Sunday, March 27, 2011

Socks, Socks, and More Socks

In January, I started the Certified Public Manager Program through KU's Public Management Center.  Knowing that I would have less time for knitting between working full time and having homework, I decided at most of my knitting was going to have to be fairly mindless this year.  Fortunately for me, basic stockinette socks are pretty mindless for me.  I have to concentrate a little when working on the heel and toe, but other than that, I can pretty much go on autopilot.

Since finishing the socks I made for Christmas gifts, I have completed another five pairs of socks.  The last three pairs I have done in the last three weeks.  Yes, I managed to make three pairs of socks that fit me in less than three weeks.  There have been a lot of changes at work, and while some have resulted in less stress, others have resulted in more stress.  At least sock knitting is a good way for me to deal with it.

I started the Kiwi Socks on January 8, 2011 using some Steinbach Wolle Strapaz Norweger Ringel in a green colorway that I purchased at The Studio Knitting & Needlepoint in Kansas City, Missouri.  After starting them, I noticed that they did not match.  To deal with it, I decided to call them Another Pair of Dobby Socks.  I like my socks to match, and when they do not, it bothers me.  Calling them Dobby Socks makes it a bit easier to handle.  However, after finishing them, two different friends remarked that they made them think of Kiwis (the fruit), so I renamed them.  Because I also worked on some other projects during this time, I did not finish them until February 17, 2011.

I started the Bryce Canyon Socks on February 18, 2011 and finished them on March 8, 2011.  I made these for a friend of mine, using Universal Yarns Ditto in the Bryce Canyon Black colorway.  When I was initially looking for a suitable yarn for his socks, I saw the colorway and knew it was perfect, because he has actually been to Bryce Canyon.  As I continued working on this pair of socks, it became readily apparent they did not match.  The stripes lined up just fine, but they looked like they were made from different dye lots.   When I bought the skeins of yarn, I made sure they all had the same dye lot, and if you held the yarns up together, they look the same, but as you can see, they look rather different when knitted up.

Luckily my friend did not care that they do not match exactly.

I started the Salt River Socks on March 8, 2011 and finished them on March 14, 2011.  For these I used Wisdom Yarn's Marathon Sock in the Phoenix line.  When I made socks for my stepsister and stepsister-in-law, I was a bit jealous, because I really liked this yarn.  Now I was finally making a fair for me in this yarn.

After these I made a pair of sock using Regia's Kaffe Fassett Design Line in the Mirage Jungle colorway.  I started these on March 15, 2011 and finished them on March 20, 2011.

I started the Grönland socks on March 21, 2011 and finished them on March 26, 2011.  I used Regia's Jacquard in the Grönland colorway.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Armed and Dangerous

Based on this title, one might think this post is about guns, but it is not.  It is about poor customer service.  In this day and age, many people have smart phones with cameras.  Pissing customers off is a very bad idea, and as one of my friends commented on my tweet that cross-posted to facebook, it goes viral.

A little over a week ago, I went to my usual weekend hangout.  Over the last so many months, there have been changes and other issues.  Fewer of the regulars go there now.  Some have moved, and others have different reasons.  Two of them quit going after the place switched to Pepsi products.  Now, that may seem like a silly reason to stop going to a hangout, but there is more to it that.  The friend in question cannot drink Pepsi products--she cannot physically tolerate them.  Tea makes her sick, and she cannot drink alcohol for health reasons.  So she and her husband no longer go.

After last Saturday though, the place may have lost other regulars--possibly for good.  I am sorry to say I may be among that number.  I work in a service industry too, albeit a different sort, so I try to be fairly patient with the waitstaff.  I have my limits though.  For some time now, it has not felt right there, and I have not been going there as regularly as I once did.  However, one of my friends was celebrating his birthday, and he chose to have it there, so I went.

The customer service has not been very good on Saturdays for quite some time--largely due to turnover, but this time it was much worse.  It was not terribly busy at the time, yet some of us were having to flag down the waitress just so we could order.  The friend who was celebrating his birthday (a regular) ordered cheese fries.  This waitress has worked there long enough that she has probably served him cheese fries before, so when she got them from the kitchen, she should have realized they were not right and taken care of it.  She did not. She brought them out to my friend without the bacon.  When he complained, he was told they were running low on it.  Okay, they ought to know that the weekends tend to be busy, and they either should have made sure they had adequate supplies, or they should have warned him ahead of time.  Apparently they did neither. She eventually brought him a little bacon, but it was not the usual amount.  He eventually talked her into bringing him more, but I doubt it was equal to the amount they normally put on them.

It did not stop there.  Another person at our table ordered potato chips.  The business in question makes its own, and they are usually quite good.  This time they were undercooked--so much so, that she could bend them without breaking.  She complained, they were sent back, and someone brought her out a fresh batch, guaranteeing they would be crispy.  They were not, and back they went.  Third time was the charm though.

Undercooked potato chips are one thing--they are just annoying.  Undercooked chicken is quite another.  The person who ordered potato chips also ordered chicken wings.  So did one of my other friends. Both of them were brought chicken wings that were noticeably undercooked.  I went and asked the bartender if the owner (I asked for him by name) was around.  He indicated the owner was not there, but that someone else was.  I told him the kitchen was sending out undercooked food.  The person who appeared to be manager of the day came over to take them back, and eventually more chicken wings were brought out.  The person who ordered the potato chips went ahead and ate hers without looking at them, but my friend's new batch of chicken wings were once again undercooked.  They went back and she ended up getting something else that was pre-cooked.

Another of my friends ordered a burger.  It was fully cooked when he got it, but it was also cold.  My burger was both fully cooked and warm when I got it, but that may be because I complained about the kitchen sending out undercooked food.

We were told that they had lost their head cook, but still, that is no reason to be sending out undercooked food.  Apparently it was enough of a problem that the owner did come in.  I saw him there, and someone else saw him head back to the kitchen.

I decided I was not having a very good time and I asked for my check.  The amount owed was only $8.17, because she did not charge me for my drink.  I brought it to her attention, and she told me not to worry about it.  I gave her a twenty to pay for it, and she only brought me back $11.00.  Okay, unless I tell them to keep some of that or to only bring me a specific amount, I expect all my change back.  I still tipped her, but it was not as much as I would have normally tipped.

I do not know if people were comped for their undercooked food or not.  I asked my friend if the owner ever came over to apologize to us, and he did not.  An apology could have gone a long way.  The owner used to be a waiter there before he bought the place, and he knows we are regulars.  However, a couple of us feel that he really does not care about making us mad.  Maybe he thinks we will remain loyal and continue to patronize his business.  Maybe he really does not want us there.  Either way, I did not go this weekend.

And that brings me back to why I named this post the way I did.  I was pretty unhappy with the way things were going that night, and I posted it as my facebook status.  I also posted something a bit more generic to twitter which also posted to facebook.  The friend who was celebrating his birthday posted something to facebook about his unhappiness.

The next day I deleted most of my posts about it.  However, one of my other friends posted something on facebook about getting a little upset with people who do not treat people in the service industry very well, especially when they are busy.  I responded, and I brought up the undercooked food--which he had not known about.  So any one who saw my posts, or either of my friends' posts now know there was a problem.

Unhappy customers are bad for business--they tell their friends, family, coworkers, etc.  In the age of smartphones, they can do it more quickly and effectively.  As an unhappy customer, I expressed my displeasure by not going there this weekend.  Granted I do not spend as much money there as some people, but I have been there both Friday and Saturday nights many a weekend.

One of the other regulars was there Friday night, and he told me that it was fine.  It does not really make me want to go back though.  I used to encourage people to go there, because it used to be such a fun place.  Now I do not want to go, and I am not the only one.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

This is the third year I am posting something on New Year's Day, and I feel that it has become something of tradition.  Last year I reflected on how crazy a year 2009 had been and hoped that 2010 would be a better year.  In some ways it was.  I recovered from Pancreatitis.  I traveled to California to visit a friend twice.  I also was accepted into the Certified Public Managers program which is through the University of Kansas.

There were some bad things too.  A friend from school died in March.  She had a cardiac incident in 2006 that left her severely brain damaged.  Eventually she became ill and finally succumbed to the illness.  We were not close friends, but she was still a friend.  Even though she passed away in March, the funeral was not until April 24, 2010, but I suspect that was to give adequate time to make arrangements, allow people to attend, etc.

In April I learned that a close friend had attempted suicide.  In July she succeeded.  We had been friends for a very long time, but I know I lost her a long time ago.  I hope that she is at peace now.

Even with the bad things, 2010 was a better year than 2009.  

That being said, I make the same resolutions I did a year ago: to keep enjoying life, to trust my instincts, and to put myself first more often.  This last one is particularly important.  I cannot help others if I do not take care of myself.  This is one of the lessons I took from being ill with pancreatitis.  Trying to help people who do not want my help is counterproductive and it prevents me from helping those who do want my help.  The trick is realizing when people do not really need and/or want my help.  This one is a bit tougher for me, but I do feel like I am making progress on this.

Happy New Years everyone!  May 2011 be a good year!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Projects, Projects, and More Projects

I know I have been really bad about blogging. While I have been knitting, I just have not been in the mood to blog about it. Usually I just post on facebook and Ravelry. Then in July a close friend committed suicide, and I definitely was not in the mood to blog. However, now that the year is coming to a close, I figured I really needed to update on my projects.

Last January I bought some Berroco Sox in a black and tan colorway, and I immediately got the idea of naming a pair of socks the Ultimate Irish Rebel Socks. One of the songs we sing at the pub is "Come Out Ye Black and Tans," and for a while it was considered the ultimate Irish rebel song. As I understand it, some of the British in Ireland wore uniforms cobbled together from whatever they had and were called Black and Tans. In the song there is a line about the British walking all over the Irish, and now the Black and Tan socks are getting walked in. (For the record, I have both British and Irish heritage).

After I finished that pair of socks I started on Anne Podlesak's Rattlesnake Creek Socks. I used Jojoland Ballad in Bay Blue to makes these. This yarn felt so wonderfully soft in the skein, but it did not feel quite as soft while knitting it. However, the socks softened up nicely after washing. Unfortunately, I recently discovered that one of the socks had a hole in it (and I had not even really worn them yet), so I ripped out past that point and am knitting it again.

Next I started some socks using Regia Galaxy Color. I started these in June, but I did not finish them until November. These were often put on hold to work on other projects, which I will talk about shortly.

I made two more pairs of socks after this--one for my stepsister and one for my stepsister-in-law. I made the pair for my stepsister in law out of Wisdom Yarns Marathon Sock in the McClintock colorway, since Shirley likes greens. This was the first pair of socks I had made for someone else, and frankly I was a bit jealous. I really like this yarn. It felt fairly nice while knitting it, and it felt even better after it was washed. Shirley seemed to like them--she put them on after getting them and modeled them. I made my step-sister's socks out of the same yarn but used the Camelback colorway, since Susan likes browns. I finished her socks up on Christmas Eve then washed them. Susan seemed to like them pretty well.

However, I did not just work on socks over the last few months. In June I started Kerra Quinn's Felted Chess Set. My dad did a lot for me while I was so sick last year, and I wanted to make this for him. I got most of the pieces done over the summer, but after a while I put them aside to work on other stuff. I finished these up on November 28 and gave them to Dad when I went for Thanksgiving dinner (my parents had their's the Sunday after Thanksgiving due to scheduling issues). Dad really liked it and he even set it up in a position.

This summer I joined a knit along where we made fingerless gloves to send to Marines serving in Afghanistan. I ended up making two pairs. My friend Stepheny also made two pairs, and her husband Rob made one as well. To save on postage, we sent all of ours at once to the guy who started the knit along. He later reported we sent fourteen pairs to Afghanistan.

I also had three baby blankets to make this fall. I use A Simple Baby Blanket with Knit-On Lace Edging by Nancy T. McGlynn. I found this pattern online years ago, but lately I have not been able to find it anywhere, otherwise I would provide a link to it. My cousin Kayla was expecting her second child in October, so I made a blanket for her. A coworker and his wife were expecting their first child in December, so I made one for them. My friends Shane and Nancy were also expecting a baby right before Christmas. Kayla knew she was having a boy, so I made her a blue blanket. Brett and Annie knew they were having a girl, and I do not care for pink, so I made them one that is a pale yellow. Shane and Nancy opted to not find out their baby's gender, so I opted for green as a neutral choice.

Between the first two baby blankets, I made a lap blanket for my grandmother's 90th birthday. She resides in a very nice nursing facility that is more like a big house than a nursing home, and a bunch of us gathered for her 90th birthday. Many of us were not sure what to get her, and I decided I might as well put my talents to use and make her something. As I understand it, she spends quite a bit of time sitting in chair in one of the sitting rooms just looking out the window, and it occurred to me she could use a lap blanket. I used some yarn I had in my stash and looked for a pattern on Ravelry that would work with the amount of yarn I had. Unfortunately, even though the pattern only called for 525 yards and I had over 600, I still ran out and had to get another skein of yarn. I did not get the same dyelot, but it does not really matter for this one.

Okay, back to socks, well sort of. One of my friends collects magnets, so I ended up getting a few magnets to give him when I did the 2010 Central Kansas Yarn Shop Hop. I also decided to make him a couple of magnets. I made a couple of tiny socks using Debbie Jennings' Key Chain Sock Blocker pattern using leftover sock yarn and size 0 needles. Once I finished the socks, I used some adhesive magnet backing that I purchased at Michael's.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More projects

While I have not been very good about blogging lately, I have been pretty good about knitting. Since Ravelympics, I have finished two pairs of socks, a pair of mittens, and a pair of fingerless gloves.

For some reason I got on a mitten kick. I have downloaded a number of patterns, and so far I have made one pair of mittens. I made the Rubya'it Mittens (available on Ravelry) by Heather Desserud using Black Louet Gems (fingering) and Wisdom Yarns Poems Sock Yarn in the Vista colorway. Because the first mitten only ended up using green and blue from the ball of Poems Sock Yarn, I used the another portion of the same colors for the other one. I have not gotten around to blocking them yet, so one is a bit bigger than the other.

After finishing the mittens, I felt the urge to make another pair of socks. I opted to use Brown Sheep Company's Wildfoote Luxury Sock Yarn in the Blue Grass colorway. It is the same basic sock pattern I do for most of my socks, but I think they turned out very well.

After finishing that pair of socks, I felt like making another pair of socks. This time I opted to use Regia's Kaffe Fasset's Design Line in the Landscape Jungle colorway. It is the same basic sock pattern, but I used a sturdy heel instead of a short-row heel. When the yarn tends to stripe, I find I do not always care for how it pools on the short row heel.

I also started on a pair of cabled fingerless mitts, but they are currently on time out. Needing another project I opted for another pair of fingerless gloves using the pattern and Laines du Nord Guinco.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ravelympics 2010

Ravelympics is Ravelry's own version of the Olympics. Instead of sporting events, we had crafting events. With the exception of projects that were works in progress, we were not able to start our projects until the opening ceremonies. Mass cast-on was at 6:00 Pacific Standard Time. Works in projects could be started before February 12, 2010, but they had to be dormant for at least a month before the Olympic Opening Ceremonies.

For Ravelympics I belonged to two different teams: Team Bobble Crushers and Team Tardis. Team Tardis is a Doctor Who themed team, and Team Bobble Crushers is the name the local knitting group came up with (what can I say, we really dislike bobbles).

For Team Bobble Crushers I did another Habitat Hat, this time in Zaol Camelon. I entered it in the Hat Half-Pipe and Cable Cross Country events.

My other Team Bobble Crushers entry was the Wintergreen Gloves. Since they were a work in progress, their event was WIPs Dancing. For this event, projects had to be dormant for at least a month prior to the opening ceremonies, but this was hardly a problem since I hadput the Wintergreen Gloves on hold to finish up Cold Mountain in time for a wedding at the end of January.

For Team Tardis I did the Tam of Rassilon by Ellen Hyde, and I entered it in the Hat Half-Pipe and Nordic Colorwork Combined events. The Tam of Rassilon is based on the Seal of Rassilon. While no stranger to fair isle knitting, this hat proved more challenging than I had originally anticipated, but I think it turned out fairly well.

Side view:

Top View:

Saturday, February 27, 2010


I spent Thursday evening taking care of things that needed to be done before surgery, such as grocery shopping and laundry. I also packed a bag in case they could not do the surgery as a laparoscopy, figuring at least that way my dad would not have to hunt for stuff at my house. When Dad picked me up Friday morning, I also packed my computer. I did not take it with me, but I figured it would be a good idea to have it ready to go in case he had to come by and pick it up.

After checking in at hospital I got out my knitting to keep me occupied. I have been participating in Ravelry's olympics (Ravelympics), and I was working on the Wintergreen Gloves for the WIPs Dancing (Works in Progress event). I had been working on them on and off since the end of October, putting them aside to work on Christmas knitting and then Cold Mountain. To be in the WIPs Dancing event, projects had to be dormant for at least a month before the Olympic opening ceremonies, so I just opted to work on other stuff. I finished a pair of socks I had been working on here and there, and I also made some preemie hats for a friend whose daughter made her entry into the world a couple months early.

It was a morning of odd coincidences. The patient care technician who had taken care of me with my last ERCP three weeks earlier saw me and recognized me. He was not the patient care tech taking care of me this time, but I ended up being in the same pre-op room as I had been three weeks earlier. Then one of the nurses who took care of me was one who had taken care of me during a previous ERCP--the one on December 24, if memory serves.

So I get changed into the hospital gown and keep knitting. Eventually they started an IV, and the managed to put it in a vein in my right arm, which enabled me to keep knitting. And unlike last time, someone came in from anesthesia fairly early on. It was not the person who would be doing my anesthesia, but he did take a history.

After all the times I have had anesthesia, I have learned a few things. I need to make sure they know I am asthmatic and have had problems with anesthesia before. I also have learned that using my inhaler before being put under actually causes me more problems with anesthesia, and I told him this.

I did not get one of the people I had requested for anesthesia, but I knew I probably would not. Nor did I get the guy who did my last ERCP. The guy who did my last ERCP was not bad, but he also does not like using Versed. However, I like getting Versed. It helps me relax, and I seem to do better with it than without. This guy did give me Versed though which helped. Actually he said something about how if I had not talked much before I would be talking a lot. I made a remark about it being Veritaserum and the guy laughed. I actually did not talk quite as much after it kicked in--I tend to talk more when I am nervous.

I remember being wheeled into the operating room and getting on the operating table. After that the next thing I remember is waking up in recovery. I had an easier time coming out from under the anesthesia than I did last time, but I still felt kind of sleepy. The nurse in recovery told me that was okay and to sleep if I needed to. I did have some pain, and she gave me morphine. I was not particularly thrilled about that, but she said it was the standard procedure.

More importantly, I learned that the surgeon had managed to remove my gallbladder laparoscopically.

Eventually I was wheeled into another room back in the pre-op area. I got there right around 1:00 p.m. or so, so I turned the television on and watched As the World Turns. I did have some pain in the area of my back that tends to spasm, and the nurse who was taking care of me post-op said something that was probably the gas they used during the surgery. She said getting up and moving around would help with that. I managed to send out text messages to a bunch of people letting them know surgery had been laparoscopic--it took a bit longer though because I was having a little trouble focusing.

I got home around 5:00 p.m. or so. I had left the hospital about 4:00 p.m., but we had to go to Walgreens to get a prescription filled. I posted an update to facebook and sent messages to people who are not on facebook.

Not wanting to wake up a bunch of times during the night, I ended up staying up for a while. It is kind of funny, but I would sort of nod off while I was on the computer. However, I did not really do it if I was knitting, so I divided my time between both.

Today I feel pretty good. I am still a little sore in areas, but I know that will get better with time.