Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Twenty-eight artsists, two saints, and an awesome cover.

I went to the Seminary Co-op's annual members' sale this weekend, as I endeavor to do every year. I've come to the point where I've accepted that Hyde Park is my spiritual hometown within this big city of little neighborhoods, and the Co-op and sister store 57th Street Books are the places I love the most.

This year, I picked up three collections of essays from the Literary Criticism section and Cheever's short stories. Perhaps my retreat to short works is a reaction to my continued inability to finish 2666; maybe it's for other reasons. Maybe I'll write about those reasons later, but right now, I just want to gush a little bit about a great book cover.

Isn't it just the best? Acocella is the dance critic for the New Yorker, as well as a book critic; the flying pose evokes her specialty, even though most of the essays deal with artists of a writerly sort. Still, the cover manages to capture the spirit of high-minded wit that pervades Acocella's writing. She's a critic who likes to like things, and while she'll deride works that aren't up to snuff (and actually does so in the first essay, which covers a biography of James Joyce's daughter), she does it with a gentle tone, as though she's just explaining how the work could have been better.

Or, to be brief: this cover makes me happy.

Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mothering Invention: Cast Cozy

So, I had reconstructive ankle surgery surgery on May 15th. Until last Thursday, I was on 23 hours of bedrest a day; since then, I've been on "as much bedrest as I need to keep the pain away", which has been working out to quite a lot. I'm doing well, though, and loads of friends have been visiting me, and I'm going back to work next week, but it's still going to be a bit of a slog until I will be able to walk again. As of Thursday, I was put in a cast, which I should have for two weeks. Despite going to the University of Chicago Hospitals, it is Northwestern purple. The nerve!

I actually scheduled my surgery, and chose mid-May for a few reasons. It was relatively quickly after learning I'd need surgery, and it coincided with one of the quieter times at work. I also picked May because I remembered how miserably cold my toes were hanging out of my cast after my last surgery, which was done in November 1999. By May, surely Chicago would be warm enough that I wouldn't have such a concern!

And... cut to overnight lows in the mid-40's, and the window one of my roommates left open all night. Should it really be 60 degrees inside my apartment in June? It shouldn't, but it was. And how did my toes feel?


They felt sad. Also, if you're wondering how much bedrest it takes before you start drawing faces on your toenails with eyeliner, for me, it was about 2.5 weeks.

I decided to knit up a toe warmer/half-sock/foot-hat/cast cozy, since I have no big men's socks to shove over my toes, and I wasn't about to stretch out any of my nice handknit socks. I had a half-ball of Louet Gems Worsted Wool in a dark grey that was knit into half a (long-discarded) hat, so I decided to use that.

My cast was almost exactly 12" around the lower foot portion, and I'd been getting 5 st/in using US7 needles, so I switched down to US5 needles and cast on 65 stitches (though I probably could've done 60). After experimenting with a few different ribs, looking for a really stretchy, sproingy one, I settled on the slip-stitch rib as described in the first Barbara Walker collection, translated to knitting in the round:

Row 1: *K3, P2
Row 2: *K1, sl1 wyib, K1, P2

I went until I felt pretty comfortable that my toes would be covered and the toe warmer would stay put (about 5", but I'm overly cautious like that). I just made up the decreases, but they worked out pretty well:

Row1: *K3, P2tog
Row2: *K1, sl1 wyib, K1, P1
Rows 3 & 4: *K3, P1
Row 5: *(Pass two knit stitches like you're doing a K2tog, K1, pass 2 slipped stitches over), P1
Rows 6 & 7: *K1, P1
Row 8: *K2tog

I then broke the yarn, leaving a short tail, threaded the yarn on a needle, and drew it through the remaining stitches to close it. Weave in ends, and ta-da, a foot warmer.

Sure, I'll only be using it for another week, since once I'm in a cam boot, I'll be wearing socks. But it's just snug enough that I could, in theory, wear it over a sock if I need a little more warmth. And even a couple of days is too long for me to go around with cold toes.



I've also been working on a lot of other knitting, but I'll save that for another post.
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Prolix, prolix, nothing a pair of scissors won't fix...