Annoyed Grunt

If any fans of The Simpsons are reading this, they will understand what I mean by that title.  If not, I’ll let you in on the reasoning at the end.

Well, I effed up my project.  I effed up my project in such a way that I had to perform some surgery on my afghan.

Surgery, you say?!  On an afghan?!  (Of course, by “afghan”, I’m referring to my hand-knitted project, not an actual person from Afghanistan.)

Yes.  I had to perform surgery on it.  Let me show you the “before” pic and explain why.

image

This is the section I was working on at the time I noticed a glaring error (note that I had a square in progress).  Do you notice the error yet?

What if I gave you a closer look?

image

See that variegated purple L there?  When joined to that dark purple rectangle, it creates three edges to pick up from.  That’s all fine and dandy, except that my method only allows me to use two edges to pick up for a small square, as the space between the two shapes would dictate.  I would have no way to connect the third edge to the other two.  What was I to do?

Well, the square that was in progress was no big deal.  I’d be able to frog that one (which for my non-knitting followers and readers, refers to the act of unraveling a knitted piece all the way to the end, like a frog saying, “Rip it, rip it”), since it was still attached the the skein.  However, two small squares and that variegated purple L were going to have to undergo a yarn-ectomy.  By this, I mean I would have to pick out the ends that I’d already woven in, work my back all the way to the fastening off point, and frog the whole damn piece.  (Pardon my langauge.)

Thankfully, I had already given myself a bit of an out because I have a very specific way that I tend to weave in my ends on these mitered projects.  After fastening off the last stitch or stitches, I will normally weave in that end as follows: I weave up and down alongside my center column (that chain of stockinette that runs up the middle), and then I will weave in and out of a stitch away from the edge or any cast on edges, so it makes a noticeable lump that is easy for me to detect for just this kind of situation.  I do the same thing with the yarn tail that began the piece, weaving along with the grain off the garter stitch present in that part.  When I cut my yarn tails after weaving, I always cut on the right side of the fabric, that way when the tail naturally unravels, it stays on the wrong side of the fabric rather than poke out on the right side.

image
Procedure area prior to yarn-ectomy. Note that the pink square that was in progress has already been frogged.

Now, the yarn-ectomy.  First thing you want to do is look for the yarn end.  I ended up using a yarn needle to help me with some of this.  When you locate the yarn end, using a combination of your fingers (which will tug on the yarn end; look on the other side of the fabric  to see where the yarn end tugs and loosen from there, using the yarn needle to pry the yarn loose) and the yarn needle, gradually loosen, pick out the yarn end, and then tug again to find where your yarn end goes next.  Follow the yarn end in this manner until you get to the fasten-off point.

Repeat for the yarn end leading to the cast-on/picked-up edge.  There should be two yarn tails on the piece loosened prior to the next step.

image

After both ends are loosened, you are free to frog the piece.

image
Frogging in progress.

After frogging, I decided to store the yarn in a Ziploc bag, although this amount of yarn probably will not be enough to reknit the square.  Instead, I will store it in case I am running dangerously low on yarn while working on a shape on that particular color, then I will have enough yarn to work a Russian join (which is basically folding two ends of yarn intersecting each other, and then each tail is sewn in on itself), and finish the shape.

I did the same thing for the small pink square.  The yarn from that one also got stored in its own Ziploc bag.

image

When it came time to frog the L, I repeated the same steps as I did for the squares.  However, since it took more yarn to knit the L, I knew I’d probably be able to reknit this yarn into a smaller shape, in this case a rectangle to free up a space to pick up the shape properly.  To keep the yarn from tangling, once I frogged the L, I wound the yarn into a ball and put it in its own Ziploc bag to keep the yarn clean and to allow the yarn to stay in place as I knit it (hence why there is an end hanging out of it).

image

And this is what the section looked like after the yarn-ectomy.

image

Now, I could replace the L with a rectangle to fill in the space.  Which is just what I did.

image
The new rectangle in progress
image
The finished rectangle.

I’d say the yarn-ectomy was a success and I am free to move on with this section.

By the way, the title refers to when Homer Simpson didn’t have a way in the script to describe his anger or frustration at things.  This was rendered in the earlier scripts as “(Annoyed Grunt)”.  Eventually this (Annoyed Grunt) became Homer Simpson’s world famous catchphrase, ” D’oh!”

Have a great day, everybody.  Happy reading and happy knitting!

Local

Local

Locus.  Locality.  Location.  Location, location, location.  Local.  We all know what the word “local” means when we look it up in a dictionary: Adjective.  Referring to something nearby.  But what does “local” mean to each and every one of us?  I cannot speak for the other billions of human beings on this planet, but I can speak for myself.

I prefer not to share my exact location online, but any of you who follow my dear friend The Lady Bryan on here know that she used to live in Florida for several years, and the town that I live in neighbors both of the towns that she used to live in.  I live within driving distance of both Daytona Beach and Orlando and we can get to either location in an hour or less.

My town is a bit peculiar for what one would expect of a Southern town.  For one, it’s not a small town.  At least, not by stereotypical standards.  Our population is in the five figures, home to at least 10,000 people.  I’ve lived in this town for nearly 30 years (my family moved here when I was about 5 months old, well before my brother was born), and in those 30 years, I’ve seen my town evolve from a somewhat sleepy little place to a hustling, bustling, busy suburb.  I remember when the stretch of road that connects my town to the two nestled next to it had more trees than restaurants lining it.  My town’s side of that road is filled today with all sorts of chain eateries, gas stations, doctor’s offices, stores and boutiques, and a hospital where a vast stretch of Florida scrub once was.  I remember when the area where the local high school now stands was once a dense collection of sand, pine trees, and “secret” forts that the neighborhood kids would build.  My neighborhood itself has changed very little.  My neighborhood has always been a very hilly place, ranch-style houses lining the terrain around every peak and every dip.  Walking around this neighborhood certainly will give one’s legs a workout, better than any inclining treadmill could give you. 

I’ve always been a bit wary of many of my neighbors, possibly a consequence of my own overly cautious personality, but the ones I’ve managed to get to know are some of the nicest people you’ll meet.  A sweet Latino family lives just around the corner from us, our backyards adjacent to each other.  The guy just across the street from us is a single father doing his very best to raise his youngest child right, and he knows he has challenges ahead of him because his little girl has just become a teenager.  He divorced his little girl’s mother years ago, and sadly his little girl’s mother has since passed away.  His little girl, or as my mother likes to call her, “Little Bit”, is an incredibly outgoing, vivacious young lady of thirteen who loves to dance, tumble, and strike up a conversation with anyone and everyone, even if the “anyone” isn’t really feeling up to it.  Next door to the single father and his Little Bit, is a couple we’ve known for years.  We’ve watched their three boys grow up over the years.  I remember when the middle son, who was just a little over a year older than me, decided to marry his girlfriend before they even finished high school.  They had three children together, but their ending was not a happy one.  His wife, who I later learned had been afflicted with all sorts of health issues, died at the young age of 24, leaving my childhood friend a widower with three young kids before he turned 25.  He and his children moved in with his parents and his younger brother until he could get back on his feet and find a place of their own, which he eventually did.  The kids still come to visit their grandparents pretty often.   Across the street in the other direction is a retired couple with a lot of dogs.  The wife likes to garden and maintains a lovely looking set of plants in their front yard.  The husband usually can be seen tinkering with things, common with the men in my neck of the woods.  Before them, a gay couple lived there; we would sometimes see them at bingo, and they even gave me some crocheting supplies after seeing me crochet at a bingo night.  And before them, a couple with three kids around my age lived there.  I was friends with the oldest daughter, who was a grade behind me in school.  I remember being sad when she told me her family was moving to North Carolina when I was, I think, in third grade.  I sometimes wonder how that family is doing now.  Unfortunately I don’t have Facebook (and I have no cell phone to start one).  Our neighborhood is relatively quiet.  Of course, you also notice some of the more colorful characters: the rednecks living on one street near us, a Mexican-American family living around the corner on another, both of which announce their presence with the numerous cars that dot the front yards (I think I may have seen five different cars parked in the rednecks’ front yard at some point).  There’s another redneck man who can be seen walking his little Dachshund mix some mornings, which drives my own dog nuts even though he can’t come through her window.  Sometimes when we go walking, we can see him and his wife sitting in some armchairs set up in their garage with pedestal fans running, just watching the passers-by.  We even talk to him on occasion.

Local, for me, has so much more going for it than the places.  Any location can make it a place, but it doesn’t come alive until you get to know the characters that inhabit it.  And the memories you make as you inhabit it give that location meaning.  Local, for me, is an experience.  And the great thing is that no two people, even within the same family, will have the exact same experience.  Local is life, imagery, color.  That’s the difference between just a place and a home.

On Fathers

Today is Father’s Day here in the States.  It doesn’t quite get as much fanfare as Mother’s Day gets here in May (and seeing as I have at least one follower from the UK, yes, we celebrate Mother’s Day here in May instead of March like you all do).  Maybe that’s because male gender roles here don’t require as much pomp (You’re supposed to get flowers for Mom and take her out to brunch, but all Dad gets is a necktie and a coffee mug?), or men in general just aren’t crazily into said pomp?  Some people grow up without a father, but I was one of the lucky ones.

My dad and I have a somewhat complicated relationship.  Maybe that stems from my childhood years, when my dad worked various jobs to make ends meet and my mom stayed home to take care of me and my little brother (who is now celebrating his second ever Father’s Day…his first came just a couple of weeks after his daughter, my niece was born).  As a result, I developed close bonds with both my mom and my maternal grandmother (who would come over and watch us on days off from school after Mom returned to work), but not so much with my father.  But it didn’t seem like things really started to fall apart for us until I became a teenager.  We began having major personality clashes then, usually over one thing: politics.  My dad has been a staunch Republican for as long as I can remember.  My own life experiences and reactions to major events of my childhood and teenage years (Columbine, 9/11, the war in Iraq, my growing dissatisfaction with religion, and my almost-always present love of all things related to science) clearly began sending me on a course that would send me to the opposite side of the spectrum.  I think the issue he had with me asserting my own views was not so much hatred of the other side, but I think it felt more like a betrayal to him and everything he believed in or supported.  In a way, the feeling I got of him not having my back in this felt like a betrayal to me, like I was no longer worthy of his love.  We had numerous arguments in those years.  It led to me closing myself off from him emotionally, making sure he was no longer privy to my thoughts and feelings.  Though things have improved since then, this isolation is still something I struggle with; it still brings tears to my eyes.

In my twenties, I discovered baseball wasn’t so boring.  In fact, great games played out almost like soap operas, with moments of drama and heightening anticipation in between runs or leading up to a game winner or walk off.  Slowly, I would start asking questions about the game or what kind of rule was being enforced, and he would explain.  This would turn into moments of us watching a game together, and he would begin to wax poetic at the mention of certain players from his childhood and young adult years: Phil Niekro (“the dirtiest pitcher in the game, knew how to doctor and baseball and would see if he could get away with it”), Dale Murphy, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine (you can tell he was a Braves fan, right?), Johnny Bench.  We wouldn’t say much during these games, but we’d just sit back and watch it all play out.  We had once again found something in common.  Same with watching professional wrestling, a favorite pastime of his since childhood, and eventually from my childhood.  Though words were usually left unspoken, we knew there was an understanding.  This also brings tears to my eyes.

Despite our issues, he’s remained one of my biggest champions.  He had my back when I struggled with reading classes in middle school because I had a lack of motivation and hated doing homework, resulting in my only F of my academic career.  A few years later, he had my back when my struggles with high school geometry became exposed and I was on the verge of failing that class (I genuinely had problems understanding the concepts).  He helped my teachers come up with ways to raise my grades in both classes, which I eventually did.  For all the times he’d berated me about being chronically unemployed, he’d also encourage me when he knew I’d found something I truly loved (and thanks to that encouragement, I hope to eventually be able to sell some of my hand-knit treasures and start to make some of my own money…a traditional 9 to 5 may be out of my reach by now because of my inexperience, but it is not my top priority right now, as my mom needs me more than the rest of the world does; I’d prefer to keep why she does private).  We watch shows like MasterChef and Survivor together with genuine interest.  I watch him play video games with wide eyes, and sometimes he watches me play, too.  We enjoy listening to hard rock and heavy metal music, but I also sit back and watch him sing along to old and outlaw country songs.  I listen to his work stories and pretend to understand the technical jargon, and also laugh at the ridiculous stories he tends to bring home.  I let him hug me if I’m upset (not very often), and tell him “I love you” before he leaves for work every work night and he gets ready to drive the 40-50 miles or so into Orlando to go to work.  I watch him turn into a total goober when he plays with his granddaughter.

It took us a long time to get back to civil.  Most people use the words “doting” or “adoring” to describe their dads.  Mine?  I’d say he’s: dependable, fierce, and willing to do anything for the sake of his kids.  I never got the adoring dad or the dad with whom I could share my heart’s thoughts like Molly Ringwald’s character Andie does with hers in Pretty in Pink.  But the one I did get, I could say, has been a constant in my life as has always stood up for me in the most unexpected of times.  As I said before, not everybody gets to grow up with a dad in their life.  I was one of lucky ones.

Before I finish, I’d like to leave you with a song by one of my dad’s favorite singers and a legendary song he wrote about a dad’s complicated relationship with his son: “Cat’s in the Cradle” by Harry Chapin.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads and kids of dads out there!

Randomly on a Friday

Well, the gray finally went away…for now.  This time of year in Florida is famous for afternoon thunderstorms that pop up out of nowhere (especially when the seabreezes from both the Atlantic and Gulf coasts collide right over the peninsula), so it could very well be gray and stormy by late this afternoon.  You remember those gray skies from a couple of posts ago?  Well, this morning it is now…

Birds are singing, the street is relatively quiet (I don’t live in the country, I live in the suburbs, but I usually angle my outdoor pics this way to avoid giving away my exact location), and my dog is just as excited to chase the lizards, having finally shaken off her canine ennui.  (And every time I see the word ennui, I now think of Michel from Gilmore Girls talking about his own ennui.)

And as a bonus, here is another pic.  If you look real closely, just above the kudzu leaves, you’ll see the Moon, in its last quarter phase, getting ready to descend down the western sky for moonset.

image
Though somewhat faint due to photo quality, the Moon is visible just above center, right above the tips of the kudzu vines.

I will say that though we are sitting in the shade, it is still incredibly humid out here.

Finally, I have a little announcement to make.  Not anything life changing, but it is still worth noting: I have decided to set up my own Tumblr page, for all the random and silly stuff that doesn’t really merit posting here.  It has the same name as this blog (I guess I’m the only Snowless Knitter on the entire internet?), and you can check it out right here.  If you’re a Tumblr-er yourself and like what you see, don’t be afraid to give me a follow, and if I like what I see on yours, I may just give you a follow.  Warning, though: my language may be a bit more…unfiltered on Tumblr.  But so far, I’ve already made a few posts, followed a few blogs, and am just getting acquainted with it.  You may see stuff related to: knitting, Florida, cats, yarn, Gilmore Girls, I Love Lucy, wrestling, and the randomest of the random.

Have a great day, everyone!

WIPs: 6/14/2017 (or, An Update on La vie en rose et violet)

In which I give to you the latest update on my current Work in Progress.

image

Detail from La vie en rose et violet

It’s been a while since I posted some actual knitting updates on here, mainly because I’ve been working on one big project instead of several smaller ones.  As you’ve seen before, I’ve been working on an afghan since March that I lovingly refer to as “La vie en rose et violet” (which is French for “Life in Pink and Purple” and a reference to the legendary song by Édith Piaf, “La vie en rose”).

The last time I wrote in depth about this project, I had been working on the sides to make the dimensions for one large, square afghan.  Since then, I’ve been slowly filling it in, churning out a few shapes in the span of a day or two.  According to my calculations, I will need to make the equivalent of 324 small squares to complete this afghan.  I am nowhere near that at the moment.  However, the 25 small squares I recently added in a checkerboard pattern does put me under 300 total small squares to go (and then some, considering I’ve already completed two side edges of it, equivalent of 18 small squares per side).

image

The checkerboard!!!!1!1!!
image

The checkerboard and immediate surrounding areas.

I also started a little bit on the lower left side of the afghan, and will probably start filling more of that in next.

image

Portion of the lower left side of the afghan; the left edge of the checkerboard can be seen on the right side of the photo.

I hope to get more done soon, and once I have another sizable portion worked here, I’ll do another update.

Until later, and happy knitting (or for my non-knitting followers, happy reading)!

PULSE: One Year Later

One year ago today, something unthinkable happened: a gunman with terror on his mind and hatred in his heart decided to take out his depravity on a nightclub in my birth city of Orlando, Florida.  When all was said and done, 49 innocent souls and the gunman lay dead in that club.  I am, of course, talking about the PULSE nightclub, and that shooting is considered the deadliest mass shooting in American history.

While I did not know any of the victims personally, it still affected me because of the connection I have with the LGBT community, a community from which I have made several friends over the years.  Some of these friends I knew for only a few years before life happened and  we would go off in opposite directions and ambitions, others I remain close with.  It broke my heart when I awoke that morning to news of the carnage that had occurred overnight.  Many of the victims that night were LGBT, but some of them were also friends, family, and allies to their loved ones in the LGBT community that had come to enjoy what was supposed to be a fun-filled evening with music, dancing, and lots of positive vibes.  No matter the orientation of the victims, the friends, families, and those who loved the 49 most dearly have now spent the last year trying to learn how to live with the voids in their hearts that the tragedy created and trying to live a life without their loved ones.

I heard people try to minimize the effect this tragedy on the LGBT community by only referring to it as an act of terror; others ignored the act of terror portion and solely called it a hate crime.  Personally, I think it was both: it was an act of terror because the gunman had a religious/political motive, but it was also a hate crime because he specifically targeted the LGBT community.  No matter the motive, it does not change the fact that 49 souls will never again return home to their families, 49 souls will never again smile and laugh with their friends, and 49 souls will never again feel the many kinds of love that drive us all through life.  The “why” does not and will not fix the “what”.

The way that the city of Orlando came together in the aftermath was nothing short of beautiful.  The (Democratic) Mayor of Orlando, Buddy Dyer, and the (Republican) Mayor of Orange County, Teresa Jacobs, both joined forces to lead the mourning in a city reeling from the darkest weekend in its history (a singer named Christina Grimmie had been murdered in another club in an unrelated incident just 24 hours earlier) and help The City Beautiful get back on her feet, pick up the pieces, and find a way to live once again.  Orlando City SC, our local MLS squad, led a moving ceremony before its home match a few days later where the fans sang along to our national anthem (almost unheard of at American sporting events; fans here usually stay silent during the singing of it), and a moment of silence held when the game clock reached 49 minutes.  (When Orlando City moved to its new stadium this spring, 49 seats were painted in a rainbow color scheme in tribute.).  It has been an emotional year since then.

Orlando, a city that I like to call the “Jewel of the South”, has come quite a way since that night at PULSE one year ago.  My heart is with her as she continues to heal.  If there’s anything about Orlando that is its most incredible attribute, it is that she bends, but does not break in the face of tragedy.  She survives, she advances, she thrives, she embraces.  Orlando is one of the few major cities in the South that has embraced its LGBT community the way it has, in the face of other cities and states in this region fighting to marginalize and keep basic civil rights away from the same community.  Orlando is called “The City Beautiful” for a reason: it’s not just for her physical beauty, it’s also for the beauty in her resolve in the face of adversity and tragedy.  I’m proud to have been born there, and I’m proud to still have a connection to her, 30 years later.  May the 49 souls who lost their lives that night forever rest in peace.

Gray, Gray, Go Away

Florida’s “wet season” has arrived in full swing after quite the dry spring.  For the last few days, the view has pretty much looked like this:

image
The southwestern view from my front door; apologies for the subpar photo quality...tablet camera.

And this…

image
The view from my front door, looking north.

Even my dog is bored.

image
Roxy demonstrating canine ennui at its finest.

From what I gather, it is gonna be like this pretty much through the next week.  Oh boy.

Hopefully I will have some updates on my knitting soon.  I’m planning on doing another photo update once I finish a checkerboard section on the blanket that I’m currently working on.  In the meantime, I’ll tease you with a shot of the blanket in progress in its current home, a Toys R Us bag (selected because it was big enough to hold the blanket).

image