Archive for December, 2015

The Talking Car

Today is the last post of 2015. I hope it is not the last post of my life, however. Oral surgery is on the list of must-do-things today. I wasn’t even going to touch the computer today, much less get on the internet because I am madly struggling not to google “oral surgery deaths”.  But the new car I have sends me emails after I drive it and I was curious as to what it said after yesterday’s little fiasco.

Yes, it seems privacy even while driving has gone the way of Latin as an everyday language. When I got in the little devil yesterday it said “Welcome”. I thought I was having an auditory hallucination, but the screen on the dash also lit up with the word. I hadn’t even put the key in the ignition yet, all I’d done was sit in the seat. I was wary. I didn’t want to touch anything.

It was raining out, pouring actually, but I needed to run some errands, not the least of which was to gather enough food for The Skipper and Yarn Rascal to see them through at least a week should I die in oral surgery. So I talked myself into being brave and turned on the car. It told me it was raining and the roads were wet. How did it think I would miss that info? Did it think I teleported into the car? Am I so bind I can’t see the rain on the windshield?

After locating the windshield wiper gizmo I put the car in drive and it told me the ideal goal of the amount of gas per mile it wanted to use today if we were running errands around town and the ideal goal for highway driving. I’m counting down the last hours of my life trying to get my ducks in order and it’s worried about gas mileage.

It’s holiday time. Store parking lots are crowded. I spent a good amount of time just cruising slowly looking for a parking space. The car doesn’t like this type of driving. The slower I go the more gas I use and the less mileage I get. I was messing up it’s stated goals for the day.

The next shocker to it’s system was when I got caught in a traffic jam. A normal 15 minute drive took an hour and a half. The car was not happy.

Should I live through today’s oral surgery, the first item on my must-do list will be to take the talking car to the dealer and see whether we can deactivate it’s gas mileage fixation before it becomes my gas mileage phobia.

Oh yes, the car did send me an email summing up our little outing yesterday. Seems I didn’t reach the gas mileage goal, but I did use the windshield wipers properly. Air tire pressure was good as was the amount of oil and transmission fluids. It alerted me that I was nearing half a tank of gas. Half a tank of gas is plenty for a person facing imminent death.


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It’s been rather crazy here. First up in my insane world, the Train To Maine hat is complete.

train to maine knit hat

This is only the second hat I’ve knit for myself. One, I’m not a hat person. Two, they rarely fit my head even though I get gauge. Three, I hate it when it comes down to knitting the top of the hat. By the last row of decreases I feel like I’ve been in a cage match and I resent whoever invented double-pointed needles. Then I run the yarn through the remaining stitches pulling tight, just like the pattern says, and snap goes the yarn.

The Train to Maine pattern was blessedly knit flat and sewn together. The seam is truly invisible with this pattern. I loved knitting it and I enjoyed finishing it. But I haven’t gotten a chance to wear it. Since I knit the hat the weather has been a balmy 60 degrees (15.5 C). That’s a good 30 degrees warmer than normal. It’s really not hat weather at all.

The two yarns I used are Miss Babbs Yummy 3 ply in Oyster and Dream in Color Smooshy in Peacock Shadow. I can’t say enough nice things about the Miss Babbs yarn. So I will just say it is beautiful to work with and turns out lovely items. While Smooshy is one of my go to yarns, I had a problem with it this time. The deep indigo dye stained my wooden needles. Normally when I have deep colored yarns I put the whole skein in for a hand wash to see how much it bleeds and clear most of the bleeding out. I didn’t this time. My bad. So yes, that is an unblocked hat in the picture above. I hope the entire winter stays warm so I don’t have to wash it.

In my endless pursuit of a serene life I have failed miserably. The car I had for 13 years and grown very attached to is in the car lot in the sky. The snowstorms and bad driving conditions it got me through with ease made this car specially dear to my heart. But it had lived its life. The new car arrived this weekend. The most I have done is walk around it once and eye it suspiciously. I haven’t gotten behind the wheel. Heck, I haven’t even sat in it. I don’t resent it, I just don’t trust it. The Skipper says I have to get over this. I know I need to build a relationship with this car, it’s just that…I want my old one back. I never realized all the places I go to are not in walking distance.

Next up this week is major oral surgery. As my phobia of all things connected with dentists continues unabated, more things go wrong with my mouth thanks to the breast cancer, the radiation and the cancer medicine.

With all this going on, I decided to cast on a shawl with a lace pattern that I have failed over and over to get right. I thought it might take my mind off all the other things. This time around I only started over three times while I ripped back five. As added help, I’m not using a life line. I feel I should be able to read the knitting and know where I am. Yes, even my knitting is not relaxing at the moment.

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Continue In Pattern

The direction to “continue in pattern” is causing confusion among some knitters. I think it is one of the more clear directions in the knitting lingo, but maybe I am just weird.

Some knitters believe that unless the pattern continues completely unbroken as it is written (for example no decreases or increases) only then can a designer use the phrase “continue in pattern”. If increases or decreases are made, they argue that “continue in pattern” is no longer applicable because the knitting  no longer follows the pattern as originally set down.

For example, if the item is knit in moss stitch, when it comes time to decrease for the armholes the direction to “continue in pattern” does not apply because once you decrease (or increase) the stitch pattern cannot continue simply as written. The knitter, they say, must then “read the knitting” in order to maintain the moss stitch pattern and make changes accordingly. These knitters believe the designer must write out each row where decreases or increases occur because the addition or subtraction of a stitch “alters” the pattern. Ergo, there is no pattern to “continue.”

I know that a portion of knitters want hand-holding through out a pattern. I also know that patterns today give way more instruction to a knitter than patterns of yesteryear. I have an old pattern from the late 1800s that starts with Row 1 and never gives the amount to cast on. It then gives Row 2, and there it pretty much ends. In between is a whole lot of shaping that is never addressed.

If every row with an increase or decrease in it needs to be written out some patterns would be the size of Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”. To “continue in pattern” means just that. Keep the continuity while working the increases or decreases into the already existing pattern. Yes, it means you have to “read” the knitting. You need to be familiar with the pattern stitches enough to recognize what they are and when they occur. While an increase or decrease may change the first stitch following it from a knit to a purl or purl to a knit in moss stitch, it does not change the overall pattern that must be maintained across a row. In this sense “continue in pattern” is a valid phrase accurately describing what is taking place.

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Late on a rainy, windy Monday night I had to venture out to the airport to pick up some family members. The last time I was in an airport was 1996. A frequent flier I’m not. In fact, I am not a flier at all. To get me on a plane today they would have to knock me out, box me up, and then retrieve me with the rest of the baggage at the destination. Trust me, I have solid reasons for my phobia. From the early 1970s up to 1996  I tried many ways to deal with it. Finally I just gave up, accepting that planes, airports and I were never going to mix well.

So it was with trepidation that I set out at 11:30 pm to meet the plane that was supposed to land at 12:30 am. Fifteen minutes away from the airport I received a text that the plane was delayed. They were on the ground at some Midwest airport where heavy snow was falling and departures were not happening. They would text me again to let me know when to expect them.

They were supposed to be returning from Florida and for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what they were doing in the Midwest. There was nothing I could do but navigate around and around the airport trying to find a parking area as the jet fumes began filling the car. Planes were taking off and landing regularly, exhaling more fumes into the air.

Jet fumes and I were always at odds. They give me wicked headaches accompanied by nausea. When I found a parking spot (the cost of which was extortion pure and simple), I and my bag of knitting ran across to the terminal.

Much has changed at airports since 1996. Certain behaviors are no longer tolerated, such as running with a bag over one’s shoulder. It gets unwanted attention from men wearing uniforms and carrying assault rifles. It was raining. Of course I was running. I had no raincoat because I was expecting to just pull to the curb and pick them up.

Before I was allowed to enter the terminal the men in the uniforms and guns rummaged through the bag, held up my knitting needles and yarn and asked, “What’s this?” My life, I said.  Then they asked for ID, then what I was doing there.

Inside  were more men in uniform with guns. I’ve been in countries with military governments and they had less visible guns and uniforms. I found the information desk, got an explanation of how a plane from Florida winds up in a major snowstorm in the Midwest and was told what gate they would be arriving at, should they take-off, and where I could wait.

Despite the two Extra Strength Tylenols and anti-nausea medication I was getting a headache and nauseous. My brain was starting to feel like the radiation brain I got during my cancer treatment and the same way I feel after being injected with radioactive dye for MRIs. Foggy, very foggy.

So I took out my knitting and looked at what I’d done so far. I was using a sport weight variegated hand painted yarn that had been gifted to me. I had decided to make a simple fichu. The yarn was working up nicely and there was no pooling of colors. It looked great. I had knitted about 40 rows. I admired it through the fog in my brain. Then I did the inexplicable. I swiped it off the needles and ripped the entire thing back.

I don’t know why I did that. I can only say the fog in my brain from the jet fumes was to blame. I spent the next three hours casting on and ripping back, trying to get the yarn to knit up the same way it had before. No luck. Just when I was at the end of my rope both with breathing in the jet fumes and casting on again, their plane arrived.

The yarn that was the fichu is now becoming a pair of socks. I have no intention of ripping anything back.


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