Friday, September 12, 2014

What I Learned While I Was Down With Pneumonia



I just had pneumonia for a month and there is something I wish to write down here on the blog because I feel I have learned something.

You see, I tried online dating few months ago.

I have been single for quite some time now, and indeed even though I was married for a few years and had some relationships I actually feel I have been single through that time too. I do feel connected with some of my exes and there were instances in which I felt as a part of a bigger whole (with no nostalgia or bitter taste in this fact) so this is not issue of being unable to connect. It just so happens, it seems, that I chose to spend time with people with lax sense of commitment.

And then someone twitted something interesting about an online dating community available in my area.

Since I’m always ready for a bit of experimenting and prefer truth even when she is not pleasant to stomach I went off and made myself a profile. It was a nice profile. Thought through. Open, socially pleasant and also direct. At the same time objective, clear cut and cold. Just like me - disciplined enough not to openly contradict the social norm but inevitably emotionally distanced. Profile (in other words - me) became quite popular quickly and even though there was a lot of hay to go through some needles were found. So I exchanged some opinions, enjoyed some conversations and had a date or five. In the end it did not work out but I had a good time and I think I managed to communicate that it was a pleasant experience even though we did not click on a larger scale.

It has been 14 years since I was actually dating anyone and this was both old and completely new experience for me.

I disliked:
- meeting people. I hate meeting people. Being fiercely introverted and also quite protective of my privacy just makes me not want to put myself in that position if that is not absolutely necessary.


I liked:
- meeting people. Sense of distance the computer screen gives is just the perfect amount of distance to start a conversation. And after some conversation meeting in person is just a logical step.
- kissing. I missed kissing. Sense of closeness it gives even when you just start to get to know people.
- verbalization. How when I just meet people I can communicate likes and dislikes directly, for them to be acknowledged. Things sound differently in the confines of the mind then released into the wild of the social situation.

What brings me back to my pneumonia month. Bigger part of that month my daughter was with her father and grandparents, on their summer vacation and I was alone.

There I was, broken, in bed, with fever reaching 40°C, alone in my apartment. No one to brew some tea for me or cook me chicken soup to nurse me to health. No one to keep me company or to check my forehead for signs of returning fever in the middle of the night. No one to share “or for worse” in between two “for betters”.

And I did not mind.

I had friends calling me to see how am I feeling, parents trying to smuggle in lunches so I would not need to cook, neighbors knocking on my door to check up on me and bring me small gifts of kindness.

I slept, took my medicine, ate simple meals and read books when I could. When I felt better I showered and tidied the place, I made my bed every day and I turned the electronics off to go to sleep at night. My organized person routine just rolled on, slower than usual, but undoubtedly present.

I did not crave for company and I did not feel bad to be left to my own devices. I was happy to hear from friends and parents and neighbors and I loved to see how considerate they are and how well they know me. In their kind efforts I saw their kindness but I also saw my value to them, and fruit of my labor in communicating all the things of value behind my distant and objective appearance.

It is not that I fail to connect. It takes two to connect.

I think I will make more room now for the possibility of meeting people.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Simple Footsies



When weather grows warmer I get more into smaller, instant-gratification pieces of knitting, hence - footsies.

All shaping clearly visible: 2x2 rib cuff, short row heel, gusset and toe decreases.


These are really quick, I usually have a pair ready in two to three days. They are also extremely comfy and beside wearing them as socks I often wear them as apartment slippers. I have gone and written detailed row-by row instructions for most parts but if you are more familiar with sock making you will see that there is nothing new here and no need to read the whole thing.

Needles: I used 4 steel DPNs size 2 mm
Yarn: sock weight yarn, any leftovers would do nicely, as well as re-appropriating yarns after them being to frog pond and back into a ball. I had cardigan that wasn’t getting any “wear time” and now I have a lot of red socks J
Size: I wear shoes size 38-39 and these fit snugly (there will be some sizing suggestions)
Type: top-down

The cuff:

Using long tail cast on 70 stitches. Work preparation row by knitting all stitches and dividing total number of stitches to 3 needles so that first 30 stitches are on first needle, 20 are on second and 20 on third. First 30 stitches will be upper part of foot and remaining 40 stitches (20+20) will be the sole. Work 1x1rib for 15-20 rows, as this “cuff length” will be mostly aesthetic choice. Footsies pictured here have 20 1x1 rib rows and my rib is quite firm and elastic. If yours is less elastic consider using half a size smaller needle - it will fit snuglier to your ankle.

After making desired number of rib rows I usually differently divide the stitches so it will be more pleasant to work the heel; I knit first 30 stitches (upper foot), then knit 20 stitches (half a sole) and then use the free needle to transfer 15 stitches from the first needle onto it (that way upper foot is divided to 30=15+15) and then continue knitting the sole that being the first row of a short-row heel. During turning the heel you work knitting and purling by turning the work and wrapping stitches in the process until you are left with 12 middle stitches. This 12 stitches are midpoint of your heel and after that you go back to picking up end stitches and their wraps to return to 40 stitches you begun with.

After purling the last row of heel and turning back to right side of sock you knit 20 stitches, reunite 15 stitches of upper foot back with other 15 to free the needle (if you used my preferred way of dividing stitches), then use that needle to knit second 19 stitches of sole. Now that you’re left with 20th stitch of second sole part lift this stitch purl-wise, without knitting it, to right-hand needle. Then use free needle to lift one stitch from next needle (upper foot part) but 1 row below the one you are knitting now. You will see which stitch will be best to close the gap because when you take this and the paused twentieth stitch together to be k2tog the join will be nice and tight. So knit this one and begin next row. Knit 29 upper foot stitches and do with thirtieth stitch same you did with twentieth from needle before; just pause it by transferring it purl-wise to right-hand needle, find stitch one row below on sole side to lift and then knit paused and this lifted stitch reverse knit them together to close the gap. All that is left now is continue knitting in the round to form the foot.

Gusset decrease:

Knit 6 rounds and in 7th round decrease by knitting 30 from first needle, knit 1 from sole, k2tog, knit 17 to end of first sole needle, knit 17 from second sole needle, ssk, knit 1. Here you are basically decreasing total of 2 stitches (1left and 1 right) in sole part, 1 stitch inward from the ends. This is how you will decrease every 7th row 4 more times, until you have same number of upper foot and sole stitches (30+30).
Knit six rows.
Second decrease row (row 14 from the heel): knit 30 from first needle, knit 1 from sole, k2tog, knit 16 to end of first sole needle, knit 16 from second sole needle, ssk, knit 1.
Knit six rows.
Third decrease row (row 21 from the heel): knit 30 from first needle, knit 1 from sole, k2tog, knit 15 to end of first sole needle, knit 15 from second sole needle, ssk, knit 1.
Knit six rows.
Fourth decrease row (row 28 from the heel): knit 30 from first needle, knit 1 from sole, k2tog, knit 14 to end of first sole needle, knit 14 from second sole needle, ssk, knit 1.
Knit six rows.
Fifth decrease row (row 35 from the heel): knit 30 from first needle, knit 1 from sole, k2tog, knit 13 to end of first sole needle, knit 13 from second sole needle, ssk, knit 1.

By this time you have made 5x7=35 rows (if you counted correctly, which isn’t always easy :D) and  you need to keep working round and round for about 30 more rows what will lead you to beginning of toe decrease. I like to try on my sock now and then to see how am I coming along and if gauge really provides for desired length so please feel free to add or subtract a few rows as you see fit. If you are knitting a sock for somebody else you need at least length of his/her foot if not 1:1 sketch of foot or sock blockers in desired size so you can check for size.

Toe decrease:

To make neat and decorative  toes use the same trick of making decreases one stitch inward from ends of row. This way there will always be two knit stitches between decreases on sides of your toes. You decrease 4x1 stitch in each decrease row and decrease rows will be every other row.
First decrease row: k1, k2tog, knit 24, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k12 for first needle and k12, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row.
Second decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 22, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k11 for first needle and k11, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Third decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 20, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k10 for first needle and k10, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row.
Fourth decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 18, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k9 for first needle and k9, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Fifth decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 16, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k8 for first needle and k8, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Sixth decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 14, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k7 for first needle and k7, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Seventh decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 12, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k6 for first needle and k6, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Eighth decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 10, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k5 for first needle and k5, ssk, k1 for second needle.
Knit one row:
Ninth decrease row: : k1, k2tog, knit 8, ssk, k1 on first needle (upper foot) and the same for sole. If your sole is still equally divided on 2 needles this will be k1, k2tog, k4 for first needle and k4, ssk, k1 for second needle.

Now you have 12 stitches on first needle and 12 stitches for sole that you should put on one needle, if not already done. Knit one last row of 12+12 stitches. These you will now join with Kitchener stitch so you will have nice, seamless toe. If you have never worked Kitchener stitch this is excellent project to try it because there are only 12 “columns” to join and since this is the last thing between you and your lovely new footsie you will be extra motivated.



Additionally, after you are done kitchenering, if you are not satisfied with density (invisibility) of this row you can make some extra tightening from the wrong (purl) side before you weave in the end. Row being so small gives you plenty of room to improve your kitchenering and, if you will not be pleased with your work even then, this part is usually hidden in a shoe so you won’t be constantly reminded of this grief :D



And for the end, some sizing suggestions.

Mechanics of the sock making is always the same. For top down sock this means that there will always be cuff, heel, gusset and toes. You can make size adjustments by casting on smaller number of stitches but let it be proportionally smaller for upper foot and sole. So, for instance, for slightly smaller foot you can cast:
 28(upper foot)+38(sole part)=total  or 66 stitches 
26+36= 62 stitches
24+34=58 stitches

or slightly bigger:
32 (upper foot) +42 (sole part) =74 stitches
34+44=78 stitches
... but work with them as described - decreasing for heel until 12 middle stitches remain, have 5 gusset decreases and decrease toes until 12(x2) stitches remain.

For smaller feet you can make gusset decreases every 6th or fifth row and make less rows before starting the toes, and for bigger feet make decreases every 8th or 9th row and/or make more rows before starting the toes.

I always enjoy seeing things other people made while using my patterns so please do share :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Raising Children



I have recently integrated two kittens into our small household comprised of my almost 10 year old daughter, hamster and me.



We have been living - my daughter and I - in the apartment I bought for us to live in, since 15Jun2012, and hamster has joined us in September 2012. I have been divorced for going on seven years now and, after what I would like to think about as “brief interlude” of living with my parents, we moved here. I have been primary caretaker and responsibility axis for our family unit continuously during this time, but that fact completely crystallized for me only after we came to live here.

Even though I suspected that it is so during my years of living in Rijeka while attending college it only just became clear to me how much I enjoy being sovereign of my own household. Just like any sovereign’s rule, stemming from his/her birthright (in all practical sense making him/her product - or victim -  of circumstance), this is also rule produced by natural order of me being biological parent and financial provider but, as it happens, other members of my household are apt and pleasant and more than able to grow and learn and take responsibilities. So we will in time grow from kingdom into direct democracy :D

But I digress - let us return to the kittens.

When we took them in they were just over 4 weeks old, real babies. Before they arrived I got us books on caring for kittens and I got them shelter, foodstuffs, toilet, toys. We made sure they were weaned off milk before separating them from mom cat so they would be fully independent in that regard but we knew that they are still babies and that we’ll need to care for them. And by “we” I mean I, who took the task of caring for kittens and task of teaching my offspring to care for kittens. We trained kittens to use the toilet in a day [this is me proudly bragging] by being observant and firm in our directions (my MSc Psych certainly isn’t going to waste J), and they have been provided with food and drink. House is full of toys and play and we take great care not to put them in danger and to keep them safe and healthy and it is - for me - quite similar to having new batch of human babies. Just like 9 years ago with my offspring, I am now observing, getting to know, feeding and cleaning after two small new creatures. They cry and play and shit when they feel like it and I can only adjust, just like I had to adjust for my daughter. I can try to direct some “hows” and “wheres” but I cannot control any developmental processes. We can only get acquainted with the person in that tiny body and try to be his/her friend and someone they can rely on for nurture, protection and guidance.

And that got me contemplating children.

I used to think children will not be an option for me but nevertheless I thought it would be nice to have three of those :D

When I met my ex-husband and we decided to pursue monogamous committed relationship we agreed on having children and we made one, but soon it was obvious that he was not really into raising and providing for them. After a short while it also became obvious that we won’t be staying together and he had the audacity to offer procreation as a means of appeasing me (to what I could just laugh since him stopping drinking would have been a lot more successful offer). After a much longer while, after separation and divorce, I offered procreation to my then-boyfriend but he was not interested in having his own children (or maybe having them with me, you never can tell). Time went by and with the passage of time and keener sense of listening to myself I came to a conclusion that I certainly do not want to have more children any more.

What makes me sad sometimes, since I seem to be very good at raising them. And I also have the patience and experience to endure the exhausting boring part.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Fastest Way To a Person's Heart



I’ve been hanging out a lot lately with people who are just entering “the second round”.

They invested in a committed relationship (mostly marriages) and after some time of not working out relationships have ended leaving them in a state of neither here or there. They have done their grieving and now they would like to find someone new to have relationship with. There are few things here I find extremely interesting:

1. You can’t go home again
People who have truly gone through dating into wanting to spend lives together do not/ cannot/want not to date like newbies who never had “serious relationship”. They either have no trust to give upfront so that relationship can begin or they wish to skip introductions and getting-to-knows to just find themselves in full blown relationships.

2. Who you are is finally more important that what you have - and that is a problem
Because many people (not always intentionally) amass possessions with passage of time but LOSE who they are. They confuse their roles with their identity so they present themselves like husbands, mothers, teachers instead of guys/gals who teach and raise children and enjoy moonlit walks.

3. Known devil is better than unknown angel
New people and encounters need time and require routines to break. Interrupting routine brings fear and discomfort which is often more off-putting than potential relationships are attractive.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Some Sketches From Concert Cornucopia Week

There were so many things happening last week I would hate to lose them in the hectic passage of time so I'll add a few sketches here so I can remind myself of this concert cornucopia at a later time.

Firstly, as a sort of intermission during Žedno Uho Festival I went to see Kurve (Hookers) with a friend. They played at Subsite party in Attack! and  they were so unbeliavably excellent my blood stil boils and body yearns to join the mosh pit when I remember that.



You can hear my favorite "Od sutra" here on their bandcamp page but if you will have chance to go and hear it live DO NOT miss it.

Ben Frost at Mocvara played during last day of Žedno Uho and his show was both technical masterpiece and completely outworldly. Reminiscent of SF movie soundtracks, both ominous and filled with sticky attraction it was like living through concentrated Blade Runner.



After Frost, Forest Swords who I actually love listening to at home came as a cold shower. I am unsure should I write that botched crap of performance to their youth and lack of experience or just to condescending douchebaggery they seemed to reek with.


I also went to see some Gričevanje performances  and I chose to listen to Punčke to see how they are coming along. Girls were energetic and fun and I disliked only long sound adjustments between songs that mess up continuity of otherwise really good show. I could also see that they are seriously preparing to open for QOTSA as the only thing left from their punk is short duration of songs and they have crossed over to firm rock sound.


I was finally able to catch Repetitor which somehow eluded me for so long and I was left stupified and speechless. The energy, the unity, the firm and confident slick and beautiful act! Absolutely wonderful!


I managed to take Belgian colleague visiting our Zagreb office to Flood Relief concert in Mocvara and to hear Nina Romić's Bicikl once again live (there is something uncanny in how this song just strips me of my defenses).


And after a long time chasing and not managing to catch them ESC Life finally added to my etchings :D