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.
If it’s Thursday, it’s time for Three Beautiful Things. You know how we play…
1. Sunday night, I volunteered to cook dinner and baked a quiche. Because we lack counter space, things were piled dangerously on the stove and on the counter below our cupboards. I reached up to pull out a pie plate and accidentally knocked the huge sauce pot off its wall hanger by tapping it wrong with the cabinet door. The pot fell, pulling the light’s plug out of the wall, but not the light from its mooring. The stove was spared the pot, but was attacked from the cabinet above with falling bakeware. The pot bounced on the floor, scattering glass bottles waiting to be taken to the recycling bin like bowling pins. The clatter was overwhelming, easily using up one of Jeremiah’s lives (and possibly one of my own), but nothing — not a single thing — broke.
2. I ordered lunch, complete with chocolate cake, for a work event Monday afternoon. The caterer assured me that a cake was no problem, and my boss picked out chocolate when asked what she preferred. The delight we ended up with was a four-layer extravaganza interspersed with chocolate mousse and topped with ganache. It was simultaneously sinfully rich and deceptively light and may be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever had.
3. I enjoy listening to Craftlit, a podcast for literature and craft lovers. Heather, the podcaster and a former English teacher, spends the first half of each episode talking about crafts and her life and setting up the second half, which features public domain literature read aloud as part of the Librivox program. Today I was listening to a show she aired last month that included a Mark Twain short story “Taming the Bicycle,” read aloud by a Twain impersonator.
Here’s an excerpt:
Even when I could not hit a wagon I could hit a dog that came to see me practice. They all liked to see me practice, and they all came, for there was very little going on in our neighborhood to entertain a dog.
Hilarious. I laughed the whole two-plus miles home.
The House of Representatives today is going to debate the merit of allowing DC residents some semblance of Congressional representation. The bill, HR 1433 (“The District of Columbia House Voting Rights Act of 2007″), will add two seats to the House — one which will go to D.C. (presumably a Democratic seat) and one, which will temporarily be awarded to Utah (presumably a Republican one).
No one thinks this solution is an ideal one. But regardless of where you fall on the debate of D.C. statehood or Utah getting a gimme-seat, it can’t but seem unfair that half a million people in the U.S. have no legitimate voice in the halls of Congress. We fight wars to bring democracy to other nations, but true democracy does not yet exist for all here at home.
Please consider visiting this site to send a quick email to your local representative and senators. It’s quick and you don’t have to enter a lot of information to do a lot of good. Even if you can’t get to it today, the link will still be useful as a vote in the Senate has yet to be scheduled.
And if you want to go the extra mile, you can always call your representative’s office, either in D.C. or in your home district. If you don’t want to look up their number, the Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121, can connect you directly.
My fellow D.C. citizens and I thank you for your time.
I know some people really enjoy winter, and, in fact, so do I. But by the time March rolls around, I’m ready for the season to understand that the attraction has faded and depart for someplace either far to the north or far to the south.
This spring has been particularly delightful for me what with the early arrival of daylight savings time. I don’t arise early, so it makes little difference to me whether the sun pokes its head out at 6:15 or sleeps in until a more reasonable, but still ungodly, 7:15. But light remaining in the sky until 7 or 7:30 at night does make a difference to me and I can feel the improvement in my state of mind already. Living below ground and working in an interior office, those little bits and pieces of sunlight are precious to me, and I value them greatly (particularly when they occur when I’m awake).
Welcome, spring. Please make yourself at home and stay for a nice, long visit.
The yarn is Panda Cotton, made of 24% cotton, 21% elastic nylon, and 55% bamboo, in the lovely spring shade of Fern. I’ve never knit with it, so I’ll be eager to hear your report.
Sarah has won a collection of notecards titled, “The Reading Woman,” for jotting notes to the favorite characters. She also wins a fun Koosh-ball themed measuring tape.
Stephanie has won this cool mousepad and notepad set so she can write down book recommendations and yarn orders from the blogosphere without fear of wondering where that piece of paper slipped off to. (Stephanie owns the wonderful Spritely Goods, from whom I recently bought some lovely nature- and literary-inspired sock yarn) She also wins a copy of Keane’s Hopes and Dreams, a fantastic band that’s part of the second wave of Britpop.
Jenn submitted the 700th comment to the blog, so in honor of the occasion, she needed a prize, too. So knowing she just dropped a large wad of cash buying books that you suggested, I give her a $10 Book Sense gift certificate.
Congratulations to all four of our winners, and many thanks to all 23 of you who sent me book and author recommendations. I guarantee I will not be at a loss for reading material any time in the near future!
Remember, you can always see larger versions of my photos by clicking on them.