On Thursday, I was on my computer, when suddenly, my computer went black. Just died. The power light still glowed dimly, but other than that meagre sign of life, there was nothing. I shut it off, I tried to start it again – nothing happened. Nothing at all – so I did what I always do when something like this breaks. I called Joe. Joe had left just minutes before to go to the airport – he was going away for the weekend, and I don’t know how technology knows he’s left the building, but nothing ever stops working when he’s right here. He got me to try a few things (Is it plugged in?) and then told me to unplug the power, let the battery die, and then try again in the morning.
I did that – along with googling the symptoms, all of which pointed to a very bad thing. Failed hard drive – most likely. I was pretty upset. Mostly about how I’d be without a computer for a few days -but at least I didn’t have to panic completely. I have a backup. Even if the computer was bricked (as in, turned into a brick, rather than a computer) at least I have all my information still. Several years ago, I lost everything. My laptop did pretty much what it did Thursday night and that was it. I was a lot less savvy then, and Joe and Ken (my resident tech department) had grossly underestimated my skills. I think one of them had asked me if I was doing backups, and I’d thought about that – recalling that we’d put extra memory in the computer, and said yes. Big mistake. Turns out that memory in a computer has a really, really stupid name. It doesn’t remember anything. (I also had a really loose idea of how a server serves you.) Joe and Ken just stared at me while I explained that it couldn’t be all gone – it would be in the memory – right?
Lesson learned. Now I’ve got some crazy thing that the two of them came up with to protect me from myself, and my laptop backs itself up to some other thingie a few times a day, as long as I’m home and plugged in. The worst part about a dead computer now is the money, and the inconvenience of not being able to work, which is totally ironic, since not working means no money and … you get it. I poured myself a glass of wine, and walked away. It felt really mature. I swatched instead.
This here is my first attempt – and last attempt. I’m not happy with it, but I know why, so I made my changes, and started the blanket. You can see down at the bottom, where there’s garter lace? That’s the stitch pattern as written – a classic called “Madeira and diamond” and it only took, what’s that… 10 rows? to see that I wasn’t loving the garter stitch thing. I thought it was what I wanted, but the yarn is too heavy to really make it elegant, so I swapped out the knitted rest rows for purled ones, and bingo. I like the stockinette version a lot better. (There’s also a little intermittent “rowing out” that seems to be happening because my yarnovers were too relaxed on the needle I was using. I’ve corrected it by using a smoother needle.) The other problem is the gauge. I knit this one on a 4mm needle, and it’s too loose. The fabric looks good, but when I pick it up and give it a tug and a stretch, it opens up too much. It’s unstable.
(You can see here that for the purposes of the photo, I’m holding down one edge of it with my foot, so I can take the picture with my other hand. I swear I don’t usually manage things this way.)
A really good hint for when this might be happening is when you can stick your finger though the solid part of the fabric. Almost always a bad sign for something that you want to hold its shape. (This goes for everything you want to have structure, especially garments. If you can put your finger through a fabric, then you’re probably going to have a sweater that stretches badly out of shape, and soonish.)
When this blanket is done, it will be fairly heavy – and the fabric needs enough integrity to be able to hold up to that, so down to a 3.5mm needle I went. This idea, that fabric doesn’t just have to look good, it has to hold together well? It’s a really, really good reason to swatch. I did my math after that, and I’m off to the races on the blanket.
My computer did start working again after I *let the battery go dead, and then plugged it in and restarted it, and then it died again, and then it started after I repeated from * throughout the weekend. Yesterday I reset some thingie, and I’ve been up and running since then. Still, I think it’s time for this laptop and I to begin saying our goodbye’s. This feels like a terminal illness, although the treatment seems to be working for now.
Sorry to have missed Karmic Balancing Gifts on Friday, I’ll catch up tomorrow – assuming the computer doesn’t have a relapse.