Things I’ve learned about knitting

I learned to knit a few years ago. This isn’t much of a surprise; I like making things with my hands, and wool is cheaper than plywood. However, as a beginner, I made several mistakes that I’m sure “veteran knitters” already know about. If I’d had a page of advice, like what I’m about to list but moreso, it would’ve helped a lot. Anyway:

  • The yarn really will stay on the needles. Even if you’re using double-pointed needles. You don’t need to keep pulling on it to keep it tight.
  • Don’t knit so darn tight.
  • Don’t knit at the points of the needles, knit at the barrels. If you knit with only the points, your stitches will be too tight.
  • Gauge really is important, even though it’s a pain in the neck.
  • If you live in Texas, don’t start with a scarf. There’s like maybe 6 weeks in the year when you’ll wear a scarf in Texas. Make a coffee sleeve or something.
  • No, really, the yarn will stay on the needles all on its own. Even if you’re using cheap aluminum needles and you’re knitting with really slick acrylic yarn. Friction will keep the needles from dropping out.
  • Blocking works. If you think something is too small or doesn’t fit quite right, block it into shape before you give up and rip it all back.
  • Seek out good videos (on youtube or similar) that show you “POV” angles of what you’re trying to learn. I liked when I started, and recommend it to you.
  • If you’re using double-pointed needles, the first couple of rows will feel like all you’re doing is making a giant bird’s nest. Don’t worry. Unless the pattern you’re using is to make a bird’s nest, chances are that after 3 or 4 rows it’ll even out and get significantly easier.
  • If you use a long-tail cast-on, chances are you made your tail too long. I always do. Either trim the tail back to 4-5 inches after you finish your first couple of rounds, or (if the stitch pattern allows) knit with two strands (the tail and the working end) at the same time until it’s effectively woven in.
  • The staff at your local yarn shop can be AMAZINGLY helpful. Talk to them if you run into a problem.

Pocket dump December 2014

It’s been a while, blog. Good to see you’re still (mostly) working just fine. Here, have a post!

I dumped out my pockets, took a picture of the (carefully-arranged) contents, and here’s a breakdown of what it all is!


This is what’s in my pockets right now (well, this plus my trusty Nexus 4, with which I took the photo, and a white men’s handkerchief). From left to right (ish):

  • My “wallet” which is really just all of my cards and cash stacked up and held together with a binder clip. I may switch this out soon to something from Saddleback Leather. Maybe.
  • An orange clearance-rack 8GB USB stick. I got tired of my expensive ones falling apart and breaking in my pocket. This one was made by Lexar and is almost entirely plastic; the only visible metal is the set of copper contacts on the USB connector itself.
  • My pocket knife. For a long time I carried a Gerber Artifact (I went through two, in fact). But both of them suffered from an irritating problem: Almost immediately, the ball bearing that’s supposed to keep it closed popped out of the lock arm. So I’ve stabbed myself more than once on the “craft knife” blade (think an X-Acto knife) on the Artifact. I switched a couple of months ago to a different Gerber knife, the Mini Paraframe. It’s nice and sharp, has a handy clip so I don’t have to dig around in my pocket, and it stays closed!
  • A Fisher Space Pen. This model is the “chrome bullet“. I’ve had it for ages, but it was sitting in a cup on my desk for so long that its ink cartridge had dried up. I got a refill on Monday, so back into my pocket it went!
  • A (relatively) cheap bluetooth headset. It’s a Plantronics M25. It pairs with my phone and does well enough for voice calls. When it comes to stereo audio, it’s absolute shit. But I think that’s more Android’s fault than the headset; it seems Android has a problem with not knowing how to downmix stereo audio when streaming it to a mono destination. There are helper apps to, er, help with that. I’m just too lazy to care.
  • A microfiber cleaning cloth that I got as a promo at Dell World. Based on the URL on the tag, it’s a “Smart Cloth” from Toddy Gear.
  • My keys. Pretty standard; the cloth is over the teeth because you can copy keys from just a picture these days. Also on my keyring: a Gerber Shard. It’s like the Artifact, but without the nifty “stab yourself in the leg or fingers” feature. Miniature prybar, wirestripper, bottle opener, Philips and flat screwdrivers.
  • My Fitbit One. I’ve lost like 50 pounds since mid-January, all from eating less and walking more.

Posterous archive inbound

Apologies in advance for anyone who still follows my RSS feed. Posterous is shutting down, so I’m uploading my archive from there to here, so as to not lose anything that I’d shared over there. I *think* it’ll preserve post dates, and there won’t be a glut of posts all showing today’s date…

Troubleshooting? Really?

Heather’s laptop started freaking out a few hours ago, with the trackpad ceasing to function about 0.5 seconds after logging in (it worked just fine on the Win7 login screen, and worked on initial desktop population, but stopped moments later). She couldn’t immediately fix it, so I figured it was a usermode driver problem, and was harboring visions of rooting through the registry or doing a system restore (not the “Wipe everything and reinstall” kind, the “Windows keeps backups of your registry for when you do something stupid” kind). Not fun. But I’m stretching pizza dough, so it’s not like I can work on it immediately.

So. Fast forward through dinner, where we ate sufficient quantities of delicious homemade pizza, and I’m actually experiencing the joys of auditing services.msc, rooting through the registry and msconfig. Without a mouse. Something in the process list makes me want to look up drivers for the touchpad, so I’m tilting the netbook to get a good look at the model number. And I notice that the right side of the power button is the “turn off the wifi” button. I’m not surprised by the existence of this button; most PC laptops these days have something that’ll do that. For airplanes, I suspect, or to preserve battery when you want to use your netbook in an offline mode. Hah, like anyone can actually do anything offline these days. Anyway. For some reason the idea dawns on me that maybe I should look at these other F-key functions. There’s one that looks interesting, like a window with a lightning bolt in it. That brings up taskmgr.exe. Good to know. The spacebar has some Bachman-inspired Running Man on it (at least that’s what I saw, others’ interpretations may vary). And lo and behold, F3 looks suspiciously like a trackpad with an X on it.

“What in the world could this button do?” I ask in a nigh-facetious manner. Fn-Tap! Oh, look, a screenpop that says “Touchpad enabled”. Oh, and the trackpad actually starts working again. I think I’m more surprised with the latter than the former.

Mischief managed. Also, I’m inspired to post my first serious update here in, what, 18 months? Let’s hope this is the start of a trend. The blogging, not the fixing computers bit.