21 February 2010

Deciphering Elizabeth's BSJ

Before I get started I have to say...just for the record...that after working on the Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ) I think Elizabeth Zimmermann was a knitting genius, or knitting superhero, if you prefer.  That being said, let me tell you about my BSJ experience.

It all started a couple of weeks ago when I driving to work and listening to episode #30 of the DoubleKnit podcast.  In that episode, Erin was talking about some baby mittens that she had knit for her daughter.  Since my niece L is having a baby next month (her first), I started thinking that it would be fun to knit some mittens for one of her baby showers.  It just seemed like something that Mrs O should do.

Before I left work that day I got on ravelry and downloaded a free copy of the pattern that Erin used.  The next couple of nights after work I searched the local stores for some superwash worsted wool (as was suggested in the pattern).  Sadly, I live in an area where LYSs are in short supply and I was unsuccessful in finding the yarn I needed for the mittens.

Soon after I got to work the next morning, my latest order from Knit Picks arrived.  The week before I couldn't resist the siren call of 40% off all books at Knit Picks...where shipping is free on orders over $50.  In that order were 5 of Elizabeth Zimmermann's books: The Opinionated Knitter, Knitting Without Tears, The Knitter's Almanac, Knitting Around, and Knitting Workshop.

Somewhere between work and home that night I decided that not only would I knit the mittens, but that I would knit a BSJ (from The Opinionated Knitter) for L's baby as well.  So I checked the yarn requirements for a newborn BSJ and sent off another order to Knit Picks hoping that I would get the yarn in time to get the jacket and the mittens completed before the showers.

As luck would have it, the Knit Picks order came the day after President's day giving me the remainder of the week before the first shower and an additional week before the second shower.  Surely, I could get them done in plenty of time, I thought.  So that night I went home read through the BSJ pattern and started swatching to get gauge.  After three attempts I finally got the right needle size and cast on.  All was going along well until I got to the part of the pattern that reads, "At 5 ridges inc, 9 sts (K3, M1) across end sections, believe it or not for fullness above CUFF.".  What?  Surely I had missed something in the instructions...how was I supposed to get from row 7 to there?  I started reading ahead in the pattern to get some perspective.  When I had read through the pattern earlier that night I had thought that the language used by Elizabeth was quaint and charming, but now that I was in the middle of trying to knit the garment it seemed more like a code in need of cracking.

After studying the pattern some more, I did what any accountant would do...I opened Excel and started a spreadsheet.  I made a spreadsheet row for each row of knitting and started keeping track of the number of stitches in each section of the garment.  Then I went to ravelry and found a wiki just for the BSJ.  There I found a few spreadsheets that other like-minded knitters had put together.  I checked what I had with a couple of those spreadsheets for reasonableness and before I went to bed I had a rough estimate of what I thought was required of the garment. 

The next night after work I started the DVD player (as part of my mid-week routine) and slipped in one of the middle discs from Season 3 of 24.  I then got out a printed copy of my spreadsheet, and started working on the garment while I watched Jack Bauer battle yet another set of terrorists.  After I worked each row I took careful notes on what I had done.  By the end of the night I only had about 15 rows completed and was a little panicked that I wouldn't get it completed by either of the showers. 

Well, I guess the knitting fairies felt my panic because the next morning I woke up sick.  It seems that the crud Mr O had the week before had finally caught up with me.  Despite my cold, I went into work and submitted payroll so that we would get paid on time...it's never good to mess with someone's paycheck.  By the time I finished payroll I was starting to feel feverish, so I took the rest of the day off and told my boss that I would most likely be out sick the following day as well.

I called Mr O as I was driving home from work and told him that I wasn't feeling well.  We decided that since I was sick and since the weather didn't look too great for the weekend (darn the snow) it made more sense for me to remain where I was for the weekend instead of my weekly commute to his neck-of-the-woods.  Great, another weekend of missing Mr O loomed before me.

Well, I guess those knitting fairies sort of knew what they were doing because it's now 3 days later, I'm finally starting to feel like normal, the majority of the BSJ is done (0nly the seaming is left), and I'm now ready to begin Season 5 of 24.  On the other hand, because I was sick I missed the first baby shower...not worth taking the chance of getting L sick.  Oh well, there is still one more shower to go...hopefully, I'll get those mittens that started it all done before then.

07 February 2010

Seeing Without Glasses

Years before I met Mr O he had eye surgery done to correct his vision.  I can't even imagine him in glasses since his vision has been better than 20/20 since I've known him.  Well it wasn't too long after we started dating that LASIK came up in one of our conversations.  It was something that I had been thinking about for a long time, but had never got the courage up to do.  Once he found that out he encouraged me to have it done.  He said that he had never regretted having his eyes fixed and that the results were so good that he would have gladly paid double the price had he known.

After we got married, I decided that 2010 was going to be the year that I could once again see without glasses or contacts.  So when December rolled around I contacted Hoopes Vision and made an appointment for a free consultation.  Once they gave me the green light, I made an appointment with them for the second week in January, and I put the necessary funds in my flexible spending account at work.

I was super nervous the morning of the procedure.  We got to Hoopes about 45 minutes early and settled into the waiting room.  I took out some knitting to keep my mind on something else while we waited for my turn.  I even passed on some homemade chocolate chip cookies they were handing out because I was so apprehensive about what was going to happen.  Of course, it didn't help that Mr O keep teasing me and telling me to take a good look around me because it might be the last thing I ever saw.

Well, I didn't need to worry.  The staff at Hoopes were incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.  They were able to put my mind at ease (I'm sure the Valium they gave me helped with that) and before I knew it I was walking out of their offices with a pair of dark glasses on.

Mr O was terrific.  Aside from his earlier teasing, he let me sleep for most of the day and then took me out for some excellent Mexican food that night.  The next morning we went back up to their offices so that they could check my eyes again.  At that point my right eye was easily 20/20 and my left was close to it.  My next appointment is in a week.

I'm so happy that I can finally see without glasses!  Of course, I am now in the market for a good pair of sunglasses.