Sunday, November 24, 2013


This may come as a surprise, but I kind of dislike social media. 

I like writing.  I like telling stories.  And I like being able to connect with people all over the world.  Seriously, I’m occasionally floored by where some of my readers live.  (Who knew there was any interest in male knitters in Latvia?) Without the Internet, the likelihood that I’d ever come into contact with folks living so far away is pretty slim – so I’m grateful for the chance.

But those are fairly controlled interactions.  Sure, I’ve gotten a nasty email or comment or two (or more) in response to these posts.  But the overall response has been really positive.  No, when I say “social media” I mean places like MyBook and FaceSpace and similar sites.  If one could graph the number and frequency of hurtful things said or written during the course of humanity, my guess would be that we would see exponential growth in vitriol during the last little bit – most of which has been spilled by fingers on keyboards.

I’m certainly not immune.  There have been many times when my fingers have let loose with words which, on reflection, I wished I had not written.

I do find one aspect of these comments interesting, though.  They can help you get outside your comfort zone.  Let me explain.

Growing up in the southeastern U.S., I often felt like I was one of the most liberal people I knew.  For example, never once did I have an urge to pay homage to the confederacy.  As a transplant to the uber-liberal pacific northwest, I now feel like I’m one of the most conservative people I know.  Never once have I had to stifle the urge to buy a Prius. 

All this is a way of saying I occasionally feel like a bit of an outsider in each of those camps.  FaceSpace has a way of reinforcing those feelings.  I log on, and am immediately greeted by the railing posts of high school classmates who remain convinced our President was born in Kenya.  Simultaneous posts from local friends suggest that multinational corporations are purposefully killing their own consumers for the sake of profit.  I confess that I don't understand either extreme.  

More than once I’ve been tempted to block these messages.  In fact, I’ve gone in on occasion to see if I can figure out how to navigate the settings of the site to block the most virulent of these folks – only to be stymied by my complete and utter lack of understanding as to how those privacy and user settings are configured.  So on they stay.

And on reflection, that might actually be a good thing.  Being forced to hear the opinions of others, especially of others with whom one doesn’t agree, is probably a net positive.  If I became too insulated – started for example listening only to the opinions of my pacific northwestern brethren – there’s a decent chance I could start wearing Birkenstocks year round, making my own yogurt and rallying for the rights of salmon. 

Of course, the right amount of insulation can also be a good thing.  To that end, I’ve been working on a warm scarf for my middle son.  He picked out the colors (and proudly gave me the yarn).  He doesn’t know it yet, but it will be a Christmas present. 


Friday, October 25, 2013


To quote one of the great philosophers of my childhood: Hello, Everybody.  It has been a bit of time since my last post.  Rest assured all is well, and that the knitting and silliness has not come to an end.

In fact, what happened is simply that I took the summer off.  Not off from work, or from being a husband and dad.  And not off from making things from various lengths of string.

No, I took the summer off from writing.  From worrying about what I might say next, whether it would be entertaining, whether it might offend, and whether it would be worthwhile for anyone to read it.

And what did I do with all my free time?  Funny you should ask.

Truth be told, we had a glorious summer here in the Pacific Northwest.  In fact, I think it was the best weather I've seen since Mrs. TSMK and I arrived back in July of 2000.  I remember that day well.  It was July 3, and as we arrived at the house we'd picked (sight unseen) to rent for a year - it was 46 degrees and raining.  A rough start.

But this summer?  Incredible weather.  The kind of weather that makes a guy want to go shirtless.  Of course, shirtless hasn't been so awesome for me of late.  I woke up one day during the spring and realized I'd just turned 40 and had been spending the better part of every day for the past 13 years sitting at a desk.  My abdominals were abominables.   So with my free time, I started trying to get into a bit better shape.  And just because we could, we spent a lot of time enjoying the outdoors - fishing and crabbing and just generally goofing off.  We hiked. We had evening picnics on the beach.  We enjoyed ourselves.

But all good things must come to an end.  And sure enough, our summer came to a screeching halt.  Mornings now are in the low 40s, with thick blankets of fog.  It is cold and it is damp.

A few weeks ago, I got the sweaters out of storage.  And of course thinking of sweaters makes me think of yarn, patterns, stitches and whatnot.  Quite a lot of whatnot, actually.

Like this, for example.  I know that people sometimes knit with wire (and make quite neat jewelry that way) - but has anyone ever knit anything with a section of garden hose?  Seems like it might be fun to try.

And what happens if you knit with two different sized needles at the same time?  Like say a size 000 in your left hand and a size 8 in your right?  I've moved needle size from row to row in various patterns - but never tried to do both at the same time.  I might need to try that just to see what happens.

Of course, I can't really try all these things, because the calendar tells me that Christmas is approaching.  I've got a few things I want to make and should have started already - so I better get clicking.  I've finished one gift and have two more on the needles.  That only leaves too many, so I should be fine.

Hope all is well.  I'll talk with you again soon.


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Papal Bull

Honestly, I thought I had a shot. 

In fact, I'd even picked out my new name:  Erasmo I.   It has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

But it wasn't to be.

I'd like to think I got at least a few votes.  Maybe even that it was close, and I just lost by a cardinal or two.  But of course since they burn the ballots, I guess we'll never know for sure.

Luckily, I've got a plan for consoling myself.  You see, I've been hoping for some time to find a new companion.  Someone who is a good listener.  Who doesn't argue.  Maybe even someone who doesn't openly object when I spout nonsense.  After all, if I'd gotten the job I'd be infallible - that would've been fun.  And since I didn't get the job, I'm still plenty fallible.  But now I've found someone who doesn't seem to notice.

Here she is.  Isn't she lovely?  She was needing a new home, and being of a charitable disposition I thought it was only appropriate that I offer her space in my home.  To take off the chill of the evening, I'm letting her borrow my Winter of 2012/2013 scarf - done in Malabrigo worsted.  I hadn't tried brioche stitch before.  Love the result.  Didn't particularly enjoy the knitting as it seemed to take a long time to finish - what with knitting every row twice.  Mrs. TSMK was kind enough to lend a hat I'd made her for Christmas - but also insisted that she be somewhat decent and put on a skirt.

I haven't decided what to name my new ladyfriend yet.  If you have an idea for a good name, shoot me an email at the address to the right of this post with your suggestion.  I'll take suggestions until the end of March - and then announce her new name at that time.  To the winner goes the prize: a skein or two of my new favorite yarn.


Sunday, March 3, 2013


I figure I've got a shot. 

In fact, I think I've got a better shot than most.  Here's how I see it breaking down.

First of all, the world's population is roughly 50.25% male.  I doubt I have to explain to you the probabilities of someone lacking the Y chromosome getting the job.

Second, roughly 26% of the world is under the age 15.  That simply isn't going to happen.  If nothing else, consider the vocabulary of that demographic.  Can you really see someone wearing the mitre who uses "like" or "dude" in every sentence?  I didn't think so.

Third, almost 8% of the world population is already at retirement age.  Now sure, this job isn't one that exactly requires youthful vigor - but the last guy just retired for reasons of old age.  He took the job at the spry age of 78 - you'd like to think that the college has learned its lesson.

Fourth, consider the ugly fact of race.  The reality is that there hasn't been a guy in the job yet (possibly excluding the first few) who wasn't -ahem - pale of complexion.  Now I know what you're saying.  You can flip a coin 49 times in a row and come up heads, but the odds of heads on the 50th toss are still 50/50.  And you're right.  But this isn't a coin flip.  There are people and their prejudices involved in this decision - and if I had to handicap the race I'd suggest that the roughly 66% of the world population that is of Asian descent is at a decided disadvantage for this particular position.  Not that they're not qualified.  Many of them are.  In fact, many are far more qualified than me.  But the likelihood of that college electing an Asian dude? Pretty slim. 

So add it up.  Take the folks with the right plumbing, exclude the young guys, the old guys, and all the Asian guys, and what are you left with?  Of the original 7 billion or so, you're down to 700 million and change.  In other words, we just eliminated 90% of the potential applicants.  I'm in the top 10%.

So like I said, I figure I've got a shot.

Now it is true, that there are some problems.  First, I'm not actually Catholic.  But I did briefly attend Catholic school in the 7th grade - before the incident, that is.  And I've matriculated from not just one but two Jesuit universities.  So that's got to be good for something.

And, it should be noted that just because I'm married and have children doesn't necessarily mean I've got no shot.  After all, I wouldn't be the first guy to hold the job with those particular traits. 

In fact, let's just lay the cards on the table.  My not being Catholic (and being married with kids) might actually be a positive.  Bring some fresh thinking to the position, and all that.  Nothing radical - maybe just a redesign of the vestments, banjo music during the mass, fresh coat of paint on the company car.  You know, stuff like that...

Well, on the off chance that I am elected, I'm pleased to announce that I've got the time for the job.  I've just finished the commitment made last fall to do four items for a charity auction.  This last piece is Gwendolyn, by Stefanie Bold.  I've done it in a Madelinetosh lace weight.  This one is going to KJ, the mother of a good friend. 

For the photos, we were pleased to get a sunny day.  This time of the year, that's got to be some kind of omen. 

See?  I'm a shoe-in for this gig.


Monday, January 21, 2013


Although I spent several years in high school and college studying French, I afraid I've lost most of what I learned.  And that is somewhat sad considering that, at the peak of my skills, I had the vocabulary of a precocious and yet largely illiterate 5 year old French child.  L'enfant terrible indeed.

But if I'm fair to myself, I've really only had two occasions, outside of the classroom, to use my French.  One one occasion, in Disney World of all places, I was asked by a French couple for directions to the toilet.  At least I hope that's what they asked, because that's where I sent them.  It is entirely possible I misunderstood, and that those particular tourists left the Magic Kingdom with a very confused understanding of Mister Toad's Wild Ride.

My second opportunity came when I myself was a tourist - visiting Montreal.  In a grocery store I was asked whether I preferred paper or plastic bags for my purchases.  I'm pleased to say that I nailed the answer.

So it was with some trepidation that I weighed learning to crochet.  It sounds, after all, quite French.  Just the attitude with which one must pronounce the word gives it away. 

But recently, I was asked to make an alligator.  This would be project 3 of 4 for my firm's auction for a local food bank.  And try as I might, I really couldn't come up with a good knitting pattern for an alligator.  In fact, I expanded my search to look for patterns for cayman, crocodiles and ill-tempered iguanas with glandular disorders.  But no luck.  The only pattern I found that I liked was for crochet.

Zut alors!

So despite my failure to recall my French, or indeed even appreciate the finer points of French culture (honestly, all wine tastes basically the same to me) I've learned to crochet.  Not particularly well, mind you.  But well enough to finish the project.  Here he is -