Brain surgery on Elmo.

My 2½-year old son had been asking off-and-on for the past few months and yesterday it finally came to the point that it could no longer be avoided: Elmo needed batteries. Actually, we don’t have an Elmo doll, no, we just have his head, complete with clasp to attach it to…something, I guess. Elmo’s head (pictured with a US quarter for size) is one of many cast-offs from the children of friends, and I never gave it much thought, but my son has become rather fond of it. Unfortunately, changing Elmo’s batteries is not an easy task because they’re sewn into his florescent orange head, also rendering him un-washable. Since it’s a cast-off, its batteries began fading about a year ago, but my son kept asking me to fix it, and it got so worn out that you could barely hear Elmo’s infectious giggle as he says “Hey, that tickles! Oh boy! That tickles!” Despite my protestations of “it’s broken, I can’t fix it,” my son just couldn’t grasp that its repair wasn’t possible. Even my husband got in on the act, “Can you fix it for him? He keeps asking.” So late last night, with seam ripper in hand I opened Elmo’s head and removed the batteries from the voice box. A bath, a ride in the clothes dryer and $10 in watch batteries later and tonight after an hour of sewing while mind-numbingly listening to Elmo’s constant banter as I continually set-off the voice box (earplugs helped just a bit), Elmo is ready for play tomorrow. The thought occurred to me that I would hate to work in a factory where these things are made: thousands of them going-off at once as the sewing machine operators assembled them. Well, the end-product is appreciated by the little ones.

On the knitting front, not much progress in the ballband dishcloth, because I’ve been spending my precious knitting time on Sharon Miller’s (Heirloom Knitting) Bird’s Eye Shawl (if the color looks a bit off in the photo, it’s because the yellow part is my shadow, it’s not the yarn). Wow, it was a rough go last week getting the shawl started. I think I had to scrap it after 15 rows, three (or was it four?) times, and by “scrap it” I mean through it away. I would get lost on which row I was on, try to rip it out to a point where I knew where I was on the chart, and then the yarn would get stuck and break. Toss it. Can you feel my pain? It still hurts just thinking about it. I mean, well, that’s just torture for a knitter. But that’s in the past now and things are coming along nicely.

I had to enlarge the chart about 140% to get it big enough for ease of following, and then I used 4 different colors of highlighters to differentiate the four rows of repetition, so that when I look away from the chart, I can at least recall what color row I was on and go from there. I also use a counter to count my row progress, but the chart only goes up to 20 rows, so I may also add a second row counter to help keep track of which of the four rows of repetition I’m on.

I can’t decide if this pattern is harder or easier than the shawl I made in 1996. I think it might be harder because, unlike many lace patterns, it doesn’t have design direction, not that that’s a bad thing, it’s just different for me. By design direction I mean that when you look at most lace patterns they often have lines and peaks and valleys and circles and such, and they all form an overall design that you can see when you stand back and look at them. These design directions help you “read” the pattern as you go and once familiar with the pattern, you can often anticipate when the next yarn-over or knit 2 together is, for instance. Bird’s Eye Shawl is simply a pattern of repeated doughnut shapes (bird’s eyes) that appear to be suspended in a web, there are no lines or centers of the shawl, like the one I made in 1996. Now, the interesting thing it that as I knit the bird’s eyes, they don’t look like they’re going to look as they should, and then, as the earlier rows get handled while knitting the newer rows, the older ones get fuzzy which then help the bird’s eye form more clearly. You might be able to tell in the picture, the difference of the newer bird’s eyes from the older ones.

I like the pattern, and am enjoying both it and the fineness of the yarn; so light and airy.

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