365 Days Handmade

Making life a better place, one day at a time


Day 335/365: A Sweater Half Empty (Or Half Full?)

Here is how far I’ve gotten with the sweater.  I still have to knit the neckline and the rest of the body and figure out what I want to do with the cuffs.  It’s not an incredible amount of knitting left, but now I’m feeling like it’s time for a break.  The Coast Ripple afghan is calling to be finished.




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Day 328/365: Why I’m Loving This Month of November

I realized something the other day.  This year, there are five Mondays in the month of November.  Monday is my regular day off (I work 10-hour days from Tuesday to Friday), so that’s five days this month that I don’t have to go in to work.

Also, Veteran’s Day, Thanksgiving, and the day after Thanksgiving are all state holidays in November.  Tomorrow is the last day that I have to work this month.  Times like these make me even more thankful for my full-time permanent salaried position with the state of California.

All of these days off = more time to knit, or crochet, or sew, and do as I please.


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Day 326/365: Half a Sweater

A big advantage of knitting a sweater from the top down is that you can try it on as you knit.

Like so:


In which I take a selfie in my pajamas. And that weird bump on my belly is the drawstring cord of the pants.

I spent a good part of the day knitting the ribbing on the cuff.


When I got to what seemed like wrist-length, I bound off the sleeve.

And got this:


I’m not thrilled with the edge of that sleeve.  I’ll probably frog all that ribbing and do something else later.  (Oh!  Maybe bracelet-length sleeves with a crocheted edge?)  In the meantime, I’m going to start the second arm.  I’m pretty sure a couple of my neighbors were wondering what I was doing out on the porch, taking selfies in what appeared to be a one-armed sweater.

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Day 325/365: The Unfinished Sweater

Okay, I’ll be honest:  I got bored after crocheting a few more rows on the Coast Ripple afghan.  So I set that aside and looked at what else remained in the WIP pile.

There was this:


This is a knitted top-down sweater that I started about two years ago.  The yarn is Berrocco Lustra, 50% Peruvian wool and 50% Tencel Lyocell.


As you can see, it’s missing an arm, a neckline, the rest of the body,


and a cuff.


I think I might accomplish finishing one cuff today.

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Day 44/365: That Same Darn Sweater


I’ve gotten this far down on the body of the sweater, and I’ve got that much yarn left.  Unfortunately, this particular yarn was purchased several years ago and I’m pretty sure that it’s been discontinued.  I’m at that point in the sweater-knitting process where I usually give up and move on to another project (as my two other very similar half-finished sweaters will tell you).  But part of the reason I started this blog was to give me a reason to complete all of my unfinished projects.  So I will persevere and maybe just switch to crocheting the rest of the damn thing, as we all know that in the time it takes to knit the bottom half of a sweater, you could crochet an entire bedspread.  Luckily, it’s the start of another three-day weekend.

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Day 36/365: Why, Hello There, You’re Not Locked In


Remember I told you about the reason for Monday’s modified program?  We had another modified program today.  This time, somebody dropped a kite* saying that a certain correctional officer, along with my buddy the lieutenant, were going to be targeted for an assault.  So the yard was recalled and no inmates were allowed outside except for the ones who had medical and mental health appointments.  In the meantime, custody had to initiate an investigation, interview possible suspects, and determine the seriousness of the situation.

This sort of thing is not an unusual occurrence.  With a modified program, I’m still able to see my line for the day, because the inmates are allowed to come out for their priority ducats.  With a hard lockdown, though, none of them are able to leave the cell.  When that happens, you either A) reschedule their appointments, thus doubling the number of patients you’ve got to see the next day, or B) go pay a house call.  We call it doing a cellside.  That means going into a living unit that houses 300 potentially dangerous convicted felons, walking down a long corridor in which a hundred pair of eyes are watching you through their wickets as you pass, and knocking on the door of your patient to conduct a brief mental health interview in the most discreet way possible.

The last time I did cellsides was in September, when a race riot on the yard resulted in lockdown for a week.  Usually, I don’t mind conducting cellsides, because the inmates are all locked in and I’m pretty safe.  This time, though, I got a bit of a surprise.  I’d gotten the okay from the tier officer, made my way down the corridor, knocked on my patient’s door, and heard him climb off his bunk. I listened to him put on some clothes and shuffle his way over. He said, “Hang on, Doc.” I heard more noises, some fumbling around, a clicking sound– and then I realized, he’d been unlocking his cell door from the inside, and now he was sliding it open to greet me.

I would end the story here, but I know some people reading this would be more than a little disturbed by that, so I’ll tell you also that the facility where I work is probably the only one in the state where the inmates have keys to let themselves in and out of their cells**, and sure, this guy was doing a life sentence for murder, but really, he’d already served over thirty years in prison and I felt pretty certain that he wasn’t going to kill me.

* kite:  prison lingo for a note or letter; a form of written communication

** There is a master switch that keeps them all locked in at certain times; it just happened that this time was not one of them.


Day 35/365: Keeping It Real

I knew I didn’t have any photos for today’s post, so when I got home from work this evening, I grabbed my sweater-in-progress and went out to the deck to take some pictures.  The sky was overcast, and the sun wasn’t cooperating to provide any good natural light.  My digital camera kept insisting on using the flash.  After a few attempts to get some decent shots, I gave up and went back inside.

I uploaded the digital camera shots onto my computer and looked at the photos of my sweater.  The first thing I noticed was–Ack!–the rusty nails and the peeling paint of our deck.  The second thing I noticed was the yarn:  clearly one hundred percent cheap acrylic.  I thought, I have hundreds and hundreds of dollars’ worth of yarn in the stash–natural fibers like wool, cotton, linen, even cashmere–and I pick acrylic.

The other day, I was doing a Google search for a secret craft project that I’m planning, and I came across one of those hipster craftster websites where Everything Is Just Perfect.  In the carefully staged and professionally captured photos, the people and items looked like they belonged in a catalog or in a print ad for a magazine.  I found myself scrolling through that website and feeling bad about my little blog, thinking it was so basic and amateurish.

I thought about that website again when I was looking at my own photos this evening and feeling like I couldn’t use any of them for tonight’s post.  It occurred to me:  Sure, those professional quality photos on that website told a nice story, but what story was it telling?

What story was I buying into?

As you may have already figured out from my previous posts, I’m usually not one for bullshit, particularly in my line of work and the population I deal with.  I don’t like small talk or smokescreens.  I like honesty and authenticity and, as I say to my patients, keeping it real.

So what if my photos weren’t taken on a fancy expensive camera, and so what if my sweater is acrylic and not an expensive cashmere-linen-soy-and-bamboo-cotton blend?  Who am I trying to impress?  Why should I give a shit?  Because when it comes down to it, the most important person whose opinion matters about me is me.

It’s something I’m still working on.  Just like this sweater.


Click to enlarge and see everything in all imperfect glory.



Day 34/365: Shanks and Shivers


Still working on this sweater.

Yesterday our yard was put on a modified program (i.e. lockdown), but I missed it because Monday is my day off.  I heard about it today from one of my patients.  He didn’t know why the yard was recalled, but he was telling me about the lockdown to illustrate his point that you can’t count on a regular routine every day; the program is always changing.

On my way to the bathroom this afternoon, I passed by the sergeant’s office and heard him call out something to the lieutenant about the weapons that were found yesterday.  Naturally I took a detour and headed straight into the lieutenant’s office, which is right next to the sergeant’s.

“What weapons that were found yesterday?” I asked.  Because I’m actually friends with this particular lieutenant, I am completely comfortable with going into his office and asking nosy questions like this one.

“Here, I’ll show you,” he said.  He pulled up the photos on his computer.

I looked at the evidence photos and got the shivers.  These were inmate manufactured weapons that weren’t fucking around.  The handles were made out of wood, and the blade portions were fashioned out of metal that had been sharpened and twisted and designed to have uneven, serrated edges.

“Do you have any leads on who made them?” I asked.

“They’re checking for fingerprints.”

“Shit,” I said.  “That’s some scary stuff.”

“It’s a good reminder to always be careful,” the sergeant said.  He’d come into the lieutenant’s office to drop off some paperwork.  “Don’t forget that these inmates are in here for a reason.”