Of Rats and Jen (Inactive)

Tales of a Perpetual
Work In Progress

Making My Own Meal Ticket; and, Knitting Against the Odds

Filed under: Crafting Miscellany,Daily Life,Knitting — folkcat at 2:53 pm on Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Over the weekend, in between sorting Perler beads and encouraging Ratties to drag things home, I worked on a couple of projects especially for me.

One of my ongoing struggles is making sure I eat a fairly balanced selection of foods over the course of the day. On a good day, that’s not an issue – it’s easy to make myself get up and do what I have to do. On a bad day, however, it can be a real struggle. It’s just so much easier to eat a bunch of the, say, chips that I couldn’t be bothered to move away from my chair, than to get up and make a real meal in the kitchen.

A few weeks ago, I came up with a simple list of foods I should try to eat every day, things that fit the way I live and work. This isn’t a precise meal plan – just a guideline for categories that work for me, that are easy to prepare, and that make sense to include in my nutritional intake. The main items on that list are:

  • Breakfast (prepared by Gryphon; alternates between oatmeal and breakfast sandwiches)
  • Salad/Veggies (a hefty bowl of one or the other, equivalent to two or three servings)
  • Fruit (an apple, orange, banana, etc.)
  • Juice (a 16 oz. glass of 100% juice blend, with two ice cubes – chills it just right!)
  • Rice/Couscous (one of two simple dishes I make that feature one of these starch options, plus seasonings, a protein, and veggies. Makes a full meal)
  • Cheese & Crackers (a measured dose of cheese slices, eaten with crackers and pepperoni. Or, most recently, I’ve discovered how well slices of apple work with the cheddar cheese I favor)

In addition to these items, I included a couple of snacks:

  • Sweet Thing (one measured dose of something sweet, usually based on the serving size listed on the package)
  • Salty/Crunchy (just what it sounds like – one serving, based on package information, of a salty/crunchy item. Sometimes chips, sometimes cheese doodles, frequently pretzels and hummus or some such)

I wrote these all up on a little list that I kept by my chair, and when I was having a bad day – one of those days when decisions are like pulling teeth – I would refer to it when I was hungry and consider what items on the list I’d had already, and what I hadn’t. And I’d try to steer my next choice towards something I hadn’t.

This was working so well that I decided to formalize the concept. So over the weekend, I sat down at my computer’s publishing software, and created my own set of “deal a meal” type cards:

Folkcat's Meal Cards
Folkcat’s Meal Tickets

The photos are all from clip art in the publishing program. I created a layout that put all eight cards on a nice piece of cardstock. On the back, I found a clipart photo montage of neon restaurant signs that i used as an all-over design.

I double-laminated the sheet in my Xyron, then used a paper trimmer to cut them all to size. A little extra trimming of a few with scissors got them all to match exactly. I measured in from the corner on one, and punched a hole, which I then used as a guide to punch each other card in the exact same spot.

And voila! My own cards, which I will call “Meal Tickets” rather than “_eal a _eal”, to prevent stumpy white men with afros wearing shorts and glittery tank tops from crying “Trademark! Trademark!”

The cards live on a pair of hinged key rings that are linked together. As I use up a card, I move it to the other ring. I always know which set is “things I haven’t eaten yet” and which is “things I’ve eaten today”, because we never miss Breakfast, and I keep that card on top of the set no matter where it is.

Weekend Knitting

First, you’ll notice that the Meal Tickets are posed on top of the current square of the Log Cabin Blanket. Which, in spite of a little knitting since Friday, is still on Square 2, Round 4, Log 3. If you look really closely, you might notice that Log 3 is a bit thicker. Or not.

Otherwise, I finished the center triangle charts for the Carnival Glass Shawl, bound off the neck edge, and moved on to the border. This was not accomplished easily.

WIP - Carnival Glass Shawl, Into the Border

After I finish this shawl – and by gawd, I will finish it! – I will be summarizing the issues I’ve had and e-mailing the folks at Cherry Tree Hill about them. Basically, the instructions are a little vague in places. But even worse, as I’ve moved from chart to chart, I have found an increasing level of errors, to the point where one of the border charts is absolutely unusable as published. I have studied the Cherry Tree Hill website, and Googled for “errata” and “corrections” and every other term I could think of to see if the fixes are already out there, but no luck.

For those who are considering this knit – I say, go ahead. It’s a gorgeous shawl, and the end result will be worth it. But if you haven’t knit a Shetland-style shawl before, consider reading up on the construction via other sources first. It was only because I’ve read so much about it on other peoples’ blogs that I was able to get this far.

To spare those who don’t like stories of Surviving Knitting Disasters, I’ll put the blow-by-blow of the problems after the jump. But seriously, if you’re thinking of knitting this shawl – make the leap, read the rest of this story, and benefit from what I learned!

Chart by chart, here’s what I’ve been finding:

Chart A appears absolutely correct as published.

Chart B: Row 51 is missing the symbols for an increase at each edge. There should be a Yarn Over placed one stitch away from each end of this row.

Chart C: Rows 129 through 135 are mis-numbered. The chart labels them as Rows 131 through 137. Additionally, on Row 135, a right side row, we are for the first time given a symbol of a dot in the center of each square. According to their legend, this means “Knit right side, knit wrong side (garter stitch)”. Which would make sense, except that this is a stockinette-based lace – all right side rows are knit. If they’re trying to make a garter stitch edging for the neckline here, they should have used this symbol, at least, on wrong side Rows 134 & 136 as well. Or, given that they mis-numbered the rows in this section anyhow, it’s possible that they didn’t include a couple of garter stitch rows that they should have.

My solution for this was to knit on the wrong side Rows 134 & 136, creating a small garter-stitch edging. Whether this matches the designer’s intent, I have no idea.

Border Charts: After binding off the neck edge, the border stitches are picked up along the other two sides of the triangle. The instructions are specific about how many stitches to pick up on each side, and they also specify to pick up one stitch at the center point.

After purling one row (what they call the “set up row”), you are then told “Continue by working the Border Chart to work the border along the bottom edge.”

The Border Chart is given as two charts – one for the left side, and one for the right. Following instructions, I worked across the first row of each chart – and came up with extra stitches at the end.

Finally, it dawned on me that maybe they should have said, “Work the left side Border Chart first, then work the stitch at the point, then work the right side Border Chart”. Or some such. I tried that, and…I had extra stitches at the end. But one fewer than before.

So I took a long, hard look at the stitches I’d just made, and the charts that I’d followed. And I realized that, while the left side Border Chart appears to be perfect, the right side Border Chart is a royal mess.

Each of these charts is given with a section in the center that’s marked as “repeat 8 times”. All well and good. Each chart has an increase at each end of every right side row – as it should to get the shaping we’re after.

But the first thing I noticed about the Right Side Border Chart is that those increases weren’t properly placed. On the first row, there’s a Make One that lands within the section that you repeat 8 times. That Make One should be at least one stitch to the right, taking it out of the repeat section. Every other Make One in the rest of the chart should move over one as well, to keep them properly lined up.

But then, I noticed the real killer on the chart, the one that told me it was pretty hopeless. At the left end of each right side row, they’ve placed the Yarn Over that increases the neckline edge of the shawl. But except for the very first row of the chart, they placed it as the very last stitch on the row. Shazam! They expect a yarn over as the last stitch worked, then turn around and purl back? I don’t think so!

The next part of the process was actually me not being as bright as I should have been. I agonized over the Right Side Border Chart for the longest time, trying to identify what should move, and where to, to make it work. Then finally, I had the smack-yourself-in-the-forehead, great big DUH! moment. If you’ve worked a Shetland-style shawl before, I’m sure you have already figured this one out.

The Right side and the Left side are supposed to be mirror images of each other. DUH! Ignore the Right Side Border Chart altogether, and just work the Left Side Chart backwards, changing the K2Togs to S1K1 PSSO as appropriate. I tinked back, worked the first pattern row this way, and magically, everything landed where it should. Success, but hard-earned!

Edging Chart: I haven’t gotten there yet, but you can bet I’ll be studying it carefully and reading their instructions multiple times before attempting it. I’l be sure to let you know if I find any problems with it when I get there.

And that’s where I am now. The stitches are landing where they belong, the Left Side Chart worked in mirror image is giving me the results I need on the Right Side.

But it sure took a lot of effort to get there.



Comment by Elspeth

February 20, 2007 @ 5:01 pm

What a great idea! I’ve been trying (in vain) to eat more healthy myself.


Comment by sarebear

February 20, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

Ooo, these meal tickets . . . I might have to do that! I have a hard time remembering to eat, and then later on, I pig out on what my dh fixes when he gets home.

I have all sorts of little ideas I like that I forget, like some creamy soup with half a toasted bagel, pear slices and cheese (as well as the apple slices and cheese!), measured portions of Craisins (or I’d eat way too many!), and more. I am going to put this on my to do list. This is an AWESOME idea!!!

Sounds like their charts were a PITA. That’s awesome that you worked it out, though; sounds very hard/frustrating.

I’ve got about 5 inches of scarf now, although there is 1 to 1-1/2 or 2 stitches that fell out of each other and I didn’t notice until a few rows later (the tail that is from the cast-on is plenty long enough to weave through the scarf to that point with a good amount of extra to do whatever fix is needed, not that I know what fix is needed . . . I pulled the one stitch back thru the other, and then pulled the cast-on tail through that to temporarily keep the stitch from coming out while I work.


Comment by Valerie in San Diego

February 26, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

Once again, an excellent creative idea. My ‘bad days’ are outweighing (no pun intended 🙁 ) my good ones lately, and this might really help me remember to get all my ‘good’ foods in.

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