Monthly Archives: November 2012

Knits for Nerds: Update #1

This is my first update on my Doctor Who scarf project. It turns out that you can’t just sit down for the very first time and expect to start knitting. I’m not sure who gave me that idea, but whoever it was, they were grossly misinformed. Like most things, there is a learning curve involved.  You have to practice first and acquire an adequate base skill level, figuring out what works, making mistakes, fixing mistakes, all while struggling to develop a natural rhythm and the necessary muscle memory. I learned this lesson right off the bat.

First attempt – Lumpy Space Princess?

That being said, I am currently a knitter in training, working on my craft with intensity whenever I can grab a few spare minutes. You could equate such training to Rocky Balboa prepping for his mammoth fight against Ivan Drago, except that I am actually Russian…so, flip it. Never mind, it was a bad analogy anyway.

I started on size 10.5 needles and after a few failed attempts, I actually started to become fairly comfortable.

See, getting much better!

I just moved to the suggested size 8 needles as indicated in the book.

Size 8. That hole is intentional. It serves to anchor the piece.

I’d like to actually start knitting by December 1st, a nice and neat date. I’ll need a little more practice with the size 8 chopsticks (sounds better than needles, eh?), then I’ll need to figure out how in the world to change colors on the fly. Yikes, better get back to training…

Counting Down to Christmas in Style

My wife and I don’t spend too much on Christmas decorations since we’ve already inherited a ton of stuff from our families. One thing that neither of us had, however, was a real advent calendar that our kids could grow up with. We finally bit the bullet and invested in an extremely nice wooden one from Byers’ Choice (the “Christmas House” model).  The artwork is gorgeous and it has many compartments of varying size to conceal candy or other tiny treasures.

As a child, I inadvertently sabotaged my own Advent calendar tradition. The chocolates in those cheap cardboard calendars that my parents bought every year weren’t individually wrapped, so by mid-December, they too tasted like cheap cardboard. That’s all good if you actually like your chocolate to have notes of cotton and chalk while maintaining the texture of old sawdust, but I was a tad picky. In an effort to work the system, I adapted to the situation I was given by gorging myself on the entire calendar on the very first day it was presented to me…and that was the demise of yet another family tradition. My new calendar, however, has a failsafe – I actually control the contents! “Look kids, Snickers bars, hoorah!” Or, “What? You don’t want to brush your teeth tonight? That’s ok honey bear. Now, let’s see what’s behind door number four. Oh my, a sample size bar of wild orchid scented soap!”

Even though I’ve seen some really cool new advent calendars on the market (Lego has some sweet ones – why didn’t they make them when I was a kid?), I am quite happy with our one-time investment of a family keepsake, and I fully welcome the challenge of finding fun candy and gifts to fill it with. Although, it’s not too late to snatch up one of those Lego Star Wars Advent calendars all for myself.

I’d love to hear any advent calendar anecdotes of your own! 

The Other Fantastic Mr. Fox

While shopping the other day, my wife and I allowed each of our kids to choose an ornament for our Christmas tree. Today, after a grueling haul up from the basement and a few choice words getting it all together and lit, the kids finally got to hang their ornaments on the tree. My son had chosen a Buzz Lightyear, a solid pick, while my daughter chose a Cinderella shoe. Yep, a shoe. Well, a slipper actually. I desperately tried to steer her towards a nice My Little Pony but she wouldn’t budge. She truly does not comprehend the gravity of making such a selection.

You see, when I was growing up, decorating the Christmas tree signaled the beginning of a fantastic but fleeting season of adventure with some of my favorite friends. I didn’t have many toys growing up, but fortunately, my grandmother was a sucker for collectibles, and each year she would send us several Hallmark ornaments. Some of these ornaments would provide me with my main source of entertainment between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Please remember that I was an only child, so I had to amuse myself one way or another. My favorite two ornaments (toys) were Mr. Fox and Kermit the Frog, and both were on skis. We went on all sorts of adventures together; Foiling train heists, skiing the deadliest of slopes, and rescuing damsels in distress was all in a days work for this dynamic duo. Somewhere along the line though, Mr. Fox was lost, never  to be found again. Initially it was a crushing blow, but as I grew older, I eventually lost interest in toys anyway, just like Andy did in Toy Story 3.

Anyway, once the kids were all tucked in bed, I mused on the idea of what their Christmas tree memories would look like. My son has already broken in Buzz, so I’m certain that Mr. Lightyear will be accepted into the sacred brotherhood of ornaments, amidst the likes of Kermit and Old Wise One (my dad’s favorite childhood ornament, passed down first to me, and now to my own kids), to set out on new adventures.

Old Wise One

Then, just as I do every year, I thought about that original team-up of Mr. Fox and Kermit, and how they did everything together, much like Buzz and Woody. At that moment, after all these years, I sat myself down at the computer and Googled “Hallmark 1980s Skiing Fox,” and within a second there he was! Just a few minutes later I had purchased a 1983 Hallmark Skiing Fox ornament on eBay, almost assuredly for less than what my Grandma paid in 1983. THIS is why the internet is amazing!  A Christmas miracle has transpired! Now, for the first time in twenty-some years, the old gang will be together again, this time with a new recruit: The one and only Buzz Lightyear, space ranger. And, let us not forget, a Cinderella shoe.

The Squeakiest Leather Jacket…Ever

Someone entrusted me with a vintage leather bomber jacket that no longer fit them, so of course I graciously accepted it. I slipped it on for the first time as we headed out to Thanksgiving dinner, and every time I took a sip of my Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee in the car, I squeaked like a little balloon animal. My wife says that it’s a sign of a quality item, but even so, I don’t know if I can get used to this. It’s weirdly loud! Here’s audio of me drinking coffee while riding in the car (even my daughter thought it was funny)…