Pairs of socks knitted in 2014

  • Roxanne's socks
  • Brian's Cascade socks
  • Shirley's lacy socks
  • striped Meredith socks
  • striped stranded #1

Sunday, December 24, 2006

A tale of two spindles

Last week, I received a package. A very nice package, from Brian's little sister Jessica. (Here is a picture of Jessica at our wedding reception a few years back. Note the intent expressions as her then-fiancee (now husband) and Brian's brother Brad send out the traditional "she is very important to me and if you hurt her, I will beat you to a bloody pulp" manly signals. Also note Jessica's amused expression at this process.)

Jessica had told me that she has an un-wanted drop-spindle at home, and was more than willing to arange a trade with me. (I also acquired a very similar one from Becka two weeks ago, but that's a story for another day. ) So we aranged that I would knit her socks in her size and color (I'm 3/4 of the way done!) and she'd send me the spindle.
She definitely sent me the spindle, alright. And five gallon Ziplock bags filled with fiber to ease the learning how to spin process. And a book on how to spin! (The socks are by far one of the most complex designs I've ever created, but I definitely got the better end of the bargain.)
My nocturnal work schedule means that on my nights off, I wake up at about 3:30am and can't get back to sleep until around six. And while I can't get back to sleep, I'm also too sleepy to knit. But apparently my body/brain can handle spinning with a drop spindle, so I've decided to embrace this time as "my spinning time." (Because as we all know, it's much kinder to Brian for me to get up and do something and let him sleep in peace than lay there saying "I can't sleep... Can you sleep?")
Here is the spindle, loaded up with a fingering weight single spun out of acrylic. (If you ever run out of money for spinning fiber, Lion Brand's Homespun yarn is basically acrylic roving plied with two strands of sewing thread for stability. Ponder this.)
Some of you might wonder "Who sent you this particular spindle?"
And the answer is: "It's four am, you should be pleased I remember my own name at this point!" (I should probably post pictures of both spindles, as they are loaded with sport-weight gray and white yarn, but I'm really just too lazy to get the camera out right now.)
I'm delighted to have both of them, because I haven't really figured out Navajo plying and having two spindles makes making two-ply yarn much easier.
So, thank you Jessica, and thank you Becka, because you have both made my insomniac holiday season much more enjoyable!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Steal my stethescope!

As I was finally getting off work at 7:45 this morning, I thought to myself, "I'll take the stairs down to the main lobby." And as I walked down four flights of stairs, I met multiple men coming up the stairs.

I knew immediately that they were doctors from their dress shirts, harried expressions, and complete lack of manners. I realize that no one is probably at their best before 8:00am, but you should at least acknowledge that someone is holding the door open for you.

When I was a girl, the word "doctor" conjured up visions of a [handsome] man in an immaculate white coat. (There were no women doctors where I grew up.) Otoscope in hand, he boldly strode forth to save the world.

But the doctor of my dreams never carried a stethescope. Why? Because even as a girl, I intuitively knew that cardinal rule of how to recognize members of the healthcare team: "If you see a man with a stethescope around his neck, he's a nurse. If you see another man borrow that man's stethescope, the second man is a doctor."

It's become such a running gag of nursing that I heard one of the night shift nurses tell the day shift charge nurse, "If Dr. So-and-So wants to borrow anyone's stethescope, tell him he has to sing a Christmas carol first."

And the charge nurse responded. "That's not a bad idea! I met Dr. Such-and-Such in Wal-Mart yesterday--guess she didn't recognize me without stealing my stethescope!"

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Circadian rhythms and family

As I type, it's about 4:30am (or as I have recently been brainwashed by the nursing profession to call it, 0430.) And I can't sleep. I'm actually more awake and alert and perky right now than I was last night at about 5pm.

I didn't have to work last night, but after working three shifts in a row the nights before that, my body is slowly getting into a "rhythm." I'm not sure what kind of rhythm it is, given my complete inability to clap on beat, but it seems that I'm slowly developing a more nocturnal sleep-wake cycle.

Brian's brothers came to visit this week.

You might have noticed that there is very, very little family resemblance between these three men. That's because they're all adopted.

Specifically, they adopted each other. Yep, Brian, Brad, and Billy have known each other since junior high, and for all intents and purposes which aren't legally binding, they are brothers. And just like when my brother EJ visits, when "the boys" come to town, many video games will be played in the name of male togetherness.

Over the years, I have become well-acquainted with this esoteric rule of masculine interactions, and accept it as a natural consequence of Thanksgiving. (Which I realize was two weeks ago, but our family has never been particularly picky about when to observe holidays. After all, holidays are about family, and if your family isn't present for the actual day, you just celebrate it some other time when they're there.)

Unfortunately, there was just one small flaw in this plan: I had to work this week. Of the three nights they were here, I worked two of them. So when I knew the dates of their visit would conflict with my work schedule, I set two important ground rules:

1) Don't wake me up.

2) Don't expect me to cook.

It turns out I was overly optimistic about rule number one. I know they tried very hard to be quiet, but it's incredibly difficult to sack
Rome and be silent. (Although to be fair, I was awakened far more frequently by the apartment maintenance men, who have been laying new sidewalks at our apartment complex. Jackhammers are much louder than I would have guessed.)

But I had much better luck with rule number two. I'm still not sure what they actually ate while they were here (other than a 5 lb box of Goldfish crackers) but I didn't have to cook anything for them. (They also went through a lot of pop. And when I say a lot, what I really mean is that if you go through two 2-liter bottles and three and a half dozen cans of pop in a three day period, that's 18.96 liters of pop. And because we don't believe in diet soda in our family, 7900 calories. )

And when I woke up this morning, Brad had cleaned the kitchen. What more could a girl want when letting family members sleep on the floor and expecting them to entertain themselves?

Tuesday, December 5, 2006


Yesterday, I made the mistake of asking my brother EJ what he wanted for Christmas. Apparently, we haven't had enough conversations about the idea that knitting garments takes time, because his response was "Could you knit me a cardigan?"

When I pointed out that that would require more days to make than remain before Christmas, he had a second choice. "Could you make me black socks with white checks all over them?"

Again, this will not happen for EJ's Christmas. For several reasons, actually. First, there is a limited amount of time before Christmas, and as I have several gifts still to make, there's a good chance most people won't get socks. (But I got Grandma's done, and that's all that matters.) Second, I don't have enough black, or enough white yarn to do socks for my brother--or anyone else. But most importantly, I really don't like doing color-work. I've had limited success with intarsia, but attempting to do Fair Isle has resulted in my most spectacular, profanity-inducing, "let's just burn it because I hate it too much to even think about frogging it" knitting disasters of all time. (With the possible exception of when I was seven and tried to make a circular needle by gluing two chopsticks to a piece of green yarn. But we shall not speak of this.)

For Brian's Christmas sweater (which I have been working on since June) I am working a simple color panel down the center of each sleeve. Ever since I discovered that I am able to focus my short attention span on twined knitting, I can do at least some simple color work patterns. (I prefer the ones that involve stripes, because that way the twining goes into a rhythm and I don't have to count my stitches. Like the heel on this sock I designed last year:)
The twining method makes it much easier for me to do color-work (and results in much less profanity) than any other method I have tried. Unfortunately, it also makes my wrist start hurting after about twenty minutes. Brian's sweater is going to be one-of-a-kind for many reasons, but especially due to my continuing troubles with color patterns.

And for my brother? I think I'm going to knit him a little cell phone case shaped like a straight jacket. Something simple, quick, and in keeping with our family's notoriously bizarre sense of humor. And with only one color.

Saturday, December 2, 2006

I am not nocturnal!

I've officially started working nights at a local hospital. And once again, I am forced to confront my own mortality. No, not in any deep philosophical vein of thought dealing with death. (I'm far too sleep-deprived to even begin contemplating such a profound topic.) No, what I speak of is the frailty of my own body. Specifically, the fact that it refuses to function on less than six hours of sleep.
Left to my own devices, I will go to sleep at ten in the evening and wake up at eight. Why? Because when God made me, God apparently said to the angels, "Hey, let's make her need ten hours of sleep--just to do something different for once!" And the angels nodded their heads and chorused back to God, "Good idea, Boss!"
Unfortunately, this example of questionably Intelligent Design means that if I stay up past midnight, my head turns into a pumpkin. I develop a searing headache and my capacity for rational thought goes through the toilet. In five years of college, I never once pulled an all-nighter--because I knew the end result would probably lower my grade more than skipping the assignment.
I worked Wednesday and Thursday nights. This meant that in the thirty six hours from 8:45am Friday to 8:45pm today, I slept for about twenty three of those hours. It's nice to have a job, but the idea that working nights means that I won't have a life really is taking some getting used to.

I get so much more knitting accomplished when I'm not working. (The flip side of this is that jobs help me pay for yarn, so I suppose that there is some merit to gainful employment.)
The burgundy cabled socks I started on for EJ are not going to be his gift after all. When I tried them on to check the length, I realized that the cables made the sock pull in far more than I'd anticipated. And if I can barely get them on over my size 8 women's foot, there was no way they'd fit my brother's size 10 men's feet. So, rather than rip out four day's knitting, and start over, I think they'll be a gift for one of my female friends. One of the ones with small feet.
Which means... I have no idea what EJ will get for Christmas. Maybe a learn-to-knit-yourself-socks kit? I think this Red Cross commemorative one comes in a suitably masculine bile green color.