Tuesday, February 03, 2009

taking the next step (knitting part 4)

Tonight, Charlie and I attended our very first Team-in-Training event, where we both took a big step and signed up to run the San Diego Rock-N-Roll Marathon on May 31.

The meeting was at 6 PM and because this was a rather last minute event for us and we don't have many sitters available that we can call on in a pinch, we opted to bring all of the children with us. For 45 minutes, we talked to a lot of people.

We signed a lot of forms.

We paid the $50.00 registration fee.

And we committed to raising $3,500.00 over the next 16 weeks.

(That doesn't include the $4,100.00 that I told my cousin, Margaret, we'd help her raise for participating in the same event.)

And moments before we left, we realized that Charlie, who had been distracted by children when he was completing his paperwork, inadvertently signed up to run a back-to-back marathon in Washington and Alaska. (Oops.) (That would have been another $5,500.00.) (Good catch by the dude with the long ponytail.)

Honestly, I'm in a bit of disbelief that I'm doing this, because just last weekend, a mere nine days ago, I told someone that I would never, ever be interested in running a marathon.

Never, ever. Infact, no where on my list of 100 things I want to accomplish before I leave this life, do I have "Run A Marathon!"

I mean, why?

Why would I carve precious hours out of my busy day to train for something like a marathon?

Why would I intentionally put myself through such a grueling event?

Why would I spend the better part of a day outside running when I could be doing something like ... oh, I don't know ... not running for the better part of a day?

I guess what it comes down to for us, is that we really want to do something to lift the spirits of our friend, Deana. We want her to know that with each step we take, we're thinking of her. And, we're going to do our best to raise awareness and funds for the research that will eventually lead to the cure of a disease that effects so many people.

With each step I take, I'll also be thinking of my 14-year old cousin, Raymond, who lost his battle with Leukemia more than 30 years ago. And my cousin, Andrea, who lost her battle with ovarian cancer more than 10 years ago. And my mother-in-law who lost her battle to an inoperable brain tumor. And my Aunt Carolyn and dear friend, Julie, both of whom lost their battles to breast cancer. And my sister and my Uncle - who like Deana - are currently battling various forms of cancer and determined to win.

So, me and Charlie, we're in.

Of course there are the logistical issues of what we'll do with the kids when we both have to meet with our team for the Saturday morning training sessions. And currently, we're planning to bring them with us - loaded up with cups of Cheerios - and securely strapped in to our BOB jogging strollers. I figure it will be good resistance training to push 70 pounds worth of children while we stagger along. Or, if we get really tired, we'll just sit in the strollers and have them push us. Because I know that they'd love to do that.

Let's see ... what else to discuss... oh yes.

Have you mastered the art of casting?

Great! Because here's the next step in knitting.

The number of stitches that you cast on to a needle will dictate the width of the item you are making. The needle gauge and bulk of the yarn I typically use for baby blankets, will yield looser and yet "fuller" creations, so I don't need to cast on as many stitches as I would if I were using smaller needles and a less bulky yarn.

For the baby blanket that I am knitting for Kim, I have cast on 100 stitches. This blanket, when finished, will be approximately 40-inches wide. When I have knit scarfs, I generally cast on 15 stitches, because anything more than that, will result in something that resembles a shawl.

(Which is totally cool if you want a shawl. But not so cool if you are trying to make a scarf. For a man. Who is your boss. That rides a Harley. In my defense, I was just learning. That scarf was one of my first creations and I wasn't sure what I was doing, so I made it almost two-feet wide and seven-feet long. He had to wrap it around his neck three times so it wouldn't drag on the ground.)

Shown on the needle below is a scarf that I started a few years ago and have yet to finish. Note, there are 15 stitches, or loops, on the needle. This scarf is approximately 7-inches wide.

For demonstration purposes only, I cast 15 stitches on to a needle with the same bulk yarn I am using for Kim's baby blanket. Count 'em. Fifteen stitches.

If you are just starting out, I highly recommend that you start small. Fifteen stitches are a great number to begin practicing with until you master the knitting technique and line tension. Fifteen stitches are how many I have shown, below. (I think I already said that.)

Now once the stitches are cast on to the needle, you will take your right needle and stick it in to the bottom of the first stitch, on the left needle.

(In case you were wondering: I don't bite my nails. But whenever I get caught in deep thought, I pick at them.)

Here's a different angle of the same needle position.

(From the look of my poor nails, I clearly have a lot of deep thoughts.)

In your right hand, you will take yarn from your ball o' yarn, up and over the right needle.

(I've been picking at my nails for as long as I can remember. At least since I stopped sucking my left thumb at 14 years of age.)

Using the index finger of your left hand, you will push the tip of your right needle beneath your left needle, while making sure that the yarn that is on top of your right needle, stays on the needle, while it comes up and over the left needle.

(I was put in braces when I was 11 years old. And when I was 13, I fell asleep in the Orthodontist's chair while waiting for my braces to be inspected. When I was gently awoken by my Orthodontist, my thumb had found it's way to my mouth and he said, "Oh - so now I understand why it is taking so long for your teeth to straighten!")

Then, using your left thumb, you will gently push the stitch off the left needle and on to the right needle. Now, you have one stitch on your right needle, and fourteen (14) remaining on your left.

(It's really no mystery why I was in braces for five years.)

Now, you will place your right needle in to the base of the second stitch on the left needle.

(These days my teeth are great. But my brittle and soft nails need work. With the exception of an occasional manicure or buff, I've all but given up on them.)

And pushing the right needle beneath the left needle, you will wrap your yarn up and over the right needle, again.

(For a very short while in my life, I had acrylic tips. Or silk tips. Or who knows what. But they drove me nuts. They made typing extremely difficult and they were terribly uncomfortable.)

Then, using your index finger on your left hand, you will push the tip of your right needle beneath your left needle, while making sure that the yarn that is on top of your right needle, stays on the needle, while it comes up and over the left needle.

(Although my fingernails are soft and peel easily, my toenails are quite strong and generally contribute to an overall pretty foot that I am proud to stand upon.)

Then, using your left thumb, you will gently push the stitch off the left needle and on to the right needle. Now, you have two stitches on your right needle, and thirteen (13) remaining on your left.

(Although, a few years ago when I was wearing sandals, I was stunned when a friend of mine pointed out that my toes were very hairy.)

You will continue to repeat this process of transferring stitches from one needle to the next, until all 15 stitches from your left needle are moved to your right needle. And then, you will flip your needle over so that your right needle is your left needle (full of stitches) and your right needle is devoid of any stitches. Keeping the tail from your yarn to the right, you will begin the process, again > moving all of your stitches to the right needle.

("HAIRY TOES?! Doesn't everyone have hairy toes?!" I exclaimed.)

Needle goes in.

(My friend slipped off her shoes and revealed perfectly hairless toes. When I asked her how it was that she had hairless feet when I had beastly feet, she told me that she shaved them.)

Yarn comes up and around.

(I'd never heard of someone shaving their feet before.)

Right needle gets pulled under left needle.

(But this was just one more of those well guarded secrets from the vault of beauty hood I'd never been privy to.)

Third stitch is gently pushed with thumb from left needle on to right. Now there are three stitches on the right and twelve on the left.

(I suppose shaving your feet is better than waxing your feet.)

Here is a video depiction.

Now I really need to know if this is clear to anyone.

(And how do you combat hairy feet when it's sandal season?)


  1. Okay! I woke up thinking..."I agreed to what? A marathon? How in the world will I come up w/$4100.00?!?!" Then I said outloud to my son "I can only run 5 miles! Sometimes 6 -- we have to run, walk, crawl 20.2 more miles! How can "we" do that?" Crazy thoughts... Where's the chocolate?

    Then my dear father, your uncle; who isn't feeling well due to lots of chemo said "If I can make it dear... your Mother and I are coming to San Diego with you. I'd love to watch you two". Next thought..."Damn that Jen - God love her but how does she talk me into these things??!!" ;-)

    Wake me when this over! ;-)
    Love, Marg.

  2. I couldn't read the knitting lesson because I was reading the fingernails/teeth/sucking your thumb/hairy toes inserts. You are hilarious. Please let us know if you ever find out why your feet fall asleep when you run. I have the same problem and it drives me nuts so nuts I don't run/walk for exercise any longer along with a long list of other reasons but the feet falling asleep is so annoying.

  3. My teenagers enlightened me to shaving toes a few years ago. Who knew? I had made it to my forties not concerned about them and decided to continue that way - but they dave theirs! Love your blog. Hate knitting.

  4. I think I can give this knitting thing a try! Thanks for the tutorials. I think I'll start with a feeble attempt at a doll scarf so I have even fewer stitches to deal with.

    And I shave my toes and feet. Not every time I shave my legs, since my hair is light and sparse on my feet, but I try to do it often enough that I don't end up with crazy long hairs.

    I wish more people would notice the hair on their feet. I've seen some LOOONG dark toe hair on women and it grosses me out. There's something strange about seeing a woman with shaved legs and pits and having hair on her feet that you could probably braid.

    P.S. I don't know if I appreciate or dislike all the comments mixed in with the knitting instructions...more reading for me to read what I'm doing when I attempt the whole knitting thing, but funny to read!

  5. wHEN IS THIS MARITHON??? I have the perfect solution to your baby sitting needs. Uncle Bill, me, Mom and Jim will baby sit at the finish line. That way there will be no excuses for pushing baby carriages. Hopefully, we can stand the music, any oldies but goodies playing that day? Aunt Grace.

  6. Auntie: The marathon is May 31. I already asked mom about coming out, but she might have to have a knee replacement, so she said she'll have to wait and see how things are. That would be great if you made it out >> we'd LOVE to see you!! The Lilly of the Nile and Jacaranda trees will be in full bloom!

    Anne: A doll scarf would only require ~3 stitches with the bulk yarn and gauge needles I'm using. But if you went with a smaller needle and thinner yarn, you'd probably want at least 10 stitches. Sorry about the hairy toe distraction with the tutorial. Sometimes, my mind goes in odd directions.

  7. i wax my feet. *shrug*

    actually maybe i should have made this an anon post...

  8. Amber, I would think that waxing your toes would hurt SO BAD. There are so many nerves in your feet! Although I guess the hair grows back slowly so it wouldn't need to be done that frequently. But I don't know if my toes could take the pain...

    Fee Fi Fo Fum!

  9. When I was preggo, my feet were not only huge (puffy) but you know... there's some hair (I can't believe I'm writing this!). This is why Mark called be Frodo! Joy!
    ps- we are having triplet withdrawls!

  10. I don't even know if I could run a mile. Actually, I do know that I am in no way physically fit enough to run a mile.

    But, the way you worded the beginning of your post - about Deana and Raymond and all the others - just about had me thinking about signing up for a Marathon.

    Instead, I think I'll just try and raise all that I can for our local children's hospital. Baby steps.

    I hope maybe you'll put some form of paypal donation on your blog so we can chip in towards your goal?

  11. I will totally admit to shaving my toes (just the big ones) and the top area of my foot that is directly behind the big toe. I thought this was a normal thing??? Maybe I am the strange one? I do know I suck at knitting. I had such high hopes, but I can't even cast on. I am waving my white yarn in defeat!!! Which is o.k. because I have about 8,000 other projects to accomplish before baby #4 makes their appearance.


  12. I also have a fundraising idea for you. I am doing this for my March for Babies fundraising. I sell Lovable Labels this company gives 20% of sales to the Charity. Their products are awesome, it can be done entirely on line and you have no worries except promoting it on your blog etc. I am a sales agent and I am giving my commission to the MOD. I would be willing to donate to your cause as well by donating a portion of my commission to your Team in Training. Check out the products. www.janice.lovablelabels.ca
    Let me know if you are interested in setting up a fundraiser.
    jtakade2008 at yahoo dot com

  13. I pluck my toe hairs with tweezers. I used to shave them, but there aren't very many of them, so plucking seemed easy and I don't have to do it as often.

  14. OK, I think I have the casting on part down after reading then watching the video, but I'm having a hard time with seeing where the needle is going toward the beginning of this step. I'm looking to other sites to see if I can get it.

    After we get this down, can we just knit away for a bunch of rows?

  15. Thank you soooooo much for the knitting lesson. I have wanted to learn so long but never really got it. Until now, you make it very easy to understand. I have started a baby blanket. When it is finished I will let you know!!