Saturday, September 27, 2008


Alice Paul 1885-1977
Well, today was Last Saturday Knitting, and that always is inspiring. But what really jazzed me this evening was watching "Iron Jawed Angels", a wonderful HBO video about the women at the beginning of the twentieth century who fought, with incredible organization, determination and courage for the right to vote. I remember seeing ads about this film when it first came out, but we didn't get HBO, so I missed it at the time. Many thanks to CatBookMom for reminding me of it's existence.

ETA: Alice Paul was the preeminent organizer and leader of this movement. There is a good summary biography of her involvement here on, of all places, a US State Dept website.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I still can't quite believe it

This appeared in the mail today.

It's the OOP book my heart has been craving for, oh, ever so long - in perfect, like new condition. It was shoeburyness' amazing prize contribution to the last Ravelry Knitters for Obama raffle. And I won it! I never win anything, but I won it!

If you are by any chance a Ravelry member and politically like minded, a second raffle has started, with some equally incredible prizes (new Louet spinning wheel, personally inscribed/signed copy of Franklin's new book, yarn in personal custom colorway from Black Bunny, many others). The raffle will be running through Oct 31, and full details are here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Visible Progress

As it turned out, the school secretary's plans changed at the last minute, and my subbing gig at the High School got cancelled. But that's OK, because it left me with a suddenly free afternoon yesterday. So I finished the heel flaps and turns on the Crest O' The Wave Socks.

Now I've started the gusset decreases on the first one. Got to admit, I love the parts where the rounds get shorter as you go.

Monday, September 22, 2008


Rather a whirlwind weekend here.

Sat 9:00-12:00 - work at the library
12:10 - run across the street to set up and staff an information table for candidates I'm supporting in the upcoming elections. Saturday was Homecoming - the biggest local event of the year. I was located one block behind the parade route, but strategically between the parade and the football field, so there was a fair amount of traffic moving from one to the other. Not a lot of people actually stopped, but several picked up yard signs. A got quite a few smiles and thumbs up, and only one rude comment - and that from a source that didn't surprise me in the least.
4:30 - went to a party (!). Some friends outside of town had open house/potluck. It's a lovely spot on an open ridge with a beautiful view over the valley. Excellent food. Musical guests bring their instruments so we had some "old time", some Celtic and even a bagpiper. I always run into folks I enjoy, but who I haven't seen in months.

Sun am - sleep in. How can two glasses of red wine make me feel as if I had been on a bender?
2:30 - a large "visitation". One of Mr S's co-worker's father-in-law passed away this week. He had lived here many years, been active in the community in many ways, so the turnout was large, and the line moved rather slowly. People visited and I was reminded again how important visitations and funerals are in a small town for weaving a community together.

Today I will head up to the High School to cover for the secretary from noon - 3:30 (my first subbing gig of the year), then to the library at 4:30 for my regular shift.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Aargh, Matey

I think I saw somewhere that it's Talk Like a Pirate Day. I could be wrong.

Things have been pretty busy chez Baxter so I don't have much in the way of knitting progress. Another inch on a sock, another inch on Hudson River, not enough of either to make it worth posting new pictures.

What is up with Wal-Mart? I was in Dodgeville and stopped in at the relatively new "super" Wal-Mart. I thought that if I could find red, white and blue balloons anywhere it would be there, but nooooo. Also, the store is enormous, but the available yarn selection was about 6 feet of sparsely filled shelving. They are clearly just trying to sell off what little bit they have left. Since their entirely insufficient selection of both yarns and balloons were fortunately located within 20 yards of the entrance, I was able to escape without penetrating any deeper into whatever it is they do have taking up all that space. Man, I miss Ben Franklins.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

An Absolutely Nonpartisan Heads Up to Wisconsin Voters

While I believe passionately in the candidates I am supporting, this will not be a partisan post; because I believe equally passionately in the right and responsibility of all qualified citizens to vote.

I really believe in the ideal that Abraham Lincoln lifted up in the Gettysburg Address: "...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

"Of the people, by the people, for the people" only becomes real when the people exercise their right to vote. If you believe in democracy, if you cherish democracy: vote!

If you are not registered, do it now. It is true that in Wisconsin you can register on election day at your polling place. But this is going to be a hotly contested election, with long lines in many precincts. If there are large numbers of same day registrations this will slow the process down for you and for everyone. And by registering now, you can ensure that you know exactly where to go to cast your vote on election day.

If you, for some reason, simply cannot register in advance, go to vote anyway. Be sure to bring valid identification and proof of residence.

If you think you are registered to vote, even if you feel positive that you are registered, please verify this now. Our State Attorney General has recently file suit to challenge a large number of registrations currently on the official precinct rolls (see this article from the Sept. 13 "Capitol Times").
It is very easy to verify your registration status at this State of Wisconsin website. I just did it myself, and it was quick and simple, took much less time than reading through this blog post.

OK, lecture over, except for one thing, bug the people you know to think about the issues, think about the importance of the democratic process, then do more than think, get out and vote.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Misery Loves Company

Well "misery" is probably too strong a term. But, seriously, thanks to everyone who weighed in on the WIP/UFO situation. Special shout out to Firefly Nights who found herself in a similar spot on exactly the same project. Sistah!

I am happy to report that I have ripped back, re-printed my chart (because the first copy had mysteriously gone missing). and for now things are going forward smoothly.

In the meantime,

I've started in on the second Crest O' The Wave sock. I like to alternate back and forth between both halves of a pair, because then I finish both at approximately the same time. It doesn't make the whole process go any faster, but I avoid the "Now I have to go back and start all over" sensation. I do the same thing with mittens.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Where does the slow slide begin

from WIP to UFO? How long does a project need to sit "in progress" but unworked before it tilts fatally into the "unfinished" column? Why do I set something down with the full intention of returning to it soon, very soon, as soon as possible, only to find that weeks later it has sullenly withdrawn to a corner, untouched, glaring at me reproachfully but with little hope?

These are large metaphysical questions my friends. I do not have the answers to them, only hints.

In the case of the second version of the Hudson River Triangle several factors have played their part: the error that now means I must rip back several long rows, the hubris that led me to blithely proceed without a lifeline, the fact that another project with a tight deadline intervened, the impatience to start something new.

Whatever the multifarious factors involved, this

has not progressed one iota in the last two weeks.

Tomorrow I will grit my teeth and start picking back.

dual purpose

I would like to have a new pair of socks.

I would also like to have a picture of the Crest 'O The Wave pair from I Can't Believe I'm Knitting Socks to post on Ravelry. (I didn't have the forsight to take good shots before the original sample went to the publisher).
It's kind of soothing to be just following a pattern rather than writing/knitting/writing/knitting/ripping/writing/knitting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

There have been a lot of "narratives" going on this political season. Telling a story can be a an extremely effective way to make a point. Why else would we have fables, parables, and cautionary tales (stay away from the big bad wolf)?

People just usually find stories more interesting and compelling than, say, analysis of issues or statements of policy.

Part of the power of a story is that it can communicate far more than the details of the surface narrative. If well told, it conveys a whole range of underlying assumptions that are passed on to the listener without ever being specifically named. And in fact, these unspoken assumptions can be the most potent elements in the story's effectiveness.

One story this season ascribes a unique, almost heroic virtue to a woman's decision to raise a child with Down Syndrome. Aside from the fact that this decision is very far from unique (many families have done the same), I have some problems with the unspoken assumptions being communicated in the way that this particular story is being told.

The first assumption is that having a child with Down Syndrome is "a bad thing". (If it weren't a bad thing, there would be no special virtue in "choosing" to raise that child.) I find this assumption disturbing. I don't see children with Down Syndrome as "bad things." Once upon a time they were, indeed, treated as special difficulties, even somehow shameful to the family. But I had thought, perhaps naively, that we were long past that point.

A second assumption in the way this particular narrative has been told is that only a women who opposes legalized abortion would make such a choice. The implication (and I sincerely believe that this is the actual intention behind the telling of the story), the implication is that upon discovering that she was carrying a Down Syndrome child, any woman who does not fight to overturn Roe v Wade would immediately run to have an abortion. I find this deeply, personally offensive. This woman (or more likely her political handlers) is implying that if I knew I was carrying a child with a disability, I would terminate that pregnancy. How dare she? How dare she say such a thing about me?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Thought for the day

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams "
-Eleanor Roosevelt

"Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune--without the words,
And never stops at all, ...."
-Emily Dickinson

Monday, September 08, 2008

That Darn Egg

Marie asked how the darning egg works. Wish I could say it does the darning for me *G*, but it is at least a helpful tool. Basically, it helps stabilize the fabric while the darning is in process.

The egg goes inside the sock. I'm gripping the handle with my left hand, which is at the same time pulling the fabric fairly taught.
If you look closely at the left edge of the hole, you will see that this sock has already been darned once. Normally I would say that the second hole is the signal to just let the sock go and knit a new one. But (for a wonder) this is the only one that currently has a hole available for demonstration.

The first thing I do is work a rectangle of running stitches around the hole to make a frame, or foundation for the darn. It's important to go out far enough to be working on sock threads that are still strong and unworn. Besides helping to hold the sock in place, the darning egg gives a surface to push the needle against. Oh, and the needle should be a blunt one, not sharp.
I would normally use yarn close in color to the sock, the white is for demonstration purposes.

Working up and down over two parallel edges of the running stitch "frame", I lay the "warp" threads. These should be as nearly parallel to each other as possible and fairly close. (That left side is actually looking not so good.) At the top and bottom, each warp thread should go around the thread forming the running stitch. These shouldn't be pulled super tight, because the weaving in the next step will take up some slack, but they shouldn't be loose and sloppy either. That perpendicular thread is just the tail from my first stitch. Pay no attention to it. I will weave it in later.

Finally, I use the needle to weave a weft through the warp threads (pretty much like using one of those metal potholder weaving frames from childhood). One row goes over, under, over under, over. The next goes under, over, under, over, under. At each side, the weaving thread goes around the running stitches before turning around and working in the other direction.

All done. Not the world's neatest job, but you get the picture.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

At WI Sheep and Wool Festival

We did make it over to Jefferson for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon. Mr S likes to watch the sheep shearing demonstration, and I like to browse the vendors. I did held firm on the yarn front, though there was a lot of lovely yarn. I try to only purchase items that I have really been wanting for quite a long time.

The first item wasn't exactly in that category, but I had been thinking for some time that I should learn more about Orenburg lace. Galina Khmeleva had a booth (with some of the genuine Russian shawls - breathtaking!). Since I couldn't take her class, alas, because it was held today and didn't fit into my schedule, I bought one of her books and got her autograph in it. This will be good bedtime reading for many nights.

I really had been wanting a nice wooden darning egg for ever so long. This one came from Catherine Harrison's "Knitting Notions". She had come all the way from Nashville, Tennessee (and was sporting a Ravelry button). Her hand paints were very lovely, but I resisted.

I have also been longing for a lightweight, simple but elegant shawl pin, and I think this fits the bill.

I like the way it works. Each end of the spiral bends in to the back, forming a hook at each side. Hook one end, then the other, through the shawl and there you are - no fiddling with a pin closure.

That was it for purchases (as if that weren't plenty). I did thoroughly enjoy stopping by the Signature Needles booth, though. These are the needles that Annie Modesitt just raves about, and after trying them out I can see why; even though I almost never knit on straights, and didn't think I liked aluminum. Super high polish, you choose your lengths and pick between three degrees of sharpness for the tips (and what decorative knob you want at the end). They were lovely to look at, but what I really appreciated was the smooth operation, especially with the "stiletto" tips. And then I like that they are manufactured by a woman owned, Wisconsin company. They are somewhat pricey, and I expect worth every penny. But as I said, I almost never use straights. I did try out some of the recently introduced double points and they also were excellent. So maybe sometime..... Rumor has it that circulars are in development. After I got home I went to the website and signed up for the newsletter, just in case....

from one of my heroines

"A mature person is one who does not think only in absolutes, who is able to be objective even when deeply stirred emotionally, who has learned that there is both good and bad in all people and in all things, and who walks humbly and deals charitably with the circumstances of life, knowing that in this world no one is all knowing and therefore all of us need both love and charity." — Eleanor Roosevelt

Friday, September 05, 2008

This and That

I've been meaning to mention that Yarn Thrower Laura has written up the pattern for a really cute pair of (seamless!) baby booties, and has posted it on her blog. She's even included two ways to work them: top down and bottom up.

I finally finished seaming up the Warm Up America afghan blocks. Now it's washed, packed up and soon to be on it's way to Iowa.

Remember the sock with the gaping hole in the bottom? I decided that instead of darning it, I would just re-knit, because it wasn't that far from the toe, and because I wasn't sure how comfortable a darn would be under the ball of the foot, and most of all because I enjoy the process of knitting and do not particularly enjoy the process of darning.

I "always" save the leftover bits of yarn when I've finished a pair of socks, just so I can use them for mending later. Always must be relative, because I couldn't find the leftover bits of this yarn. So I ended up using small amounts of three others.

I think the finished effect is rather festive (you can click on the picture for a close up). Of course, it no longer matches the undamaged sock, but life is too short to worry about things like that. And of course I no longer have mending yarn in those other colors, but Ha! they were all from socks that I gave away, or lost, or something. At any rate, they are all from socks no longer in my possession, and therefore not subject to mending by me.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Looks almost like an acorn

in this shot, thought the color is truer.

If I roll the brim up a little more, and pull the whole hat down on the head, the crown kind of smooths out,

but if I make it again, I'll either work more decreases per round or put the decrease rounds a little closer together.

Anyway, I had some leftover Wool-Ease, and I wanted to make a hat for the Sow's Ear project for Cedar Rapids, and I wanted some conversational knitting to take for Last Saturday knitting.

Just repeating k2, p2 is something even I can do while conversing. Short repeat, every round is the same. If you work it on a multiple of four it gives you classic ribbing, which would have been fine, but I wanted something that at least looked a bit more complicated. So I worked it on a multiple of four plus three. Ta Da! A nice diagonal rib, and you never have to pay attention to which row you are on. Thanks to the miracle of math, just k2,p2 and the pattern emerges. I didn't even place a marker until after the brim, because why mess with sliding it if you don't need it in the first place?

I was quite pleased with myself, though it's true that sometimes I'm pretty easily amused.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Progress report

I finished to towel topper. It's not so pretty, but it holds the towel to the fridge door, which is the main thing. If I do this again I will sew the blanket stitches closer together, and start them at the very edge of the towel. Will also make the top section longer. And rethink the way I handled the way the button relates to the buttonhole. In other words, do just about everything differently. But what the heck. The towel is staying where I want it.

I was happier with the way the little mini-purse came out. This is a pattern I originally designed for a beginning knitting class, so the button is purely decorative (no messing with a buttonhole here). I'm sending it off to see if the Pattern A Day Calendar people would like to use it for their 2010 edition.