Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I confess, I really have WIPs because I'm addicted to playing Bubble Breaker on my phone. It's an incredibly stupid game, but I'm mesmerized by the colors. I just can't put it down. Sometimes I have to charge my phone every day because I've played so often.

Put down the phone and knit.

Public Service

It has been a full week of doing my civic duty in St. Louis.

One week ago was the municipal primary, for which I served as election judge supervisor. I have been privileged to serve as an election judge since before the chads were hanging, and have enjoyed seeing and supporting the technological advances.

Now, I have been voting since I could read the ballot. Mom always took me into the booth with her, and when I was growing up in the Quad Cities, there was indeed a booth. I helped pull the levers next to the candidates we had chosen (usually Democrats), and then she pulled the big lever to cast the votes. Magically, when she pulled that lever, the curtains on the booth opened! Okay, today I understand the mechanics, but as a child it was magic.

Voting in Missouri just never had the romance of that voting booth. A spindly desk with punch cards didn't thrill me. Still, I voted in every election, because the responsibility was instilled long ago. I believe that if you don't vote, you don't have the right to gripe.

And I volunteered to be an election judge. I'm always saddened by the poor turnout, even during a presidential election year. Last week, for example, at my polling place we had less than 500 voters, from a possible 13,000. Most people weren't aware that it was election day.

I get a lot of stitching done on municipal election days. Two years ago I completed almost a whole sweater.

This year I made two baby hats for charity, and a collar for my gray shirt. It's entirely coincidental that I choose mainly red yarn for my election day stitching - I'm partisanally blue, and colorfully purple!

Heads up everyone, there is another municipal election on April 7, and we vote for school board as well as mayor. Contact the Election Commission for details.

Over the weekend I had the pleasure of judging the high school NFL Speech & Debate District competition. These are the bright and creative young men and women who give me hope that this generation will be able to care for me in my old age. They are hopeful, and eager, and I suspect they will vote when they come of age.

I met a fellow raveler among the judges/coaches, and made a baby hat.

Monday I reported for jury duty. As directed, I brought no knitting needles, but began crocheting a cardigan/shrug/shawl. No, I'm not sure what it will grow up to be, and I lost my hook this evening between the den and the kitchen. Sigh.

The presiding judge was Thomas C. Grady, and I will gladly vote for his re-election whenever I see him on the ballot (usually I vote against the judges just because). He was genial, jovial, charming, and every Irish compliment Andrew Greeley could care to name.

Today I got knitting needles past security, who didn't even look at the image of my bags. Unfortunately, I wasn't chosen to serve on the final panel, and wasn't there long enough to do any stitching. Check back with me in two years.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Your Vote Won't Count Unless You Cast It

Today is an election day in the City. Bet you didn't know that. It's the primary for the mayoral and aldermanic races. And one month from today we vote on a school board which may or may not have any power to determine the futures of our children.

Please cast your vote in these municipal elections. If you don't, I won't listen to you complain about the outcome.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Knitting Injury

Yes, it's happened again, not my shoulder this time, but in that same general area. And this time I'm blaming it on KIPing. Yes, this too.

I have one perfect chair in which to knit:

When my grandparents moved to Austin I appropriated this chair. It's perfect for me. It rocks (literally, it's a rocking chair). It is low to the ground so my feet can firmly and completely rest on the floor. It's cushy, though threadbare. And it has short armrests.

The armrests are the key, I think, to comfortable stitching. When I KIP, there are generally no armrests, thus adding strain and causing pain. What's a KIPer to do? On with the arnica and the Advil PM, and stitch some more.

P.S. Yes, that's another, bigger baby modeling a larger hat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I Have WIPs

I didn't used to have so many Works In Progress. I had one project which I worked on until it was finished, then I started another. Of course, in those days I could only afford one project at a time, but still, it didn't occur to me to begin another before I had finished the first.

I also didn't used to have stash.

Until last year I was unaffected by those WIPs; they came out of the box whenever the whimsey (sic) took me, or they staid out of sight, quietly waiting. No one noticed. No one pointed at them, shaking their heads at my sloth. No one sighed when I bought more yarn even though a project was still quietly waiting. No one even cared if I had to buy more needles of the same size as the pair in the quietly waiting project.

And then came Ravelry. Yes, it's a fabulous website, blah, blah, blah. Every time I log in, however, My Notebook confronts me with those WIPs. I can't just stay away from my notebook, because I'm addicted to those hearts, and I must check often for new ones (hint, hint).

So how and why did it happen? I've chosen to blame KIPing. Yes, that's right, the need for social interaction. I cannot reliably follow a pattern while making scintillating conversation (no, I don't engage in any conversation that doesn't scintillate). Most of my WIPs are complicated, and require mindless television as the simultaneous activity. I KIP Tuesday night, all day and night on Wednesday, Thursday night, and all day Friday. Often there is KIPing on Saturday, and there is definite KIPing on Sunday afternoons.

I am thus compelled to begin other projects which don't require much thought or attention. Or else RogueKnit pretends that I've issued a challenge, and I am further compelled to begin a project to answer the challenge I didn't issue! If you doubt the veracity of this, you should take note of all the hats completed between us, though she wins the prize, I'm still in the game.

Lest you think I'm casting aspersions at her, think again. Thanks to RogueKnit, I may soon be taking one of my projects out of hibernation and back into the active phase. Of course, that gives me another WIP....

Enough words, I have a beach bag to finish.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The President's Challenge

No, this challenge doesn't involve an economic stimulus plan, or an increase in volunteerism, or a commitment to educating our children, or health care for everyone. In fact, the challenge didn't come from the current president. No, this challenge began with President Eisenhower, and it ruined gym class for thousands of children every year. Yes, you guessed it - it's the President's Challenge on Physical Fitness.

The good news is there's a twist: you can take the President's Challenge as an adult, and virtually any activity qualified! You don't have to climb a rope, or do chin-ups or run a 50-yard dash. Crochet doesn't count, but croquet does. Darts is sanctioned, though probably they don't mean adding them to sweaters. Other activities you mightn't expect include gardening, household tasks, children's games (ring-around-the-rosy, not Candyland), fishing, hang gliding, horseshoe tossing, and sky diving. Yes, the "normal" activities are there, too. Even Wii sports is on the list!

You log your activities online, and earn points for each activity. There is a mysterious algorithm for calculating points based on difficulty of activity, cardio/vascular benefits, and lengh of time (probably Charlie Eppes could explain it, but we just have to take it on faith that running is worth more points than playing darts). As you accumulate points you earn prizes - those elusive certificates that the jocks got at the final school assembly, or really cool Olympic-style medals.

I earned the three certificates and my bronze medal during the last administration, and was well on my way to the silver, but I just couldn't bring myself to have another item signed by that president. So I waited, and now I'm beginning to log my activities again. I created a Ravelry group, so all you knitters, crocheters and spinners can compare your progress. After you create your challenge account, you can click on the groups and choose ravelry. (For those of you who aren't yet on Ravelry you should click through and join that, too.)

Will you take the challenge?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


This baby hat features twists (cables) and tassels – combine and you get Twissels! This will fit a newborn – 9 months, as the yarn has lots of ease. To make the hat fit an older baby or child, simply add more stitches to the stockinette section (the back of the hat).

Reality by Artful Yarns, 1 skein (70 yards), or other bulky yarn
Size 10 needles, either circular or DPNs (instructions are for magic loop technique – your needles should be at least 24”)

Gauge: 13-14 stitches = 4” (10cm) in stockinette stitch

CF6 = Slip 3 stitches onto cable needle in front of work, K3, K3 stitches from cable needle

CF2 = Slip next stitch onto cable needle in front of work, K1, K1 stitch from cable needle

CO 60 stitches, divide in half on the wire, and join, being careful not to twist. Work K1P1 ribbing for 1”.

Begin pattern:
Rows 1-4: K4, P2, K6, P2, K2, P2, K6, P2, K34
Row 5: K4, P2, CF6, P2, CF2, P2, CF6, P2, K34

Repeat these 5 rows until piece measures 6”, ending on row 3.

Turn hat inside out, and using 3-needle bind-off, bind off all stitches.
Weave in ends.

With remaining yarn, make 2 tassels, each 4-5” long, and attach to each corner.

Copyright 2009 RMS Original. You may use this pattern for personal or charity use only. Please link to this site rather than posting this pattern elsewhere.

"I Need A Baby"

As I uttered the words, my husband stared at me with incredulity. When he was finally able to speak, he asked, "You do realize that there's at least a nine month waiting period?"

Well, clearly I don't want a real baby. I've never wanted a real baby. I just need a reasonable facsimile to try on hats, sweaters and booties. Butternut and acorn squash will do in a pinch, but they don't sit up straight, and the stem can have ill effects on the hat decreases. And, of course, I'd like to cook them, rendering them useless for modeling purposes.

Thus my plaintive wail. My husband continued to stare at me, then in his soft, practical tone of voice, he reminded me that I have a million dolls upstairs, and that surely one of them would be willing to pose for photos in one-of-a-kind knit- and crochet-wear.

Hits forehead with heel of hand! Of course I have plenty of babies available. How could I forget? Well, because I never play with them, because they weren't mine. My mother was the doll collector. She never stopped playing with them until she died. Porcelain, bisque, plastic, cloth, babies, children, and celebrity figures - all were welcome in her arms.

I've been keeping them safe, waiting for someone in the next generation to love them. In the meantime, they finally have someone to dress them up again.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dadgum Sweetgum Balls!

Let me state at the outset that I am all for the cultivation of trees, even in urban areas. I applaud Mayor Daley's initiative in Chicago to encourage planting on skyscraper roofs. I think parks are terrific.

I don't believe, however, that all trees are created equal, and should have the right to pursue their happiness wherever they seed. Or wherever they are planted by city governments. Especially when it's a sweetgum ball tree. Especially when it's at the curb in front of my house. Especially when I can't kill it or cut it down without incurring a large fine.

My gripe isn't even with the tree itself. It's a noble tree. It stands straight and proud, with a leafy canopy to shade my car in the summer. Okay, it also provides perches for the local avian population which covers my car with an undesirable substance, but birds are nice, too. My complaint is solely with the spiky, indestructable balls it drops in the fall and winter.

You can't destroy those balls! They don't crush even when driven over again and again. They appear just when you step, and they roll underfoot. They are especially prevalent when carrying groceries and your vision is obscurred. They multiply tenfold when you have to run out to the car in your slippers.

So I offer a challenge to all you scientific, environmental types: surely one of you could devise a method of processing these dadgummed sweetgum balls into yarn, and I'd keep you supplied with them for free!

Saturday, January 10, 2009


Here is my first crochet pattern!! I've been procrastiknitting lately, and crochet is a great way NOT to waste time, while truly wasting time. This is a child's hat, but could easily be adjusted to make an adult size.

Size: Child (18” circumference)
Yarn: Nashua Wooly Stripes, 1 skein
Hook: US H
Gauge: 12 sts = 4”/10cm in sl st, hdc pattern

Foundation sc: Ch3, insert hook in the first chain and draw up yarn, yo and draw through 1 loop (this creates a chain), yo and draw through 2 loops (this creates a sc). Repeat, inserting hook in the chain from the previous foundation sc, until you have the required number of sc
Sl st: insert hook in next st and draw up yarn and pull through the loop on the hook
Hdc: yo, insert hook in next st and draw up yarn, yo and draw through 3 loops
Dec1: [insert hook in next st and draw up yarn]2x, yo and draw through 3 loops

Notes: The hat is worked in spiral rounds, so you will not join at the end of each round, nor do you have to mark the beginning. When you get to the decreases you needn’t be concerned about the math ending precisely at the end of a row – using your cast on tail as the guide, you will start your round at approximately where the tail is. Since this pattern is worked inside-out, if you want to peek and see the pattern developing, you’ll have to look at the inside!

Make a foundation row of 51 sc.

Being careful not to twist, sl st in the first sc (the one farthest from the hook). Hdc in the next sc. [Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] until the hat is 5” from foundation row.

([Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] 5x, dec1) for 2 rounds.
([Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] 4x, dec1) for 2 rounds
([Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] 3x, dec1) for 1 round
([Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] 2x, dec1) for 1 round
([Sl st in the next sc, hdc in the next sc] 5x, dec1) for 2 rounds

Leaving a long tail, cut yarn, and draw through loop to fasten off. With darning needle, draw tail through back loops to close the hole at the top, weave the end in to secure.

Turn the hat inside out, and you’re done!

Copyright 2008 RMS Original. You may use this pattern for personal and charity use only.