with the denim jacket above.)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Iron on Tuesday

Wash on Monday
Iron on Tuesday
Mend on Wednesday
Churn on Thursday
Clean on Friday
Bake on Saturday
Rest on Sunday

I am back from my combat medicine course in the wilds of somewhere-outside-of-San Antonio, a great experience that really made me appreciate not only the hard work done by medical personnel on the front lines, but also just how comfortable my bed is. There are photos, which will appear one of these days, but in the meantime I'm busy getting caught up on all the stuff I didn't do during 2 weeks away. . . i.e. errands and chores. Some thoughts on that:

I first encountered that traditional saying above in the immortal works of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Did you know that she wrote a housekeeping column for a newspaper in the Ozarks for many years? That would be after she and Manly moved out of the prairie after The First Four Years. At any rate, I generally like to think of myself as living a good hundred, hundred and fifty years ago. With modern plumbing and antibiotics, of course. And I'm also a bit of a, ahem, well, scheduled person. I like my routines. So I've adapted a version of the above for my life and times.

Wash on Monday - laundry
Iron on Tuesday - all that clean laundry to iron, right?
Mend on Wednesday - I approach this metaphorically and mend my financial affairs. I pay my bills, take care of paperwork, all that jazz.
Churn on Thursday - Nope, none of that either. Generally I clean the dry areas of my apartment - living room, bedroom, carpets.
Clean on Friday - Here's the real cleaning - kitchen and bathroom.
Bake on Saturday - Not as a chore, but often as a hobby.
Rest on Sunday - I do, but I also change the sheets on my bed. Something to wash on Monday.

The beauty of a schedule like this is not so that my mother thinks I'm rigid. No, the beauty of it is actually it's flexibility. If I have a really busy Tuesday for some reason, just my ironing is behind. It doesn't throw off anything else, and then I'll do double the ironing next week. The other real joy is that I don't spend my every beautiful sunny Saturday morning in San Diego doing chores, because by then they are all pretty much done.

And this is a post on a knitting blog because . . . after I did laundry last time, I noticed that all but one of my warshcloths were all clean and together. Without going into detail about the subschedules of my laundry (doesn't everyone do that?), let's just rejoice in how well-loved and well-used these warshcloths are.Are you overwhelmed by the effect of all of them together? Check out this one, the first one I ever knit (about 4-5 yrs ago if I recall correctly). It used to be blue and yellow, and now it's basically a bleached out grey.I'm strangely proud of that . . .

Saturday, September 02, 2006

A Packing Challenge

I must study politics and war, that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy, natural history and naval architecture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, tapestry, and porcelain.
-John Adams

We've previously discussed that the most difficult packing challenge for a trip is always the yarn. What to knit? How to predict your mood, your time, the changes that pressurized cabins will wrought on your gauge? How to have the perfect project at hand for every eventuality?

Now I have the packing challenge of all packing challenges. I'm going here. Ignoring, please, the fact it is currently 97 degrees and humid at Fort Sam Houston, and that avoiding places like this is actually the entire reason I joined the Navy and not the Army or Air Force (with all due respect to our colleagues in those esteemed services), and that I had to acquire a gas mask for this little escapade . . . Ignoring all that - What, exactly, does one knit while wearing camouflage?

In a few short days, I'm heading off to embrace the knitting/packing challenge of the year. In ten days I will:
  • have several hours in airports
  • between two flight segments
  • spend 4 days in ATLS training, with my nights free to wear civilian clothes (and, thus, presumably, knit)
  • spend 4 days in the field running around doing mock casualty drills
  • fly home - more airports, more flights
Which brings me back to my original question: What to pack to knit?

What are our options? I knit lace on normal flights. Good space-to-knitting-time ratio. And certainly both Peacock Feathers and Branching Out have been incredibly neglected. I'll probably throw in my plain black ribbed socks, because if I knit anything in those field tents, it'll be that, but they aren't really interesting or exciting for the plane trip. And the project I've been working on most is actually my Ribby Cardi, making good progress. But a cardigan in pieces isn't something that says travel to me. Perhaps I should cast on for another, interesting pair of socks? A Sitcom Chic in oh-so-washable Cotton-Ease?

So what should I pack with my combat boots?