Friday, April 17, 2015

We All Know CPR, Right?

I used to train every year in Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, or CPR when I was an employee in an office setting.  It's been years, since I had any training, and I noticed things have changed since then.

Selfish Reasons

For two very selfish reasons, I want as many people to know CPR and basic first aid, like the Heimlich maneuver as possible.

The first is obvious...I'm old and have a a large family history of heart disease.  I try to stay fit with diet and exercise and I don't smoke or drink, but I'm still likely to have heart disease.

The second reason is a situation that happened to me a few years ago.  I was in a steak house with 5 other co-workers and started to choke on a piece of steak that I hadn't chewed properly, and I realized pretty quickly that I wasn't going to be able to swallow or expel the meat in my throat.  One of my co-workers noticed I was struggling and asked if I was okay and I shook my head "no" and it soon became clear that not one of the five people at the table knew how to do the Heimlich maneuver.

Fortunately, when I stood up, I was able to dislodge the steak from my throat myself and I was all took less than 30 seconds.  But I was amazed to confirm that not one of the five adults at the table knew what to do.

Be prepared to save a life...especially if you hang out with me a lot.  Thanks!

Current Knitting

Work was progressing just fine on the latest niece's blanket.

But I was being nagged by two issues with the design of the blanket.  First off, I was thinking the fabric was too dense and not drapey enough.  I usually have a rule of thumb that if I consider ripping out a design 3 times because of the same issue, it's time to rip.  But my decision was really make for me when my two-sided cable wasn't matching the row gauge for the rest of the blanket.

See how it blistered out at the bottom and also at various points along the cabling.  With both these issues, I decide to start again.  This time on larger needles and changing my two-sided cable to a double-knitting version of the cable which matches the row gauge perfectly.

It will take a bit longer to finish the blanket now that I've restarted it, but I will sleep better at night.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Post-Birthday Festivities

While my birthday was 11 days ago, I had a couple of very nice gifts after that.

Happy Birthday To Me!

First of all, instead of a birthday cake on my birthday (since we had cake for dessert in the restaurant on my birthday), Thaddeus made me birthday PIE the day after.

If you can try and imagine the tart cherry sweetness mixed with the butter, flaky crust, you might just have a sense about the heaven I was in eating this pie for the week.

Thaddeus also went ahead and ordered this baby for me.

It's a new coffee grinder...a Rancillio grinder which has significantly increased my ability to make amazing lattes.

I think I can now consider my birthday celebrations complete for 2015.

Current Knitting

I haven't done a huge amount of knitting since my last blog entry.

I'm almost finished with the first sock and I've made quite a bit of progress on the second one.  I already love this pair of socks and can't wait to wear them.  It always amazes me how long it takes to split the yarn into two close-to-equal balls.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Places of Serenity

Are there places for you, where you just feel at peace whenever you're there?

Aries With Pisces Rising

My birth date would indicate that I'm an Aries, which is a fire sign, but I have always found peace and serenity near water.  I love rivers, streams, oceans, beaches, puddles, baths...even rain storms I find soothing.  My moon sign is Pisces, which is a water sign, so I guess I still fit within the confines of the astrology rules.

Two particular places I always immediately relax are in Cape May, NJ and Easton Mountain Retreat Center.

My first visit to Cape May, was the first time I ever felt like my shoulders immediately detached from my ears and I was able to relax completely.  Cape May is the Southernmost beach in New Jersey and has beautiful, old Victorian houses and hotels.  I haven't been there in years now, but just thinking about it puts me in my happy place.

Easton Mountain has a beautiful pond as the requisite water-feature for me and the people that it attracts are wonderful.  As I head back up there for the 8th Men's Spring Knitting Retreat next month, I look forward to long soaks in the hot tub, sitting peacefully by the pond and absorbing the rich, earthy peacefulness that I find there every time I go.

Where do you go when you need to unwind?

Current Knitting

I finished the linen stitch scarf I'm making as a donation to the 15th anniversary auction for Easton Mountain.

It's nice and long (about 5 feet), and it will be a soft, warm and colorful accent for whomever shouts out the highest bid for it at the auction.

I also did a little bit more work on the next niece's blanket.

I'm loving the color variations and I'm still not too sure about the fabric texture and drape.

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Crowd Sourcing - Good? Bad? Ugly?

Crowd sourcing, or the ability to raise money for some specific purpose seems to have turned into the new democratic way of voting on things.

Good, Bad and Ugly

When Indiana tried highlighting their citizen's right to discriminate against the LGBT community by expanding existing Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA) to specifically let all for-profit businesses discriminate, it spawned a new gimmick.

A hateful pizza joint decided to publicly state they wouldn't cater a same-sex wedding (they had never been asked to cater ANY wedding) and put up a crowd-sourcing request for money to help them maintain their Christian integrity.  Over $800,000 later (thanks to an appearance on Glen Beck), the hateful business owners have decided they no longer have to work. 

For conservative haters, who seem to hate "takers", this money seems more like welfare to me rather than charity.

Then, of course, someone came out with a crowd sourcing request to combat the hate by supporting a LGBT youth group in Indian ( - in case you want to vote for the correct fund!). 

And then, my favorite crowd sourcing effort.  One of the guys who has wanted to attend the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat for years tried unsuccessfully to get a scholarship this year, so decided to create his own scholarship by asking friends to sponsor him (  He raised enough for the cost of the retreat and even a little to help defray his travel costs.  I love when people get creative in a good way.

Current Knitting

A last-minute idea for this year's Men's Spring Knitting Retreat (which is 5 short weeks away) was to help support a 15 year anniversary auction for the retreat center where we hold the retreat by creating 15 scarves that they will auction off.  So I started a scarf.

Using the Lion Brand Unforgettable yarn, this is a simple linen stitch scarf done lengthwise.  I'm hoping it's close to 5 feet long when it's complete.  I may also try getting a second scarf finished using my interlocking crochet design...we'll see if I have time.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Beyond Beginner Knitting

In the past couple of years, we've invited new knitters to the Men's Spring Knitting Retreat and offered two workshops specifically for them (as well as individual tutoring).

Beginner and Beyond Beginner Knitting

The "Beginner Knitting" course is relatively straightforward, teaching newbie knitters about tools, casting on, knitting and maybe purling.  And depending on how they progress, maybe start them on their first simple project.

But what would you include in the agenda for a "Beyond Beginner" workshop.

To give some context, usually 2 or 3 guys have spent 3 hours on Friday morning learning how to knit and then Saturday afternoon, I need to expand their skills.

I imagine the workshop will have to adapt to their needs and how far they've progressed in a day of knitting, but I want to make sure I have at least one or two topics I can pass on to them, without overwhelming them.

Here's what I'm thinking:
  • Reviewing the basics (especially for areas where they're struggling)
  • Reading a pattern
  • Ripping out or Tinking
  • Increases and Decreases
Anything else you'd add to the agenda?  Any work aids that you'd include?

Love to hear any feedback.

Current Knitting

I was able to finish all the knitting on the Cabled Gloves pattern from Aaron and I can't say enough about this pattern.

The gloves fit extremely well and the joins of the fingers to the hand are very organic and natural feeling.  Plus they're snug and warm and based on the density of the knitted fabric, Thaddeus tells me they are very water resistant when he was shoveling snow and clearing my car of snow and ice.

I do still have a few ends to weave in (which I cleverly hid in the first photo...but that goes pretty quickly for me.

I also started the latest "niece blanket" using the Seasons yarn I bought last week.

Loving the color striping and think the blanket will turn out very well...I'm making it completely reversible so there will be no wrong side...even with a cable down the center of the blanket.