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Signing off

After spending a good couple of years in the blogosphere I have decided that it’s time to sign off. My life right now is just too full to be able to fit it all in, what with single parenting, knitting, reading, teaching, and commuting an hour each way. I have enjoyed this little blog, and I’ve tried to quit a couple of times in the past but wasn’t able to quit it completely. This time I think it’s gotta happen for real.

It’s been fun, but I must now ride off into the sunset.

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Sick Kid = Darning Day

I’ve needed to darn a couple of pairs of socks for a while now. When my 10-year-old daughter ended up staying home from school with a cold I decided today would be the day.

As you can see, just about the entire ball of the foot needed darning on this one. It’s the first pair of socks I ever knit, so it has deep sentimental value to me. I knit them almost four years ago, so their durability has been great, despite the need for the occasional patch job in the high-stress areas.

I have some of the original yarn available, but I kinda’ like the funkiness of using a different yarn when I repair a sock, especially when it’s a plain solid color like this one. Now, off to do the other one.

UGH!!!

A few days ago I finished the final hexagon on my crazyass hexagon socks. I stood up, did a little dance, and then proceeded to start…the…toe?

Oh, no.

What the crap?

In my hurry to get the final row of hexagons done, I had not paid close enough attention to which end of the sock I had done that last row on. Four hexagons that were supposed to be working toward the toe. Four hexagons that were, instead, on the cuff.

It looked like a knee sock for an eight-year-old.

I wish that it had been as simple as surgically removing the hexagons and just stitching them onto the other end, but then again things can never really be that simple, can they? I had to rip out all four hexagons individually and restart that row from scratch.

After a couple of days’ break from the accursed thing, I am happy to report that I have gotten past the frustration (somewhat), have completed the final four hexagons ON  THE CORRECT END OF THE SOCK and am working on picking up the toe stitches.

I am so ready to move on….

Second Sock

You don’t have to go far in the knitiverse to hear about “second-sock syndrome,” that phenomenon of great disappointment when, just after you’ve proudly finished an amazing sock, you realize that you have to do it all over again so that you’ll have a pair. I’ve heard knitters gripe about this, or even give up on it altogether…I remember Camden, Maine’s Unique One yarn shop being full of ladies with mismatched hand-knit socks because they just decided to alleviate second-sock syndrome altogether.

Sock 1...ain't it pretty?

I tend to treat the second sock a little differently. Take the beloved Hexagon socks, for example. It took me a little over a month to finish the first sock. Granted, I took on a couple of other small projects in the middle (a pair of mittens and some worsted-weight house-socks) but that was largely because I just wanted a break. Well, I finished the first sock recently and I couldn’t be happier. It looks cool, feels great on the foot, and is destined to be the talk of my elementary school once I start wearing the pair to the music classes I teach.

Sock 2 just over a week in.

So how did I celebrate? That’s right, by immediately casting on sock #2. Not only did I begin the second sock, but I attacked it with a vengeance. My goal has been to knit at least 2 hexagons per day, but some days I got 3 or 4 done. I spent that month on the first one, but after one week on the second sock I had finished the heel and was plunging into the foot portion. You see, once I get the first sock done and see how amazingly cool it is, I want to wear it. But I don’t do mismatched socks. Besides, even mismatch aficionados would’ve found it hard to find something to wear with this one.

So I’m tearing through the second sock with hopes of finishing it this week, even after a very busy weekend that included very little time to knit.

Oh, Snap!

I love Knitpicks, and more specifically, I love my Knitpicks Zephyr acrylic interchangeable knitting needles. At least I love them most of the time.

Christmas of 2010 my mom gave me a Visa gift card, with which I bought a set of these needles. My dear friend Joanne had recommended them, saying she had a pair and LOVED them! I have to agree that they’re fabulous. Fast forward 6 months to the end of that school year and I received another set as a “thank-you-for-teaching-my-daughter-for-3-years” gift from, of course, Joanne. She knew I already had some, but told me it’s important to have spares.

Boy was she right…

Yes, that's the broken needle tip sticking out of that sock.

Two Wednesdays ago I went to my regular knitting group, pulled out the red worsted-weight house-socks I was knitting on the size 4 Zephyrs when “SNAP!” one of the needle tips broke. I didn’t even finish the first stitch. “It’s okay,” I told my friends, “I have a spare set at home.” Only slightly disheartened, I pulled out my crazy-ass hexagon socks and worked on them for a while. After I got home I switched out the tips and was good to go.

This past Wednesday, having finished the red house-socks, I pulled out a pair of mittens I was knitting, also on the size 4 Zephyrs when, you guessed it, “SNAP!” Another needle tip bit the dust a quarter of the way through a row. A bit more disheartened this time, I proceeded to pull out the crazy-ass hexagon socks again, knowing that I had another needle tip left at home. But it was only one more. The last one.

One of my knitting group friends suggested that I call Knitpicks, stating that their customer service is fabulous. She’d had really positive experiences with them before and felt certain that they’d help me out. I am glad I heeded her advice. The customer service person I spoke to was extremely helpful. After checking my account and confirming that yes, I had indeed ordered a set of these needles in the past, she told me they’d ship out another set of size 4 tips. Though she didn’t explicitly say it, I guessed from her tone of voice that this is a known problem. As much as I love these needles, I just don’t think the acrylic tips are quite strong enough in a size 4…they’re too thin.

Thank you, Knitpicks, for helping out this very loyal customer. I appreciate your attentiveness and courtesy. I do believe, however, that it’s time to get a set of size 4 nickel-plated tips.

**Special Note: Please play the video to use as background music while you read this post. It will make it so much better, I promise! At very least it will distract from the bad writing.

I am a teacher. An educator. A person whose life’s aim is to observe and assist children as they expand their knowledge base as well as their attitudes toward life, the universe, and everything.

I am also a man who knits in front of them.

Every day from 11:55 until 12:20 I am in the midst of a school cafeteria full of vibrant 3rd graders as I take part in the ancient educational ritual of Lunch Duty. Being new to the job this year the kids have spent a great deal of the year up to this point getting to know me. I’ll never forget the day when, during 3rd grade lunch, one student found out that I was a knitter. “Ha ha HAAA.” she said. “Men don’t knit. Knitting is for old ladies!”

I would love to say that she is the only student to say that, but she is the first of a few. Not a lot; a few. So how do you address such sadly misguided comments aimed at a man who knits? Why, I did the only thing I knew to do: I started knitting socks during 3rd grade lunch duty. Every day.

This same student, along with MANY others, now regularly checks on my progress on the socks I’m working on. You see, these kids no longer think it’s weird to see their music teacher knitting, because they see it every day. In fact, they think it’s kind of cool. They even make requests for knitted items, which I promptly turn down (“I knit for myself, family, and very close friends. As cool as you are, you don’t fit any of those categories.”).

I also have the good fortune of spending each Thursday with a kindergarten class in my school, a different one each week, as a helper. This morning when I arrived they were finishing breakfast, and those who were done were reading books on the rug. I simply sat on the rug and began to knit on a sock. Instantly 3 boys (boys!!!) were in my face asking questions and making comments (“can those needles cut you?” “how do you do that?” “Wow…you have really big feet!”). Before I knew it I had about 10 kindergartners around me. They wanted to watch, to touch the tips of the needles, to feel the yarn and the 2×2 ribbing on my sock.

The kindergartners were fascinated by my knitting. The third-graders began with some preconceived notions, but are now interested in my projects. I like to think that I’m doing my part to change perceptions of knitting in these delightful young people. Yeah, some of them have grandmothers who knit…believe me, they’ve told me! But now they’re going to go through life remembering this weird guy who taught music when they were young who used to knit all the time. I am comforted by that.

Later in the day, one delightful little girl told me “You’re really good at knitting…almost like a GRANDMA!” I couldn’t ask for a better compliment.

Feeling Random

I know it’s not the normal Sunday Night, but I just have a lot of disjointed random thoughts that I have to get out.

  1. It’s Tuesday, but not for much longer.
  2. Cheddar cheese is one of the greatest foods ever invented.
  3. I’ve been considering making a quick-and-dirty pair of worsted weight socks to use as “house socks.” They’d be quick to knit, right?
  4. For Christmas I got a set of super-sharp kitchen knives that have zebra-striped blades. I love these wondrous knives…they cut everything so beautifully…including fingers. Ouch.
  5. I really need to learn how to cut things with sharp knives in a safe way.
  6. I think if I could be any other creature on the planet I’d want to be a hobbit. 5 meals a day, jolly, fun-loving folks with hairy feet. Sounds good to me.
  7. I’m in love with my Hexagon socks. This is why I am hesitant to start the aforementioned worsted weight “house socks”. I’d feel so dirty leaving these fabulous socks behind for something so plain.
  8. A Kindergarten classroom is full of unconditional love. The smile of a kindergartner can fuel you for the entire day.
  9. A Kindergarten classroom is also full of snot, slobber, and other germs. This is the trade-off.
  10. I still love cheddar cheese. It really is the perfect food. That and chocolate.