Monthly Archives: May 2014

Hollywood Knits

When I saw the second Hunger Games movie in theaters, I immediately thought, “Oh, people are going to knit that.” In fact, as soon as the movie was over, my mom asked me, “Are you going to knit that thing Katniss was wearing in the beginning?” It’s not my style (honestly, I think it looks really weird), so my answer was no, and therefore I never looked up any pattern instructions. Then, leafing through Red Heart’s free patterns, I saw this:

Red Heart's survival cowl

Red Heart’s survival cowl

katniss cowl Named “Survival Cowl” by Red Heart and very carefully described without any references to The Hunger Games or Katniss Everdeen, it nonetheless looks eerily familiar… hair and cowl both!

So if you want to look as weird as Katniss Everdeen (hair, yes; cowl, no), and you have the time and inclination, you can do so with Red Heart’s free pattern.

Happy knitting! And may the odds be ever in your favor.



Grafting: A Tale of Toes and Trees and Gentiles

sock toe prior to grafting, courtesy Silver's Sock Class

sock toe prior to grafting, courtesy Silver’s Sock Class

the process of grafting the toe of a sock, courtesy

the process of grafting the toe of a sock, courtesy

I came across the first article in a series of articles on grafting. Grafting in knitting is the process whereby the knitter uses a tapestry needle to create new knit stitches to “graft” together two live ends. For example, when knitting top-down socks, you start with the cuff and end with the toe, but you have two “live” edges (see picture left)–that is, two edges of free stitches that will unravel unless stabilized. You can either bind off those edges, in which case you will have a huge hole in the toe of your sock, or you can graft those edges together. The process of grafting traditionally utilizes a kitchener stitch placed via a tapestry needle through the loops on back and front edges of free stitches. In other words, you basically take a huge, blunt needle (“tapestry” needle) and sew the ends together (see picture at right) with the remaining yarn you used to knit the rest of the sock. If it is done correctly, you sometimes can’t even distinguish the stitches made with the tapestry needle from the stitches made with the knitting needles.

Outside of knitting, the term “grafting” generally just means to insert or fix or join one thing to something else, such as a tissue (e.g. hair or skin) transplant. I’m told that one problem with learning Japanese from English is that the grammatical structures of the two languages are so different that you can’t simply “graft” English onto Japanese. For example, the Japanese language uses tiny words called “particles” which identify what you’re talking about, as in: “わたしわ日本語がはなせません。” (“Watashi-wa Nihongo-ga hanasemasen.”) In this case, the literal translation is “I [subject particle] Japanese language [direct object particle] am not able to speak.” But the particles have such different roles in Japanese than they do in English that simply calling the first (わ) the subject particle and the second (が) the direct object particle doesn’t really fully encompass their roles. You basically would be better off starting from scratch, learning what each particle means without trying to find a translation for it in English.

a grafted tree branch, courtesy Now Arise Ministries

a grafted tree branch, courtesy Now Arise Ministries

One of the most common uses of the word “graft” is for the grafting of a tree branch onto an unrelated tree (see picture at left). Derek and I recently went for a long walk around two adjoining parks, one of which had historic pecan trees, a few of the remains from a pecan grove created by a pioneer in the late 1800s. This particular man grafted the branches of a different species of pecan trees that produce sweeter pecans onto the native pecan trees he found in the area. Thereby, the local pecan trees produced the sweeter pecans found on the different species of pecan tree. Grafting involves cutting into the new, “recipient” tree and placing the cut end of another tree’s branch into the cut area of the recipient tree, then wrapping it securely so that it stays put. Over time, the recipient tree and the new branch will grow into each other, and the new branch will receive nourishment from the recipient tree and produce fruit of its own kind.

In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul uses this example to explain a theological concept. He explains in chapter 10 that the Messiah came first to the Jews, but they rejected Him.

But to Israel He saith , All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. (Romans 10:21)

So now He has offered His hand to the Gentiles. Using the image of grafting, Paul (a Jew) explains that the original branches–the Jews–were cast off because of their unbelief and the new branches–the Gentiles–grafted onto the root (i.e., God) because of their faith. But he warns the Gentiles not to boast of their status, reminding them that the branches do not bear the root, but the root bears the branches, and that if God cast away the original branches, He can certainly cast away the grafted branches. He concludes with hope: if the Jews will restore their belief, God will graft them back in.

To what are you grafted?

じゃあまたね !

Why the ER Wait???

This is Nurses Week! Many of you know I’m an ER nurse. So in honor of Nurses Week, I’ll answer an oft-asked question in the ER: why the long wait? Here’s one of the reasons why…
RN: “You have to have a ride home if we give you any narcotics; do you have someone who can drive you home?”
Pt: “Oh, yes, my [fill in the blank] already said (s)he will be here in 5 minutes to pick me up.”
RN: “Okay, push your call button when (s)he is in the room and I’ll come in with the meds.”
Pt: “Well, I don’t really know when (s)he’s getting here. Do I really have to wait?”
RN: “I’m sorry, yes. Our protocols state that [repeats previous statement]. But in the meantime, we can give you our most powerful non-narcotic pain meds.”
Pt: “Those never work for me. All that works is [ridiculously high dose of a very strong narcotic]. Also, I don’t have a phone; can’t you just give me the meds?”
RN: “I’m sorry, [repeats previous statement]. Here’s a phone for you to use.”
RN leaves, pt pushes call button, RN returns.
Pt: “(S)he’s parking right now. Can you give me the pain meds now?”
RN: “[repeats previous statement about driver being in the room].”
Pt: “But (s)he’s right outside. Can’t you give it to me now?”
RN: “I’m sorry, [repeats previous statement].”
RN leaves the room, pt pushes call button, RN returns.
Pt: “(S)he’s walking in right now. Can you give me the pain meds now?”
RN: “I’m sorry, [repeats previous statement].”
Pt: “But (s)he’s walking in right now!”
RN: “I’m sorry, but [repeats previous statement].”
RN leaves the room, pt pushes call button, RN returns.
Pt: “Well, I guess (s)he’s not coming.” [Pt acts surprised. RN indulges pt.] “I’ll just take the bus. Can I get the meds now?”
RN: “I’m sorry, but you have to have a ride if we give you narcotic pain meds.”
Pt: “But I’m not driving if I take the bus.”
RN: “I’m sorry, but it has to be a responsible adult.”
Pt: “Then I’ll take a taxi. Can I get the meds?”
RN: “I’m sorry, but it has to be an adult who’s responsible *for you*.”
Pt: “But the other ER did it for me!”
RN: “Oh, really? How nice! I’m glad they’re able to do what you want! [Wants to add but doesn’t: Maybe you should go back to them.] But our protocols won’t let us do that.”
Pt: “Well then how can I get my pain meds???”
RN: “I’m sorry, [repeats previous statement].”
Pt: “Well, then, can you just give me a prescription?”
RN: “I’m sorry, but as the ER doctor explained earlier, we can’t give prescriptions for narcotic pain medications to people with chronic pain conditions. As the ER doctor said earlier, you have to go to your pain management doctor for narcotic pain medication.”
Pt: “But I don’t have a pain doctor! Can’t you give me something now?”
RN: “Oh, really? You told me earlier that your doctor is [names a pain management doctor].”
Pt: “Yeah, but I haven’t seen him in a really long time.”
RN: “Oh, really? Your pill bottles here say he prescribed you these meds two weeks ago.”
Pt: “Well, his office doesn’t open until 10.”
RN: “It’s 11:30 right now.”
Pt: “Well, yeah, but I’ve been here for an hour and a half.”
RN: “You’re right, you got here at the ER at 10. When his office opened.”
…And that’s unfortunately not where the conversation ends. And while those conversations take place, the RN’s workload with his/her other patients is piling up, making him/her even slower. On a really special day, the same patient will come back to the same ER less than 24 hours later and go through it all over again. Then when the patient’s pain doctor dumps him/her for repeatedly violating the pain management contract, he/she acts surprised and wounded and still comes back to the same ER every week for the same problem.

Rat-a-Tat-Tat Tatting…?


a basic tatting shuttle

a basic tatting shuttle

I discovered a new craft. It’s called tatting. Okay, not new to the world (it dates to the early 1800s and apparently, Queen Victoria and Archduchess Maria Theresa of Austria enjoyed this craft), but new to me. Basically, the tatter creates intricate lacework by tying different kinds of knots in certain ways using a tool called a shuttle.

The shuttle is a basic tool (pictured left) that seems to me similar to a bobbin but with pointed edges.

artsy tatting shuttles

artsy tatting shuttles

Of course, some really inventive people make decorative shuttles that look like anything from barrettes to Lord of the Rings Elven leather leaves.

Some people believe tatting was invented by sailors, who would create motifs for their girlfriends or wives back home while on long trips. I can understand that assertion for two reasons: (1) sailors would also knit on long voyages in order to pass the time; and (2) tatting apparently takes a really long time to do, which is part of why people don’t do it much anymore.

tatting samples from an instructional booklet circa 1908-1917

tatting samples from an instructional booklet circa 1908-1917

Well, I hope you learned something new today. I certainly did!