I Never Learn

So, I was knitting away the other day, feeling these nagging doubts about my armhole decreases. It’ll work itself out, I told myself, It’ll be fine.

Yeah, it’s not fine.

Pro Tip: When you spend a lot of time convincing yourself you don’t have to rip back, it’s probably time to set your teeth and rip. Or at least stop knitting while you think it over.

On the bright side, here are some goldy, tweedy cables that can stay:

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Mistakes aside, I love fall knitting.

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Innumeracy

I once had a numbersy customer service job dealing with people trying to find/download various types of data. And nothing would set my teeth on edge quite like hearing some variation on “Tee hee! Math/computers are too hard for me!”

The idea that math or computers or whatever requires some special innate talent is baffling to me. You know why they have classes on this stuff? Because it’s stuff people can learn! Sure we’re not all destined to become great mathematicians but I’m pretty sure most people who put in a good effort can learn the basics of most things, barring some sort of learning disability.

Seriously, Client, your biggest stumbling block isn’t the inherent difficulty of downloading a file or calculating an average – it’s your belief that those are some kind of arcane arts requiring talents you don’t possess. Did you try the instructions I gave you? Do you think I took all those screenshots for the good of my health? Don’t just wring your hands about it, tell me the part that isn’t working. If you can send me all those emails about how The Internet Is Just Too Complicated, you can click on some of the links I sent you. Really. I believe in you! I just, um, need to pour myself a stiff drink now.

Which is the long way to say Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and its Consequences by John Allen Paulos gave me some flashbacks. It’s basically the same kind of rant above but book length and with more examples. You know, the public is shockingly ignorant about math. And yet it’s not so hard. Education is letting a lot of people down. It spoke to me, obviously, but I have to wonder how many people who dislike numbers would read a book about … numbers. And I have to say some of the things he says about innumerates are a bit on the mean side. But in fairness, some of the things I have said about some clients are also a bit on the mean side. Although not in print

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Check it out!

Buttons!

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Specs: Sky Isle Cardigan in Handmaiden Ottawa. Changed the gauge and slapped a pattern around the cuffs and bottom.

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Seamless Hybrid

I’ve been under the weather lately. It always seems like getting over colds seems to stop at about 80-90% for me. So it’s not like I’m sick, but I still need a nap after a day of sitting at my desk.

The upside? I made quick work of some plain knitting.

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(Er, let’s just pretend my arm is actually covering that lamp. Whoops!) I’ve been meaning to try out Elizabeth Zimmermann’s Seamless Hybrid for ages now and it was pretty perfect. Lots of plain knitting, then some nifty stuff at the shoulders once you’re feeling up to it. I did the shirt yoke version at the back:

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So simple and yet so clever. After all the hand holding in the last sweater I made, EZ’s chatty/vague directions made a nice change. I realize it’s not everyone’s jam but I kind of like how her instructions so often point out that you can just do what you want here. Because let’s be honest, I was going to do that anyway.

Specs: Seamless Hybrid by Elizabeth Zimmermann knit in Elann Peruvian Sierra Aran.

Since I’m feeling so much better, I cast on some cables yesterday.

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The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

Ever feel like there are some things that are better in theory than in practice? I’m starting to think fairy tale retellings are maybe in that category, alongside stiletto heels.

It was inevitable I would pick up The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine because it combines so many of my favourite things – flappers, speakeasies, fairy tales, sneaking out at night. And, y’all, it delivers on those fronts. I want to sneak off to a speakeasy and drink illicit champagne while dancing the Charleston! And I don’t even know how to Charleston!

But I feel like when you take fairy tales out of the misty world of fairy tale land they don’t hold up that well. Like if we’re in a fairy tale and twelve princesses are locked up I sure hope they escape/get rescued. If we’re somewhere real, like New York in the 20s, I start thinking they probably need therapy or something and shouldn’t someone call the authorities? Why doesn’t Cinderella tell her stepmother to shove it and go get a job? Who do you call when the roof of your candy house is leaking?

And while twelve anonymous Princesses seems reasonable for a fairy tale, twelve dancing sisters are a bit unwieldy as characters in a novel. There seemed a surplus of sisters, some of whom were just there to shore up the numbers.

But I can’t be too down on it because flappers! Speakeasies! Why did I waste my youth drinking cheap beer in a strip mall dive bar?

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Where the Wild Things Were

I once mentioned to my dad that I’d had a dream about a bear and he told me some theory whereby you dream about your local Big Predator, so since we lived in bear country (er, very broadly defined) of course my head would be full of bear dreams. I don’t really buy this – I think I’ve had more tiger-related dreams than bear ones and I’ve never lived in Asia – but I do buy the idea that Big Scary Beasts are always kind of lurking at the edges of our minds. At least I always jump when I hear strange noises in the woods. (It’s always something innocuous. Until, y’know, the time it isn’t.)

So I was drawn in by the premise of Wiliam Stolzenburg’s Where the Wild Things Were. (And also the title! I love Where the Wild Things Are!) Which can be summed up as: ecosystems without their carnivores are bleak and sad incarnations of themselves overrun with weeds and starving deer.

There are a bunch of examples going over the background of this idea with otters and wolves various biologists/ecologists who study them. There is talk of rewilding which I love for being a big, sweeping idea despite being dubious about some of the practicalities. Let lose some elephants and lions on the American Plains? What could go wrong? A few dissections turned me off pursuing Biology, but I do find it interesting as long as I’m not required to wield a scalpel. (I think this explains my fondness for dinosaurs; all the gross bits melt away.)

I did feel some nagging annoyance that so many of the examples seem so American. Of course it’s fine to focus on the US if you so desire, but it didn’t feel like a deliberate choice so much as a default. Perhaps it’s just me, but a few times when he talks about, say, wolves being eradicated in the Continental US and as a sidenote, there were still some off in Canada somewhere, I almost got offended on their behalf. Canadian wolves still count. I bet when wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone the elk made them say “about” seventeen zillion times. No wonder they started getting eaten.

Anyway, the book is pretty firmly pro-predator, which is fair enough and makes good ecological sense. Personally, I’m glad to think of wild things being Somewhere Out There, and I agree eradicating wolves from Yellowstone and similar policies were spectacularly ill-advised. But I understand the impulse. I wouldn’t want to run into anything with fangs in a dark alley and if they were skulking around my house/kids/livestock I like to think I’d be all wise and level headed but I might find myself going for the gun too.

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Armande

So, like I was saying the other day, I have a bit of a button backlog happening. Obvious solution? Button sewing party! (Your parties may be different.)

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When you get a beer, that’s when it’s a party. Fact.

One happily buttoned cardigan sounds like a successful party to me. (I’ve been to worse parties. With, like, vomit and stuff.)

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Those of you following along at home may have noticed we started with three sweaters. But I ran out of beer after this one. Baby steps. I mean, I can’t let buttons drive me to alcoholism.

Specs: Armande, knit in Aslan Trends Del Cerro. I have a couple of skeins left over. What would Aslan knit?

I started this pattern a while ago when I was in the mood for some simple knitting and I thought a detailed pattern with no modifications and all the thinking done would be just the thing. But this pattern? Is kind of too detailed. I see how it’s trying to avoid vague at-the-same-time instructions like, “knit the pockets while making buttonholes at intervals” but it has a lot of words and I find reading all the rows harder than just getting the gist and knitting away. It’s like it crosses the line from supportive hand-holding into “Jeez Mom, I can cross the street myself.”

I’m pleased with how it turned out though. Just shake your hand free and you’ll be fine.

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