Thursday, July 28, 2011

Socks in (Almost) Real Time

While the charms of liveblogging generally elude me – I can see its value for citizen journalism, less so for a hobby journal – I'm giving it a spin for the Couldn't Foot It challenge because it's summer and I'm too lazy to post incessantly on Ravelry and Twitter (#notatsocksummit) and the Flickr pool and Google+. To spare gentle readers some of the self-referential noise, I'm placing all the updates in one post, creating a sort of blog within a blog (this is the framing device).

Monday, August 2

7:57 a.m.: A good, plain pair of carbon footprint socks. May their tribe increase!


12:44 a.m.: Toe grafted, ends woven in. Missed the second deadline, but set a personal best time for knitting the second sock, all without injury. Not to mention I have socks and have blogged, but Congress still hasn't voted on the final legislation on raising the debt limit.

Monday, August 1

8:57 a.m.: Ooh! There are more prizes than finishers, so an extended deadline of 11:59 p.m. tonight has been set. knitknitknitknit

Sunday, July 31

7:30 p.m.: At the end of Sock Summit and the end of the knit-along it turns out not only I Couldn't Foot It, but also I Didn't Finish It. I got one complete sock and a partial cuff.

End of knit-along

It may be the end of the knit-along, but knitting goes on!

3:10 p.m.: First sock finished! It has the most Lupin-y toe I could manage.

Carbon footprint singleton

I'm pleased with it, but there's no way the second sock will be finished by this evening's 7:30 p.m. deadline.

Saturday, July 30

9:07 p.m.: Gentle readers may have noticed that a mini skein of Harry Potter yarn appeared in the previous post without comment. It occurred to me that if at some point (oh happy day!) I have a drawer full of carbon footprint socks, it would help sort them if each pair had a unique contrast toe.

Harry Potter yarns

Initially I thought about using the mini skein because it's the same weight of Opal as the Uni-Solid, but... it's so cute and I'm not sure there's Enough Yarn and despite its HP ballband, there's no colorway name. Which makes a difference to me. So I'm leaning toward using some leftover Lupin instead... even though it's never looked particularly Lupinesque to me.

Friday, July 29

7:34 a.m.: I knit a bit while skimming the morning headlines, which included a positive development from Detroit automakers on reducing carbon footprints.

Sock with Friday's headlines

Thursday, July 28

9:14 p.m.: Sock at SnB, a veritable paradise of tasty eatables, drinkables, yarn fresh from the Forbidden Woolery dyepots, and (of course) good conversation.

Sock at SnB

Photo via Tami's iPhone, with thanks.

12:33 p.m. EDT: Cast on A Good, Plain Sock from Knitting Rules in Opal Uni-Solid. Could not think of a more clever proof of CO. There was a brief lag between casting on and taking the pic to produce something worth photographing.

Cast on

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying

Actually, I'm still worrying, I'm just trying to put the nervous energy to good use. Jenn and Kimberly organized the Couldn't Foot It challenge – to knit a pair of socks during the four days of Sock Summit 2011 – and I'm knitting along. There's an official start and finish, 9 a.m. July 28 and 4:30 p.m. July 31 PDT, and an official list of patterns (selected because they were all knit by Yarn Harlot, eyeroll). The knit-along will be televised live available in real time via Ravelry and Twitter (#notatsocksummit) and a Flickr pool and Google+. There may even be an update or two on this blog.

Carbon footprint yarn

Speed knitting benefits from a certain amount of advance preparation, both mental and material. After noting Kate Atherley's progress on (and distraction from) Project Black Sock on Knittyblog and her own blog, I decided not only to revive my carbon footprint project but also to stop overthinking it.

Pattern and yarn

So I'm planning to knit plain black socks along the lines of the sock recipe on p. 131 of Knitting Rules. And I'm not going to think about the pity party aspects of the knitalong or the fannish pattern list or the attribution of Authored Pattern™ status to directions that have appeared in knitting books long before When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth – no, no! I'm just going to sit and knit.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

July Spin

I dag er vi alle norske.

Much of the past weekend was consumed with serious news from Norway, from the Washington beltway, and about the intense hot weather. At risk of seeming trivial, I noteTour de Fleece button Sunday also was the conclusion of the Tour de France, and so also the Tour de Fleece. Roundabout Exit 151 there was a bit of a temperature break, so I loaded my bike trunk with my TdF loot – a total of 281 yds 2-ply fingering Blue Suede Shoes, a sample skein of pink beaded DK, an undetermined quantity of singles on the spinning spindle, a bare plying spindle, and a bottle of champagne – and ventured outside for a photo session.

Tour de Fleece loot

My goal this year was to spin every day. I worked on the beautiful Crown Mountain Farms roving that was my incomplete 2009 TdF project. The bundle of roving is smaller now, but (slow spindler that I am) there's still plenty left unspun.

Crown Mountain Farms Blue Suede Shoes

I did spin every day, although along the way I was distracted by a video on spinning beaded singles posted by dragonyady. Ordinarily I would have spun singles, added beads, and plied – simplicity – but it seemed worth at least trying the technique.

First, you use a dental floss threader to place beads on tufts of roving as if they were yarn. I used some Kool-Aid dyed Finn.

Fiber prep

Then you spin away, adding the tufts as you go. The process is rather cumbersome on a spindle, but it locks the beads firmly in place on the singles.

Beaded singles

The beads seemed a bit twee at first, but I started to like them – their translucency reminds me of pomegranate seeds. I decided to ply the yarn back on itself just to see if it could be done. It can, and the results are attractive enough, but it's a pain to do on a spindle. I suspect the technique is best suited for spinners who want beaded singles – I don't see myself using it very often, but I'm glad I tried it.

Beaded 2-ply

And I'm glad I spun along during this year's Tour de Fleece. Earlier in the year the many doping scandals had me feeling quite negative about the Tour de France. As it turned out, this year's TdFr was a compelling one and, hopefully, a clean one, but I probably wouldn't have followed it had I not been spinning along. So an extra-big merci goes to the TdFl organizers, who did a superb job as always.

There's been a break in the heat wave roundabout Exit 151. Ahhhh! Now if only Congress would turn down the temperature, tune out the spin machines, and agree on legislation to avert the ever nearer, wholly avoidable, politically manufactured, but very real threats to the domestic and global economies. But I worry that their brand of July spinning is only devolving into something stupid that will inflict grave and lasting damage. It's going to be a long week – next Tuesday, August 2, is the stated deadline for raising the federal debt limit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Remembering Pearl Harbor

The only trouble with going on vacation is coming back to mountains of stuff that somehow didn't get done whilst one was away. ::gusty sigh:: Now where was I....

While DH and I were in Honolulu, much of our time was occupied with family matters, although we did our bit for the depressed tourism economy as well. One day the two of us and my sister visited some of the historic sites at Pearl Harbor, which includes the battleship USS Missouri, the submarine USS Bowfin, the Pacific Aviation Museum and a couple smaller museums,U.S. flag over the Arizona Memorial and the site virtually synonymous with Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial.

This December 7 will be the 70th anniversary of the Imperial Japanese attack that led to the U.S. entering World War II. The date may live in infamy, but those who remember where they were when they heard the news that Sunday are older and fewer now. Nowadays the Arizona Memorial is a top tourist attraction for visitors of many nations, and some (mostly Americans) need a quiet reminder that it stands over the sunken battleship, which is a military cemetery.

USS Bowfin deck gun

Deck gun on the submarine USS Bowfin, the Pearl Harbor Avenger. (My sister rather enjoyed pretending to shoot stuff.) The Bowfin has a sister ship, the USS Ling, in Hackensack, NJ.

In fairness it should be noted that although the Arizona Memorial is somber, the tone of the historic sites taken as a whole is somewhat ambiguous. There are junior park ranger activities, and it must be admitted that clambering around the Missouri and the Bowfin and gawping at the planes in the Aviation Museum and the assorted torpedos scattered about is rather fun (and occasionally somewhat strenuous). The concession stand plays bouncy patriotic music; the gift shop bookstore sells temporary tattoos. So perhaps temporary lapses in decorum by younger visitors are understandable and may be forgiven.


Black torpedo near right; the white poles in the middle ground are submarine periscopes – it's amazing how tall they are and how smoothly and easily they pivot; USS Bowfin off to the left. Also, pink shower tree and fragrant cream-flowered Plumeria, a popular lei flower.

As an educational remedy, the Visitors Center shows a documentary, magnificently narrated by Stockard Channing, that includes remarkable film footage of the attack from both the U.S. and the Imperial Japanese points of view. Some parts are difficult to watch – I thought of 9/11 and teared up; other visitors were chattering and laughing before they saw the movie, subdued after.

Burning wreckage of the Arizona

The burning wreckage of the USS Arizona, December 7, 1941. The explosions and fires collapsed some decks and melted others together. Click to view full size. Source: US Library of Congress, Identification Code LC-USE62-D-OA-000189.

It's also instructive to recall that the memorial was not always so popular. In the 1950s, some critics felt a monument to a military defeat was inappropriate, even shameful; some called the design a "squashed milk carton" and vilified its Austrian-born architect, Alfred Preis, as an enemy alien. In the 1980s, similar hateful remarks were made about the now-iconic Vietnam War Memorial and its Ohio-born architect, Maya Lin. Gentle readers of today may find themselves divided over projects such as the Park51 Muslim community center near Ground Zero.

Arizona Memorial

The only access to the Arizona Memorial is by boats which are handicapped accessible. Notice the flagpole is attached to the mainmast of the sunken wreck.

First-time visitors to Pearl Harbor are often surprised by its great natural beauty and calm water – along with its military and historic significance, the place is also a wildlife refuge. The water is clear enough that the rusting hulk of the battleship is plainly visible both above and below the water.

Arizona gun turret

Arizona gun turret. It's difficult to convey a sense of its scale, over 35 feet (over 10 m) in diameter.

Due to the exigencies of war, much of the Arizona's superstructure was salvaged, particularly the big guns, but most of the human remains were never recovered from the wreckage. The memorial has a portal in its floor to permit strewing of flowers over the submerged hull. For some visitors, there seems to be a quantum of solace in the many contrasts; for others, they are deeply painful.

Port in the floor of the memorial

The view through the portal. Each December 7, visitors so inclined are given the name of one of those killed to pray for and a flower to cast into the water.

I grew up hearing harrowing stories about the attack and its aftermath. My mother was a civilian employee at Pearl Harbor; she watched the damaged warships burn and heard the reports that sounds of tapping were coming from the capsized USS Oklahoma, made by men trapped in air pockets. Some were rescued, but some were in places underwater that could not be reached.Wartime poster The tapping grew fainter and eventually stopped after four or five weeks.

There was extensive "collateral damage" as well – some sections of Honolulu were bombed and the first responders strafed; later, there were the injustices and hardships of martial law: curfews, censored mail and newspapers, seizure of money and property, restricted travel, prohibition, and rationing. Some people expected imminent invasion – the beaches were strung with barbed wire, shore batteries set up, college and even high school ROTC units activated. There were intense fears about spies, saboteurs, and fifth columnists. The concerns were frequently misplaced, but for many people then (and perhaps for some people now) the grim mood of the times was sometimes unencumbered by either fact or compassion.

BIL remembers running home from Sunday school amid warplanes flying treetop high, seeing the faces of the pilots and the rising sun markings on the planes, the terrible noise and smoke. His father was arrested and interned at Sand Island and Honouliuli for three years without charges, trial, or even, initially, word of his whereabouts. Not surprisingly, the experience impoverished and broke some, and radicalized others. BIL eventually served in the U.S. Air Force – his experiences while deployed in the segregated South gave him additional perspectives on civil rights.

Battleship Missouri

Big gun on the USS Missouri, with a lot of tourists for scale. Touring the ship involves lots of stairs and ladders.

Today the battleship USS Missouri, scarred but not dehumanized by kamikaze attacks, the site where the surrender accord was signed, symbolically watches over Battleship Row. Former enemies have become trading partners, allies, and friends. The Visitor's Center offers recorded tours in English, Spanish, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, and many other languages. And the past is remembered – ships entering Pearl Harbor still render the high honor of manning the rail when they pass the Arizona Memorial.

USS Pasadena

USS Pasadena, homeport Pearl Harbor, coming home (click to view larger).

Indeed, while we were exploring the Missouri, the fast attack submarine USS Pasadena came into port with the ship's complement turned out. There was a lei on her conning tower (!) to welcome her home. After she made her silent salute to the memorial, the other ships in port began blasting their horns in greeting. It was wonderful to hear and wonderful to think of the many joyous reunions that would soon take place.

Fireworks in Brookdale Park


It took us a full day to tour the Pearl Harbor historic sites, and we somehow never did get to the Pacific Aviation Museum. It's taking even longer to process the experience, which I thought about over the 4th of July weekend and will have in mind this December. In the meantime, gentle readers, do you have any thoughts on or remembrances of Pearl Harbor? Feel free to share them in the comments.