Sunday, November 22, 2009

Best Sock Ever

I'm in love with this sock. I just finished it today and I can't wait to finish the other one so I can wear them. The pattern (the Dark Isle sock, by Laris) is easy and fun to knit. The sock fits perfectly and is really cozy.

The original pattern called for Regia, but I was using a much thinner yarn. I used two shades of Wollmeise 100% sock wool, black and Dornroschen, which by itself is a retina-searing combination of hot pink and bright red. Combined with the black, however, the brightness is toned down and the colors turn merely intense.

In order to accommodate for the gauge differences, I cast on 72 stitches on size 0 needles instead of the 64 stitches on 1s or 2s called for. I also changed some of the motifs to four rows instead of three to make the length work out correctly. These changes worked perfectly.

I also did a plain old short row heel instead of the afterthought heel called for in the pattern. I just wanted to. This way, I could try the socks on as I went and when I cast off at the top, I was done.

Other than that, there's nothing going on here. Bike races for the two older boys, school project supervising for me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Flu Mist

Jr. Jr. came down with what looks to have been H1N1 flu last week. Luckily for us, it was extremely mild. A bit of a cough for the first few days, low grade fever for a few more days. In fact, most of the week he was perfectly fine during the day, only to pop a very low grade fever in the evening. I didn't even bother taking him to the doctor. In fact, I didn't even give him any medicine after the first day. One of his buddies, however, ended up with pneumonia, so I know we were lucky.

And then he went back to school in time to get the vaccine.

So, while there was a lot of Mommy time last week, there wasn't a whole lot of knitting time. I've done little bits here and there, however, so I do have things to show you.

I'm almost done with my Fiddlehead Mittens. I'm going to run out of yarn for the inner liners, but since no one will see the liners, it's not that big a deal. I'm knitting the smallest size of these mittens, on US 1 needles, so I imagine people who are knitting the larger sizes might find it more frustrating than I did.

I took this picture yesterday morning, so I'm a lot farther along now than this. Here's a nice arty shot, where you can hopefully see the inner lining:

I finally finished the second Aestlight shawl that I started way back in August. It was one of my background projects, but I picked it up when Jr. Jr. was sick because it's so easy and straightforward. Here it is blocking:

And here's a bad self-portrait:

The pictures can't begin to show the subtle complexities of the yarn. It looks charcoal in the pictures, but in reality it's got dark teal and dark purple, overwashed with black. Very pretty. The yarn is Eidos, from The Sanguine Gryphon, in a sadly discontinued colorway called Alcibiades. It felt very rough and pebbly while I was knitting it up, but it did soften up in the wash.

I love this pattern. It's not showy lace, but it's very versatile and wearable. I will throw this on for warmth and oomph before I'd throw on one of my more complicated lace patterns. In fact, I saw one on Rav that was done in a very variegated colorway, and it looked fantastic. I'm tempted to cast on another one, but that would be number 3...

Mammogram Lunacy

The new suggested mammogram guidelines came out on Monday, a day before I was scheduled for my yearly mammogram. What kind of arrant nonsense is this? I find it alarming, irresponsible, and downright dangerous to recommend that women wait until 50 for a first mammogram and do away with self-exams. Breast cancer may be more prevalent in women over 50, but when it appears in women younger than 50, it tends to be more aggressive. That is precisely WHY you want to have early diagnosis in those years. In fact, most of the women I've known over the years who were diagnosed with breast cancer were in their 40s. I would far rather endure some temporary discomfort (I don't find mammograms painful) and the chance of a false positive than risk missing something that could kill me, thank you very much.

I noted, however, that the panel that made these recommendations did not include any oncologists or gynecologists. Most reputable medical organizations don't agree with the recommendations.

The issue becomes one of (ugh, again?) insurance coverage. Will insurance companies refuse to cover regular screening mammograms, using these recommendations as their guide? If so, there are many women who will forego them, and perhaps miss something until it's too late.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Beer, Brats, and Lil Belgians - Tacchino CX weekend

This weekend was the Tacchino Cyclocross race organized and sponsored by Squadra Coppi, Mr. T's bike team. The race was a lot of fun for the whole family.

The weather was gorgeous, 75 and sunny. There was live music.

There was interesting food.

I had a brat, with mustard and sauerkraut, yum.

There was a turkey ("tacchino" means turkey).

Oh, yeah. There was some racing, too.

Mr. T did well in his race. He not only came in 4th overall, but he won a 6-pack of tasty Belgian beer made in Upstate New York for being in second place on one of the laps. Other prizes in races included sausages, bacon, and a Tofurkey. The first person who won the Tofurkey "donated" it back to the race to be given out to someone else. I don't know if they ever managed to give it away.

That's Mr. T next to the turkey (James).

Sr. Jr. did the 10-14 race, which went out just behind the women's races. The top junior racers, Sr. Jr. included, would have placed very well in the women's field. They overtook a good portion of the women's field, which I found interesting, because there are some VERY strong women racing. Sr. Jr. took second in his race. He and the first place finisher came in way ahead of the rest of the junior field.

Things are even more fun at the Jr. Jr. level. Two of his buddies from school (in his class, even) both race, too. One races because his dad is on Mr. T's team, but the other just likes to race and his parents are happy to cart him around to races. So we all hang and have fun, and the boys have a blast. D (from the non-racing family) usually comes in first in the group, then Jr. Jr., then C. (from the racing family). But they all have a great time and support each other.

Well, I can't remember the last time I got any serious knitting done. However, the one thing that cyclocross riders and knitters have in common?

A thing for funky socks :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Cresting the Hill

I have a real love-hate relationship with this time of year. I love it because of the weather, the leaves, the back to school activities, and the sense that a whole new year is open to us. I hate it because every year it goes so quickly. Each year it seems to go faster, too. Halloween seems to me to be the crest of the hill. Everything's fun, everything's beautiful, everyone's excited for Halloween....

And then we wake up and it's November, and before we know it Thanksgiving is here and then Chanukah, Christmas, New Year's, and before I know it, I feel like half the school year has gone by in the blink of an eye.

It doesn't help that one of my favorite holidays, Thanksgiving, has morphed into my least-favorite holidays over the last few years. I don't look forward to it, and I miss how it used to be.

This year I will try not to place so much weight on the holidays and just enjoy each day. Maybe that will help.


The boys did not participate in any bike races this last weekend! Incredible, I know. So we took the time to cross some things off our house to-do list. We've been mulling over what we can do to the family room to make it more comfortable and welcoming. Do we get a bigger, L-shaped couch? Do we add more chairs? Do we rearrange everything?

We found a great big, leather L shaped couch, one that will hold me, my knitting stuff and every other member of the family. It's very comfy, not hideously ugly, and has serious snuggle potential. I can't wait for it to arrive.

Once we had done that, we decided to decide where to hang some of our artwork. We got some great stuff at one of the local art shows, but couldn't quite settle on where to hang it. Now they're up on the walls and looking good.

To top it all off, I finally decided on some window treatments for the living room and dining room and got those all ordered.

It's only been 5 years since the remodel. Do you think we moved too quickly?

And yes, all that decorating meant little time for knitting. I started the liner for the Fiddlehead Mittens. Here you can see how it's attached and being knit from the bottom of the mitten:

Here's a view of the whole thing:

Here's some pretty yarn:

This is the Plucky Knitter, merino/cashmere/nylon sport weight in Flannel Shimmy.

Plucky Knitter, again, in Honey Wilkes.

Wollmeise, in Jeton.


Today is the big gubernatorial election here in Virginia. Virginia is an odd state, with city centers that tend to be pretty liberal and rural areas that are very, very conservative. As the population of the city centers has grown and pushed outward, the electoral face of the state has changed. The last two governors were very well-regarded Democrats and Virginia's electoral delegates went to Obama in 2008.

It would have seemed that the Democrats had a fair chance of holding onto the governorship, but a hard-fought primary left us with a pretty unappealing candidate. Creigh Deeds isn't very dynamic or exciting. He's run a terrible campaign. I see three McDonnell ads for every once Creigh Deeds ad. The Republican opponent, Robert McDonnell, is a hard-line Christian conservative wearing sheep's clothing. I remember his past campaigns and his mailings, and they're very different than what he's trying to portray himself as this time around. So, while I voted for Deeds, it wasn't with any sense that I want him to be my governor. It was more that I really don't want McDonnell to be.

Pundits on the right are trying hard to paint this election as some kind of referendum or harbinger on the Obama presidency. Nonsense. If Creigh Deeds loses this election, it's not because people are upset or unhappy about the Obama presidency. It's because Creigh deeds was a terrible candidate who ran a terrible campaign.

It's times like these that I'm thankful for Virginia's odd law limited governors to a single term.