Monthly Archives: October 2007

We’re a Mild Family….

A man, a woman, a slightly neurotic dog, two motorcycles (one not-a-Harley) — is it the next blockbuster movie? an underdog presidential bid? No, it’s my brother’s brand new blog, Journeys in the Mild West. He based the title idea on Mild Oats…I’m so flattered. So go to the sidebar and check it out under “friends.” Henry, Jan, and Sam (Sam’s the neurotic one) are good people, funny people, people you ought to get to know (via the blogosphere, anyway. In person…..I’ve said too much already).


How to Make a Muffatee (but you’ll need two…)

Muffatees are like fingerless gloves, except there are no proto-fingers — the muffatee is, instead, a type of cuff or tube that covers the forearm, the wrist, and the palm of the hand, with an opening for the thumb and a single opening for all the fingers. Muffatees keep your hands and forearms warm while still allowing for use of the fingers (I’m typing this while wearing a pair!).

There are patterns online for all kinds of knitted and crocheted muffatees (also called wristees, wristlets, or (mistakenly) fingerless gloves), but I decided to design my own. While I generally like the fabric produced by knitting more than that produced by crochet, I knit slowly and crochet fast. Also, I wanted to incorporate the knitting feature called “short rows” into my crocheted version, to customize the fit around the palm and wrist, and I wanted to crochet lengthwise rather than around the arm. I couldn’t find anything like that, so I made my own.

QUIKEE MUFFATEES (click pics to embiggen)


This pattern can be made in any yarn* using an appropriate size hook, since it is based on two measurements from the hand of the person for whom the muffatee is destined. Note: if using dk or sock yarn, modify the pattern thusly — do a set of short rows, a complete row of hdc, and a second set of short rows — this will ensure the palm portion will fit rather than being too snug.

I made the set shown in the photos from Lion Brand Wool-Ease worsted, using a J (6mm) hook. Following the pattern as written with that or a similar yarn will give you muffatees to fit a woman’s large hand or a man’s medium hand.

Step one: Measure one of the recipient’s hands in two places. First, measure around the knuckles at the top of palm, pulling the measuring tape snug. Subtract 1/2 inch from this measure. This is measurement #1 and it will determine your total number of rows and the placement of your short rows. Second, measure from the base of the little finger to the bottom of the bump formed where the palm meets the wrist. Subtract 1/2 inch. This is measurement #2 and it will determine the length of your short rows.


Cast on a number of stitches equal to the desired length of your muffatee. I wanted my pair to cover about 2 inches of my wrist, and I cast on 26 + 1. Hdc in the first chain and in every chain across (26 hdc). Chain two and turn. Hdc in the back loop only of the first chain and the back loop of every stitch across. Chain two, turn. Continue in this way until the width of the piece equals 1/2 of your knuckle/palm measure (measurement #1). For me, this was 6 rows.

Short Rows: The purpose of short rows is to create a sort of dart. In the muffatee pattern, the short rows add width to the palm while allowing the wrist portion to stay narrower and thus more fitted.

When you’ve completed the row of hdc that makes your piece equal to 1/2 of measurement #1, chain one and turn. Slip stitch in the first stitch and in every following stitch until the number of slip stitches equals the length of the palm (measurement #2). (see first pic below). For me, this was 12 stitches. Chain one and turn. Slip stitch in every stitch back up to the top of the piece (see second pic below). Short rows completed.


Chain two and turn. Hdc in back loop only of first short row stitch and in all short row stitches. When you have hdc ‘d in the final short row stitch, yo as to hdc in the next stitch, insert hook in the same stitch as the last slip stitch of the first short row (see arrow in pic below), yo, insert hook into back loop of next stitch, yo and pull through all loops on hook (otherwise, you’ll have a hole at the base of the short row section). Continue to hdc in back loop of each stitch to end of row. Chain 2, turn. Continue rows of hdc in back loop until width of piece, including short rows, is equal to the knuckle/palm measure (measurement #1). For me, this was 12 rows total.


When the piece reaches the desired width, you will be either at the wrist end or the palm end (the palm end contains the short rows). If at the wrist end, cut your yarn, knot or secure it, and start at the palm end with a new piece of yarn. If at the palm end, you can simply continue.

After completing the final row of hdc, chain one and turn. Fold your piece in half lengthwise, matching up edge stitches. Slip stitch to close the tube for the desired length from the bottom of the forefinger knuckle to the top of the thumb opening (#1 in pic below). For me, this was 6 slip stitches. Next, slip stitch in one edge only, which serves to carry the working yarn along the edge of the thumb opening for the desired length of the thumb opening (#2 in pic below). For me, this was 9 stitches. At base of thumb opening, resume slip stitching through both edges to create the tube for the wrist (#3 in pic below.) Before tying off once tube is fully sewn up, allow recipient to try on muffatee and see if thumb opening is appropriate size.


When tying off the working yarn, leave a long tail (6 inches or so). Thread tail on a tapestry needle and work hidden through seam to base of the thumb opening. Take a stitch or two across base of thumb opening to secure that area. Work tail securely back into fabric and clip end. Work in tail from your starting chain.

There — now you have your individual pattern with the requisite numbers of rows and stitches. Make a second muffatee and enjoy.

*I made a pair for a friend, using a double strand of thin, varegated boucle. Very warm and cute.

Poor Ricky Pup…

Well, Ricky just had his second observed seizure (that is, the second time I saw him seize). I posted about a month ago about his first seizure and the dramatic rush to the vet. They did blood work and ruled out kidney/liver failure, which I guess is a first prime concern. They advised me to keep a log of observed seizures, which I just started. I’m heading over to the vet in a few minutes to pick up some cat food, so I’ll discuss this with them, as well.

Given Ricky’s beagle heritage, epilepsy is the most probable diagnosis, and if seizures remain mild and infrequent, I understand he won’t even need medication. Right now, he’s resting and seems fine, if a little needy of his mama. Anyway, say a prayer or spare a thought for my beagle/husky guy.



I haven’t posted for a bit, which has nothing to do with the new computer game I just got or the stack of novels awaiting my attention or my newest crochet fixation, muffatees.* Or just a little bit. No, a tad more than that. Yeah, there you go — that much.

In other news, in early November I’m going to a conference at Grinnell College and its local prison to see how the faculty and students have created a writing program for the prisoners. We (another faculty member and two students) will be studying their program to see how we can implement one at our nearest prison, Rockwell City. And since “Rockwell City” has the same number of syllables as “Folsom Prison,” I’ve been Johnny-Cashing about it all week.

My next post will likely be a crochet pattern for muffatees, featuring a slip stich short row, which is pretty darn clever, if I do say so myself, which, obviously, I just did.

*Crochet because I knit so slowly, winter would be over before I finished a pair. Crocheting, I can do a pair in one evening. I’m outfitting the members of my department because our building heat hasn’t been turned on yet!

Hey! That’s me!

Yesterday afternoon, I opened my door to find a manila cardboard mailer, and opened that to find a softbound book, titled Sizing Up Rhetoric, the proceedings of the 2006 biennial Rhetoric Society of America conference. And I opened the book up to page 325 to find “What About Sex? Reconsidering Histories of Nineteenth Century Women’s Public Reform Discourse,” by Inez Schaechterle and Sue Carter Wood. And, if I may say so, SQUEE!

You see, this is my first book article publication. I had another book article accepted several years ago, but due to conflicts between the editors’ vision and several publishers’ visions, the book ended up being published electronically (here’s my article). And while that was nifty and made a good line on my vita and all, I’ve spent almost my entire life reading, collecting, discussing, yearning for, and practically worshipping books. So to find myself actually in one is just damn cool.

It’s also cool because the article is a revised version of the last chapter of my dissertation, and it’s satisfying to see something of that mammoth project get wider recognition. Plus, I wasn’t able to actually deliver the paper at the Rhetoric Society of America conference because it’s a 2.5 hour drive to the Omaha airport from Storm Lake and I hadn’t yet been made privvy to the locals’ secret short route and when I arrived, while the plane was still on the tarmac, they wouldn’t let me board due to TSA rules. Because middle-aged English teachers are a big terror threat, apparently.

Another mark for the coolness of the article is that, I have to admit, it’s highly unlikely that I will follow up and try to publish my dissertation as a book. BVU is a teaching-focused school, so, unlike state schools and big-name private universities, publication isn’t necessary for tenure, which means two things: 1) publication isn’t rewarded, except for a pat on the back, and 2) we teach a heavy load that doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing and research. This isn’t to say that others of my colleagues haven’t published lots of articles and some books, but I’m just not feeling the need beyond a conference a year and the occasional article. I’m confident of achieving tenure and, if for some reason I don’t, I’ll be applying at similar schools — they pepper the Midwest.

So here I am to brag to you about my book article. That’s another thing — one can’t really brag to one’s colleagues about publications. First, because bragging isn’t so cool, second, because in some sense that what’s academics are supposed to do anyway, so it’s merely your job, and third because there will always be someone at your institution that can top you: publish an article, they’ve got a book. Publish a book, they’ve got 10. Publish 10 books, they not only have a great publishing record by they can juggle flaming chainsaws while simultaneously delivering meals on wheels.

But me, I got my nifty little book article. And I’m happy.