365 Days Handmade

Making life a better place, one day at a time

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Day 303/365: The Cabin Fever Sock #2, Almost Done


The heel is turned and I’m on the cuff.

Happy Friday!


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Day 302/365: Another Day in the Joint


This is how my morning began:

I had a new arrival scheduled for his initial intake. We were about fifteen minutes into the interview when the sergeant came by my office and knocked on the door. I waved for him to come in and asked the new arrival to step outside. The sergeant came into my office and said, “Hey, Doc, we got Inmate XYZ in the holding cell. He’s saying he’s suicidal.”

We both knew the drill. “Thanks, Sarge,” I said. “I’ll talk to him after I finish up this appointment.”

“Great,” the sergeant said. He turned to leave the room and just as he was walking away, my phone rang.

“Dr. V,” the person on the other end said when I answered. It was one of the mental health administrative office technicians. “We received a call from the clinic regarding one of your patients. He’s not saying that he’s suicidal, but they have some concerns. They need you to go over there as soon as possible and talk to him.”

I said, “I just spoke to the sergeant, and he told me that they’ve got one of my patients in the holding cell right now, saying he’s suicidal.”

“This is a different inmate,” the office tech said.

“Give me a few minutes,” I said.

I got off the phone and turned to the new arrival who’d returned to his seat across my desk. He was casually looking at the posters on the wall and acting like he hadn’t heard anything that had been said in the last three minutes.

I looked at the day’s schedule of appointments and silently said goodbye to any remaining bit of free time I may have had left.

“Listen,” I said. “Can you come back this afternoon? I’ve got a couple of emergencies to take care of.”


Day 301/365: Tangled Mess

Remember how I learned to make a mitered square in knitting class on Monday?  And I shared a photo of my first completed square?

Well, I thought I would work on the second square that I’d joined to the first one.  I got my knitting bag that I brought to class, and I dumped out the contents, which included several small balls of scrap sock yarn.  And discovered this.


Some people might have the patience to unravel this mess, but I don’t have that patience.  Life is too short.  I’m getting the scissors.


Day 300/365: Three Hundred??!

I’d requested this Tuesday off from work because Pat and I had the knitting class last night in Ventura, and I knew I’d want to sleep in and give myself time to drive back to Morro Bay today.  Also, Sean doesn’t teach a class on Tuesday mornings, so we were able to grab some breakfast at Cafe Nouveau and spend a little bit of time together before I hit the road.  It was a nice little way to celebrate the 300th day of 365 days handmade.


Looking forward to cooler days ahead!


Day 299/365: Memory Blanket Class


This evening my good friend Pat and I attended a knitting class to learn how to make a modular blanket out of mitered squares.

Here is my first square that I finished in class:


Here is the instructor’s sample:


As you can see, it’s a great way to use up scrap yarn.  Also, the work in progress resembles a patchwork quilt, and I do love patchwork quilts.

I am already thinking of the design possibilities and feeling very excited about this new addition to my knitting repertoire.

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Day 298/365: How I Knit Socks Using the Magic Loop Method

I’ve had a couple of people ask me about using the Magic Loop method when knitting in the round, so I thought I’d share some photos in today’s blog post.


The Magic Loop

I was feeling too lazy to start a new sock and do a detailed, step-by-step tutorial, so for now I just took photos of my current Cabin Fever sock in progress.

Anyway, when I’m knitting in the round with the Magic Loop method, I’ve got the stitches evenly divided so that there is a front and back:


In the above photo, the top row is knitted and the bottom row is waiting to be next.


To start knitting the next row, I just take the top needle and bring it around, like so.


Without my fingers in the way, this is what the needles and yarn and sock and Magic Loop look like.


I knit using the Continental style.  Keeping the yarn wrapped around my finger this way helps maintain even tension.


And I knit.


If you look at the top row (or back side of the sock) in the above photo, you will see that the cord of the circular needle takes the place of the double pointed needles that would be there if you were using DPNs.  The front side of the sock is where I’m knitting.

I’ve been using the Magic Loop method for so long that I’m not sure how much these photos make sense to someone who’s never done it.  I’m sure there are a lot of video tutorials to be found online, so hopefully my little post here could just serve as a supplement.  Maybe later when I’m feeling more inspired, I’ll put together a more detailed photo tutorial for casting on and starting a new sock.



Day 296/365: In Which I Use the F-Word as a Therapeutic Intervention


I’d seen all of my patients for the day and was typing up progress notes on the computer when one of the inmate doormen/clerks knocked on my office door. He held another inmate’s ID in his hand and showed it to me. “This individual is asking if you have time to see him. He says that he desperately needs to talk to you.”

I took one look at the name and photo on the ID and immediately knew what was up. “Sure, bring him in,” I said.

This particular inmate-patient was a 53-year-old lifer who had committed his crime at age 17. He’d been incarcerated since 1979. In June of this year, he’d attended his umpteenth parole board hearing. This time the board found him suitable for parole. Since then, he’d been waiting to hear whether or not the governor would oppose and reverse the board’s decision. I had a feeling that he just got his answer today.

Mr. M walked into my office, and he didn’t have to say a word for me to know that my hunch was correct. I let him talk and cry and express all the things that he needed to say.

After a while, he looked at me sadly and said, “You know, this had been the first time that I actually let myself start to dream. I let myself daydream what it would be like to live outside of prison, out in the community, maybe have my own place, a job. Now…”

He didn’t finish his sentence, but I knew where he was going with this. I was also aware of his history of clinical depression and suicide attempts. He looked so heartbroken and hopeless and dejected that I knew it was time for one of my personal unconventional interventions.

“Listen,” I said. “Let me tell you a story. You know how you get to a place where you’re just feeling like it’s all hopeless, like there’s no point in trying any more, everything is just fucked?”

Mr. M nodded his head and smiled a little through his tears, and I could see that I was getting through to him.

“I’m going to tell you what a good friend once told me when I was feeling that way. I don’t remember what I was doing at the time—I think I may have been trying to make something, or fix something around the house, but I just kept messing up and I was getting frustrated. And I was like, Man! This is just fucked! This is a lost cause!”

“I hear that,” Mr. M said. He leaned forward a little to hear the rest of the story.

“This friend of mine came along,” I continued, “and he said, Relax, this is not a lost cause. It’s not fucked. Nothing is ever fucked.”

Mr. M sat back, and his small smile broke into a laugh. “You’re funny, Doc,” he said. “I like that. Nothing is ever fucked. I’m going to write that down. Thank you.”

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Day 294/365: Mileage Milestone

I got into my car this morning to leave for work and when I turned on the ignition, I noticed the nice even numbers on my mileage.


That was probably the most interesting thing I looked at all day, because I spent much of today sitting at my desk and typing up paperwork on the computer.  Our yard was on modified program because of staff training, so I wasn’t able to see patients all day.

Hope yours was a lot more fun day than mine!