Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Some new knitting

I did do a LITTLE knitting while out sick - I started the diamond-lace socks I talked about a while back. These are from a back issue of Simply Knitting (a UK publication, and one I regularly make treks to the bookstore in Sherman to try to get the current issues of - their carrying of it can be a little spotty; JoAnn's is a little more sure, but sometimes I think their shipments don't come in). I like the magazine; it tends to be a bit more "chatty" and lifestyle-oriented than US knitting mags, and also, there's the interesting view of cultural differences (two countries separated by a common language, and all that). And they have nice patterns. For a while, every month they had a sock pattern as their last-pattern-in-the-magazine. And a lot of them were simple lace.

Like these:

I took that one with the "extreme night exposure" so it's a little shaky even though I tried to steady my elbows on my knees. But it gives a slightly truer view of the stitches and color than this one:

It's a fun pattern to knit, though there is one little error in the lace stitch as printed; on row 5 you have to move one stitch from each lefthand needle to the righthand needle at the start of the round or you get off-count. This is the kind of thing where being able to "read" your knitting and having a good sense of "what is going on here" helps a lot.

I do think that crafts of this sort tend to develop that kind of awareness. The other day, one of my students came by during office hours. He was having problems with the GIS program they were using in another class and he knew I taught GIS, so he thought I might be able to help. I couldn't figure out what was wrong from his description of the issue, so I went down to the lab with him and looked at what he was doing. It was actually a pretty simple mistake in the directions (you have to double-click on something, not single-click it, to get it into the query box). He had thought he was getting it into the query box (even though it wasn't showing up in there) and wondered why his analysis kept crashing. (And this is a person who is pretty mature, and seems like a smart guy). I showed him what the problem was and he happily went on the rest of his way. Now, I'm sure part of that is that I've worked with the GIS software for years (I remember some of the earlier iterations of ESRI products that were command-line based, rather than point-and-click). But part of that may also be that I've learned over the years to follow instructions MOST of the time, but also to be open to the possibility that instructions could be wrong, if there is something that either is not common-sense (e.g., being told to add 5 cups of sugar to a cake batter when you know other comparable recipes call for 1 1/2 or 2) or that there could have been a tiny oversight (like that "move one stitch from Needle 1 to Needle 4") that was missed that changes things.

On the one hand, sometimes the lack of technical editing in things these days drives me buggy (as does the lack of proofreading in some documents), but I do think encountering things with errors, and having to work past them, teaches you a certain independence as regards following instructions. (Elizabeth Zimmerman warned knitters against being "blind followers," and while I sort of dislike that designation - it seems needlessly dismissive to me, and many beginning knitters DO need more explicit instructions to get through - I think it's a good policy: trust the instructions but verify that they are correct.)


I think I'm finally really on the mend. I didn't cough last night, and my sense of smell and taste are slowly returning. (That was going to be the big new worry, I guess - I have heard of people who lost their sense of smell/taste after some viral disease and then never regained it. And eating is kind of sad, and feels kind of pointless, when you can't taste what you're eating. Though I suppose on the one hand, it could spur you to only eat healthful things, since you cannot taste anything and can't really derive that kind of pleasure from it).

I had been testing with a bottle of lavender essential oil I keep in the medicine cabinet. (I've used it to scent sugar scrubs I made, and it also can help headaches if you rub it on your temples). It's bizarre to hold a bottle of something that you KNOW has a strong scent up to your nose and get NOTHING. (I also tried with Vick's Vapo-Rub, and found while I could "feel" it was aromatic (my eyes would start watering), I really couldn't smell it). This morning, I could kind-of-sort-of smell both, and I could taste my breakfast more than I had been able to taste food. (And then found myself wondering, a bit later, while practicing piano, "Why do I have this repulsive SWEET taste in my mouth?" Oh yeah: ate jam on toast and hadn't brushed my teeth yet.). So hopefully it will come back all the way, maybe over the weekend.

I decided to quit taking Mucinex (I had been taking it to get the crud out). It can act as a smooth-muscle relaxant, and while Mucinex doesn't list it on its "official" side effects list, I've heard of people experiencing muscle weakness or shakiness while on it. And I was really shaking during class yesterday - looked down at my hands and immediately put them behind my back lest my students think something was wrong. Also, I couldn't play the piano worth spit yesterday - kept making mistakes. I'm some better this morning after not having taken a dose last night or this morning. So hopefully the rest of this will clear up without added meds.

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