Monthly Archives: December 2008

A Very Merry Trouncing

I’m in Peabody, KS, spending Christmas with big sis Linda and her family and my immediate family, which consists of Ricky Dawg and Violet Dog. And before I tell the harrowing tale of my journey down here, let me just say that while the Linda/Inez Scrabble battle stands at 3 wins for her and only 2 for me, last night I trounced Linda by 100 points.

I’ll repeat that for my unbelieving siblings, who recognize what an achievement it is: I BEAT LINDA BY 100 POINTS. Keep this up and I might be able to play sis Carol and only lose by 50 points or so, which would be a whole ‘nother level of personal best.

As for my drive down here, anyone who has been paying attention to weather across the US knows that Iowa has been swamped with snow and freezing temperatures. Not as swamped at Portland OR, where my brother and sister-in-law who regularly brag about their good weather live (that’ll show ’em), but snowy and icy enough. I left last Friday, a day earlier than planned, to take advantage of a break in the storms. It was so icy between Storm Lake and about 50 miles south of Omaha that it took me almost 4 hours to cover a 2.5 hour drive. This means that when I was approaching the Emporia offramp on the Kansas Toll 35, it was dark — no moon dark — and my night vision is less than nonexistant. I missed the offramp and it seemed as if I’d have to drive clear into Wichita and then figure out how to go back north to Peabody.

I called Linda on my cell and, in a broken, bad-reception conversation, learned I had one chance to get off the toll road before Wichita. I took the exit, which was so small it had just one toll both that was empty because the guy was stretching his legs (yeah, not a busy place). When he noticed me and got back in his little booth, all official, he told me how to get to the road to Newton, which Linda assured me would take me past a small sign and turn to Peabody.

This is where things got very surreal.

Rural central Kansas is pretty empty, especially in the dark of the moon when you have no night vision and are driving a narrow two lane road with two dogs that would happily go live with the chainsaw murderer who is no doubt following you in that car that won’t pass and won’t turn down its brights. It was that kind of trip. I passed the sign for the town of Burns, which I know is near Peabody because their schools are combined, but then I drove miles and miles (thankful when the chainsaw maniac car finally passed me — no doubt his chainsaw family called his cell and told him of a car full of photogenic teenagers somewhere ahead*) with no signs and no friendly, or even spooky, house lights to be seen. Finally I saw a large sign for a Mennonite church, which in this part of the world likely means a Mennonite community. I considered just turning there and then and joining them** and putting an end to my lost-in-Kansas experience, but I’d look awful in a little black cap and they make dogs sleep outside.

Finally, I passed the sign for Peabody, turned, and drove an almost-getting-scary-again distance when the town came into view. I’ve never been so happy to see a co-op grain silo in my life. The surreality continued, though, when I approached Linda’s house and saw a lit-up Christmas tree in the window; of my three holidays here, she’s never gotten her act together enough to put up a tree. But it was the right house and the dogs and I were greeted and fed and much crafting and shopping and eating (and eating, and eating) have ensued.

Zeke parrot is being boarded at the local vet, who assured me he’d bring some turkey as a treat (little cannibal) after xmas. The cats have a housesitter and all is well in my world. I hope it’s well in yours, too. Merry Christmas.

*Ever notice that unattractive teens are never featured in horror movies? Had I known I was so safe during my awkward adolescence, I’d have traveled more.

**Hey, I’m already Quaker, I’d tell them. We’re just all Historic Peace Churches together, aren’t we?

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Semester….almost…over….(and a pattern!)

Between teaching, helping with gen-ed assessment,* faculty senate, and committee work, this has been a stressful semester. Plus, each semester seems to whiz by faster than the one before. I fully expect, in the near future, to come to my senses enmeshed in finals week with a memory of the first week of school and nothing in between.

I have had a few odd moments** to develop a pattern and produce crocheted neck warmers as xmas gifts for university staff and for friends. Notice how all my pattern (“all” meaning three, but hey, I’ve been busy) are for crochet? I still consider myself primarily a knitter and I prefer knitting, but I just find crochet to be so much faster!

Anyway, here’s some pics and then the pattern.

Four neck warmers. Notice how nicely the blue one patterned.

Four neck warmers. Notice how nicely the blue one patterned.

Spokespup Violet shows us my personal neck warmer with button. If she knew the difference between a vowel and a consonant and were taller, I think she could nudge Vanna off Wheel of Fortune.

Spokespup Violet shows us my personal neck warmer with button. If she knew the difference between a vowel and a consonant and were taller, I think she could nudge Vanna off Wheel of Fortune.

Who is that attractive, curly-haired woman? I think the neck warmer makes her even more mysteriously fabulous!

Who is that attractive, curly-haired woman? I think the neck warmer makes her even more mysteriously fabulous! (I have a rich fantasy life)

Crocheted Neck Warmer

Neck warmers aren’t as dramatic as long scarves, but are a lot more practical. Just as warm, they take up less room under your coat and are easy to fold into a pocket.

I did the same pattern (number of stitches, length) with both a soft, springy worsted and a single-ply bulky.

The worsted was on the fat side. I used Bernat Berella “4”. This is a nice acrylic in some colorways – there was a lot of variation in thickness and in “plastic-y-ness” between the various colors. The quality within each colorway seems very consistent, however. At any rate, one skein makes two neck warmers.

The bulky was something from my stash that had lost its label. It was a fluffy, hand-wash wool. It isn’t pictured, as it is an xmas present for someone who reads the blog!

Hook: I used an “I” hook for the worsted and a “K” for the bulky.

Stitch used: Woven crochet stitch. Worked over an even number of stitches, woven crochet stitch consists of alternating single crochets and chain-one spaces, with each single crochet being worked in a chain-one stitch of the previous row.

Pattern: Chain 19

Row one: In the third chain from hook, single crochet. *Chain one, skip stitch, single crochet in next stitch. Repeat from * to end of row. Chain two, turn.

Row two: Single crochet in the first chain one space of previous row. *Chain one, skip stitch, single crochet in next stitch. Repeat from * to last chain one space. Single crochet in last chain one space, chain one, single crochet in loop formed by the “chain two, turn” of the previous row. Chain two, turn.

Repeat row two until piece measures about 21 inches – this gives about a 4” overlap when the warmer is worn. For a fuller-than-average neck, simply add a few more rows.

Final three rows:

Row one: Instead of chaining two at the turn, chain only one. Skipping the base of the turning chain, single crochet in each stitch across (16 stitches). Chain one, turn.

Row two: Skipping the base of the turning chain, single crochet across first five stitches. Chain six. Skip the next six stitches (for buttonhole), single crochet in seventh stitch from the start of the chain. Single crochet in next four stitches or to end of row (hey, a miscount is not the end of the world!). Chain one, turn.

Last row: Skipping the base of the turning chain, single crochet in each stitch to the base of the button hole. Single crochet around the buttonhole chain (not in the stitches, but completely around them) – eight to ten single crochets to nicely cover the buttonhole chain without becoming stiff. Slide and adjust single crochets across the buttonhole chain. Single crochet in opposite base of buttonhole chain, single crochet in each stitch to end of row, cut yarn and bind off.

Weave in ends.

Center button at four inches from non-buttonhole end of neck warmer, or at appropriate spot for intended wearer. Using tapestry needle and yarn, stitch on button and then weave in ends.

You’re done!

*Anyone who uses the adage “like herding cats” has never tried to get 80+ faculty to do something, do it correctly, and do it on time. Cats are easy and, in general, a lot less self-centered.

**Okay, yeah, all my moments are odd.