Monthly Archives: June 2009

Prelude to a Personal Pandemic, with a little Knitting

This thirteen-year-old, on her way to her 8th-grade-graduation ceremony and dance, looks so happy and lovely, doesn’t she?

The picture of health, wearing her new lacy wrap that her mother made her to match her vintage dress.

She graduated,


danced her silver shoes off, had fun with all her friends, even posed for a few more wrap pics when she came home.

(as did the wrap, click to embiggen if desired)

artistic-wrap-pose night-wrap

Who knew that even as those pictures were taken, that microscopic virus particles were replicating madly in her body?

The next morning, she looked tired, but said she just hadn’t slept well.  It was the last day of school, a half day only, and the school talent show; she and a friend were performing Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” (she singing, he on acoustic guitar).  Her forehead was cool and she had no other symptoms, so off she went to school.

While backstage, waiting to perform, she had shaking chills so bad she couldn’t stand, aches, a headache, a sore throat that came out of nowhere.  Of course, all her friends came over and hugged her while she was curled up sitting on the floor, having chills…. The teacher backstage tried to send her to the nurse, but now it was their turn to perform.  She told the teacher she would go as soon as she sang — it would only take two minutes.  Such a performer. She got up, sang on her shaky legs (they disinfected the microphone immediately thereafter), and was promptly sent home with a fever.

So: my poor daughter, in the end, was found to have H1N1 (swine) flu.  But the drama goes on, because in less than 48 hours she, I, and her friend were supposed to fly to College Park, Maryland (on the outskirts of Washington DC) for the finals of National History Day.  If she couldn’t go, her friend couldn’t either; they would have to withdraw (they were doing a dramatic presentation).  They had been working on this project literally all school year, and won at regional and state levels to be going to the national competition.  My daughter wanted to go, if at all possible.

My first concern was for my daughter’s health; my second was that her friend not get sick; my third was that she was safe to fly (that is, not get anyone else sick).  Once I realized she probably had flu from her symptoms (Wisconsin has the largest number of reported confirmed cases of swine flu in the U.S.),  my first call was to make a doctor’s appointment for that day, and the second was to an infectious disease specialist I know, who happens to be the father of my daughter’s friend as well.  I needed to know what the criteria were for her being safe to fly.  “No fever and no cough”.  OK.

To make an already long story a little shorter, by getting on an antiviral immediately (which shortens the period of infectiousness and symptoms), she got better remarkably quickly, and had no fever within 24 hours, and no cough by 36 hours.  So we flew to DC.  Her friend never got sick.  Neither did I.  My daughter did not feel good, granted, since she felt like a truck ran over her and had a constant headache unless she had ibuprofen on board.  And when she finished the antivirals, some other symptoms flared.  But they did their performance and got good comments from the judges, though they didn’t go on to the final round, to their great relief, actually.  (And we had a couple days for sightseeing, therefore.)

While I was gone, my husband and my younger daughter came down with the flu too.  My younger daughter developed croup and needed to be put on steroids.  Sigh.  So I was monitoring them and worrying from long distance, while nursing my older one and trying to make sure my daughter’s friend didn’t get sick (or me).   And hoping my mother, who’d been exposed to both daughters separately right before they got sick (you’re infectious in the 24 hours before you develop clear symptoms also), didn’t become ill either.

I still can’t believe I didn’t get it, but obsessive handwashing goes a long way, I guess.  There’s still some coughing and tiredness going on around these parts, but everyone is well on their way to being back to health now.  Many other middle schoolers got sick, at least a couple directly from my daughter (like the boy who played guitar with her), but there had been an outbreak that week, as it turned out; the cases just hadn’t been confirmed yet, so there had not been a notification (and I don’t know that it would have changed much, except reminding parents to keep kids with fevers at home; mine had no fever in the morning, when I checked by mommy-thermometer).  A letter came in the mail the next week…..

So that’s what I’ve been up to!

I hope to tell you more about DC, when time allows.  (Like about the girls feeling right at home in the Oval Office….)


Raindrops on Roses Eye Candy Friday


A picture from a week and a half ago, in Washington DC.

Yes, I was in DC again for the second time this year, after not being there in 30 years.

Yes, it rained!

I’ll tell you all about it, but the recovery from swine flu at my house has me a little behind….

Knitting Blog? Well, yes

Based on the last month, casual droppers-by would be excused for having no idea that this was nominally a knitting blog.  (Or an active blog at all — thanks to my friends who checked up on me!  Yes, all is well.)

You’d think it was all flowers and Saturday Skies, like this Saturday Sky from two weeks ago a month ago,  from the top of the Washington Monument.


(click to embiggen if you wish!)

But I have been knitting, truly!  Just traveling and working a lot also, which leaves little time to blog about it.

I’m not going to catch up with all the knitting I’ve done all at once, but let me show you today what I actually finished while on the Washington DC 5th grade trip.  While on the bus, even! For my younger daughter, The Gothlet, who is 11:

Gothlet Gauntlets!

Even though it wasn’t cold when I finished weaving in the last end and gave them to her, the gauntlets were immediately put on.  I think she liked them….!

These were made from amazing GothSocks self-striping yarn from Rainy Days & Wooly Dogs (etsy shop at the link; there’s an update next week!).  This colorway was  ‘Little Goth Girl’, and how perfect for my Gothlet?  As I told you before, I bought this at Madrona, from the dyer, who was very kind in skeining up some more yarn she had at home, and bringing it in for me to choose from  (which I happily did).  As I may have mentioned before, I designed these in such a way that they will fit my daughter now (she’s skinny, being a picky eater) and in the future (she’s shooting up like the proverbial weed).

I did this by shaping the arm part of the gauntlet, to hug the arm, but also by putting in ribbing on the undersurface to draw the gauntlet to the arm now, and also in the future.  I used k2 p2 ribbing, which is the most resilient I know. Below is the back side and the front, when I had just started the hand portion with thumb gusset.

Gothlet-Gauntlets-rear-view Gothlet-Gauntlets-march-8


Here I am above, demonstrating that the gauntlet fits an adult!  And I am of average height and at least average weight, though perhaps my wrists are a bit on the bony side.

Back to the happy Gothlet.

I’ll write this up formally when I can, but in the meantime, I wanted to give a quick and dirty version for anyone who might want to knit something similar, because it really did work out well.

First of all, I knit this a touch loosely at least on the hand: I usually knit socks on 0s, sometimes 1s for thicker fingering weight.  I knit these mitts for a skinny 11-year-old on US size 1s (2.25 mm) for the ribbing, and size “1.5”s (2.5 mm) for the arm, then size US size 2s (size 2.75 mm) for the main part of the hand (because I didn’t put any ribbing on the palm, reasoning that it would bug me a bit to have that texture there, but still wanted this to fit in the future when she’s bigger; and for the looks part of the gauntlet, a little looser there was OK).

If I were knitting this for me, I’d probably go with 2s all the way. The ribbing makes it fit snugly, but I’d rather have the knitting flexible more than dense, on these, which are not by their very nature designed for wearing outdoors in a midwestern January, for example.

If you needed to fit this to a different size arm, I’d suggest looking at your gauge (mine was 7 stitches/inch on 2s) and the measurement of the forearm at its widest, and casting on stitches in a multiple of 4 to equal that measurement or slightly less.  But I would still decrease to the same number of stitches for the hand (48) because that fits pretty much anyone of adult or near-adult size.

One last note:  In this self-striping yarn, I took a trick from Meg Swansen, and every time the color changed in the ribbing, I KNIT every stitch of the first row of different color instead of knitting in pattern.  This makes the stripes very crisp, without the ‘ticking’ effect in the purl stitches.  It’s a cool trick!  Not essential, but I like it.

Without further ado, here’s the quick and dirty directions for the Gothlet Gauntlets:

Cast on 64 stitches loosely (I used the German Twisted Cast-on).  Consider using 1-2 sizes bigger needles than you might normally use for socks, for ‘give’ and comfort (you don’t need hard wear here, and you want flexibility in the upper arm).  Use method of choice (two circs, dpns, Magic Loop).

Knit 12 rows in k2 p2 ribbing.

Mark beginning of row with stitch marker.  Knit 38 then place stitch marker, k1, [p2, k2] four times, p2, k1, place marker, knit 6.

Knit approximately 1 1/2 inches (4 cm) in pattern as established (knit to marker, k1, [p2, k2] four times, p2, k1, slip marker, knit to end of row).

Begin decreases: Knit to two stitches before marker.  SSK (slip as if to knit, slip as if to knit, knit two slipped stitches together).  Slip marker.  Work stitches between markers in rib pattern as established. K2tog (knit two together).  Knit to end of row.

Knit next 7 rows in pattern as established (knit to marker, work in rib pattern between markers, knit to end of row).

Decrease as above on 8th row.

Continue decreasing every 8th row until you have decreased 8 times, down to a total of 48 stitches.  You will have had to shift stitches on your needles to do the last few decreases, unless you Magic Loop, possibly.  This is all right!

Knit in pattern as established until gauntlet is desired length to wrist. Then knit a row in all stockinette (knit every stitch), removing markers as you come to them, and dividing the stitches evenly between  needles (24 stitches front and back, with ribbing centered on the back: 3 knit stitches, 18 stitches of p2 k2 ribbing, 3 knit stitches).

NOW: (here’s where it gets a bit sketchier)

Follow the directions for the Fingerless Piano Mitts and Mini-Mitts on this blog, but plug in the correct numbers for this size:

starting with 48 stitches instead of 40.

For RIGHT gauntlet, knit 28, place marker for thumb gusset, k4, place marker, knit to end of round (16 st).  Then follow instructions until dividing stitches for thumb gusset.  For LEFT gauntlet, knit 40, place marker, knit 4, place marker, knit to end of row (4 st).  Then follow instructions until dividing stitches for thumb gusset.  At end of increases, you will have 64 stitches (again!) on the needles.  You may need to knit more plain rounds to make the gauntlet the correct length to reach to the crotch of the thumb.

At thumb gusset, after putting the thumb gusset stitches on a holder of spare yarn, and after casting on 4 stitches, you will have 52 stitches total.  The rest is as written.  Feel free to adjust the length of the stockinette and ribbing to desired length.  The thumb instructions are also as written.

*someday I’ll get this written up all formal-like.  But I thought I’d get the bare bones version out there, because I’ve been asked!

Here, in other news:  Saturday Skies of the last month, since DC.




More knitting, more flowers, more Saturday Skies to come!