Sunday, May 24, 2009

Toe-up socks and baby booties

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

For Mothers' Day, I bought two copies of Wendy's book, "Socks from the Toe Up," gave one copy to my mom, and kept the other one :-) I also gave my mom a 47" circular needle, and some sock yarn. I was expecting her to visit the following weekend, which she did, and we spent most of that time together exploring the local yarn store scene, and knitting socks.
This was the first time my mom had tried the magic loop technique, the Turkish Cast on, and knitting a sock from the toe up. We wanted to at least get past the heel before she had to drive home, to get through all of the new techniques before she had to leave. Here's my mom's sock in progress just before her departure from my house:In the book, among many other techniques presented, Wendy has a gusset heel, which is a different heel from any other non-flap heel I've made. I think it is clearly the easiest, because it doesn't involve any wraps and turns, nor yarn-overs, so that's what we used for these socks. Here's a close-up of Wendy's gusset heel:I'm still plugging away at the other socks I was working on, too:I also made a pair of baby booties for a new arrival, using this seamless baby bootie pattern:
These were made with worsted weight yarn, though still size 5 needles. They are a little large for a newborn, but should be just the right size in fall for this Minnesota baby. One pair takes about three hours to make, and are mindless enough for social or TV knitting.

In news about real life, I'm officially a "second year" PT student now. I'm doing another clinical rotation, again at a hospital, though a different hospital than where I was in January. It's a lot like having a full time job, though I have to say that I'm enjoying the break from homework and exams. In another four weeks, it's back to summer school.....

One more thing -- another plug for exercise! There is smooth muscle which lines our arteries, and it is this smooth muscle which executes the functions of dilating and constricting those blood vessels, based on signals it gets from various circulating chemicals. When you exercise, you increase the amount of blood flowing through your arteries, and this causes nitrous oxide to be released by some cells lining your vessels. Nitrous oxide is a vaso-dilator, which means it makes the diameter of the vessels bigger, which, in turn, lowers your blood pressure, since larger vessels have less resistance for the heart to push against. And, this higher level of nitrous oxide carries over to your resting state, too, which could help lower overall blood pressure! (Yay for exercise!)

Well, I hope you're enjoying this Memorial Day weekend! My neighbor is a double leg amputee who was a prisoner of war in World War II, and knowing him and his wonderful spirit is quite humbling to me.

I hope the weather where you are is as nice as it is here! My kids are outside washing their bikes; I'd better go check on that situation...

Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Long Time No Post...

Greetings, and Dear Cynthia,

Today is not just Mothers' Day; it is also the day of my first final exam of the semester. I can see the light at the end of tunnel, and after three more tests and handing in a paper, I'll see the light even more clearly! Anyway, Happy Mothers' Day to any mothers out there who happen to be reading!

There's been some knitting, but not a lot. Here is a rectangle I made for a friend, whom I'll call "Jane," who started a patchwork knitting project maybe a decade ago and is in the process of sewing it together for her daughter who turns 18 next week... It is kind of a neat idea. Years ago, she asked many of her friends to each knit a 14"x14" square, and she supplied the yarn and a rough idea of how many stitches to cast on. Each friend then knit a square in the pattern of her choosing. In the past week or two, Jane started piecing together the blocks, and realized that she was short one block, so she asked me to "pinch knit" (did ya' catch that quasi reference to a term used in your favorite pastime?) a square for her, but since many of her squares didn't exactly meet the dimensions, Jane asked if I'd make mine 10.5"x13". So, here's the square (technically a rectangle) I made:I was supposed to write a note about why I picked this particular pattern. To me, this lacy zigzag is feminine without being too delicate, having a clear direction though able to drift to the right or left for the greater know, stuff like that.

Also, a dishrag to have on hand for a little gift as needed:Finally, I mentioned I'd start talking about the many benefits of exercise. A lot of people already know that there are cardiovascular benefits from aerobic training. The cardiovascular system delivers the oxygen to the cells that need it during exercise (muscles). This is only one piece of the puzzle, however. The cells themselves are modified over time with repeated exercise bouts. For example, people who train regularly will have an increase in the number of mitochondria in muscle cells. Mitochondria are the "power plants" of the cells. So, when the heart delivers the oxygen to the cells, now the cells themselves extract the oxygen from the blood more efficiently, too, reducing the required load on the system at rest. So, it's not just about the "delivery" of oxygen; it's also about "extraction" of oxygen once it gets to its destination. Isn't that cool? Is anybody still awake? Walking is great exercise, by the way!

It's warming up, so I've been biking a lot more. It's a welcome change from running, and it takes about the same amount of time to get home from school as if I'd taken the bus -- with the added benefit that I'm not tied to only the times listed in the bus schedules. Plus, biking just makes me feel like a kid...

Here's a really fun puzzle we've been working on:And, my six-year-old's version of a "house of cards," which I told him I would post on "the blog":Okay, so I'd better start studying for the exam I have tomorrow!

I hope this finds everybody well!
Warm regards,
Laura (YarnThrower)