Tuesday, December 9

Safe Craft?

Or can I knit with pencils?

From the Municipal Court of Seattle Office of the Jury Commissioner:

Waiting is an unavoidable part of jury service. [...]There is an extensive and current magazine collection but we do encourage you to bring reading materials, crafts and other projects to pass the time.

(further down)

Everyone entering the Seattle Justice Center, except law enforcement personnel, is required to pass through a security checkpoint. [...] You are also cautioned to leave at home items such as scissors, knitting needles or pointed objects over 2" long which are routinely prohibited from the building.

Sunday, November 9

Knitting for a change

I haven't blogged about knitting since June, when I started Amsterdam Cardigan.

I finished the knitting Tuesday night watching Obama's acceptance speech and finished the seaming Friday while listening to the President-Elect's first press conference. As I did so, I thought of many reasons this is an Election-08 commemorative sweater.

Amsterdam Color closeup

Color: I dyed the yarn specifically for this project. It is a range of
  • Browns -- 'nuff said.
  • Orange -- when my biracial niece was little, she did not get why people were called black and white; it didn't match reality. She was adamant she was orange. OK, she was three, I was fifteen and it was the Seventies. I have to admit it was fun to hear her insist she was orange. I may have asked her about it a few times.
  • Olive Green -- Damn, but we need a Green president! And olives? Well, we latte-sipping volvo subaru-driving elites like olives with our arugula.
International Cooperation: This Sweater has a passport.


The Blue-Faced Leicester is from England, milled in Italy and came to me via Virginia. (Thank you, Newly-Blue Virginia!) The pattern designer lives in the Netherlands, the stitch pattern is named after a French pastry.

Unity. I was going to run out of yarn, so dyed a second lot. The second lot was pretty close to the first, but not close enough. I only need about half a skein of the second lot, and it took work, some ripping and reknitting to unify the results.

All that unity meant that I had an extraordinary number of ends to weave in. I did much of the weaving in while at my doctor's office waiting for my annual check-up, which I am very privileged to be able to afford. May we all be so privileged in the future!

Conclusion: This is super soft wool in a super warm, comfy pattern. A great sweater to wear instead of turning up the thermostat. Knitting details on my ravelry page. (In the very off chance you care about the knitting details and are not on ravelry? Drop me an email.)

Thursday, November 6

Random stuff

Hey Sarah, so, I guess we all know now what a little community organizing can do, eh?

You didn't blink yet you didn't know who was party to NAFTA or that Africa was a continent? What's the fuck with that?

(And what the fuck with the Supreme Court and the fleeting fuck? If they really cared about what kids get exposed to on TV, they would ban Viagra ads. I'd much prefer to turn a fleeting expletive into a teachable moment than to explain erectile dysfunction to a six year old watching the Super Bowl. )

Hey neighborhood! What's with the White and Pollet signs still up? Both claimed to be the environmental candidate, so do your part and take down the signs. Christine, I love you, but your signs need to go as well. My only exception is for my neighbors with the Obama/Biden yard signs. Please leave them up a little longer. Maybe even until January 20th. They still give me goosebumps.

Wednesday, September 10

Making a difference

Dear Dorothy,

Thank you for your special tribute gift to Planned
. If you requested an announcement, a card will be
sent to the person indicated, notifying them of your gift.

Your gift will be directed to the area of our work that you
selected, and your support will bring us closer to our
shared vision of a world where every child is wanted, where
family planning is universally understood, accessible, and
accepted, and where everyone can exercise reproductive
freedoms in health and safety.

On behalf of everyone here at Planned Parenthood, thank you
again for your support and generosity.


Cecile Richards

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

P.S. Your contribution to Planned Parenthood Federation of
America is tax deductible to the fullest extent allowable
under law. IRS regulations require us to state that we did
not provide any goods or services to you in consideration of
your contribution. You may wish to print or save this
message as your receipt for tax purposes.

Payment Information:
Transaction ID:xxxxxxxxx
Date: September 10, 2008
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This donation is on behalf of or in memory of:
Name: Sarah Palin

Send acknowledgements to:
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Address: PO Box 16118
Arlington, VA 22215
United States

Wednesday, September 3

Jack Nicholson and Bobby Darin's little brother

Sometimes I really wonder why I don't read many novels anymore. Then I get another example of how much real life unfolds in all its compellingly glorious messiness and why I don't miss fiction.

I won't even begin to tackle the how could those Republican's be so careless as to their vetting of family-values Veep they shoved down McCain's throat. Not that he had any problem with that, the op-ed pages are all over how this sort of impulsiveness is in character.

When over the weekend when I first ran across dailykos.com's stories on the rumors surrounding Sarah Palin and her infant son, I was flabbergasted, intrigued, and while not wholly convinced, thought the arguments that Sarah did not give birth to Trig had at least some merit. (the particular posts have been deleted from that site.) There are questions about the official story. But how on earth would mainstream media handle this? Seemed way too tabloid so probably wouldn't go anywhere. But you never know.

Monday I woke and, I admit, ready to get right back to the page turner that is real life. In novels, too many things that happen are either way too predictable or way too deux ex machina to be satisfying. Not so on Monday when the word was that in order to squash rumors surrounding Trig's birth, the Palins and the Family Values Party announced Bristol's conveniently timed pregnancy. Without any more evidence than their word, we are to believe that 17 year old Bristol is about five months pregnant and therefore is not 4.5 month old Trig's mom.

Knock me over with a feather.

First. Sarah said that they had hoped to keep Bristol's pregnancy private throughout the campaign. Was she really that clueless? That much lacking in common sense or the ways of the world?

Second. Not days after accepting the nomination, and thus making the decision that Bristol will be OK because they can keep her illegitimate teen pregancy a secret, who actually let's the story out? She does. Why? To squash a rumor about herself.

She, who had thought her daughter deserved privacy, instead threw her daughter out in front of the train. Wasn't there any other evidence, any evidence, Sarah could have used to prove she was Trig's mom without sacrificing her daughter?

And most ironical, I had seen nothing in mainstream press about the Trig rumors. But the GOP announcement of Bristol's current condition opened the floodgates. They were the ones who spoke of and therefore made the rumors legitimate to be reported in the mainstream media. Now we have Maureen Dowd calls it "broken-water gate" without explanation, because of course, by now, she doesn't need to.

Monday, September 1

A one word blog post:


Saturday, June 7

Cardigan math

I have 630 grams of BFL Aran to knit my brioche rib sweater. According to the pattern, it ought to take 750 grams of yarn. However, I am not using the recommended yarn or gauge. How close will I be, and if I won't make it, how much more yarn should I dye?

I have finished the back, which weighs exactly 180 grams.
Amsterdam Sweater Back

Calculating from the pattern, I can figure the relative proportions of the back, fronts and sleeves.

Back: 7281
Fronts: 9082
Sleeves: 13518

total = 29881

means that back is 24% of garment and I would need 750 grams

Now if I make sleeves more narrow, reduce cuffs, make collar more narrow, I get it down to

Back: 7281
Fronts: 7970
Sleeves: 10536

total = 25787

means that the back is 28% and I need 637 grams. Sigh, so close.

Tuesday, June 3

Cardigan in progress


Wool2Dye4.com sells some nice yarns, including a BFL Aran that is just wonderful. However, it is not common for indie dyers to dye and sell this yarn. When they do, it is often hand-dyed in small batches in bright variegated colors.

It's not hard to understand why. While many folks will purchase hand dyed yarn over the internet, they usually want it for a one-skein project, like socks or a hat. There's too much risk in purchasing enough for a sweater. And cost. Hand dyeing is labor intensive so the cost of a sweater's worth of hand dyed yarn would be quite dear.

Why would indie dyers create sweater sized dyelots? That's another issue. I doubt there's much of a market. There's a lot of capital invested in dyeing a large enough dye lot of Aran yarn for a sweater. Most of the BFL Aran that gets purchased from indie dyers goes into knitting wool soakers. For those not in the know, that's diaper covers. They are awfully cute and seem practical but what a use for a premium yarn!


So I figured I would dye this yarn and make a sweater.


I had in mind a brioche rib cardigan, although I really didn't know how to knit one. I just love the brioche stitch and thought the yarn would work well. I figured the internet was my friend in figuring out the How.

Well, I found the gold mind! Brioche stitch heaven. Nancy Marchant has created one of the clearest and most useful sites on the internet. And a pattern for a simple brioche cardigan as well! Frankly, given all the information she provides for free, anyone who understands sweater construction could figure out that sweater on their own, but it was only five bucks, it would save some math and damn! She deserves the money just for the information on her website!


Of course there's something I hadn't considered. Brioche takes more yarn than stockinette. I am not sure I dyed enough for the sweater. Lots of back of the pattern calculations estimating square inches to knit and square inches per gram of what I have knit --- I may be really, really close.

I did take careful notes on the dyes used, I can probably dye another skein or two close enough to work -- maybe alternating rows on the sleeves, but I'll finish the back and do more calculations before deciding if I need to do that.

Monday, June 2

Teaching the kid to fly

Last weekend my husband took a brief vacation and left the kid behind. Sure, we've been away from him before overnight. He's been to sleepovers and sleep away camp. When he was younger we even occasionally left him with a sitter and went away for an anniversary or birthday weekend. But this felt different.

This time we told our 14 year old that we wanted to go camping without him and he needed to call a friend and get himself invited over to spend the night. And he did. Friday he rode his bike to school with his pannier packed with pajamas and toothbrush, because his sleepover friend commuted by bike. He would bike home the next morning (from Phinney Ridge! Crossing Aurora by himself!) then leave to spend the day with another friend. He could then come home, make himself dinner and keep himself occupied (that's what the internet and video games are for, right?) until we got home Saturday evening. We had the cell phone and alerted several neighbors who were happy to be available in case he needed assistance. And we were off. Did I worry? Of course! Independence is a long and gradual process, a process we have to encourage, even if it's scary. (More scary for me than the kid, actually.)


We went to the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge in the Channeled Scablands. Eastern Washington has the wildest geologic history I can imagine. No recent natural event has come close to the forces that have shaped that landscape. First, the earth opened and lava flooded the land, hundreds of miles covered fifty feet thick. Over about a million years, this happened over and over again. Enough lava in total to cover the entire continental US 39 feet deep. Then, some time elapsed and the world went into an ice age. Eastern Washington was not covered by the continental ice shelf, but Northeast of there, a finger of the continental glacier formed a dam in the mountains of Montana, creating a massive lake behind. The dam failed in a cataclysmic flood where all the water drained from Montana through Eastern Washington to the Columbia River and to the sea. Took less than a week and estimates say that the flow was more than the combined flow of all rivers in the world combined. This happened again and again, perhaps once every 50 years for a couple thousand years. The flooding tore up the land, eroding the basalt layers into a complex of channels and potholes. Giant ripple marks that are only recognizable as such from airplanes. Gravel bars the size of small mountain ranges.

Interpretive trail sign

The Columbia National Wildlife Refuge was formed because the Potholes Reservoir dam created by The Project in the 1940s raised the water table nearby. So the desert south of the reservoir now held water in the potholes and the lowest parts of the channels, water that attracts and aids wildlife of all sorts.

We hiked in the refuge and in the neighboring Drumheller Channels. Although we didn't time our hikes to optimize wildlife viewing --- the crepuscular hours are ideal for that --- we did see quite a variety. Birds, bugs, frogs, even a couple coyotes, but fortunately no snakes.

Saturday's hike we were treated to the sound of ravens making a fuss. We stopped and observed an adult pair and a juvenile pair up on the edge of a mesa. The adult pair each flew off the mesa, around the corner and perched back up top aways off. Then they called and called. Eventually the juveniles followed, but instead of flying out and around, they took the shorter path across the top, flying inexpertly no more than a few feet off the ground. Well, the parents did not sound too pleased about that and cawed up a storm.

That was the coolest thing we saw until lunchtime we were sitting in the shade under a cliff and noticed that a coyote was watching us from across the channel. Just standing on the edge of the opposite mesa and staring. He looked just like a large dog, but with the binoculars we could see the distinctive fur patterns and scrabbier body of a wild coyote.

That was the coolest thing until we were walking back in the bottom of a channel when we suddenly saw a huge bird flying away from us along the top of the mesa to our right. It stopped and looked back and had the unmistakable face of an owl! I've never seen an owl in the wild and what is it doing out in the day?

Right then another huge bird flew in front of us from the right cliff to the taller left cliff. We stopped and got out the binoculars and saw that the bird on the right was a juvenile, still fluffy and downy while the bird now on the left was an adult Great Horned Owl. Parent number two soon made its presence known and was also above us on the higher cliffs on our left. Unlike the ravens, these birds were not ignoring us and getting on with their teaching. We were being watched. Franz also got the impression that if we kept walking the trajectory we were going, we'd be pretty close to the fledgling and perhaps attacked by the parents. So after watching through the binoculars for a while, we continued on, passing much closer to the left side than the right. After we were through, I looked back and saw that the juvenile was now down in the channel, practicing flying maneuvers near the ground.

Our fledgling? Well, he managed just fine without us.

Friday, May 16

More fun with mathematics (and knitting)

Just about anyone with a school-aged child is aware of the controversies in mathematics education. As a former math teacher and the parent of a ninth grader, I follow it pretty closely. The other day I read an article from a fellow arguing that algebra ought to be an elective in high school, that not many people ever have to use algebra in real life, so why make everyone suffer through it. He was especially critical of word problems and claims that there are no real life word problems that anyone would ever want or need to solve.

I guess he only knits rectangles.

I get lots of blog hits from folks looking for shawl calculation help. Many people knitting a triangular shawl from the top down want to know how many pattern repeats they can finish before they run out of yarn. I gave a method (using algebra) in this post and a follow-up in this post.

finished row 34

I recently started Ene's Scarf, my first triangular scarf/shawl knit from the bottom up. Meaning: cast on a terrific number of stitches, then decrease regularly until they are almost all gone, bind them off and block out to triangular shape.

Again, this isn't really a triangle, but a trapezoid. Cast on 375 stitches, decrease two stitches per row until you are left with 19 stitches, then do a bind-off that grafts them together.

This time, I know I have enough yarn. (Elsebeth Lavold's Silky Wool. Purchased to make Cozy from knitty.com, frogged for a variety of reasons.) All I really want to know is when I have reached the halfway point for the psychological assurance. However, if I were worried about having enough yarn, I would use the same calculations --- but factoring in the extra yarn used in the cast-on row more carefully.

First: Draw a picture and determine what I know and what I want to know.


For Ene's Scarf:

C = cast on = 375 stitches
B = end (not exactly bind-off, but close enough) = 19 stitches
H = number of rows = 179

note that if one really does decrease two stitches per row, the numbers are a teeny bit off -- one would end up with 17 stitches. That's because in this pattern, there are a few rows that don't follow the rules completely, but the difference is negligible for my needs.

Total number of stitches = Area of trapezoid = 1/2(C+B)*H = 35,263

I know that I will have knit half the scarf when I reach row h with r stitches where the area of the top trapezoid with base r is exactly half the area of the whole trapezoid.

I have two unknowns, h and r. Fortunately, I can solve for r in terms of h, so I will end up having an equation with one unknown and I can solve it.

h = rows left to finish
r = number of stitches in the row where there are h rows left.

So r = 19 + 2h

Area of top trapezoid is 1/2(19 + r) * h = 1/2(19 + 19 + 2h)h = 19h + h²

So we have to solve for h where

19h + h² = 1/2(35,263) = 17,631.5

h² + 19h - 17,631.5 = 0 is a quadratic equation, easily solved by the Pythagorean Theorem.

Do you want to see the calculations? I thought not. But I'll show you anyway. There are two real solutions to this equation, but we are only interested in the positive solution. Therefore, we only care about

(-19 + (19² - 4 * (-17,631.5))^.5) / 2 = 124 (more or less)

I will be halfway done when I have 124 rows left. 179 rows total, means I will be halfway done when I have finished 55 rows.

Friday, April 25

Blueberry Shawl

I've been having trouble deciding whether to knit a new sweater using stash yarn or purchasing more Cascade 220 to remake Forecast. And if I do reknit Forecast, what color? (I could always choose to finish a work in progress, but that's never as fun as starting something new!) So I went browsing at A New Yarn which has a decent selection of C220, but not the color of the Japan sweater. They do have a different yarn in the most gorgeous blue (Sapphire in this link, I believe). That would make a wonderful sweater, but it would cost more than twice as much as a C220 version. And infinitely more than knitting a sweater from stash.

So instead I wandered around and looked at the odds and ends. A New Yarn is a non-profit yarn store that raises money for a Women's shelter. They stock some good basic yarns but also take donations. So you never know what odd balls of Rowan or Malabrigo will be scattered around. I found a skein of Shetland in a tweedy blue-purple. It has a really old looking label and the colorway is Blueberry --- not one I can find currently for sale.

It is probably not a coincidence that I chose a blue-purple colorway. Not exactly the same as the Japan Sweater, but pretty close.

In one week it became a Flower Basket Shawl. I chose this pattern because I wanted something I knew would be easy to do without stitch markers since I have kinda lost mine all over the house. I knew the pattern would be easy to memorize and I knew it would be easy to add pattern repeats to maximize using the available yarn.

US 7 addi lace needles
9 pattern repeats
86 grams, 340-350 yards used
blocks to 63 inch wingspan 24 inches deep (could have been blocked deeper with less wingspan as well)

Sunday, April 20

Friday, April 18

What now?

Thanks all for your comments and condolences on my sweater. I knew you would understand. And it's not like I knit Print o the Wave in cashmere only to lose it on a train. That was sad.

I packed lightly for Japan and the only sweater was my Forecast, which if you read my blog, you know I finished while I was there. I needed it mostly for the mountain visits, Takayama and Koyasan. And I did get to wear it both places. It was Cascade 220, easily replaceable. The knitting only took a couple weeks. I significantly modified the pattern with great results, but still have a couple things I would have liked to have done differently (like the collar) so I just might make another one.

The saddest part is losing the buttons. Nancy brought them back from her big Europe Adventure a couple years ago --- purchased in a little town near Nimes, France.

Tokyo Day 1, buttons

But losing the buttons isn't like I lost Nancy or anything.

Our last stop in Japan was Nagasaki. It got warm and I took off my sweater the afternoon we visited the A-bomb memorial, Peace Museum and Peace Park. When we got off the tram at the harbor, I realized the sweater was no longer in my bag. We contacted the tram line, we waited for that particular car to come back and checked, then I went back to the area and retraced all my steps. I didn't have time to contact the police lost and found, but our friend in Nagasaki said she would do so. As others have said, Japanese culture considers it important to return things via lost and found, so it is still possible that I will get it back. I just don't know where it fell out of the bag, so perhaps it ended up in a canal or something.

But what now? I am feeling the urge to reknit Forecast, but that would mean purchasing more yarn. I have yarn in my stash that would make fine sweaters, but nothing that would make a perfect Forecast.

Meanwhile, I've been uploading Japan photos to flickr. Haven't organized and culled them completely, yet. But my librarian knitter Cousin Jane (SockFetishist on ravelry) sleuthed them out already. If you don't want to wait for the polished slideshow, you can find them as well here.

I have also started uploading my mother in law's Japan photos. She let me take her camera's memory card home so I can get her started on flickr. It's great to see the different photos of the same places that she took, but the problem is, she took photos of me. And I am often wearing my sweater.

Wednesday, April 16

It could have been worse

It's not like I lost my passport or my husband or anything, just a sweater....

Back of sweater.

If you are ever in Nagasaki, would you keep an eye out for it, please?

Saturday, April 5

Kyoto, Sunday afternoon

We were up and out early today. Yesterday F & Z wanted to visit a garden at one of the big shrines, but the line was too long. Z went up to the guard and asked (in Japanese!) what time they opened in the morning, got a reply which he understood so the three of them were planning to get there at 8:30 this morning. I went instead to the coinlaundry (my choice). It's just a hole in the wall, but it has a raised wooden floor with a no shoes sign and convenient and clean slippers to wear. That way when you drop your clean clothes or your skein of yarn on the floor they don't get dirty.

Then I went to Nijo Castle, the nightingale floor castle (or maybe all of them have such floors?) For touring the inside, I think I was supposed to get with a group and stay with them, but it was really just a solid line of people and I was unobtrusively going a little slower and on my own. Towards the end though I got shunted into a group of English speakers. We were in the Shogun's private quarters and the scene showed the shogun and several lady attendants. One is offering the shogun a cup of tea. The guide said that she was an apprentice and if the shogun accepted the tea then she would become a lady attendant, but if not, then she "wasn't his cup of tea." Everyone laughed and started murmuring - so that's where the expression comes from --- but then the guide shouted out "Joke!" So I don't know but am curious if the etymology of the phrase is known. Perhaps one of my faithful readers who aren't paying 10 yen per minute for internet could look it up and leave a comment?

Because internet is not free, I am reading email and blogging, but haven't emailed anyone yet. So hello and thank you for the comments and I am thinking of you all and will talk to you later.

Coins come in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 50, 100 and 500 yen. The first two are pretty useless and cannot be used in vending machines. Fortunately you don't get them often because almost everything with the included tax is a multiple of 10 yen. However there are some exceptions, like Family Mart coffee, so I did start collecting some 1 and 5 yen coins. Then today I was at a food stall and my bill was 1046 yen. And there was no one waiting so I counted out 46 yen in 1 and 5 yen pieces and handed her them and a 5000 yen bill. Then she said that she made a mistake and my bill was really 886 yen (at least that's what I think she said, since she spoke no English) so she handed me 4 1000 yen bills, my 46 yen and an additional 114 in coins. Sigh, so much for trying.

Next I went to the Kyoto International Manga Museum. I had thought that Zach would be interested but he said absolutely not. Well, I was on my own and it was nearby so I did. When I turned the corner and saw the courtyard I understood Zach's reason. CosPlay. What a cultural experience. I can see why he who scorns such would not want to be there and appear to accept it. But it was quite an interesting people watching experience for me.

The manga was not that interesting, there really wasn't much but a lot of books to read, but the building is a converted primary school built in 1869. It was lovely architecture. In the 1990s when enrollment had declined tremendously due to families with kids leaving the central downtown area, they made the painful decision to close and consolidate the elementary schools. One room in the museum was devoted to the history of the school and that's where I spent most of my short visit.

well, my time is about up, so I am off for now.


I am wearing my sweater with its fashionable three quarter length sleeves! I didn't weave in the ends entirely, just wove them up underneath so I can access them easily when we get home. But I have photos of me on the Philosopher's Walk with the cherry blossoms in full bloom modeling the sweater. While it shows the sweater well, I am all squinty and washed out because I was looking into the sun, but whatever. it was hard to find a spot to take the photo. Everyone in Japan was walking the Philosopher's Walk yesterday -- it being Saturday in the peak of the blossoms.

I don't love Kyoto, but that's ok. there's some lovely and wonderful sights, but right now really crowded. otherwise it seems to be all tony shopping and tony people. but tony shopping includes Avril Yarn Store. I had printed out the address and map from their website while back in Seattle, but it is all in Japanese so I had no idea where it was. I showed it to the hotel clerk who marked it on my map and it turned out to be just a few blocks away. It's in a small two story tony shopping building along with a kimono shop, antique jewelry and fancy dolls. And a TinTin shop which is worth about 5 minutes. I saw about three men sitting looking really bored and tired on the stairs or huddled in corners. Poor guys. While I browsed the yarn store my guys were off exploring and stumbling across a museum devoted to the history of the canals and waterworks of Kyoto. They had fun figuring out what it all meant since the explanations were all in Japanese. But engineering is engineering and they were in their element.

The Avril building had one last notable feature. It had a toilet (ie restroom) but only for ladies. And of all the Washlets I have run across in Japan theirs was the fanciest. As I entered the stall the lid automatically rose. The bidet controls were remote, up on the wall with easy access instead of down near the seat -- which was well heated. And this one not only had the usual array of washing features, it included a warm air dry.

Starbucks in Kyoto doesn't open until 8 AM, and I thought the 7AM opening in Tokyo was bad!

Tuesday, April 1

Thoughts before leaving Tokyo

First things first: While I have plenty of Casdade 220 in the appropriate color at home, I tried to pack lightly. So I have (had) one ball that I was pretty sure was plenty. But at the last minute, I picked up a partial ball as well as back-up. Well, I have about 30 rounds to go to finish the sleeve, and I have had to break into the reserves, but I think all will be well. I am not thrilled with the look of the first sleeve, but it is cute enough. I do think I have just enough yarn to make sleeve 2 look like sleeve one, and enough yarn in Seattle to redesign the cuffs later if I want.

Other thoughts as I wait for Starbucks to open and the rest of my family to wake and finish packing....

I had been afraid of Tokyo. Especially getting lost (addresses are non-existent) and getting confused on the subway and trains. The transportation has been very easy compared to my expectations. Just a few odd things, where we missed taking the train that arrived at the platform because we were not savvy enough or fast enough to tell if that really was our train. And there seems to be some hidden non-peak fare. While it is really easy for English speakers to get information from the maps, signs etc, I can find nothing in English about a non-peak fare. And several times while traveling non-peak hours we got our tickets back when we thought they would be just right. Then in some small print somewhere I saw a reference to a non-peak fare, but not what it is. A transportation tax on tourists. It isn't much and the subway runs well, so be it.

Stations have a ton of exits, all far away from each other, along with lots of spots to transfer to other trains. It could be very confusing. But there are mostly really good signs for finding your way to the correct exit. Yesterday though, at a station with 10 exits, I saw on the handy map that I wanted exit 6. So I followed all the signs to exit 6, but ended up at a point where I could still see signs for exits 1-5 and 7-10 but 6 had completely disappeared. Another map of the station showed that there was an exit 6 but not on that floor (?) and the stairs to get there were the stairs right behind me marked exit 7. I took the stairs, but no 6. Fortunately 7 was not far from my destination.

Lots of bikes, mostly on the sidewalk. I think there is a protocol for where to ride and where to walk on the sidewalks, but no one seems to follow it. No helmets. I saw one child in a front basket with one, but no one else, not even the other children being carried. They aren't traveling fast on their old-fashioned uprights so it might not be as much an issue, but I still would want a helmet myself.

They drive on the other side. Since we are not driving that doesn't seem like it would be a big deal, but it means that everyone walks on the left as well. Except for a few places in subway stations where the arrows all point to walking on the right.

Restaurant prices are good compared to US but the portions are smaller as well. But that's a Good Thing! We never feel wasteful or stuffed. And it means that we can try more things. Zach wanted both a bowl of french onion soup and a strawberry pancake for breakfast. In America that would have been too much food. (well, maybe not for him) but here it was fine. My mother in law had a cobb salad for lunch and declared it the best she's ever had. Not only the right size, but more interesting seasoning and more ingredients.


Good thing blogger autosaves, because some window in kana popped up with a message that I now think was something like "new updates installed, shutting down now" at least that's what happened. Oh well, I am back from the coffee run with scones for the rest, we need to eat and take a subway to the main train station this morning. With all our bags. Won't that be fun.

Still knitting

So, what do you think the odds are that in Tokyo I can find Cascade 220 in the same dyelot of the yarn I purchased two years ago at the Fiber Gallery in Seattle?

That's what I think, too.

I may have to shorten sleeve one to finish sleeve two, but I do not know for sure yet. Will try to keep you posted. But tomorrow we leave Tokyo for Takayama, a small town in the mountains and I doubt we will have internet access. And it will be cooler in Takayama. I plan to finish knitting on the train en route.

Lots of pictures to share, but they will all have to wait until we are home.

Sunday, March 30


Greetings from Tokyo!

Monday 6:30 AM hotel lobby, Asakusa. Starbucks up the street opens at 7AM.

We arrived safely, found our hotel, spent yesterday sightseeing locally, lots of cherry blossoms, lots of people.

Sleeve number one was finished somewhere over the Bering Sea. Sleeve number two is about halfway done. Will I finish in time for Takayama in the mountains? Indications say yes. But we will see. If I get too cold, I will just have to bind off wherever and make a fashion statement.

Wednesday, March 26

Sukoshi kanko-ga shitai-desu.

We interrupt blog silence to say so long, we are off to Japan. We have passports, rail passes, hotel reservations, two cameras --- but no laptop or cables, so photos when we return --- and the list of things to do includes at least one yarn store.

I did finish the Victorian Lace Today Large Rectangle and it is large. I didn't block it to its extreme, but to the extreme of my blocking board at 32x82 inches. I could probably have gotten a couple more inches in both dimensions. I love it anyway. And as for running out of yarn, I had 300 grams and used 286 grams. The calculator on ravelry says that is 1359 yards. I am too lazy to double check or to double check my calculations from when I worried about running out. The pattern calls for 1200 yards? I used the same weight of yarn as called for, I knit on similar needle sizes, but my finished dimensions are larger. So whatever, I had enough yarn.

Here's a photo of me trying to get all arty. I am imagining being lost out on the moors in winter with nothing but the pile of shawls I grabbed as I ran away. Would Jane's have been lace?


My latest knitting is a sweater that I really want to wear in Japan. However, it's not quite finished yet. Using Forecast, from Knitty 2005, I did some modifications which I am liking. Details on my ravelry page. Body is finished, button band done, buttons sewed on, ends are woven in, but the sleeves aren't going to knit themselves, so I better keep this post short. We leave in about 36 hours.


Saturday, February 9

Participatory Democracy

Well, the caucus is over. Now I can lose my voice.

Yesterday afternoon I started getting that unmistakable tickle in the throat --- the first symptom of a cold. I woke this morning with inflamed sinuses, but overall not feeling too bad yet. I got to the school gym around 12 noon, an hour before the start time, as asked of the caucus chairs. To my disappointment, I found out that they hadn't asked for extra rooms, all 10 precincts were going to meet in the one space. We had two tables for our precinct, two of those standard picnic-style tables found in elementary schools everywhere. It wasn't long before people started showing up. The early arrivals were very helpful, making sure the sign-up process was going smoothly, going to get more forms, pens, etc. All in all it ran smoothly considering the size of the turnout.

When Gail asked me to be chair, she said that 4 years ago the turnout had been really high, about 60 people. Today we had 129. That's just our precinct. There were more than a thousand people in the room, 10 precincts all trying to get organized, sign everyone in, tally up the votes, choose delegates. Our precinct had the most attendees and also the most delegates to choose (number of delegates is determined by some formula using past voting data) so it isn't surprising that we were the last one done. 99 Obama, 30 Clinton. 5 delegates for Obama, 2 for Clinton.

The delegate votes have to be done on paper ballots. There was no easy way for the 70+ Obama supporters who stuck it out that far to do the balloting. But we managed. Everyone pitched in and it all worked so smoothly. I didn't get to knit much, got too busy right away. Mostly I stood on the bench seat of one of the tables and tried to project so that the whole precinct could hear me.

I had been worried, I had been kicking myself for my inability to say no. But it was great. Lots of neighbors came -- many that I see regularly, some only once in a while. I met some new people, and everyone was truly neighborly. Maybe the size helped. It really was too large and crowded for folks to try to politick. Everyone seemed to have already made up their mind and there was very little changing. Now I have to thank Gail for going out of town and asking me to volunteer.

But first, change into sweats, brew lemon ginger tea with honey, and curl up in a blanket. Pass me the tissues, please.

Wednesday, February 6

Is it Christmas yet?

Zach's birthday is in November and this year we decided to spring for a big gift, one to cover Christmas as well. An mp3 player. He chose a Zen 30GB player from Creative. Only trouble was, they were out of stock everywhere.

January 3 I got email from Creative announcing they were back in stock. I ordered one.
January 6 It was shipped.
January 8 It arrived. It didn't work. It was a brick.
January 9 I emailed back and forth with customer service to convince them it was bricked.
January 10 Creative issued an RMA.
January 11 I sent the unit to OK for service or replacement. We paid shipping.
January 28 The replacement was shipped
February 1 It arrived. It was the wrong player. A smaller, cheaper player. It did, however, work.
February 2 I emailed customer support.
February 4 Creative issued the super-duper Advanced RMA --- will ship new unit and a prepaid shipping label to return the wrong one.
February 6 I got email notification that the RMA has been shipped. UPS tracking system doesn't have it yet.

Then there was the December 21 xkcd.com T-shirt order. Zach needs new shirts, he loves xkcd and the mp3 player was not coming yet. Something to open on Christmas? January 16 I got a weaselly apology from Paypal and a more straightforward one from xkcd. It was Paypal's fault but they erred in not contacting us sooner. T shirts arrived January 23rd. (A big hit, too.)

Then we realized Zach's ski pants from last year were a no show. He must have outgrown them so we would have passed them along. SierraTradingPost has quality merchandise at good prices. When I ordered the pants, the website said that a Medium was size 28-30. Sounded like they ran pretty small, but I've always had good shopping experience with SierraTradingPost. They arrived. They are huge. I contacted the friendly customer service. She said "Well, I am looking at the on-line catalog right now and the Mediums are 30-32." Was I going nuts? I got her to check and she called back to say that the catalog folks had "recently updated the sizing." Sigh. The new pants have left the warehouse and UPS expects delivery Friday February 8.

Other news: I've been either too busy or too sick or too boring to blog. Busy includes the bookstore, paperwork for the Board From Hell (yes, I am still in it. According to Mayor Greg's memo, I do my noble-citizen-duty until October 2009) and other things as well, including planning a two week trip to Japan for April. Franz has done a lot of the work, but it still has taken both of us many hours of internet sleuthing to line up accommodations and travel details. I have not knit much, the VLT shawl still needs a few more border repeats and one more corner turned. My last day at the bookstore is next week (yay!) Week after that is mid-winter break and we are going to Utah to ski (double yay!)

Odds and ends: I get so many hits on my blog from folks looking for the Triangle Shawl calculations, that if you Google "trapezoid formula" my blog post shows up on the first page of results.

I'm good at voting but have never attended a caucus. (Recall, I grew up in the last bastion of Taxation without Representation, otherwise known as Our Nation's Capital.) This year I got talked into volunteering to chair our precinct's caucus. It ought to be a zoo. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, January 1

New year starting out well.

Happy New Year!

Blog was neglected for a busy December. Few random items from the past month:
  • Had a bit of a scare when I tried to get dressed and my jeans wouldn't go past my knees. To my relief, I realized I had grabbed the pair my skinny 14 year old son had outgrown and are destined for the Goodwill.
  • My car got graffiti tagged in the driveway one night. Was pretty creeped out by it, then found out that two neighbors had gotten tagged the same time. Then it seemed more random and less creepy. Plus, what seemed to be indelible marker came off easily with Citra-Solve and some elbow grease.
  • Working retail in December has its ups and downs. At least there are stories to share. Like the woman looking for a sudoku book for her "very smart" 8 year old granddaughter. I showed her Sudoku for Dummies and she was completely offended. Said her granddaughter was not a dummy.
  • December 3rd, I mailed 6 checks including the mortgage. All but the mortgage showed up as received and cashed within a week. I called mortgage company on Dec 17th, last day to pay without a penalty. No check. I paid on-line which cost me six bucks. Then what to do about the missing check? Just in case, I moved enough money from savings into checking to cover it. Sure enough, it appeared at the mortgage company on the 18th. Large mortgage company is fighting bankruptcy. Is it possible it is "losing" checks for a couple weeks just so folks need to pay a late fee?
But now it's January and things are looking up.

I just won a blog contest! Kris has been having contests to celebrate her husband Dana's birthday. I was one of the folks who guessed his favorite album from 1979 and I won a skein of Dream in Color Smooshy Sock from her on-line store. Yay for me! and Yay for Kris who just sold her house and yay for Dana for having a birthday. Check out her store. Kris sells a nice variety of commercial yarn and a great selection of Indie hand-dyed yarn.


Most of my knitting time has been spent on the Large Rectangle from VLT. I have only 25 pattern repeats of the border left (out of 82). Each repeat takes me 24 minutes. Therefore, at least 10 more hours of work. And I am thinking of knitting the Princess Shawl? Am I nuts or just very optimistic?