Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Saturday, April 30, 2005

You Mean that is ALL one String?

Last weekend's union meetings were wonderful. I really enjoyed the process, the discussions, the topics that were raised, and learning how this annual meeting functions. I'm an odd duck, no doubt.

Luckily, I sat next to a man who has attended these things for a long time, AND he was kind enough to answer all of my questions patiently, and without frustration. Well, at least he faked it well if I was bugging the crap out of him. For him, I provided hours of entertainment during the meeting by knitting a sock.

I remember when I first met my husband and he saw me knit. He would stare and stare and stare for what seemed like eternity. Of course, I thought he was captivated by me, but NO. It was the knitting. After awhile he would say, "You mean that is all one string?" This never ceased to amaze him. For years he would watch me work and you could see him struggle with the idea that the fabric I was creating came from the one string. No matter how many times he had asked me and how many times I had answered him, he always asked. Now, 15 or 16 years later, that fascination is gone for him. But it wasn't for the man who sat next to me at the RA Conference.

He watched, and watched. Shifted position and tilted his head. I knew what was coming, but I wondered how long before he would ask me. We went through the typical knitting discussion dance.

After about 20 minutes he asked me, "What are you making?"
"A sock," I told him. This, of course, was an apparent request for me to take out the completed sock and show him what the final product would look like.
"Wow! That's neat."

Yes, we are old when we find other people who also use the word "neat"!

After about another 20 or 30 minutes he asked the question I was waiting for. "You mean that is all made from one string?"

BINGO! I showed him the self-patterning yarn, and although he was disappointed that I hadn't been working intricate color changes on my own, he was still impressed by the idea of one string curling up and around and through itself to make.... a sock! He was also truly impressed with my use of five double pointed needles. To him, it looked liked some kind of medieval torture device, even after I explained that I really only worked with two needles at a time. For his entertainment, I turned the heel.

He was in awe.

Later, when a women came by distributing papers and asked me what I was making, he excitedly said, "Show her the finished sock! Show her!" And then to the woman he said, "You have got to see this!"

During the lunch break, he went for a walk and when he sat down at the table, told me that there was a knitting shop nearby. He gave me the directions, remembered the name of the street it had been on, and even REMEMBERED THE NAME! If I didn't already have a wonderful knitting husband, this guy could have made me weak in the knees.

This got me to thinking. I wonder, on average, if men are more likely to be awed by the "one string" idea of knitting, or if women (non-knitters) are. Or is it pretty much equal between all male and female non-knitters? I'm also starting to wonder, just how long will somebody watch you knit before they ask you if you did that with "one string". I'm guessing about 30 - 45 minutes.

If you have stories that can contribute to this research... please post them!

Unfortunately, when I got the knitting shop (Follow Your Heart) later Saturday evening, it was closed. The meetings finished a day early, so I didn't have a chance to get there on Sunday - they opened at noon.

As for the statistics of the weekend....

  • 900 teacher union members met for a two-day meeting in LaCrosse, Wisconsin
  • Two days of meetings were completed in one.
  • One hotel room to myself for two nights.
  • 2 - 3 inches completed on the second sock. I didn't quite finish it, but if the meetings had continued on Sunday, I would have. I had finished the gussets and was running for the toe decreases.
  • I counted nine other knitters and two crocheters. I only saw half of the room, though. People were working on afghans, dishcloths, and scarves. I spoke with three of them and we exchanged projects and talked knitterly for awhile during breaks.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Excited by THIS? Yes, I am Strange!

As a local union representative who will be attending the state delegate meeting from Friday night until Sunday afternoon, all I can think is:

"Any sufficiently advanced bureaucracy is indistinguishable from molasses." (Author Unknown)

or in other words,

"A weekend of being forced to sit through hours and hours and hours of meetings can only mean one thing - knitting heaven!"

I think my family now completely understands the depth of my knitting mania. It took me 20 minutes to pack my clothes and 45 minutes to pack my knitting bag. God forbid I get there to start a new pattern and I have the wrong sized needles. Now that I have packed three sets of straight needles and three corresponding sets of double points, with all of the yarn I may use (if I don't buy something new) and the pattern books I may use, I am set. I can travel in confidence. If, after I arrive, I unpack only to find that I forgot all of my precription medication and clean underwear, who cares? At least I have my knitting!

I leave tomorrow right after school for the four hour drive to LaCrosse, Wisconsin (Cold Mountain, the unabridged book on tape, is already in the car). I plan to check into my hotel (I was lucky to be the only person in a double room who didn't have to share), get my credentials for the weekend meetings, and bum around town or sit in silence watching my tv shows without any children bickering in the background. Saturday morning, breakfast will be provided for me. FOR ME! I will knit all day during the meetings, eat lunch that will be provided FOR ME, and I won't have to wash dishes! Saturday night I can go out with my coworkers for dinner, go back to the hotel and sit in the hot tub without being splashed by my children, and then I can retire to my own room with no children to knit! I know that I will be missing my family by this time. I won't get to see any of their soccer games. And even though I will enjoy the lack of fighting, bickering, whining, and hitting, I will want to call and hear my husband's voice, too.

Sunday the meetings will continue, and I can leisurely head for home afterwards. My knitting projects are:

1. Finish the second sock for my mother's Mother's Day gift.
2. Choose a baby sweater pattern (either the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater or the Jacket with Seed Stitch Bands or V-Neck Cardigan with Contrast Ribs from Debbie Bliss' Baby Knits for Beginners). This will be a gift for a friend who is expecting child number two in about 6 weeks.
3. Then, I will have to decide on materials. Do I have enough in my portable stash, or will I have to buy materials? Shucks. Visit a yarn shop in another city? What a hardship this weekend will be! Maybe I'll find an even nicer pattern there. Hmmm.. I just may have to think carefully about this! Maybe I should forget to pack my patterns so that I have to go to the yarn shop. Hmmmm.

So, should I be a little more concerned about the weekend meetings? Should I have read things over to prepare myself more for 16+ hours of union meetings and parliamentary procedure? Naa, I listen better when I knit anyway. I'm sure I won't be alone. Maybe I can form a separate knitting table for a knitter's alliance? Sounds like an agenda item to me!

I'll let you know about the issues raised within the union meeting about my knitting progress on Monday.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Wish I Were HERE!

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Where in the world is this? It's Northcote, New Zealand. A suburb of Auckland, New Zealand. This picture (which I found on the internet) was taken from a street that was about a 5 minutes drive from where I lived.

Why do I want to be in Auckland, New Zealand?
Well.. just look at it!

Auckland from the North Shore.
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Takapuna Beach. Many orange-chocolate chip ice-cream cones were eaten while walking along this beach. God, I miss that flavor!
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Who wouldn't want to be here!

The real reason I would have like to have been here on Saturday, April 16, 2005 would be so that I could have attended the wedding of one of my closest friends.

Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Peter Woodhead

Wish I could have been there, Sharon!

Knitterly news

Flying off of the heels of finishing the Latvian Mittens, I started my Mother's Day project for my mother. Socks. These are a cotton/wool blend and hopefully will be a little cooler than the pure wool.

I debated about using a different pattern that would have some texture to it. Maybe an eyelet? Maybe some cables? But with this type of patterning yarn, I wasn't sure that I would have liked the results. I think it would have taken away from the self-pattern.

This photo was taken before the camping trip. I am now on the second white section of the leg (but haven't gotten to the heel flap yet).
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My mother gave me specific instruction, "if I would make socks." They needed to:

If? What is she talking about. Like I need an "if" to knit! HA!

Her requests:
1. Have a longer leg. In the past I made the sock to fit just above the ankle, but apparently this was not enough above the ankle. This time - CHECK - longer leg.
2. Have a longer cuff. Two inches wasn't long enough for her. CHECK
3. Use a yarn that will be cooler and can be worn in summer. CHECK
4. Keep the socks coming. Did you know that handknit socks are said to be very helpful for people with Diabetes? I saw this on some brochures that my mother brought home after she was formally diagnosed a few years ago. People with Diabetes need to take extra good care of their feet, and if problems arise, they can develop into something serious easily. My grandmother lost her leg because of Diabetes-related problems. Anyway, handknit socks have no seam at the toe, and this relieves pressure on the foot. So I've made her four pairs already. CHECK

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Finished Object - Posting Attempt 2

Well here they are in all of their glory. A beautiful pair of Latvian Mittens.

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Latvian Mittens

Yarn: Dale of Norway Heilo Yarn in soft blue and deep blue
Needles: size 0 (5 double points)
Gauge: 18 stitches and 17 rows in 2 inches
Pattern: Latvian Mittens by Lizbeth Upitis. Pattern #96, page 81
Approximate Start Date: January 3, 2005
Approximate End Date: March 15, 2005

I wore them the weekend after I finished them and got lots of compliments.

One thing that thrills me to no end is that the pattern repeats across the mittens when they are set side by side, see?

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Now, this shouldn't have been such a surprise, because there were only 2 pattern repeats in one round (meaning it was pretty obvious that one pattern would cover the top of the mitten and the other, the bottom). But, I never get tired of seeing it. It pleases my compulsive nature.

Here is a close up of the beautiful braid.

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Here is a photo of the inside of the thumb. This wasn't so easy to knit. The pattern was supposed to repeat on the inside of the thumb, but after several screaming episodes and threats from the neighbors to wash out my mouth with soap, I decided to do something different.

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If you have read my blog for awhile, you will know about my engagement ring. It was my grandmother's engagement ring, given to her by my grandfather. It was passed down to my mother (the youngest daughter) and then to me (the youngest daughter). One day it will go to my youngest daughter. DH and I had a hard time finding a wedding band to go with it, but finally found a match that seemed to be perfect. The rings got caught in the picture so I thought I would tell their story.

We got back from camping at noon, and finally finished cleaning up. Three days of nearly 70 degree weather in April in Wisconsin? We must be dreaming!

Friday, April 08, 2005

Fried Post!

I hit "Publish Post" last night after, might I say, a pretty darn good post. As soon as I hit it, an error occurred and even the "recover post" button did not work.

Darn Blogger! I have heard people complain, but have never had a problem myself. All day today Blogger was down, and now we are off for a weekend camping trip to a state park.

I'll post Sunday.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Congratulations to the new mom!

Make sure you head over to Elaine's site, she has pictures posted of the babies - and they are CUTE! Congratulations to the whole family. Elaine, you worked hard and look at how it paid off! They are perfect.

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James Peter
March 29, 2005
9:04 am
7lbs. 6oz.
19 inches

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Catherine Marie
March 29, 2005
9:09 am
20 3/4 inches

Very, very, very short post today. Why, you ask? Well, it's 56 degrees in Wisconsin in April. Need I say more? It seems that we have brought a touch of Arkansas weather here. I just got done digging out one of my flower beds, and now I'm running out to clean gutters so that the rain can get through them again.

I finished one of the socks this morning, and I plan to cast on the second while watching the NCAA Women's semi-final tonight. GO LSU! GO TENNESSEE!

Do you note a sense of ultra happiness in my writing? We have been kidless for almost 24 hours! WAHOO! Each of the girls had an unplanned sleepover at a friend's house. What did we do with all of this time? Well, naturally, we both feel alseep in front of the TV by 10:00 last night, but this morning we have drank coffee and enjoyed the day without once hearing fighting, complaining, whining or bickering.