Please keep my friend Julia, who comments here periodically, in your thoughts and prayers over the next few days. Her mom died Thursday afternoon after battling advanced-stage cancer for the last few months. Julia has spent most of this year in Texas at her mother’s side. Selfishly, we wanted her back home in D.C., but not this way.
Julia (and Michael), I send my love.
We know little
We can tell less
But one thing I know
One thing I can tell
I will see you again in Jerusalem
Which is of such beauty
No matter what country you come from
You will be more at home there
Than ever with father or mother
Than ever with lover or friend
And once we’re within her borders
Death will hunt us in vain.
The number one thing on this week’s three beautiful things list nearly knocked everything else off. It’s worth three items, just in itself:
1. One of my best friends from college phoned last night to tell me that they’d finally received their adoption referral. A woman, just our age, dropped off her darling baby boy at an orphanage in Guatemala City last Friday, four days after he was born. Rebs and Rick are overjoyed, as are both families, for whom this will be the first grandson. I can’t imagine how hard that decision must have been for the woman, but I hope she will sleep well at night because Rebs is going to be an unbelievable mommy to this dearly desired child. She is kind and playful and disciplined — and filled beyond brimming with love. I’m over the moon with delight for them all and must now get busy knitting baby items.
2. I sat outside reading after work Tuesday afternoon in the 80+ degree weather. I shifted slightly in my seat and realized there was the most gorgeous sunset going on over my shoulder — blue intensifying to vibrant purple streaked with magenta and ending with brilliant oranges and pinks near where the sun danced with the horizon.
3. Well-written tv shows are hard to come by these days, and those that exist tend to focus on an ensemble cast. To have a show that focuses on a single character — and to pull it off — is nearly unheard of. But Raines, a new character drama featuring Jeff Goldblum, does just that. He plays Michael Raines, a California police detective whose overactive brain causes him to imagine his murder victims come to life. He’s brilliant and troubled and tetchy — but in a lovable way. I hope the show is picked up for a full season next year — and that the writing and acting remains so strong.
When I first learned how to knit socks, a woman in my knitting group copied a basic pattern from a knit-socks-on-two-circular-needles book for me to use. I took the pattern and headed out of town to a Cambridge yarn store where I bought two circular needles and some pretty yarn. Then I tried to cast on.
I cast on the correct number of stitches on one needle and then hit the “join in the round” part. This ought not to have flummoxed me in the way that it did. I’d knit a hat; I understood the concept.
But because the pattern was pirated, it didn’t include basic sock construction information. Nor did it include the crucial information that I was supposed to knit only one sock using two circular needles. I’d been under the impression that I was going to knit both socks simultaneously — one on each needle.
But I weathered through that and now consider myself safely an intermediate sock knitter — capable of mastering all but the most complex sock pattern.
And, really, this is an unfair lead-in to a discussion about this week’s sock knitting. Because there is nothing wrong with the patterns that I’m using. Or, rather, I assume not, because I’ve yet to advance past the cuff on either one.
This has been the most frustrating week I’ve experienced yet in knitting socks.
The first sock progressed through the cuff’s ribbing fine. I had some concerns that it might be knitting up too tight, but I figured once I got down to the leg pattern, I’d measure it and use it to determine gauge on the fly. When I got to the leg, I calmly began following the lace pattern until I got to the end of the first needle — and there were two extra stitches there. Uh-oh, I thought, I must have screwed the pattern up. So I tinked back the stitches on my 2.25mm twig needles. I began the pattern anew. Purl. Knit. Slip. Yarn over. Decrease. Increase. End of pattern. End of needle? Why, no. There were still those two pesky stitches there. Amazingly, I tried again. Then I paused and counted my stitches. 15. 15. 15. 17.
“One of these things is not like the other. One of these things just doesn’t belong…”
Yup. I’d cast on two extra stitches.
In the end, this early realization was fine because the sock was, in fact, too small. It barely fit my wrist, let alone getting over my heel to fit my leg. But I was back at the drawing board.
I will try again with US2s, but I don’t have US2s (2.75mm). I have US2.5s, which are the equivalent of 3mm needles. To the yarn shop I must go.
In the meantime, I thought I’d cast on for another pair of socks I’d been meaning to start. In one of my knitting books it suggests using a tubular cast-on for socks because that gives you an extra-stretchy cuff. Since the socks I’d made with a knitted cast-on have rather tight cuffs (Rudi broke through one not too long ago), I thought it might be worth a try.
Maybe I ought to have used thinner waste yarn for the original cast-on.
But by the time I’d reached the third row of ribbing, it was obvious that this was going to be a gigantic cuff. I frogged this sock, too, but not before noting it was the perfect size for a biceps bracelet.
(By the way, did you know that “bicep” is actually a bastardization of “biceps,” which is the correct singular form of the noun. Me neither. Also, in addition to the arm biceps, there is a leg biceps, located at the back of the thigh. The sock cuff would never have fit around my thigh. I’m not sure whether I should be glad about that or not.)
So that would be sock yarn 2-soe 0.
I have lost the battle, for the moment, but not the war. Sock yarn, be on guard!
PS: For the knitters out there, what cast-on do you use for top-down socks?
Well, UConn is out of the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament. No Big Dance for us this year.
I’d like to reiterate, as I do every year, how frustrating it is to be a women’s basketball fan in Washington, D.C. In Connecticut, although the men’s state team generally does pretty well for themselves (although not this year), the women’s team is the one that people talk about most. The women are a dynasty.
Here in D.C., I felt bad for the GW women, who lost yesterday in the Elite Eight. Until last night, they went game for game with the Georgetown men. But while the Georgetown games were covered at least briefly in the local section of the news, the coverage of GW’s games was generally left for the last spot in the sports segment — the one you can ditch if you’re running short on time.
Tonight, my UConn women did not show up even with their B game, which was too bad because the LSU team came with an A+ game, as well as their stellar 6’6″ center, Sylvia Fowles.
Oh well. There’s always next year — and the internet, so I can follow the team regardless of D.C.’s lackadaisical attitude toward women’s sports.