Archive for November, 2006

i’ve got something on my mind

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

i don’t have pictures today—i was too busy with work and classes to take any. and i dunno if i am going to write about knitting at all today because i have something on my mind.

david’s dad, Big Dave (he is SO not big—he’s a rail!), has been ill for several months. he is around
70 years old, and has been a fairly heavy smoker all his life, so this is not surprising. we first became aware of it when he entered the hospital a couple of months back with pain in his arm. it took quite a while for the situation to be diagnosed and he underwent surgery. we don’t know exactly what was diagnosed or how ill he is, because he isn’t telling anyone (we think it must be cancer, but we really don’t know). now he is home and recuperating.

however, he has had to retire due to this illness; he has worked in a hardware store in his small town on long island for many, MANY years, walking back and forth several miles each day, to his job.
he, of course, did not receive benefits at his job—it was a small business and family-run—it was not the type of job to offer health benefits. he did, however, pay taxes and social security from his salary.

so, he was forced to retired because of his health, and applied for social security because the hospital social worker wanted to get him on medicare in order to have his bills paid. only guess what?

Big Dave is having a devil of a time getting approved.
why?
well, he was born at home. he was born at home in south carolina during a time when most “non-white” people were barred from hospitals. therefore, his birth was never recorded and he does not have a birth certificate. he was also born during the depression, which compounded the difficulties of having a hospital birth with all the official paperwork. he HAS a social security number. his birth certificate is not missing—it just never existed.

though he attended school as a child for a few years, SERVED IN THE ARMED FORCES as a young man, and fathered three sons (including one who is 40 now), because he cannot proved the exact date of his birth (and therefore his age), he is being denied.

i find it extremely disturbing that someone can enter into service and hold an army record without a birth certificate, but suddenly be “off the grid” as far as the federal government is concerned, when it is their turn to give back. i mean, he is NOT asking for a handout—he is asking for what he invested in, both in service AND in cash, through his lifetime contributions to social security.

there are a number of government records in which Big Dave’s age was recorded, and apparently his word on it has always been perfectly acceptable when he was the one paying out. he HAS a social security number. his birth certificate is not missing—it just never existed.

surely he is not the first, or only person from his generation to have been born at home, unrecorded by city hall. i know my grandmother had her first child at home; it was common practice then. after all, many people were considered “non-white” in the 20s and 30s, and not admitted to hospitals on that basis. or, they were just too poor to pay a hospital for one of life’s most natural occurances—childbirth.

is it really possible that no system was put in place to deal with this situation as people born early in the century began to apply for social security in old age? that just seems too far-fetched to even consider.

now the social security administration is legendary in their wish to put applicants through the ringer, especially difficult cases. i know for a fact that lots of people are denied certain types benefits several times before they finally are approved—and that persistence is key when dealing with them. i imagine that difficult cases which might require some research will be annoying. and certainly there is a fear among government agencies of what they consider to be freeloaders.

but c’mon—the guy is 70 and still working up til a couple of months ago. and i haven’t heard of rampant abuse by people claiming to be lots older than they really are, have you? the guy is not underage by any stretch of the imagination.

so, what’s up with all this? has anyone else had to deal with this kind of thing and come up with a brilliant way to light a fire under the SSA, or otherwise beat them at their own game?
if you have, please pass it on to me!

back to knit chat tomorrow—i promise!

moth, mitts, and tangled ropes

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

i hardly know where to start. at the beginning of today i didn’t think i had much to talk about, but then as the day wore on and i thought as i worked, a lot of blog fodder came together for me. i even have pictures to show for it.

the first thing i have to show you is something i am way too proud of. i don’t have a right to be proud of it because i did NONE of the work in achieving its excellence. this was made by susie (blogless), who has been taking classes with me for about a year and a half

it is her opus magnum—it represents many milestones. we kidded her a lot about struggling with it, but truly, she met each challenge with determination and showed us a little bit about perseverance. it is the wing-’o-the-moth shawl, knit with suri alpaca on size 5 needles, begun sometime in september and completed the third week of november. (really susie—not that much time; you did good!!)

she’s going to bring it to class tomorrow and i can’t wait—believe me, it’s gossamer. it almost makes me want to knit something with yarn that thin. almost.

as it happens, i have been knitting with some pretty thin yarn. i finally jumped into a couple of christmas gift projects—mitts for my friends mo and kellie, who sent me some be-yoo-tiful vintage yarns from mother’s stash. when i got the box, i discoverd some cashmere in there, even, and resolved to make kellie some mitts with it.

i had to pull out the size 2 needles to get a nice fabric (i was hoping for maybe a 3 or 4 needle . . .). but actually, i’m making pretty quick time on them. i knit all that at the shop yesterday while i was teaching (granted, it was an easy day—no meltdowns, no surgery, and no trauma).
these feel so good that i wish i had a pair too. and believe me, i’m gonna get some. yes m’am. i like the snug fit and the thin fabric a lot. i use mitts often when it’s cold—i just have to.

i also got going on the man version of the mitt gift, though i opted not to put manlace in them. the yarn is too heavy and i don’t think mo would like it. they match a hat i made him last year, which he adores.

i used my ragamuffin mitt pattern with a heavier (it’s handspun—sort of aran weight) yarn and larger needles (size 7). i replaced the fluffy edging with ribbing and made the cuff longer. they fit david perfectly, so the stitch count was just right.

i had to work on sunday, but since there was no one else around to ask questions or interrupt, i was able to use some spare moments to knit some rounds on these

but what i’m really thinking about in the back of my mind is what my next big project will be. i think i’m gonna take out this sweater and have another crack at it. the yarn is too beautiful to allow it to languish any more, and i can use another sweater.

it’s a top-down raglan that i started last winter with a nasty-cool, way-sick cable that i’ve had my eye on for years (BW3). it’s a tough cable to design around because it is so dense, that it can be way too tight for the fabric surrounding it. but i finally found the perfect marriage of yarn and cable.

this is some handspun coopworth (copper moose) cut with about 40% cotton, which i carded in roughly, and then spun into two-ply, letting the yarn be whateverr it wanted to be. it was something i spun when i first learned, but had finally gotten the hang of not overtwisting. it was my first attempt at using cotton for texture and making something purposely rustic, without any unwanted “rustic-ness”.

i. love. it.
this yarn is dear to me. in fact, it was in danger of being too precious to use; i just love sitting and looking at it, touching it softly once in a while . . . ahem, sorry.
this yarn is as soft, airy, and lightweight as malabrigo—i kid you not. when i was spinning it, i thought the coopworth would be rough, but NOT.

i’m so glad i thought to use it with that cable—two of my favorite elements, and knitting it now means that there is a strong possibility it will last the rest of my life. (er, i DO have sweaters that old in my drawer, so i know it could happen . . .).

here’s a closeup of the cable

isn’t that shwee-e-e-et?
as soon as i finish those mitts, AND the obstacles shawl (sooo close, so close) i’m gonna dive in.

(sidenote: i swear that obstacles shawl has stayed the same length for the last week, even though i work on it every night . . . but i AM on the last hank of yarn, so it will have to be done soon.)

BTW, there is now a pattern for the waterfall sox available as well as a few other new smalls in the catalog.

trying to reach Ann MacIlravie

Monday, November 27th, 2006

i received a payment for a pattern from ann macIlravie, but all my emails to her are bouncing back.

ann, please send an alternate email address at which i can reach you, or turn off your SPAM filter so my email can get through!

6 years, and just a foot in the door

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

today is our wedding anniversary!
six years have gone by faster than is possible.

each year, david gets a new set of socks for winter. it started with me making several poair for the first anniversary, and i just continued it each year, as it makes so much sense—the real cold is about to descend on us and it’s time to make sure he has good solid socks for the winter.

i know, i know—i could do LOT better at wrapping and presenting things. but i gotta tell you—wrapping and presenting are really not my thing! if it happens at all, it happens as i’m running out the door to whatever situation the gift will be given. if it weren’t for gift bags (and really, god BLESS the person who thought of them . . .), i might not even get the gifts out the door at all.

anyway, the annual giving of the socks is not without it’s “interesting” moments. for this is the time, of course, when the great sock rotation takes place, and david must choose which socks will stay and which ones will go.

now for most of us, this is a complete no-brainer. but as previously documented here, my husband apparently has issues with tossing worthless socks, and becomes inexorably attached to the ones he currently owns at any one time. when he positively can’t wear them any more, he finds new and ingenious ways to recycle them to death (i bet you wondered where the current craze for mitts originated, huh?). this is a saga that a few readers have been following for some time, and it remains a favorite source of, shall we say, bottomless humor. but today it took a whole new twist.

most readers are well-aware that we live in an old drafty house, the fixing of which is a little like sticking our fingers into the dike to hold back the flood. once we started correcting this or that drafty area, another would readily become apparent. but the worst offender has to be the lack of storm windows and doors on the place. we are finally getting interior storm windows which will seal out a lot of the cold, while maintining the beauty of the original windows streetside.

along the same lines, each bedroom has french doors which open directly out to the upstairs porches, completely free of encumberances such as storms. the one in our bedroom even sports a bullet hole. the lack of insulation renders this particular room the coldest in the house—no fun during the getting-undressed-and-getting-to-sleep period each night.

so while our storm doors are on order, david started repairing the sills and jambs in anticipation of their installation. whatever he did created some sort of temporary air gap at the bottom (i guess we don’t have an august or september here in ohio in which to do these tasks), which allows cold air to rush in.

EXCEPT, that he was smart enough to find the perfect thing to stuff in there, in plentiful quantities, right in his closet next door.

i just totally cracked up when i saw that! i mean, it IS a great idea, right? and, he showed me! one more use for something i said was worthless. ha!
maybe if he saves up enough of them, he can do the attic . . .

thank you for all those nice comments about my sweater. i don’t know yet if i will write a patten for it. i have to confess that i have not found an efficient way to size and test sweater patterns (and if anyone has one, please let me know). i have softwear that will help me with sizing, but it does not help redistribute patterning. and then, proofing the patterns and making sure they work in every size just seems like a nightmare in the timeframe i have available for that!

i’m hoping to be able to create more time for this endeavor in the coming year, because i DO have a large number of sweater designs and patterns that currently exist only in my size. wish me luck.

i finished up the toddler jumper and it is real cute! i still have to wash it, but i am happy with the final result, and can’t wait to find some tops and tights to go with it.

i know that lots of people are talking about the new book victorian lace today (XRX books). my copy has been sitting here on my desk for about 2 weeks, and i haven’t said a word about it. that could be because i am too bowled-over for words, but also, so many others have given it quite a bit of time. while not one to use a pattern from a book—i mean, this is the girl who wrote her own pattern this week and then proceeded to do it HER way anyhow . . . i can safely say that this volume is a real inspiration for any lace knitter—full of patterns and great ideas.

another book which i recently bought, and which has not gotten as much attention, is nicky epstein’s newest addition to her series on edgings and embellishments, knitting beyond the edge (spring street books).

again, i have not had a chance to explore it in depth, but from my first look-thru i am completely smitten. it is full of collars, cuffs, pockets, and ruffs—well all sorts of add-ons that also stand alone. i am definitely going to spend more time looking at each item—it’s a real treasury of gift ideas that should fit into most holiday schedules.