Wednesday, January 28, 2009

It's About Time

If you're walking down the right path
and you're willing to keep walking,
eventually you'll make progress.

-Barack Obama

I started 2009 in a flurry of good intentions, cast-on projects, and grand proclamations to knit, knit, knit. Twelve sweaters. 100 balls of yarn. Massive stash reduction.

So it's about time that I finished my first project of the month:
This is probably the worst possible photo of a gorgeous pair of socks - the Artichoke Socks in a gorgeous semi-solid Koigu. Stunning. And the first two balls of yarn knit in 2009. . . only 98 to go!

I find myself in the midst of a great many large projects, including a husband sweater in cotton. The Cable Down Raglan is rapidly nearing completion. Which will be the first sweater of NaKniSweMoDo, but only a single ball of yarn. So it goes . . .
In other promising news, my bread-baking life has been revolutionized thanks to a Christmas gift of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
Try it - it's amazing! And for all it's speediness, it's probably not the reason my productivity has been down, right?

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
-Albert Einstein

I know my blogging has been sporadic lately. I've been more than busy at work; I've been . . . immersed. Occupied. Mentally engaged. And I've been thinking a lot about hope.

The best and worst parts of medicine tend to be the same. I am up close and personal with people and their families when they are ill. Much of the time, I deal with chronic illnesses, with managing things that will play out over one, five, twenty years. In the hospital, I admit young patients whose illness is a brief detour in their normal life, or older patients who seem to spend more time in the hospital than outside of it. It gets routine; until it doesn't.

Last week was, for my patient and his wife, the absolute worst week of their entire lives. A healthy and vigorous man in the prime of (retired) life, and some minor symptoms, minor blood work abnormalities, and then every day the news was worse. Ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, biopsy, PET scan, and three emergency procedures scattered throughout, and a healthy man learned that he has months to live. The medical folks out there know that none of this is particularly unusual, per se. What was unusual was how they approached it. What was unusual was the hope.
Hope must be the only word for it, I realized days later when I couldn't stop thinking about this patient. From that first moment when I told him that we needed to run more tests because it might be cancer to that last day when we told him that the cancer was uncurable, he looked me straight in the eye and thanked me. He was kind to the doctors, the nurses, and the cleaning staff. He was gracious in the midst of excruciating pain. When he went home to get his affairs in order, he cried, hugged me, and thanked me for being upfront with him. And all throughout, he asked all the hard questions, weighed all the options, and held hands with his wife. None of the options were good ones, and yet he radiates hope.

Hope is not what we have when times are good and the going is easy; hope is what we have in the face of unsurmountable odds, when life is hard, and when none of the options seem ideal. Hope is based firmly in reality, in knowing just how bad things may be and yet still believing that there is a best.

On Inauguration Day in these challenging days, I keep thinking about my patient and his sustaining, irrepressible hope. In the midst of my rounds today, I walked past many TVs and heard snippets of the calm and steady voice of our new president as he addressed the nation. I rounded on an elderly woman who doesn't know where she is, or why, but when we asked her what today was she cheered "Yay Obama." Because Hope can permeate any hardship. My patients - and that one patient in particular - are teaching me that Hope has so many more faces than I ever thought possible.

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
-President Obama's Inaugural Address


Thursday, January 15, 2009

What Do Your Sweaters Say?

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.
-John Henry Newman

I'm in. NaKniSweMoDo (National Knit a Sweater Month Dodecathalon) here I come!

I do well with goals, after all . . . and I've been planning all week. Between my actual day (and night) job, that is. It's been busy - more on that later. But before I dig deep and put all my big January goals and plans out there on the forefront, let me show you why I'm so inspired.

You may recall the saga of the Second Anniversary Sweater. I finally got my colors and cast on. But then it sat there . And sat there. And sat there. I just wasn't inspired. It was hard on my hands, a non-intuitive cable pattern, and too bulky. It didn't say anything approaching "Happy Anniversary."

So then I cast around and reconsidered. And I realized that my previous objections to the Anniversary Sweater were not insurmountable. I know how to add a sleeve cap. I have a measuring tape (it needs to be longer). And I do, in fact, have the perfect yarn in my stash.
Isn't this a perfect fabric? (The color is more of a darker, true navy.) Doesn't it make your heart sing? Doesn't it say "I love you so much I knit an entire ribbed/cabled sweater in cotton on size 6 needles?"

Too bad I had to order another 5 balls of off-white yarn for the contrasting stripe . . .


Sunday, January 11, 2009


The more alternatives, the more difficult the choice.
- Abbe D'Allaniva

I had big plans to make 2009 a year of knitting by whim - whatever, whenever, just meandering my way through the stash. You know, rather than imposing rules on myself. Knitting is a hobby, after all. But it's not going as well as I would have hoped. I did finish one of the Artichoke Socks, and I'm happy to report that it went quite well. But when does Koigu go wrong? And then I spent almost all of a day off trying to decide what to knit next. I pulled out all sorts of yarn, and made the sort of crafty mess that one can when one's husband is away. I contemplated this Lopi. Two shades of pink, bought for a steal a number of years ago. Felted clogs? Or should I buy 12 more skeins of yarn to make Veronik Avery's Ski Jacket? If I were just trying to reduce the stash, and if I paid close attention to the state of my three-year-old felted clogs, the choice would be clear. But my lack of direction is enormously distressing to me. I need . . . something.

NaKniSweMoDo? It's seriously calling my name, although I might consider that my Dale baby sweater (2 yr old size) has more stitches than many adult sweaters and might count. I'm still pondering . . .

In the meantime, to help me ponder, I dug deep in the stash and pulled out a random worsted weight wool that I bought on Ebay back when I was in college and didn't know any better. It's a nice lavender color, and I think there's about one pound? But I really can't remember much. So, perhaps 1000 yards? If it is that, it should be enough for the Cable-Down Raglan. Just in case, I cast on. Although I'm not usually a fan of the top-down one-piece raglan, in this case it's working. My gauge is a little looser than the pattern, but knitting a size down it fits well at the sleeve division. And now I'm going to go knit as fast as I can to see if I run out of yarn. I'm not the only one who does this, am I?

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Monday, January 05, 2009

The Truth Comes Out

Life is like eating artichokes,
you have to go through so much to get so little.
- Thomas A. Dorgan

I hate twisted stitches. There. I said it. So sue me.

I had all sorts of good intentions for my one scheduled/planned knitting of 2009 - the Personal Sock of the Month Club. And then I pulled out the bag with this lovely jeweled green Koigu that I had earmarked for the Snicket pattern. Which is a lot of twisted stitches on a purl background.

After forcing the interns and anyone else who happened to be on call last night to look, we all agreed that the right side of the project was not nearly so attractive as the wrong side. So I set about on my Ravelry queue looking for a stockinette based sock pattern.
Maybe it's the green, but I just had to start the Artichoke Socks. And they got twice as far in half the time. No twisted stitches here!

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Friday, January 02, 2009

A Sneak Peek

Listen to the musn'ts child,
Listen to the don'ts
Listen to the shouldn'ts
The impossible, the won'ts
Listen to the never haves
Then listen close to me-
Anything can happen, child
Anything can be.
-Shel Silverstein

Since I keep talking about them so much (and since I'm on call today), I thought I'd pop in with just a little sneak peek of my latest Dale sweater:Bondegard from Baby Knits from Dale of Norway. I still have to add the duplicate stitch for the eyes and the beaks. And, of course, block. But, really, how cute is that?


Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Whole New Year

I drink to the days that are.
-William Morris

I did it! Here's The State of the Stash:

December 31, 2008
Skeins: 499.75
Yards: 86,124

If we recall, my goal was to get under 500 skeins, and under 100,000 yards. I squeaked by, barely. But I also bought quite a bit of yarn this year, including the many skeins for two adult and one baby Dale sweater, and, uh other various yarns. Including these:Enter A Time Warp Phenomenon. Because if that was my stash at 23:59:59 on December 31, 2008, how is this my stash on January 1, 2009 at 24:00:01?
January 1, 2009
Skeins: 515.75
Yards: 92,269

That mass of lovely sock yarn I bought on a great Ravelry destash sale. 17 skeins of lovely yarn for about $100. You would have, too. So I used a little creative accounting and a stuck it in the stash on a time warp phenomenon.

So now that we've faced up to it all . . . where are we going this year?
  • Knit 100 skeins
  • Reduce the stash by 1/3 (30,756 yds)
The 100 skeins are easy. I knit much more than that this past year. And I did reduce my stash - barely. Because I kept buying more yarn, although mostly for specific projects. The Dales need what they need.

The 30,000+ yds? A little more difficult. Because this is net negative 30,000 yds in spite of any purchases for, you know, Dale sweaterLinks. But I don't have to knit down all of this, because destashing will count. This will get me much closer to my imagined, presumed, sort of what I think is my "happy stash place." I'm guessing I'd like to have about 50,000 yds on hand. I want the ability to start pretty much any project I want at 2am, but the ability also to go and buy yarn for any reason at any time.

How does that sound? Would it sound even better if I told you that I already ordered the stockings from Judy's Colors? The Christmas spirit and all.