Knight Errant

My second-to-last game in Yankee Stadium was also my last Yankees-Sox game at the Stadium, and my friend B and I managed to have a good time, despite the outcome being less-than-ideal.
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While Sidney Ponson has seemingly had the magical ability to both allow a ton of guys on base and not allow them to score, August 27th was not his night. Sir Snacksalot got roughed up for four runs, and the bullpen put the game way out of reach for a final score of 11-3. These have been frustrating days to be a Yankee fan, and this game was no exception to that. Defensive play was downright sloppy at times, with Cano misplaying a routine-looking groundball (that runner came around to score), and various outfield miscues and mishaps. On the bright side, Alex Rodriguez did fulfill my prophesy that he’d have a big night, with two doubles, one of which drove in a run. Jason Giambi hit a home run in the 9th, but by then it was too little, too late. Still, a bad day at the ballpark is better than a good day at a lot of other places, and I want to enjoy this ballpark before they tear it down.

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On the new stadium front, there have been rumors floating around that the Yankees will discontinue their policy of allowing people to bring food and non-alcoholic beverages into games. As someone who goes to as many games as she can, I have to hope that isn’t the case. One of the things that makes Yankee Stadium affordable is the fact that I can bring in my own water and some lunch/dinner/snacks, rather than being at the mercies of the stadium vendors. This is especially important in the bleachers, where the concession pickings are rather slim. I do rather enjoy the occasional stadium hot dog, and I find it hard to resist the siren call of soft-serve ice cream in a bowl shaped like a helmet, but that cost does really add up over time.

In other sporting news, the Ravelry Olympics have come and gone. I oversubscribed drastically, because I wasn’t sure what project I could commit to, but I ended up medaling in two events: the WIPs Wrestling for one pair of socks, and the Colorwork Crosscountry and Sock Put for my Ziggy Socks.
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The pattern is Ziggy from the Summer 2008 Knitty, and it was my first time using Noro Kuyreon Sock (in color S95) and doing any sort of stranded colorwork. I couldn’t carry both colors in my left hand without massive tangling, so I ended up with one strand of yarn in each hand, trying to knit Continental and English at the same time. It was very slow going, until I got some coaching from Ann Marie at knitting group, which really helped to speed me along. I’m still not sure how I feel about knitting two-handed. As it turns out, I’m very left-hand dominant, and I found that forming stitches with my right hand gets very tiring after not very long. I’ll have to find a source for one of those rings that you can run yarn through for colorwork to give it a try that way before I take on the Ivy League Vest, which will be my next stranded project. All in all, I had a great time doing the Ravelry Olympics, and I’m very grateful to the moderators, volunteers and team captains who made it such a fun experience.

I’m amazed at the response that my Unraveled Rib Socks have received this past week. I really do hope that everyone has as much fun with the pattern as I did writing it, and I’m definitely inspired to try my hand at design again. I can’t wait to see how everyone’s socks turn out!

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Unraveling Rib Socks

Unraveling Rib Socks

Finished size: 7″ circumference, unstretched. Fits a women’s size 7 foot.

Materials

Yarn: 1 skein Dream in Color Smooshy yarn (superwash merino, 3.99 oz, 450 yds), color Wisterious. My socks used up approximately 338 yards, so a second skein might be necessary if increasing the size.

Needles: 2.25 mm (US Size 1), 42″ circular needle. This pattern is written for Magic Loop, but can be adapted for 2 circs or for dpns if desired. To knit for a larger foot, substitute 2.5 mm or 2.75 mm needles.

Notions: Stitch marker, cable needle, darning needle

Gauge: 8 stitches/inch in stockinette, approximately 9 stitches/inch in unraveling rib pattern

Supplemental Information:

Exploding Rib Chart

Adapted from Exploding Rib from A Fourth Treasury of Knitting Patterns by Barbara Walker.

The 33rd pattern stitch is only necessary to balance the pattern on the instep of the sock. For the leg, use only stitches 1-32.

Methods

Cuff: Loosely cast on 64 stitches and divide: 32 stitches per needle. Join to begin working in the round, placing a marker at the beginning of the round.

Cuff ribbing: K2tbl, [p4, ktbl] to end of needle. Repeat for second needle.

Work a total of 12 rounds in ribbing for the cuff.

Leg: Begin chart, knitting stitches 1-32 of chart.

Repeat chart 3 times, ending on row 30 on last chart repeat.

Heel Flap: K1tbl from needle 1 to needle 2. 31 st remain on needle 1.

Row 1: sl1, [p4, k1tbl] to end

Row 2: sl1, [k4, p1tbl] to end

Repeat rows 1 and 2 15 more times (16 repeats total). If you have a high or low instep, knit more or fewer rows for the heel flap and adjust the gusset decreases accordingly.

Heel Turn:

Row 1: sl1, k17, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 2: sl1, p6, p2tog, p1, turn work

Row 3: sl1, k7, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 4: sl1, p8, p2tog, p1, turn work

Row 5: sl1, k9, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 6: sl1, p10, p2tog, p1, turn work

Row 7: sl1, k11, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 8: sl1, p12, p2tog, p1, turn work

Row 9: sl1, k13, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 10: sl1, p14, p2tog, p1, turn work

Row 11: sl1, k15, ssk, k1, turn work

Row 12: sl1, p16, p2tog, p1 turn work.

Gusset

K across 19 st, pick up 16 stitches along heel flap, plus 1 st between flap and instep. Knit in pattern across instep stitches (following chart row 31, and including all 33 chart stitches). Pick up 1 st between instep and heel flap, and 16 stitches along heel flap. There will be a total of 81 stitches. Knit 9 stitches from heel and re-position marker for new beg of round.

Round 1: K10, k17tbl, Knit next chart row on instep, k17 tbl, k9.

Round 2: K10, k to last 2 st, k2tog, knit instep in pattern, ssk, k to end of round.

Round 3: K all st to instep, knit instep in pattern, k to end of round.

Repeat rounds 2 and 3 until 31 stitches are left on sole (needle 1), and 33 on instep (needle 2): 64 st total.

Foot: Continue in pattern, knitting all sole st in stockinette and following chart for instep, until foot is approximately 2 inches shorter than desired length. Slip one stitch from needle 2 to needle 1, so that there are 32 st on each needle. k across all st for 1 round.

Toe:

Round 1: Knit to last 3 st on needle 1, K2tog, k1; k1, ssk, k to last 3 st on needle 2, k2tog, k1; k1, ssk, k to end of round.

Round 2: K all st to end of round.

Repeat Rounds 1 and 2 until 24 st remain, 12 each on needles 1 and 2. Break yarn, leaving an approx 12″ tail and graft stitches from needle 1 to stitches on needle 2 to close toe.

Finishing: Weave in ends and block well.

Unraveling Rib Socks

This is the first pattern that I’ve ever published. I hope everyone has as much fun knitting it as I did! The pattern’s Ravelry page can be found here.

Update: This pattern is now available as a .pdf! download now

Summer doldrums

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My second pair of socks for Summer of Socks is not the rousing success that the first one was. Is it possible to have second sock syndrome before you’ve even finished the first one? It’s not the pattern. My problems can be attributed to a combination of user error and fussiness over sock fit, but as a result of having to rip back all the way to the toe, it’s taken me over two weeks to finish one sock, and I am ready to be done.

At least I’m learning something from the project. It’s the special Summer of Socks ’08 pattern, and it’s my first pair with a toe-up flap and gusset heel. So far I’m finding that these heels are a little bit harder to “fudge” than the short-row heels that I’ve done on every other sock I’ve knit have been, but that could just be the learning curve talking. My second go at it was much more successful than my first one was (knitting the instep of one size sock and the sole/heel of the next bigger size might have also helped). The mesh pattern does bias, in spite of a half-hearted attempt at taming it, but I think that’ll block out. Despite the setbacks, I’m very happy with the way the socks look, and how the lacy pattern breaks up the way the colors spiral around the foot.

I’ve also had a lot of other stuff on my plate over the past few weeks. I’ve had not one, but two secret knitting projects going on (which will be revealed in time, but I’d rather not spill all to the Readership right away). But knitting hasn’t been the only thing on my plate.
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There have been lots and lots of my favorite summer fruits out there that just had to be eaten.

I celebrated my country’s birthday by watching the Macy’s fireworks display with several thousand of my closest friends.
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I also ended my boycott of All-Star Game related activities by attending Bon Jovi’s concert in Central Park with my cousin and 50,000 of our closest mutual friends (there was very likely some overlap between those two groups of close, personal friends). Oh, and I got my Mactop back from her adventures in data retrieval and getting a new hard drive installed, which means that I’ve got a month’s backlog of photos to go through and upload. There are going to be quite a number of trips down knitting and baseball memory lane in the very near future.

It’s too darn hot

All I can say is thank goodness for air conditioning. It’s the first truly hot week of the summer season, and although I haven’t had to spend much time outside, the heat and humidity are just oppressive.
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Before the warm front moved in, I did get a chance to see Joba Chamberlain’s Major League starting debut. Joba was clearly a bit jittery, and wasn’t always hitting his spots, but was a textbook example of why, if somebody took leave of their senses for long enough to put me in charge of a baseball team, I would never reveal a total pitch count ceiling to the press. Because when you have to get through as many innings as you can on 65 pitches, any opposing team worth their salt will take as many pitches as they possibly can. And the Blue Jays did just that, knocking him out after 2.1 innings.
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Chamberlain was followed by Dan Giese, making his debut as a Yankee, and doing quite a respectable job, despite being tagged with the loss. It was one of those games that could have gone either way, until the bullpen completely imploded, allowing 6 runs and putting the game totally out of reach. Well, at least someone in the Yankees organization had a lot of fun photoshopping moustaches on the players who had grown them.
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Perhaps the nicest thing that I can say about the game is that it gave me an opportunity to get a lot of knitting done. I turned the heel and got a couple inches into the cuff of my pinstriped socks.
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There was one other good thing about the game. Because I stayed until the bitter, bitter end, I did get to see Derek Jeter get his 2,415th hit, putting him into a tie with Mickey Mantle for third on the all-time Yankees list.
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Derek got his 2,416th hit the following game. Only Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth are ahead of him now, and he’s in some mighty rarefied company.

I don’t usually do memes, and I’ve never done one here, but since I’ve been tagged by both Penelope and Nicole, here goes nothing:

1) What was I doing 10 years ago?
This would be right about when I was recovering from my AP exams and getting ready to take finals during my senior year of high school.

2) What are 5 things on my to-do list for today (not in any particular order):
Run the dishwasher (if it cools down at night)
Finish up a gift
Pay the bills
Some experiments down in the research mines (I could have 5 things right there, but I’ll spare everyone the alphabet soup)
Staying hydrated

3) Snacks I enjoy:
Raspberry Milano Cookies
Fruit
ice cream
cheetos, or almost any cheesy chip or cracker

4)Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
Among other things:
Fully fund a scholarship or three at my high school.
Season tickets to the Yankees (good seats, even) Or, I suppose I could just buy a baseball team, take leave of my senses, and put myself in charge of it.
Lots and lots of travel: the 30 ML ballparks, the Grand Tour of Europe, and then the rest of the world

5) Places I have lived:
Sayreville, NJ
Cambridge, MA
Manhattan, NY
Until I was 22, I had always lived in Middlesex County. Only the state changed.

I’m also not big on tagging people, but if you want to do this, consider yourself tagged. I have a sneaking suspicion that I’m the last person to do this one anyway.

Here Come the Yankees

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It felt so good to be back at Yankee Stadium for my first game of the year that I almost didn’t mind the final result of the game. Andy Pettitte was making his first start after being on the DL that April 5th, and while he wasn’t 100% yet, and was clearly very tired during his last inning, he didn’t look too bad overall. Now, the Yankee bats on the other hand…let me just say that I have the utmost confidence that they will warm up as the weather does (and let me also wish Derek, Jorge and Jose continued and speedy recoveries from their respective injuries).

We were lucky enough to go to a game on the one nice day of the weekend, and our section (14, the no-alcohol section on the third base side of the upper deck) was positively warm and sunny. I could have used one or two fewer layers of clothing and one or two more layers of sunscreen.

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Another nice thing about the game was getting to see some of the young pitchers in action. Ross Ohlendorf got some work in (although he did give up a solo home run), and at one point Joba Chamberlain was up in the bullpen.

However, every trip to Yankee Stadium from here on out will be bittersweet, because they’ve put a “regular season countdown clock” up above the bleachers.
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After each game is “official”, someone who was affiliated with the team lowers the number by one. Joe Pepitone did the honors at our game.

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I also finished the toe and got into the striped portion of my homestand socks (pictured with Alex Rodriguez in the distance). As it turns out, I didn’t quite get the stripes the right length, as the navy blue doesn’t extend for a full two rows. I can get things pretty close by changing my stitch count from the original planned measurements, and by watching my gauge I can ensure that the little jog is on the bottom of my foot.

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I got a good bit of knitting done between attending that game and watching games on TV. I’d also like to invite recommendations for a good scorecard book. I’m planning to go to at least 8 more games, and the scorecard/programs that they sell at the Stadium add up very quickly at $7 a pop. The one posed with my sock also contained a poster of Derek Jeter and a recipe for French Toast (if I recall correctly),

Oh, and on this day in 1980, Tommy John pitched a complete game, 2-hit shutout for the Yankees against the Chicago White Sox. While I’ve decided to commemorate the 28th anniversary of the event with some (more) yarn in my favorite family of colors, I’m rooting for recent birthday-boy Chien-Ming Wang to celebrate with a similar performance against some Sox of a different color.

One year (almost) gone

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What better way is there to celebrate the completion of shockingly pink socks than with a shockingly pink drink? The day that I’m too old for Shirley Temples is the day that I’m just plain…too old. I’m very happy with the way these socks turned out. The yardage of the Twilight Sock was generous enough that I could get a pair of tall socks out of one skein with a comfortable 25 yards left over at the end. If I had made them taller, I would have had to mess around with calf shaping, which was beyond the scope of these socks, as far as I’m concerned. It doesn’t show up too well in the pictures, but the cables and twisted stitches really “pop” in this yarn, and I’m pleased with how soft and smooshy it is. All I have left to do is to wash and block them so I can wear my socks out of the house.

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Now that I’m finished with the “Rib Her to Shreds” socks (sorry, Debbie Harry!), I decided to go through my stash to find some inspiration for my next pair. While I was looking at my sock yarn, I realized that I really must know what shades and colorways I like, because I keep buying them over, and over, and over again. That’s actually not even a complete set yet, and I think I can do something sort of similar with my collection of teal and green yarn as well, although there is a good bit less of that. I feel like maybe I should branch out some, but I’m not fond of warm colors like reds and oranges, so that limits things a bit.  Perhaps I should just continue with my “yarn fast” for a while after Easter until I can work my way through more of it.

I finally decided to stick with more happy springtime colors for the next set of socks that I cast on:
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It’s the closest possible thing to carrying some of the flowers that are currently in bloom around with me in my purse. Of course, it’s also a lot neater, what with not having to also carry around dirt and mulch to keep said spring flowers alive. It’s a win-win situation all around.

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It’s amazing how fast time gets away on you. Just a little bit over a year ago, I started this blog after going to one of Stephanie Pearl-McPhee’s book launches and being inspired to start writing about my knitting. I’d like to thank the Readership for their advice, patience, and proofreading, because I’ve had so much fun staking out this little corner of the internet in the name of knitting and the Yankees. I know that it’s traditional to celebrate a “blogiversary” with a Very Special Entry, and I hope to do that next year. This year, however, it’s a holiday weekend, so instead of updating I’ll be celebrating by choosing to follow some wise advice that I found scrawled on a subway wall:
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Signs of Spring

It seems like it’s warming up for real around here, lately. The days are getting longer (much longer thanks to Daylight Savings being earlier), and the first buds of spring are starting to open. From the crocuses in windowboxes…

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to the snowdrops in Central Park…

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Color and life are returning to the city.

Speaking of color, I got a big jump on my latest pair of socks at a Sit ‘n’ Knit New York meetup last weekend. The Twilight Sock yarn pleasantly surprised me by turning out to be self-patterning. The lighter and darker pinks and purples spiral up the length of the sock. I had a little bit of a gauge issue at one point that caused some odd pooling on the leg, but I just ripped back a few rows to get everything consistent again. I didn’t want to interrupt the patterning when I turned the heel, so I knitted my favorite, a short-row heel using the yarn from the outside of the ball.

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I chose a ribbed cable pattern from the first Barbara Walker Treasury, which combines twisted stitches and cable crossings. The twisted stitches make it a little bit trickier to knit this without a cable needle, but I feel that if I can deal with this pattern, I can handle pretty much any cable pattern without a cable needle.

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One of the many reasons that I prefer to knit my socks toe-up is that it does allow me to make a lot of design decisions at the last minute. I decided to use two different ribbings for the cuff of the sock. For the front and back, I chose a k1 tbl, p2 rib, and I just let the k1 tbl, p1 cables unwind on the sides. The sock legs are 11.5 inches long, but the knitting just flew by. Now it’s on to the second sock of the pair, and then to continue working through my sock stash.

Rainy day knitting

I keep turning the volume up on the spring training game, but try as hard as I might to pretend that I’m actually in Tampa right now, the howling of the wind and sound of rain against my windows are a pretty strong reminder that I’m actually still up north, and the weather is still wintry. At least live baseball is back on TV again.
The second robin of spring
I managed to snap a picture of the second robin of spring. I tried to photograph the first robin of spring, but he flew away before I could get my camera out of my bag. It’s still a little chilly for them, though, I think. They were both puffed up to try to keep warm in the breeze.

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I also finished up my Opal Rainforest socks. They were great to carry around with me, and to have as my “social knitting” project. The Opal is a nice, non-splitty yarn, so I could knit without really looking at what I was doing, but the self-patterning of the yarn kept things interesting for me.

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I ended up with a 9.5″ cuff on the socks, and I had approximately 60 yards left over, so I could have made them a bit longer.

I haven’t quite decided on a pattern for my next pair of traveling socks, but I think it’ll be something a tiny bit more demanding than the previous pair. I’ll start working toe-up and see what kind of mood strikes me.
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I have picked out the yarn, though. It’s Storm Moon Knits’ sock yarn, in Rip Her to Shreds, and it’s just the thing to chase the rainy-day-blues away.

The Grand Tour

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With a mere 45 days left until opening day, my family and I spent last Sunday taking the Yankee Stadium tour. Of course, no trip to 161st St. and River Ave. is complete without a peek at the progress on the new stadium. Despite my feelings about their building a smaller stadium to house a team that consistently sells out games (and some other issues with the inside of the stadium), I do have to admit that it looks pretty sweet from the outside. They’re making an effort to make the new entrance look like the original one did pre-renovations, and I like the old-timey feel that it has. I also appreciate that they haven’t sold the naming rights, and that it will continue to be known as Yankee Stadium. There is still a lot of work to be done, but I will be very interested to see the inside of the finished product.

After wandering around in the cold for a while, it was time to gather for the tour. It starts at the stadium’s Press Gate, all the better to bring you straight up to the Press Box:
The view from the press box
You get to sit in the same chairs that the press corps do, and there’s a nice, up-close view of the broadcast booths. I wasn’t quick enough on the draw to get a photo of the press box concession stand, but the prices there are much lower than they are in the rest of the ballpark.

After getting a good feel for the press box, we went back inside and down to the bottom of the Stadium for one of the two main high points of the tour:
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We even got to see the Yankees’ locker room, which had gotten a coat of fresh paint. No photos were allowed inside there, unfortunately, though. We did get to see Johnny Damon’s shower shoes, and some of Hideki Matsui’s stuff that had been left behind from last season, and we learned some locker room fun facts, like how Derek Jeter is the only Yankee with two lockers (one for him and one for his fan mail. The Yankees get something along the lines of 75-100 pounds of mail a week, and up to 2/3 of that is for Jeter). We also found out that Thurman Munson’s locker will be moved to a museum that’s being set up across the street from the new stadium.

Next up was what was probably my favorite part of the tour. They brought us outside and let us sit in the Yankee dugout.

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I’ve never been that close to the field before, or even at field level. The dugout has heated benches, which must be nice during those frigid April and October games, and air conditioning vents are built into the dugout steps for the warmer months. The netting under the dugout rail is a rather new addition. It was put in around 2001 to protect the players and coaches (bench coach Don Zimmer was hit by a foul ball). There’s no shortage of rules posted in the dugout. Despite the wintry weather, I was nearly overcome with the urge to get Scott Proctor warming up, but I restrained myself, which was just as well, because he’s been reunited with Joe Torre on the Dodgers.

Our tour ended with a trip through Monument Park, which I’ve never seen so empty. Finally, we were presented with a little memento of our trip through Yankee Stadium.
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I couldn’t resist photographing it with my latest traveling project, a stockinette sock in Opal Rainforest Veronika die wilde.

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And to close, a picture of me with my favorite Yankee.  It was a fitting end to a very informative and entertaining tour.

Loose ends

I’ve had to start leaving my Racer Pullover at home lately. It’s gotten too big and heavy to comfortably carry around in my purse. I’ve decided to take my other Reunion Sock out of hibernation and get it finished up. I’m enjoying working with the Sea Wool again, which is good, since I’ve picked up a couple more skeins of it here and there. It comes in such lovely colors.
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There’s only one minor problem with my plan: the Drooping Elm Leaf pattern is a 10-row repeat, and I’ve been having a difficult time memorizing it. I’m still relying on the chart, so it’s not optimal for knitting in a dim setting, or when I’m distracted by something else.

It’s been a roller-coaster of a week down in the research mines, but fortunately it ended on a happy note. Sometimes things just work out much better than you expect them to, and I’m very grateful that this was one of those times.

Another thing that I’m grateful for is that it’s now less than 2 weeks until pitchers and catchers report. So before you know it, we’ll be treated to more scenes like this one:
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Joba Chamberlain earning his first major league win, against the Mariners, on September 5, 2007. He won in relief of Phil Hughes (who only gave up 2 runs before settling down), and it was a great thrill to get to see both of the young guns in the same game. I already have some tickets to games this upcoming season, and I’m looking forward to watching our young pitchers grow up.