A tale of two eyeballs

As I got older, my glasses got smaller, as was the fashion.  This did not really work well, however, with the lenses getting thicker.

Almost a year ago, I had laser eye surgery.  I did not write about it then because I did not have a blog (also, I was cranky and my eyes hurt).  In the time since then, well, I just have not thought about it.  It did not occur to me to write anything about the situation until I found the not particularly helpful photos I took during my week post-surgery.  Eyeball surgery doesn’t really change how one looks so the photos are not really necessary but I am including them anyway because now I can delete them from my phone and have more space for pictures of my niece and nephew 🙂

I first got glasses when I was six years old and I probably needed them before that.  My mom tells me that on the way home from getting my first pair, I was reading all of the signs and store names we passed, giving her the first indication that I had not been able to before!  I started out with enormous plastic frames and moved on to a pair of round red glasses (made by Nintendo, my brother still has the case even though Mario wore off of it decades ago) of which I had a few iterations.

long ago glasses

As I got older, my glasses got smaller, as was the fashion.  This did not really work well, however, with the lenses getting thicker.  I don’t know when I made the transition but for as long as I can recall being a part of the glasses-buying process, I always required the extra thin lenses in order for them to even fit into frames.  My prescription got steadily worse throughout high school and tapered off by the time I was in college.


I started wearing contact lenses at around 13 years old; at first I thought they were the greatest thing ever because they let me pretend to be “normal”.  In reality, they were kind of a pain in the [proverbial] butt.  Still, having a choice was a real improvement.  I bought my first pair of actual sunglasses that year and was extremely pleased by my ability to wear them.  Over the years since first getting contacts, however, I got increasingly lazy about wearing them.  By the time I finally decided to get surgery I was down to wearing them only when it would be especially bright out (so I could wear sunglasses) or wanted to impress somebody.  Most of the reason for this was laziness but I also became self conscious about what I thought of as my piggy face.  I was convinced that glasses helped my cheeks look less fat up around my eyes and decided that was a valid excuse to keep wearing them.

I had a consultation with a LASIK surgeon in the early 2000s but at that time I was told I could not be improved to 20/20, I would still have to wear glasses albeit weaker ones.  I did not think much about it for a while after that although my father would periodically encourage me to consider getting the procedure, I would say that there wasn’t much point since I would still need glasses anyway.  In retrospect, it may have been a good idea even then because the level of uncorrected vision that I had made me quite vulnerable.  I would define my eyesight in terms of 20/20, 20/400, etc. but apparently it’s not really practical at my prescription.  I have it on good authority though that I was worse than 20/1000 which means that I could not see at 20 feet what a normal person could see at 1000 feet if that gives any perspective; that is more than three football fields!

Anyway, I finally decided to get another consultation and it turned out to be an excellent idea.  I went to Adelson Eye & Laser Center where they tested my vision and took weird measurements.  I ended up waiting a while because they were behind schedule (something I would learn is a trend there) but the doctors were encouraging and answered all my questions and I felt like I was in good hands.  Dr. Adelson was even willing to talk to my father on the phone about my surgical options.  He understood that even though I am a grown woman, my physician father wants to know everything he can about my health care and procedures.

In the end, we decided that PRK (photoretractive keratectomy) was a better option for me than LASIK (laser assisted in-situ keratomileusis).  Both involve removing the top layer of the eye (epithelium) and reshaping what is below it with a laser.  LASIK has a quicker recovery time because the epithelium is cut into a flap so that it can go back over the eye at the end of the procedure and protect the tissue immediately although there is some risk of flap complications.  In PRK, the epithelium is removed by either a chemical or abrasive process and has to regrow.  This reduces the possibility of complications but adds recovery time and pain.  The reason PRK was a better choice for me is because not cutting a flap allows more corneal depth to work with for the vision correction and due to the severity of my myopia, the doctor needed all the depth he could get!

I waited until my parents came to visit before actually getting the surgery then I stayed at my grandma’s house with them for several days afterward.  I like to think of myself as independent but it was really good to have people there to get me food and put in my eyedrops (forcibly if necessary) when I did not want to even open my eyes.

The day of surgery (Thursday) I left work early and picked up my mother before heading to the eye doctor, my father met us there.  I was given a Valium and waited (nervously, despite the drug) for what felt like an excessively long time before being called back to the surgical room which was basically a dark eye examination room with some extra equipment.  The doctor gave me drops to numb my eyes which worked very well.  He then held my eyes open with an ocular speculum (think “A Clockwork Orange”) and told me to keep very still.  Then came the scariest part; a whirring brush came toward my eyeball and I just had to sit there and take it.  It didn’t actually hurt although it seemed like it should have but the numbing drops were doing their job; it just felt weird, like a tickling or pressure.  Anyway, he did this for both eyes and then started in with the laser.  It was pre-programmed based on measurements they had taken already and I just had to look right at a red light while a weird humming happened but it didn’t really feel like anything.

last pair of contactThe whole procedure took less than fifteen minutes from the time I sat down to the time that the “bandage contacts” were inserted; a set of clear lenses to protect my poor damaged eyeballs.  Finally, they gave me an eye shield and sent me on my way.

I can see someThe drive home was kind of amazing; I could see!  My vision was not totally clear or anything but I could recognize my family members by sight, something I could not have done the day before [without glasses] unless I got close enough to smell them.  The rest of that afternoon was not particularly eventful, I hung out in the basement and listened to an audiobook because I couldn’t quite focus enough to watch TV (reading was totally out of the question).  By the evening though, I was not happy.  My eyes hurt a lot.  I had three kinds of eyedrops; a steroid to encourage healing, an antibiotic to fight infection, and something labelled “comfort drops” which was given to me at the doctor’s office.  I was instructed to use the latter sparingly so as not to slow my recovery.  I was also permitted to take NSAIDs as needed but I cannot say that the Aleve I downed really helped much.

my eyeballs hurtMy father held my eyes open one at a time to give me the drops I needed which was very helpful since I don’t know if I would have been able to open them on my own; the tiniest amount of light hurt me at that time.  I was super cranky and refused to leave the basement even when I was assured that the blinds upstairs were closed.  I was fairly certain that I looked like a monster because I definitely felt like one.  The eye shield was probably a lifesaver at that time because I wanted very badly to rub my eyes and probably would have done so while sleeping if I did not have the protection it provided.  Speaking of sleeping, it was all I wanted to do for hours at at time which is actually not too unlike my normal weekends but due to the circumstances, I was allowed to do it without guilt.  That did not actually make me feel better though.  Eating was hard because even in very dim light, I did not want to open my eyes to see where my food was.  I ate yogurt while holding the cup very close to my mouth – so went my Friday.

By Saturday, I wasn’t doing much better mood-wise but I was able to stand a light being turned on around the corner from me for a limited period of time.  Mostly I wandered around the dim basement in a cranky manner and made my mom put my eyedrops in since my father had gone to play golf.

light is the enemyOn Sunday, I ventured upstairs but immediately regretted it and returned to my cave.  Slowly throughout the day, I tolerated a bit more light and was willing to return upstairs by the evening while wearing sunglasses.  As a side note, I got these sunglasses from the eye doctor and I quite like them.  I’m still wearing them and will be sad when I inevitably lose or break them.  Obviously I was still not in a good enough mood to brush my hair but I do seem to have changed my clothes, at least.

Monday was Labor Day, so I didn’t have to worry about going to work.  I went for a brief walk outside, both wearing my sunglasses and looking down the whole time.  I decided that I had to at least try that since I planned to go to work the next day and I could not avoid light forever.

On Tuesday, my mom drove me to work and I was able to get around okay even though things were a bit blurry and unfocused.  I could read the mission statement banners that hang over the production floor and most paper put in front of me even though I had to move it back and forth a bit to get my eyes to focus (not unlike a person with presbyopia who refuses to admit she needs glasses).  My mom picked me up early from work and I went to the doctor to get approved to drive.  Although I did not feel that my eyesight was ideal, I got the okay since I was seeing at 20/40 and the cutoff is 20/50.  I was super excited.

The next day I drove myself to work and returned home to my apartment, now able to take care of myself although apparently not able to take care of plants.  My herbs all died while I was away.  Well, they probably didn’t go from healthy to dead in less than a week but I had been neglecting them long enough that my six-day absence was enough to finish them off.

Tsome irritationhe next day was fine but on Friday, I had a tiny irritated feeling in one of my eyes which, by midday had turned into actual pain.  My left eye was watering profusely and I couldn’t see well out of it.  I called the doctor’s office and they told me to come in.  I ended up waiting a while during which I convinced myself that my eye was horribly damaged and I would never be able to see again.  It turns out that I had a small abrasion on my eyeball.  The doctor inserted a bandage contact lens and I went back to work, slightly more calm.

Eventually the pain went away and I removed the contact lens myself.  I did find that my eyes felt painful in a kind of rough way more often than they used to.  Apparently, dry eye is a common side effect of PRK.  I did not seem to have any other problems, however.  I don’t have haloing or blurry vision.  I do get some glare when driving at night but not any worse than with my glasses – actually, better than when I wore contact lenses!  I put an eye chart up in my office and would stand in the doorway (ten feet away) to check my eyesight a couple of times a day, which was probably excessive.  I also went back to see the eye doctor at all of the required intervals – one week, one month, three months, and six months.  By my last appointment, I was not only able to read the 20/20 line on the eye chart but part of the 20/15 line as well!

no real changeSo, I have spent a really excessive amount of time now talking about my eyeballs and the laser surgery I had on them to come to one basic conclusion:  It was totally worth it!  I do have to use eyedrops a couple of times a day now; just over the counter artificial tears.  If I don’t use them enough, by the time I go to bed, my eyes actually kind of hurt a little.  Still, this is a small (tiny, really) price to pay for vision which does not require correction.  I look the same (at least the way I looked when wearing contacts) but I feel more confident and less vulnerable.  I have peripheral vision and stumble into things less in the middle of the night when I get up and walk around.  I do notice how squinty my eyes get when I smile because of my cheek fat but I’ve decided that it is okay.  My dark undereye circles are more prominent without glasses to help mask them but I can ignore that too.  I have mostly gotten used to not wearing glasses although I still reach for them occasionally in the morning when my alarm goes off.  After 27 years of wearing glasses, visual independence is still new to me but I am happy to get to know it!

Straw-baby sweater knitting pattern

In my (totally not biased) opinion, it turned out pretty well.

Okay, two months later, I guess it is time for another blog post that nobody will read . . .

Earlier this year, I found myself between knitting projects and decided to use some of my stash to knit a sweater for my baby niece.  She looks super-cute in pink so I started with that and picked out a turquoise-y green for contrast.  Like I usually do, I made up a pattern based on theoretical sweater construction and math then made notes about what I actually did.  Initially, this sweater had no theme, it was just a tiny sweater with a placket in the back to make it easier to put on a squirming toddler.

About halfway through the sweater, I thought about how plain it would look, even in the awesome hot pink color, so I decided to do something with the contrasting green on the front.  It occurred to me that the colors were reminiscent of a strawberry, so I decided to go with that.  Also, that made me think of how my nephew used to say the word when he was a toddler, “straw-BABY” and it seemed especially appropriate as a motif!

I experimented a bit with embroidery and duplicate stitching but in the end, I decided the best way was to use a crochet hook and chain stitch the outline of a strawberry then duplicate stitch in some seeds.  This turned out to be harder than I initially expected and after trying and failing more than once, I decided to use waste yarn to make a rough strawberry using a running stitch then follow that shape with my chain stitching.  In my (totally not biased) opinion, it turned out pretty well.

leaf button
This green is so wrong!

The real challenge was finding buttons that worked with the theme.  I started out by going to JoAnn where I looked at pretty much every pink, green, strawberry, and leaf button I could find but nothing worked.

strawberry button
This button is too small.

The pink buttons were too boring and none of the greens were the right color.  The closest I came to matching my self-inflicted theme were still totally wrong.  I went to every store in town that I thought might carry buttons but had no luck at all.

I guess I can’t expect better quality control for the price I paid.

Eventually, I decided to try the internet.  I generally don’t like shopping online for supplies that need to match but by this point, I had become desperate for strawberry-shaped buttons that would do the job.  I found a promising set on Amazon that was inexpensive although would take a long time to arrive since they were shipping from China.  They did not arrive when expected so I went to visit my niece without the buttons and made her try the sweater on before taking it away for future finishing.  Eventually, my buttons came and while they were mostly as advertised, I have to wonder who the hell wants turquoise or blue strawberries?  Of course, I got more of the silly colors than anything else.  Also, some of the buttons were mis-printed but fortunately, mostly the aforementioned useless colors.

strawberry buttons
Nobody needs this many blue strawberries!

At least I got enough red ones to finish my project.  Well, they are supposed to be red and appear as such in the listing but they turned out to be dark pink instead, which is actually better because they ended up matching my pink yarn almost perfectly!  The green was totally off but you can’t have everything.  I think that these wooden buttons are a great match for the sweater, assuming they hold up over time.

button placket
The green isn’t exactly right but the “red” was faded just the right amount.

I used the long green yarn end that I had left hanging to sew on the buttons and I think that the end result was worth the wait.  I’m pretty sure my niece would think so too if she wasn’t too little to comprehend my weird strawberry-button obsession.  I am going to see her again in about a month and even though it will be the height of summer, I am totally going to give her this sweater and make her model it for me again.  That’s what she gets for being so darn cute and lovable!

cutest model ever
After I made her try it on and [sort of] pose for me, I cruelly took back this button-less sweater.
Okay, the pattern:  I have not done the math to write this up for various sizes so it is really only suitable for toddlers who are about one and a half to two years old.  My model was 16 months when this photo was taken and as you can probably tell, it is way too big for her but babies can always be counted on to grow, so that doesn’t worry me!  I think that this pattern could be adapted for any sort of motif.  When you are choosing one though, be sure to think about the difficulty of finding matching buttons!  This sweater is worked from the top down and has NO seams.  I abbreviate a lot of things, check the end of the pattern for definitions (and links)

strawbaby back
There is a little poof at the bottom of the placket but overall, I am quite pleased with this sweater.

Straw-baby sweater pattern by Kalyani

Size: 18 months – 2 years

Materials: Lily Sugar’n Cream (worsted, 120 yd/71g) 2 balls MC, 1 ball CC

Needles: Size 7 & Size 8 circular

Notions: Size G crochet hook; 4 1″ buttons; stitch markers; cable needle and/or stitch holders / waste yarn.

Gauge: 4 sts/inch on larger needles

NOTE(*): I like to cast on and off with larger needles even when using smaller ones to work the ribbing, this is mostly because I tend to cast on tightly and this keeps me from doing so.  Cast on and off with the smaller needles if this is not a problem for you.

strawbaby front
All ready for that adorable model!

Neck Ribbing:

With CC, cast on 45 stitches using long-tail method on larger* needles

Switch to smaller needles

Row 1 (ws): k4, *k1, p1, repeat from * to last st, k1

Row 2 (rs): s1, *k1, p1, repeat from * to last 4 sts, k4

Repeat rows 1 & 2 1x more

Row 5 (ws): k4, switch to MC, p4, pm, p8, pm, p12, pm, p8, pm, p8, k1 [45 sts]

Switch to larger needles

Short Rows:

Row 1 (rs): s1, k2, yo, k2tog, *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k2, w&t [bh made]

Row 2 (ws): p to last st, k1, turn

Row 3 (rs): s1,*k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k5, w&t

Row 4 (ws): p to last st, k1, turn

Row 5 / 1 (rs) : s1, *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 3x, k to end

Row 2 (ws): k4, p19, w&t

Row 3 (rs): *k to 2 sts bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, rep from * 1x, k to end

Row 4 (ws): k4, p26, w&t

Row 5 (rs): as row 3

Row 6 (ws): k4, p to last st, k1


Row 1 (rs): s1, *k to 2 st bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, repeat from * 3x, k to end [8 sts inc]

Row 2 & all ws rows through 24: k4, p to last st, k1

Row 3 (rs): s1, k2, yo, k2tog, *k to 2 st bef m, kfb, k1, sm, kfb, repeat from * 3x, k to end [8 sts inc & bh made]

Row 4 (ws): as row 2

Repeat rows 1 & 2 3x

Row 11 (rs): as row 3

Repeat rows 4 – 11  [bh made on row 19]

Row 20 (ws): as row 2

Repeat rows 1 & 2 1x

Row 23 (rs): s1, *k to 2 bef m, kfb, k1, sm, k to m, sm, kfb, repeat from *, k to end [161 sts]

Row 24 (ws): as row 2

Row 25 (rs): s1, k to last 5 sts, slip 5 sts to cable needle, do NOT turn

Join in round (rs): hold cn behind work, *k 1 st from cn tog with st from beg of last round, repeat from * 4x more, k to end of round, pm

Divide for Sleeves & Body:

Round 1 (rs): s1, *k to m, sm, place 36 sts on holder, co 8 sts, sm, repeat from * 1x, k to beg of round [100 sts]

Round 2: k around

Round 3: *k to m, ssk, k to 2 bef m, k2tog, repeat from * 1x, k to end

Repeat round 2 3 x

Repeat rounds 3 – 6 3x

Round 19: k around [84 sts]

Repeat round 19 until body measures 6” from co sts at armpit

Switch to CC & smaller needles

Bottom Ribbing:

Round 1: k around, sm

Round 2: *k1, p1, repeat from * to end, sm

Repeat round 2 7x more

Bind off with larger* needle

Arms (with MC & larger needles):

From the armpit sts on the body, pu & k 4 sts, k 32 sts from holder, pu & k 4 sts, pm

Round 1: k around, sm [40 sts]

Round 2: k3, k2tog, k to 5 sts bef m, ssk, k3, sm [38 sts]

Repeat round 1 2x

Round 5: k2, k2tog, k to 4 sts bef m, ssk, k2, sm [36 sts]

Repeat round 1 2x

Round 8: k1, k2tog, k to 3 sts bef m, ssk, k1, sm [34 sts]

Repeat round 1 2x

Round 11: k2tog, k to 2 sts bef m, ssk, sm [32 sts]

Repeat round 1 4x

Round 16: ssk, k to 2 sts bef m, k2tog, sm

Repeat rounds 12- 16 until sleeve measures 6” from armpit [sts mayvary]

Switch to CC & smaller needles

Cuff Ribbing:

Round 1: k around, sm

Round 2: *k1, p1, repeat from * to end, sm

Repeat round 2 7x more

Bind off with larger* needle

Repeat for 2nd arm

Strawberry Motif & Finishing:

It turns out I am incapable of chain-stitching a strawberry shape totally freehand.
strawbaby inside
In retrospect, this may not have been the best idea, the long bits of yarn may catch on buttons and the like.










Holding yarn inside sweater use crochet hook to chain stitch the outline of a strawberry on the front.  Cut a long tail and duplicate stitch “seeds” inside the outline.  (It may help to use a long running stitch made of waste yarn to vaguely outline the shape before you begin chain stitching.  Each chain should be no more than 1 ½ stitches long.)

strawbaby motif
I think this turned out as well as it possibly could under the circumstances.

Sew 4 buttons to garter stitch band opposite buttonholes

Weave in ends


  • bef – before
  • bh – buttonhole
  • CC – contrasting color
  • cn – cable needle
  • co – cast on
  • inc – increase(d)
  • k# – knit # sts
  • k2tog – knit 2 together
  • kfb – knit into the front & back of the stitch
  • m – marker
  • MC – main color
  • p# – purl # sts
  • pm – place marker
  • pu – pick up
  • rm – remove marker
  • rs – right side
  • s1 – slip 1 stitch
  • ssk – s1, s1, k 2 slipped sts together
  • st(s) – stitch(es)
  • sm – slip marker
  • w&t – wrap yarn around the next stitch and turn the work (note, on row after w&t, work wrap together with stitch)
  • ws – wrong side
  • yo – yarn over

Yooper hat knitting pattern

I don’t actually like hats. Despite knitting them fairly regularly, I almost never wear them. They tend to look weird on me.

with tag
Really completed, with a tag and everything.
side blue
An awkward photo of me but that’s to be expected. The hat looks kind of helmet-y but I was going for something that could be worn under a hood, so I think it works.

I have not been keeping up well with this blog although honestly, I’m doing better than I thought I would, by which I mean I haven’t totally forgotten about it.  I am calling this a pattern but even as I type this, I am not sure I can actually come up with coherent instructions.  I did not keep good notes while making this hat.  I do think that my original plan worked out pretty well although I probably should have knitted a few more rounds before decreasing.  It fits me but I won’t know for sure if it is actually too short until I give it to its intended recipient.

ponytail_hat_2_medium2I don’t actually like hats.  Despite knitting them fairly regularly, I almost never wear them.  They tend to look weird on me, although I do have a hat with a hole for my ponytail that I wore occasionally until I lost it.  What I liked about that hat is that my ponytail going through the back held it in place so that it didn’t come down in the front and cover my eyes.  I decided to try a different route to the same end and add some earflaps for good measure.  I spent kind of a while pondering the whole idea before I decided to just grab some yarn and have at it!  I did have a couple of false starts but eventually I decided on double knitting because I figured that earflaps should be extra warm.  When I got to the hat itself, I kept on with the double knitting because I decided it would look weird otherwise – and if you’re double knitting, you might as well make it reversible and different on each side.  Of course, double knitting provides the additional challenge of finding subtle ways to weave in yarn ends since there is no wrong side, but I like to let issues like that be problems for “future me”.

done white
The white side is puffier than the blue side and looks all wrong when not being worn.

What I did not count on was the difference between my tension when knitting and purling.  Like many people, I purl more loosely than I knit.  At the beginning, I did not realize this was a problem because I worked the earflaps and the start of the back of the hat in rows, back and forth.  When I added the front, however, I joined it in a round, although it still took a few inches for me to catch on to the problem and even when I did, I persevered.  In the end, I decided that the white was definitely the inside and I put a label on it although that could easily be removed if a mostly white hat was desired.  Anyway, let’s see if I can remember how I made it.  By the way, a “Yooper” is someone from the U.P., or upper peninsula of Michigan.  It is notoriously cold there, so it seemed like a good name for a doubly thick wool hat with earflaps.

Yooper Hat Pattern by Kalyani

Materials: Patons Classic Wool (worsted, 220 yd/100g) 1 ball each, Color A & Color B.

Needles: Size 8 circular and / or DPNs

Gauge: 4 sts/inch (double knit)

NOTE: When working the first and last stitch of a row, hold both strands together and treat as one stitch.  For all other pairs, treat each strand as its own stitch.

Earflap (make 2)

Holding a strand of A & a strand of B together, cast on 5 stitches

Row 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, k1 (A & B)

Row 2: s1 (A & B), wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, k1 (A & B)

Row 3: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Row 4: s1 (A & B), wyb pick up & k1 A, wyf pick up & p1 A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Repeat last 2 rows 5 x more until there are 17 pairs of stitches between the edge stitches

just starting
The inside and outside are much more even when knit in rows than in rounds.

Row 15: as row 3

Row 16: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Repeat last 2 rows 1 x more

Cut yarn (leaving enough to weave in) on 1st earflap only.  Do NOT cut yarn on 2nd earflap.



With 2nd earflap still on needle, s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Use attached yarn to cast on 19 stitches (holding a strand of A & a strand of B together)

Join second earflap, s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

I guess it does look a little like a bra.

NOTE: From this point forward, the former edge stitches of each earflap which abut the cast on stitches will be treated as two stitches and only the first and last stitch of the whole row will be treated as a single stitch.

Row 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Row 2:  s1 (A & B), wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to last st, k1 (A & B)

Repeat last 2 rows 2x more, after row 6, DO NOT TURN!

Main Hat Portion (or whatever you want to call it)

NOTE: From this point forward, the hat will be worked in the round.  You can use double pointed needles or a circular needle to do this.  (All of my circular needles are too long for hats so I work with an extra loop sticking out between stitches, whatever works for you!)  Also, with the exception of the first stitch of round 1 which helps to close a gap, no more pairs of stitches will be treated as a single stitch.

in progress
I did a weird thing with the first stitch because there are an even number, I think it worked out though.


Cast on 21 stitches (holding a strand of A & a strand of B together)

Place marker for beg / end of round

Join the work by positioning the beginning of the last row on the left needle, being careful not to twist stitches

Round 1: s1 (A & B), wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm

Round 2: *wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, repeat from * to end marker, sm

Round 3: *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm

Repeat last 2 rounds 1 x more

Round 6: *wyb k1A, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker, sm

Repeat last round 11 x more (in the photo, I only did it 9 x more but the hat is a little short)

Round 19: as round 2

Round 20: as round 3

Repeat last 2 rounds 1 x more

Round 23: *[wyb k1A, wyf p1B] 13 x, pm, repeat from * to end marker

Fortunately, I was able to correct this on the next round so there is not a weird bit of blue in the white space. Avoiding this is why the strands have to be moved together back and forth during the work.


A p2tog with color B actually decreases one of the knit (color A) stitches.

Round 1: *wyb k1A, wyf p2togB, wyb k2togA, wyf p1B, [wyb k1A, wyf p1B] to marker, repeat from * to end marker (6 x total)

Round 2: *wyb k1A, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker (slipping all other markers), sm

Repeat last 2 rounds 5 x more

Round 13: as round 1 (36 sts remain)

Round 14: *wyb k1 A, wyf p1A, wyb k1 B, wyf p1B, repeat from * to end marker (slipping all other markers), sm

A k2tog with color A actually decreases one of the purl (color B) stitches.

Round 15: *wyb k1B, wyf p2togB, wyb k2togA, wyf p1A, wyb k1B, wyf p1B, wyb k1A, wyf p1A, wyb k1B, wyf p1B, sm, wyb k1A, wyf p2togA, wyb k2togB, wyf p1B, wyb k1A, wyf p1A, wyb k1B, wyf p1B, wyb k1A, wyf p1B, repeat from & to end marker (30 sts remain)

Round 16: as round 14

Round 17: *wyb k1B, wyf p2togB, wyb k2togA, wyf p1A, wyb k1B, wyf p1B, wyb k1A, wyf p1A, sm, repeat from * to end marker (24 sts remain)

The decreased stitch sort of disappears between its neighbors.

Round 18: as round 2

Round 19: as round 1 (18 sts remain)

Repeat last round 2 x more (6 sts remain)

Cut both strands of yarn.  Thread each strand through all 6 sts of the same color and pull tight (keeping color B inside the hat).

Weave in ends, which I find to be a particular challenge on a reversible object.


top white
I think the decreasing swirl looks nice in white.


  • beg – beginning
  • k1 – knit 1
  • p1 – purl 1
  • pm – place marker
  • s1 – slip 1 stitch
  • st – stitch
  • sm – slip marker
  • wyb – with yarn in back
  • wyf – with yarn in front

Shades of Gray

My father is one of eight siblings, all of whom are currently in their fifties or sixties and he is the only one of them with gray hair; this is not a decision made by nature.


I am aging and not going about it gracefully.  I have long since mocked people who dye their hair excessively.  Well, maybe not mocked but at least judged less than silently.  Anyway, I think it looks silly when you see someone who is obviously in her sixties or seventies and has jet-black hair.  Yes, I used the feminine pronoun there, it wasn’t a random choice.  Women seem more likely to do this sort of thing than men.  Not that men aren’t subject to a certain amount of vanity as well, especially these days.

I am hardly the first person in my family to begin to gray, not even in my generation.  I have always worried about premature color loss if not actual hair loss.  My paternal grandfather’s hair was completely white by the time he was twenty although he kept a thick head of that snow white hair until he died at around 80 years old.  I have a cousin older than me who have been sporting salt and pepper temples since before he was thirty and another whose loses about ten years in appearance when he shaves because of the gray in his beard.  Somehow my brother (four years my senior) has managed to avoid this particular sign of age so far and he reminds me of it once in a while. (To be fair, only really when I complain about gray but still – uncool!)20170221_164857

My father is one of eight siblings, all of whom are currently in their fifties or sixties and he is the only one of them with gray hair; this is not a decision made by nature.  I think he looks better that way.  There is something comical about seeing three men with jet black hair standing around, their kurtas open at the neck so that their gray chest hair is evident in contrast.  At least this problem does not affect the ladies.  Their oldest sister used to have reddish hair, since she dyed the gray with henna but now it is dark again.  I suspect when there was more red than black, she decided it was time for a change.  Anyway, I decided to take her lead because at this point, I don’t have a lot of colorless strands and it seems less like giving in to my age.

I have dyed my hair before but never out of “necessity” only for funsies.  I have never really had a problem with my hair color.  It is dark brown (not black) and has red highlights in the sun.  Since my hair is dark and I don’t want to bleach it, I am limited in the colors I can try.  I also fear decisions to an extent and have only used temporary color (Clairol Natural Instincts) except for the one other time I used henna.  I have tried to go more red and I have tried to go black.  Neither of these changes were particularly evident when indoors in my regular clothes.  The sun helped show the change and the black ensemble I had to wear when working at Macy’s provided the contrast needed to display my dye job but only when my hair was down around my shoulders.

I have been at work for two days now with my newly henna dyed hair and nobody has yet said anything about it.  I suppose that is good, since I mostly wanted to hide the gray (which I was also told people didn’t notice but I sure did).

Anyway, I’m not sure I really did the henna thing right but it seems to have worked.  By this I mean that when I comb through the strands, I find orangey-red where white ones used to be.  There is not much of a change to the rest of my hair.  There is a change to my bathtub though – there are some weird gunky spots that weren’t there before.  I need to work on cleaning that!

When I decided to do this, I had not washed my hair in several days (I usually do so twice a week but since I was late for work on Friday, I skipped it) and I don’t know if dirty hair is a good or bad thing for dying but it was kind of greasy when I started.

dirty hair

I bought my henna at the local Indian Grocery (well, the local Indian Chain Store, Patel Brothers) and it sat on a shelf in my apartment for nearly a year, so I wasn’t off to a great start.  Finally, on Saturday, I dumped it into a bowl.  The powder is fine and came up in a little cloud which made me cough, I hope it doesn’t give me lung cancer.

henna box  henna powder

I added lemon juice and olive oil per the internet / my vague memory of doing this once before.  I added some water too but I didn’t want to dilute the lemon juice too much since I read that acidity is what activates the pigment but it was not at all wet enough.  I am also a miser who didn’t want to use too much fancy lemon juice topically so I added some vinegar, figuring that’s acidic and I have a huge jug of it.  I don’t know if it made a real difference chemically but it did make the smell far less pleasant.

lemon juice  olive oil  mixed  mixed with vinegar

I covered the bowl and let it sit for a couple of hours (also per the internet) then added an egg.  The egg thing seemed weird to me but several internet people (I know, why would they steer me wrong?) insisted that topical egg application strengthens hair.  I had a partial carton of eggs rapidly approaching their sell by date, so I figured, what the hell, I’d give it a shot.   I cracked an egg into my henna paste that smelled of vinegar and beat it in like I was making cookies.  It actually looked kind of like delicious brownie batter but due to the aforementioned smell, I had no problem not tasting it!

add egg  mixed with egg

I then slathered the goop on my hair, trying hard to both work it into my roots and not get it everywhere.  I sort of succeeded on both counts.  I held sections up with clips as I went, which worked well for the application but when I put on a shower cap so I could let it sit without getting henna all over my apartment, I found that they are not really made to sit on top of all of that.  There were inches of uncovered goopy hair at the back of my head.

side clips  shower cap

I sat around for a couple of hours, watching TV while I tried valiantly to keep my head from touching my recliner.  I seem to have done a decent job since I did not detect any horrible spots on the fortunately dark colored furniture.  I did lose some hardened bits into the cushion, however, when they dried out and dislodged from the hair at the nape of my neck.

Other than the hardened bits around the edges where the cap did not cover and the fog / steam that built up inside the shower cap, there was not much difference when the [more or less arbitrary] time came to rinse my head.  I removed the clips and found that mostly, my hair stayed in place, glued as it was by egg and other nonsense.

shower cap  2 hours later  clips removed

When I got in the shower however, it started coming out.  There was a ton of brownish water running around my feet with a slight greenish tinge that I did not expect.  It’s okay though, my hair wasn’t green at all, even the gray bits.  I rinsed my hair a bunch of times, especially where the dried bits were, until the water ran clear.  I have heard that you are not supposed to shampoo your hair for a couple of days after dying with henna so I “washed” it with conditioner instead, going through the motions of shampooing with a different bottle.  A little more color did run out at that point, but not too much.  When I got out of the shower and dried off, I don’t think I stained my towel at all!

fluffy hair

So, my hair doesn’t look very different (except that it is clean).  The curls happen naturally and as soon as I brushed it, they went away.  I try to keep the curly hair some days but it just turns into a giant fuzzy tangleball before too long, so I rarely do so.

Overall, I am calling this process a success, if slightly unnecessary.

Blast from the past

The first thing I learned is that jeans are way better for this sort of thing than yoga pants


My twelve-year-old cousin sent me a friendship bracelet for Christmas.  It was different than the kind I used to make but still took me back to look at!

My “response” bracelet

I guess I thought of friendship bracelets as a nineties thing but maybe they are an adolescent girl thing and it’s just that I was that age in the nineties.  The bracelet my cousin made was more round and thick than I remember being popular but fashions do change – even those made of string.  I did not see her working on it but our grandmother told me that she had some sort of tool which she uses to weave the strands in and out.  My first thought was “kids, today!”  I guess that is one of the things that marks me as getting old.  In my day, we used our fingers and a safety pin to hold the strands in place.

I decided to make a bracelet for my young cousin and send it in response.  After several days of not going to the craft store, I decided to just see what I had lying around.  Once upon a time (the nineties) I had so many colors of embroidery floss that I had a box just to hold and organize it.  I remember thinking how very decadent it was to ha4f35ddef304678c2ee345824e40d50b5ve storage like that just for a craft item.  Ha!  If only adolescent me could see the yarn and fabric storage I have now.  Of course, the shelves, drawers, and totes I have are nothing compared to my mother’s studio and its walk-in closet.  My mother bought the DMC branded floss box for me when some local craft store was going out of business and I thought it was the best thing ever; I obviously had not yet discovered Alpaca.  It turns out that I did have a couple of skeins of floss mixed in with my yarn stash (with the 100% cotton of course) so I set about making a bracelet for my cousin.


Just like nineties-me, I totally guessed how much floss to cut for the project then carefully made sure all of the colors were the same length.  I tied a loop in the top (the better to fasten it with) and safety-pinned it to my knee.  The first thing I learned is that jeans are way better for this sort of thing than yoga pants but I wasn’t about to get up out of my recliner and change my pants just for this purpose.  I found that pulling the pants taut and bending my knee to an acute angle did a decent job of holding the bracelet in place as I got to work.

I’ve never been able to keep my rows neat and pretty but I think I did the trick overall and as I always did, I finished it off with two tails to make fastening through the loop as easy as possible.  I learned this from a book [what feels like] a very long time ago but there are lots of tutorials on the internet now, even videos to show how to make bracelets.  A cursory googling turned up this tutorial  for the style of bracelet I made although I used six strands and my diagonal goes the opposite way.  I actually have never been able to do the very simple knot used for this bracelet in the other direction.  I don’t know if it feels too left-handed or if I just got too used to the way I do it or what.  Maybe I do need one of those boards like the kids get now.  Anyway, because of this deficiency, I was never able to make the chevron bracelets which were so popular in my youth.  A part of me wants to go buy more floss and try again.  Another part of me wonders what the heck I would do with bracelets once I made them.  I only have so many teenage cousins!

Two Fewer UFOs

I bought a few dinosaurs for my nephew (he knows more about dinosaurs than anybody – except paleontologists, or so he tells me) and set out to find something to stuff into his little sister’s pockets.


I finished the Christmas sweaters for my niece and nephew last weekend.  I count this as a win because I am not even a whole month late yet.  The idea of these sweaters is that while they are Christmassy together, they can be worn at any time, really.  I just hope that they fit.  I used basic sizing from the internet and sort of made up the pattern as I went.  This method, which I use so often, does not always turn out as I hope.  I honestly have no idea whether these sweaters will fit – I can only hope at this point!

I made the red baby sweater first, from the top down, and added little pockets because it seemed cute.  I don’t know what a baby would actually put in pockets.  My niece is one year old and just learned to walk so she isn’t exactly used to strolling about with her hands in her pockets.  I was not quite halfway through the green kid sweater when I stumbled upon some tiny dinosaurs at the Chicago Field Museum.  I came up with the [brilliant] idea to put little presents in the pockets, so I bought a few dinosaurs for my nephew (he knows more about dinosaurs than anybody – except paleontologists, or so he tells me) and set out to find something to stuff into his little sister’s pockets.


The problem I encountered was that while the pockets of the baby sweater are smaller, the toys required for a baby are bigger.  By this I mean that any items small enough to fit into her little pockets would inevitably be a choking hazard.  Although I don’t think she is old enough to start keeping score, I didn’t want to do the pocket gift thing for only one kid.  Fortunately, I came up with a solution – socks.  I know that socks are a lame Christmas present but baby socks are so darn cute, they have to count as a gift.  I looked at pink and purple and ruffly socks but I ended up buying her socks with dinosaurs on them.  While I don’t want to inflict stereotypical gender roles upon small children, I don’t think “girly” things are actually bad for girls as long as they don’t make up all of the options.  I figured though that she probably has ruffly socks and ones with dinosaurs might make her brother jealous.  If she’s anything like I was as a little kid, she thinks her big brother hung the moon (proverbially speaking of course, even as I child I had a basic understanding of astronomy) and will want to like whatever he does.

All of the tiny dinosaurs fit easily into one pocket of the green sweater though, so I decided to put something else in the other one.  I decided upon a squirrel made of felt, which I had made at the five-year-old’s request but had yet to mail across the country.  I think it turned out pretty well although I have never been particularly good at hand sewing.


I made several little animals from Nuno Runo although the lighting in my room isn’t good and my execution is a bit lacking.  I printed the patterns as large as I could on a standard letter size sheet of paper.  My fingers are way too fat to deal with anything as small as the designer made!  If you like tiny sewing projects and / or felt is on sale at your local craft store, you should check out her patterns.  I did a few with my 11 & 12 year old cousins over Thanksgiving.  Although there were a few small stabbings, the craft went over pretty well.

Anyway, the box is all packed and taped up, so I hope I didn’t forget anything, and I plan to send it at the Post Office on my way to the gym (which I am actually going to today after work).  I know the USPS has been through some hard times but I like them.  Jon Stewart did a thing on The Daily Show years ago where he pointed out that the Post Office is amazing.  For less than fifty cents, they will take a letter from your house (actually, not my house, I don’t have an outgoing mail box) to someone else’s house anywhere in the country in just a couple of days.  It is pretty cool when you think about it.  Of course, a box with two sweaters costs more than fifty cents to send but it’s still great.  I can feel a little bit closer to my family all the way on the west coast by mailing them sweaters that they may not actually need due to the difference in climate.

On the road again

I was pretty lucky. Besides not having any injuries, my car was repairable and although it took a while to fix, I was out of town for a week and did not have to rent a car during that time.


Just over three weeks ago, I was hit by a salt truck and knocked off the freeway.  I was fortunately uninjured but my car was not driveable and I had to get a rental car while it was being repaired, a process which took extra time due to the holidays.  I have a high deductible and no rental car coverage so this incident has not been cheap.  That being said, I was pretty lucky.  Besides not having any injuries, my car was repairable and although it took a while to fix, I was out of town for a week and did not have to rent a car during that time.  Also, the body shop had some parts in stock and seems to have done a good job (as far as I can tell, at least).  They were also very nice to me.  Despite a slightly inconvenient schedule, which I think was unavoidable given the time of year, I would recommend Dependable Collision if asked.

Geico has also been nice enough although they were not able to get me a tow truck when I needed one.  Apparently, everyone in town was busy that night, which is understandable, I suppose, but makes me wonder why anyone asks their insurance company to send a tow truck instead of just calling one themselves.  I actually didn’t do that either.  The State Trooper got a tow truck for me (after a bit of miscommunication) and the extremely nice driver from Budget Towing not only drove me home but climbed up onto the truck bed and rooted through my messy car for the stuff I needed, including a laundry basket and various unlabeled bags.  “Do you see one with some bottles in it?  I think it’s black.”  Was one unhelpful request I made.  I also forgot a few things (see this post about unfinished Christmas sweaters) but he did what he could.


Anyway, I still had to go to work and because there is no public transportation which goes anywhere near my place of employment, I had to rent a car.  This did mean I got to sleep in a bit, since Enterprise wasn’t open as early as I usually leave.  They did give me the Geico rate although I had to pay it myself and I didn’t feel like I should be springing for a fancy upgrade so I ended up in a Nissan Ventra, which is apparently one step up from “economy”.


I managed to drive it for 12 days without sliding off the road or anything, so I shall call it a success.  The Florida license plate did invite some comments in this Michigan winter.

I have contacted the County Road Commission a few times now but other than sending me a form to fill out, I have not heard back.  There doesn’t seem to be any doubt that their vehicle was at fault, so I am hoping to recover my deductible and rental car cost from them.  Unfortunately, it is not looking good so far; I will have to keep pressing forward.  Ugh, I hate confrontation.

Geico is not helping with this issue because apparently, as Michigan is a No Fault state, they don’t get involved with “mini torts”.  I don’t even know what that means but apparently I’m on my own.  Even when the people are nice and as helpful as they are allowed to be, insurance is the worst!

Tangled web

I never learn. I don’t like to weave in ends, so I try to make garments as seamless as possible.


I decided in late November to make Christmas sweaters for my niece (almost 1 year old) and nephew (5 years old).  My logic was that they are small, it should not take too long.  Somehow I never learn.  I had what I thought to be an adorable idea too; I would make one sweater red & white and the other green & white so that they would not be too Christmassy on their own, therefore extending their usefulness, while still being obviously holiday-themed when worn at the same time.  I decided to add pockets (which I now realize was a time-sucking mistake) and put little presents inside them.  Finding small dinosaurs for my nephew was no problem but his sister presented a bit of a challenge.  The pockets on her sweater are obviously smaller but the small toys she can play with have to be bigger since I obviously don’t want to give her choking hazards for Christmas.  After much contemplation and some shopping, I decided upon adorable baby socks for her.  I had ruffled pink ones in my hand when I changed my mind and went with the dinosaur-themed set instead.  I am pretty sure that they are meant for little boys but I don’t see why.  Girls can like dinosaurs too and since her brother is a big fan, I am pretty sure she will follow suit!

I kept doing other things when I should have been working on the sweaters.  Playing Candy Crush, doing crossword puzzles, it didn’t matter really, my instinct is to put off anything that has a deadline and apparently it is too deeply ingrained after years of completing my homework just under the proverbial gun.  The second problem was actually something I can mostly blame on someone else – I had a car accident.  While returning home one afternoon, my car was struck by a county salt truck, sending me spinning off of the freeway and causing a hole in the side of my vehicle.  I was unhurt but [not surprisingly] flustered and when the tow truck dropped me off, I neglected to retrieve the partially finished sweaters from my car.  I did go to the body shop and get my knitting bag a couple of days later, but by that point I had unwisely begun another project which I had to finish in an even more timely fashion (a scarf for a Secret Santa exchange at work).  Also, the kids were were on their way to Asia to spend the holidays with their grandparents, so I had kind of missed my window.

I brought the finished baby sweater and not nearly finished kid sweater with me to my parents’ house for my week of [sort of] vacation.  My plan was to finish up the second sweater then leave them here for my parents to transport when they go to visit the little ones next month.  Of course, everything takes longer than I think it will (“Thirty Minute Meals” take me like an hour and a half) and here I am, leaving tomorrow and the second sweater still has half sleeves and holes where the pockets should be.  Part of the problem is the tangles I keep getting in my yarn.

As previously mentioned, I never learn.  I don’t like to weave in ends, so I try to make garments as seamless as possible.  This means carrying yarn up when making stripes and trying to remember to weave it in every few rows.  It also means a lot of raglan sweaters because you can’t avoid sewing set-in sleeves and drop sleeves just tend to look frumpy.  I also knit in the round a lot.  None of these are problems in and of themselves but an issue I often end up with because of my habits is tangled yarn.  I do not like to cut my yarn until I have to, afraid both that I will have to weave in extra ends and that I might run out.  This is not such a large concern when knitting a single object, two balls or skeins can be un-twisted without too many problems as long as I keep up with it.  The danger is when I am knitting from both ends of two different balls of yarn.

Why would I do such a thing?  Because I want to make both sleeves at once.  I find that when I am making up a pattern as I go (which happens more often than I should admit) I work decreases or pattern stitches differently on each sleeve because I am bad at paying close attention.  Working both sleeves at once makes me much more likely to make them even and similar if not actually identical.  When I am using a single color, this can be annoying, as the yarn twists around itself and has to be dealt with every few rows.  When I am using two colors – for stripes, fair isle, or some other reason I cannot think of now – it becomes an unmitigated disaster.  The two ends of each ball wrap around themselves and each other and cause such snarls as cannot be removed without tools and magnification.  I have had to untangle my green and white yarn several times now.  I have even had to cut it to do so, creating more ends to weave in than I would have if I had done something less stupid like cut the yarn in half to begin with and worked from two balls.  Still, hope springs eternal.  Either that or I am just punishing myself for something.  I keep thinking that it will save time to do it this way, I won’t have to join more yarn later and nonsense like that.  It doesn’t actually save time.  I have spent at least three hours of possible knitting time untangling yarn in the last week; probably more!

Maybe now that I have admitted my idiocy, I can begin to move forward.  Perhaps next time I think to knit stripes from both ends of two balls I will remember this post and the frustration which precluded it.  I would like to believe that is the case.  However, it’s more likely that I will think “this time, I’ll do it right” and end up right back here again.  As for this project, I will likely take the sweaters back home with me and mail them to the kiddies sometime in mid-January.  At least they don’t have Santa on them or anything.

Things I have made

lookie here

Christmas Gifts

The real reason I started a blog was not to share anything specific with the world but rather to figure out how blogs work.


The real reason I started a blog was not to share anything specific with the world but rather to figure out how blogs work.  My father has been talking for some time about writing a book, using his myriad experiences in the world of medicine and the things he has learned from patients.  He has lots of things to say but as of yet, no real experience in putting them onto paper (or screen as it were).  For Christmas this year, instead of an object to unwrap, I decided to give him a [free] blog.  I also plan to take an online writing class together.  He buys things that he needs so I’m giving him my time and encouragement!

I don’t know for sure what his blog will cover yet.  I was under the impression that he wanted to write only about medical subjects but it may evolve.  He also enjoys golf and tennis and is learning to cook.  I will encourage him to include experiences of all types in his blog!  That is what I plan to do with mine, unless I lose interest and wander off which seems a very real possibility.