Knitting by Blind Faith

Tropical Storm Fay Update
Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 12:35 pm
Filed under: Life

It has been raining heavily since 3:00 this moring, and I have been up since then, watching the news and knitting my 9 to 5 Socks (pattern on Ravelry).

I went to work today, but am debating going home. Many of the main roads are becoming impassable due to flooding and debris.

For now, I am listening to the scanner, watching television (on my TV radio), and working as usual. We have some water intrusion here, which is keeping things interesting. I feel sorry for those who got stuck cleaning and recleaning the areas where the water is coming in. The rain is just not letting up. The office around the corner from me is one of the worst, I think.

RAM is heading home soon, because he has a 17-mile commute and will needs to take many detours. We have been given the option to take paid leave and go home. I am staying at work, at least until RAM gets into the area, then I will decide what to do.

We are most worried about flooding and pop-up tornados. They don’t travel across the state the way they often due in the midwest. They often show up out of nowhere and dissipate just as quickly. We have had one tornado touch down in the county south of us, and one near where I used to work.

If you want to keep up with the storm, check out News Channel 5. They stream their newscasts.

A Delightful Anniversary
Friday, July 25, 2008, 6:37 am
Filed under: Life,Special Moments

RAM and I celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary last Saturday. Before I get to that, a quick update.

I finished my first pair of socks. I decided to do something other than the Jaywalkers and have a post in progress with details and my pattern. With everything going on, I haven’t actually had time to finish the post and hope too soon, along with photos.

I also finally got my hair cut and donated a whopping 16 inches of my hair to Locks of Love. It feels odd having hair to only just above the shoulders, but I am really enjoying the manageability.

Now, to the anniversary.

RAM and I took four days off and enjoyed a “staycation”. We spent Thursday troubleshooting the mess I had inadvertently made of my computer. My antivirus program had decided that my screen reader, which is used to translate the computer screen into synthesized speech and Braille (if a Braille display is connected) was a harmful program and decided to block it. This rendered my computer useless, and we had to fight to uninstall and reinstall the antivirus software.

At the same time, I had bought RAM a new computer for his birthday, which he badly needed. He was finishing up the transition from the old computer to the new one. You might think this was a boring day, but since we are both techies, we actually had fun.

On Friday, we took a day cruise on the ocean. This was Joy’s first cruise, and she loved it. We ate a delicious brunch and spent time out on deck enjoying the day.

Joy sits on deck.

Joy sits on deck.

I had started a pair of socks for RAM on the bus that morning, and got to knit a few rounds on the ship.

There is also a casino on the boat, and we had fun playing the two-cent machines. We ended up playing $40, and I won back $20 of it, so not a bad day. We don’t do this often, but when we do, we have fun.

What amazed me were the other passengers who recommended that we sign up for some sort of card where you could earn bonuses for gambling. When we told them that the last time we were on the boat was two and a half years ago, they laughed in our faces.

As I listened to them talk among themselves, both this time and on past trips, I heard stories of how they would lose thousands and thousands of dollars in one night. I can’t help but think how sad that is. If they just want to throw the money away anyway, let it do some good in the world! Give it to the Church or to charity.

When we got home, I cooked dinner, and we watched “Definitely Maybe”, which we never got to see in the theatre. We toasted our anniversary at midnight.

We got up early Saturday, and met RAM’s parents for breakfast. After that, we relaxed by the pool for a while and got ready for dinner when the weather clouded up. We had dinner at Courtine’s, a local French restaurant that is simply divine. Their house salad dressing, a creamy garlic, was so good that I told them they should bottle it. Turns out, a lot of people had the same idea and now they do! Of course, I couldn’t leave without bringing a jar home.

On Sunday, we left for Orlando after church. Of course, I knit all during the car ride. We stayed at a pet-friendly motel so that Peace could join us. We celebrated RAM’s birthday at Charley’s Steakhouse. (Did you notice that our anniversary and RAM’s birthday are a day apart? This was on purpose. Am I smart, or what? hehehe) We had been planning a trip like this for a while. I had wanted to take him to Charley’s on his birthday, but we wanted to wait for his birthday to fall on a weekend to do it. The fact that this year happened to be the year, and that it fell right into our little staycation, was just too awesome.

On Monday, we went to AES to look for a new microphone for one of our ham radios. They didn’t have the microphone, but they did have a Yaesu FT817, which RAM had been drooling over for a long time. The appeal of an FT817 is that it’s a QRP rig. This means that it only transmits up to 5 watts output, which is not very much power. (For reference, it can take 100 watts to power a light bulb in your house.) The challenge to using this radio is to hope for the right atmospheric conditions to talk all over the world with this tiny amount of power. The radio is also portable, so he can use it anywhere.

RAM had surprised me with an anniversary present–we weren’t supposed to exchange presents this year because of our little vacation–so I insisted that it was finally time for him to have his radio.

My present was a little piece of technology called a Victor Reader Stream. As the world is going digital, so are talking and Braille books provided by the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, a division of the Library of congress. This little player reads all NLS books, as well as specially copy-protected books from other organizations that make books available to those with documented print disabilities. The player is also compatible with, a commercial online source for audiobooks. It can also read text files and web pages.

Being an avid Braille reader, I hadn’t given the text to speech options much of a shot until I got my first laptop, and it wasn’t always convenient to connect a Braille display. Now, I see possibilities. I could download digital knitting books, patterns, and instructions, and have them read aloud as I carry them out. This is just like having another person reading instructions as I do them. Not to mention I can read virtually ANYTHING and still knit at the same time! Now, that is cool.

I was excited, dreaming of all those possibilities. I knew the package would be waiting for us when we came home. But for my knitting, I probably would have died from excitement. As it was, I had the rest of the leg, heel flap, and heel turn to keep me busy on the way home.

The weather was rainy Tuesday, so we took care of some paperwork and spent the day lounging around the house. I finished the gussets and started the foot for RAM’s first sock in between RAM and I troubleshooting why my antivirus program was blocking certain e-mails and working on more paperwork I had let fall through the cracks.

Wednesday, I came back to work and have been running ever since. RAM’s first sock will be finished by the weekend (if I don’t have time before then). (Of course, now I have this sinking feeling that I don’t have enough yarn. It’s a top-down sock, so I may have to frog.) I am looking forward to seeing the girls at Knit Night again soon. I don’t live far from where we meet, and I’m excited because the sidewalks are all finished. I can’t wait to be able to mix in some walking exercise with my knitting fun.

Until next time!

What’s Going On?
Monday, June 16, 2008, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Knitting,Life

Okay, so I know I’ve been eerily quiet lately, and you all are wondering what’s going on. Quite a lot, actually. I have been busy with work, and have been grateful for Knit Night and church, which are my respites from “life”.

The sock is slow going. I discovered that the sock was too big for me, even though I was achieving gauge. I switched to a size zero, and it seems to be helping, but the stiches are smaller and harder to work with if dropped.

I found a blind knitters group on Ravelry, and they have given suggestions for using lifelines, which I’m going to try. I love all my knitting friends, but you have no idea how good it feels to meet other knitters who have been known to frog projects because of a mistake they can’t fix, or who work with their stitches a little further back from the needle tips than what might be considered “normal”. It’s great to have validation and to know that I’m not the only one who does things a little differently!

On Saturday, I went over to S.’s house to continue her knitting lesson. She learned the knit stitch, and this is the swatch she was working on when I left.

Garter stitch swatch, 40 stitches by 4 rows.

We had to work on getting her to wrap the yarn correctly. I taught her to knit Continental, so she wasn’t really wrapping the yarn to see how it would go. I think she was trying to do some sort of maneuver to scoop the yarn off her index finger through the loop, like in purling, rather than dragging the loop of yarn that already lay in between the two needle tips back through the stitch on the left needle.

I did two things to rectify whatever it was that she was doing wrong. First, I showed her what each step of a knit stitch looked like, so that she could see exactly what was happening with the yarn and how the knit stitch was made. This was critical at the point where the working yarn was wrapped around the needle. I opened the stitch really wide so she could see what was going to happen next, and how the loop on the right needle was actually formed.

The second thing I had her do to bring it home was to have her do a clumsy throwing technique. I had her drop the working yarn, insert the right needle into the stitch, pick up the working yarn, wrap it around the right needle from front to back, drop it again, then bring the right needle through. Because she didn’t have to hold the working yarn, this allowed her hands to be free to take in more of what she was doing for each step of the process. This proved successful, and as you can see, she’s doing quite well. And don’t worry, we only did the clumsy throwing technique for one stitch!

RAM and I and S. and her boyfriend went out to dinner after the knitting lesson. Then, RAM and I went to see what was going on at Bike Fest. Joy did well with the crowds and loud music, but we decided to avoid them and take a nice walk.

RAM, Joy, and I walked the river walk and sat on one of the benches overlooking the river, just like on the night of our engagement. It was such a nice night!

The river walk zigzags over the river with nothing but a 2-inch high ledge on each side. It was a great exercise in my trust in Joy. She did well, but I thought at one point she was going to jump into the river after a mullet! That was a little scary, but I was impressed with how well she did, overall.

Yesterday, RAM’s parents came over to celebrate Father’s Day at our pool. We floated on rafts and played with RAM’s radio controlled boat. I also got to speak to my dad and stepdad on the phone, which was nice. I miss them terribly!

RAM and I are preparing to attend a rally tomorrow to save our public transportation. Many riders have been speaking to the commissioners and writing letters pleading with them not to cut the funding for this service. Since decisions are being made next month, tomorrow we are all rallying together to show that there is a real need for this service.

On a much more cheerful note, I found Debbie Macomber’s new Blossom Street book, Twenty Wishes, on Of course, I haven’t read Back on Blossom Street yet, so I’ll have to read it first before I read Twenty Wishes. It just recently came out electronically in Braille. It felt like a long wait. But, wow! The next book is out already!

It’s unfortunate that Back on Blossom Street is not on Audible. This means I can’t read and knit at the same time. :( Life is so unfair! I mean, how can one expect to read a Blossom Street book and not knit at the same time??? That’s like asking someone to go without whipped cream in their hot chocolate, or to eat cake without icing! It’s just wrong! Fortunately, Debbie Macomber’s books are so good that I can easily lose myself in them and forget that I am not knitting.