Month: October 2014

A new thing!

If there’s one thing I hate about knitting, it’s weaving in loose ends when I’m finished. If there’s another thing I hate about knitting, it’s seaming—sewing the separate pieces together to make the garment.

There isn’t much I can do about the first, but there is about the second. Since I started knitting, roughly eight? nine? years ago, I’ve assiduously minimized the seaming I had to do on every piece I made, whether it was an “official” pattern or one I was making up as I went along. I thought I’d gotten as far as it was possible to go—knitting the body part “in the round,” where you’re actually knitting a tube that goes around the body, splitting into front and back to leave room for the arms, then seaming the shoulders together. On the sleeves, I learned how to pick up stitches from the shoulder and knit to the wrist, so there was no seam to sew there. (The only exception I can think of is Snaotheus’s Lebowski sweater, which was so big and heavy that trying to do it that way would have given me permanent stress injuries in both hands.)


The pattern I settled on for Miss D’s requested sweater (see below) turned out to have a completely different construction method from anything I’d seen before. It started at the top neck, added stitches here and there to make the shoulder slopes, and then—miracle! Really!—using a series of ingeniously placed increases, it let you knit the fronts, shoulders and back as one piece, while knitting in the sleeve caps at the same time. All in one piece. Contiguous method, I believe it’s called.

It was a little fiddly at first—at least, fiddly enough that I had to pay attention to what I was doing rather than paying attention to a movie and knitting mindlessly. At one point, I thought I’d never get past those darned increases and the counting that went with them, but I did. Now I’m down into the body, where I can knit fairly mindlessly for the next nine inches or so.

Strictly from an engineering standpoint, I thought y’all might get a kick out of this. Below is a shot of the shoulder from above. The not-quite-vertical rows are where the shoulder seam would normally be, and you can see the sleeve-cap increases heading out at about 45° to left and right.


Below, then, is the front sleeve cap (before reaching the underarm, where you attach the front to the back and finish making the armscye, or arm hole). This clearly shows the line where the stitch increases occurred to make the sleeve cap. Notice that they curve up at the right; this is to accommodate the sharp curve of the underarm:


And, at the same stage, the back showing the back side of the sleeve cap:


Then it became a matter of adding a few stitches under the arm and knitting back and forth. Interspersed in all this is remembering to make yarn-over buttonholes (large ones, to fit the big flower buttons Miss D picked out). Another eight or nine inches and I’ll be ready for the bottom rib. After that, I’ll use the stitches that are presently threaded onto useless yarn to knit the sleeves down to the wrist. (At that point—PAY ATTENTION, SNAOTHEUS & KRISDI—I’ll need to know whether Miss D has her dad’s monkey-child arms or not, measured from shoulder down to wrist.)

This is where it is today, showing left front, tied-off sleeve cap, and part of the back draped over my monitor screen:


I’m really taken with this whole approach. If I could talk myself into doing the math, I’d try doing one for myself. (Although I suspect someone may already have done that—I believe a brilliant knitter named Susie Myers invented the method, so she or some aficionada/o may have done a whole range worth’s of the math.) It’s pretty amazing, watching one row of stitches turn into all this without cutting the yarn at any point.

Now, if all is going well, the grains I’m going to put into the bread I’m going to bake today will be cooked and ready. Yes. Bread. I am baking bread today. It is a pretty good day. 🙂

Posted by wordsmith in Family, Knitting, 0 comments

Dim sum: some adventure

Some decade and a half ago, when I lived in Canada, Richmond, BC, was an enclave of often British-born retirees, the town as white as my unexposed epithelium.

So when I looked up on Google Maps the place Buddy Rob wanted to go, I was surprised that the best-reviewed dim sum place was in Richmond. I wrote out the directions, which are usually easier for me to follow when I’m in a hurry (read: trying not to hit the guy in front of me). Piece of cake: Take 99 to 91W, off on Alderbridge, hang a right. I don’t know Richmond as well as Vancouver, by any means, but it looked pretty straightforward.

Until we discovered there was no 91W exit. We went straight from “Richmond Next 4 Exits” to “Welcome to Vancouver.”

Hey, I can make U-turns. Especially in Vancouver, where I expect everything to go wrong. So I did, and back we went. Remember, we are hardcore old-schooling it here: No map. Decade-old memories. Directions that do not appear to match any physical landmark within a five-mile radius.

I took a road whose name and geographical orientation I recognized, then another that appeared to go in the right direction (it was thoroughly overcast; who could tell west from east? All the directions are twisted around up there ’cause the mountains point the wrong way). Muttering all the time: “I think this goes here, and comes out there… and that goes over to the Knight Street Bridge; we don’t want that…”

After 20 or 30 minutes, we had been on several streets that should have but didn’t intersect with the one we wanted. When it became apparent that we were likely drawing ever farther from our destination and we passed a gas station, Rob grumbled, “Maybe we should stop and ask.”

“What?!” I replied. “This is an Adventure! We’ll find it, never fear!”

“Look, there’s a gas station. We could stop and ask.”

“Nah. I’m pretty sure this street gets us there.”

He barked out a laugh. “You do see the irony here, right? You’re the woman, you’re driving, and you won’t stop to ask directions; I’m the man, I’m not driving, and I’m begging you: STOP AND ASK!

I gave that the thorough ignoring it deserved and hared off toward what looked like it might be the part of the freeway we should have had in the first place. That didn’t pan out, cars were thinning out, and we could smell salt water. Hey, when your hunting ground is between seashore and mountain upthrust, and you hit one of those, that’s a clue it’s time to turn around.

The gas station guy didn’t know anything, but he did have a smartphone and got directions. Turned out if I’d kept going on the second street I was on instead of turning left, we’d’ve been there.

“There” turned out to be interesting. I can hear the old Richmondites screaming even now, because the entire area is Chinese, in that new-immigrant Chinatown way where you can’t find store names or street numbers because they’re all in Chinese. After a couple of false starts into astonishingly packed parking lots (remember that saw about the personal space Chinese people don’t have, compared to Americans? It extends to cars, too), we found it, actually staked a parking spot, and went inside.

Rob’s dim sum experiences on the East Coast involved waitstaff trundling six- and eight-tiered carts about, packed with exotic-looking goodies to which you could say, “Ooh, that looks interesting! Let’s try that!” This place had only a lengthy menu-cum-order-ticket (below), with the names of dishes in Chinese (top) and Engrish (sic, bottom) and no prices (uh-oh). We ordered one of this and one of that and one of this…

By the time the waitress was laughing at the mountain of food we had on the table and had dumped off the third of what ultimately turned out to be our five trips worth of food, we realized there’d been too many “ooh, that looks interesting”s and not enough “how many have we marked now?”s.

We staggered out and decided to hit True Confections in Vancouver, and at least pick up some gooey artery-clogging dessert to take home with us. Confidently, I hit the road and headed east, toward the freeway and Oak Street.

They didn’t appear.

I wound up in a no-exit go-to-the-airport road. So we went almost to the airport before I could make a U-turn. With what were only a few small annoyances, given Vancouver traffic, the city’s penchant for changing traffic patterns without notice, and the fact that it’s still road destruction season, we got there pretty quickly, passing by Lawrence Used Books with a wave and a promise.

Upon leaving with take-away goodies and a couple of six packs for Snaotheus, I took Dunbar straight west (it feels like south, damn those mountains) to SW Marine, which should have taken us with the least amount of traffic to Oak Street, where we would have blended easily into 99 south and on our way home. Unfortunately, we were behind the s-l-o-w-e-s-t concrete truck I have ever seen. It was like Seattle gridlock in one lane. When we got to the Oak Street split-off, I pulled up into a lane that I noticed too late was a left-turn-only when I wanted to go right. So I went right anyway.

Sadly, that right took us… right back to the airport… and thence back into downtown Richmond, to exactly the streets we’d been carouseling about in earlier.

I admit it. I was about done with Adventure. I’d used up the next year’s worth of U-turns. I just wanted to go home. But still… no map! So we stumbled about ’til we hit Alderbridge, which clever readers will remember was where we’d wanted to end up that morning. I muttered under my breath at various crossroads, “That one goes to the Patullo Bridge… that one goes somep-l-a-c-e—”

At that moment, I noticed my car was bouncing up and down like a kiddie playground horse. This is not normal. I glared around and saw Rob, squeezed into his corner, both hands over his face trying to disguise his hilarity.

“This is not risible,” I snapped.

“Oh, but it is,” he howled. “I’m quite sure this road goes someplace, but given where they’ve taken us today I’m pretty sure it’s not anyplace we want to be!”

“Look!” I distracted, my voice quavering as the car bounced with his laughter. “A sign for 99!!”

Interestingly, that was the only sign for 99 for many miles, and whatever road we were on took us over the Patullo Bridge (how the hell did we get on the wrong side of that?) and down the far east edges of Richmond, Delta and Surrey. It kept saying that Seattle was down that way somewhere, so we kept going, and eventually did get to the border.

Where the border guard told us we couldn’t bring in any amount of beer duty-free unless we’d been in Canada for 48 hours. I must’ve looked like his broken-hearted granny, because he said, “I’ll let you go this time. There’s not enough alcohol in two six packs to make it worthwhile.” I thanked him profusely, immediately started to turn the wrong direction into the “we’re going to take your car apart bit by bit” lane, and yanked over into the right lane at the last second and shot for home.

Now, I’ve always thought of myself as having a pretty good sense of direction. In the Southwest, I do. It’s those damn twisty mountains up here, I tell you. But after a day of taking every sodding wrong street and wrong turn it was possible to take, my confidence is shattered. I think I’ll stick to walking around in my driveway. With a map. A big one.


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I ran across a bag full of stuff while cleaning some junk out of the garage today. See if these pique any memories for you, children dear.



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Damned light

Snaotheus pointed out to me last week that he re-wired and replaced four lights in his kitchen in about an hour and a half. This compares not-very-favorably to the going-on-two-months he and I have variously and togetherly been trying to replace ONE miserable outside light at my house, which in its toothpick-construction glory has thwarted our every singular and combined effort to date.

Yesterday I decided I was going to get the wretched thing up, even if I had to tape more plastic over it ’til I can figure out how to get lumber cut to properly fit behind the fixture and take up the space between it and the wall caused by the *&@^#! construction for which the wire housing is not recessed into the outer wall but actually projects about 1/8″ above the wall surface.

Follows proof that the light is up. Proof that it works. Now I have to find some way, since I have no table saw, to cut some sort of wood so it’s 1″ thick (the shim part) and at-this-point-I-don’t-really-care-how wide to frame the fixture. Then I’ll paint the wood and screw it into the wall, and put some more caulking (have I mentioned how desperately I have come to loathe caulking?) on it.

There will then be two others to do. I don’t know when or whether I’ll get around to doing those.  Maybe when my teeth grow back the enamel and my crowns the porcelain and gold I’ve ground off them over this sodding thing.

Up and in place:


Turned on and actually throwing light:


Covered up with big plastic bag because you know it’s gonna dump buckets when least expected, and of course no self-respecting piece of plastic or even a ginormous plastic bag is going to fit neatly over that shape:


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