Back Right Up

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.

swatch1 2015-05-25

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.

swatch2 2015-05-25

(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.)

fingerin1 2015-05-25

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.

50 thoughts on “Back Right Up

  1. the stockingette version is much prettier….good choice. Happy Memorial Day to my US buddies and thank you to all our veterans.

  2. Knowing how savvy Joe and Ken (and you) all are, you probably don’t need this suggestion. But here it is anyway. I have a multi-layered backup system, because I also had a laptop brick a couple of years ago, sans backup, and I lost a pretty big chunk of dissertation work, which is (to me) the worst thing to lose. So, now, I have both local physical backups (a separate hard drive that backs up automatically through Time Machine), and cloud backups, also automatic, that backup online, so that even if my entire apartment explodes, my dissertation is safe in the internet. I use backblaze, but there are tons of alternatives. Hope you don’t have to deal with a brick again soon!!

  3. I love the stockinette version of the pattern . It will be a beautiful blanket. Hope that holds your interest through all the white.

  4. Sheesh – I can’t be first, can I? I’ll probably get beaten by a better, faster typist.
    Anyway, if your computer is fairly old, you might need to replace the CMOS battery. Most computers nowdays are replaced so frequently that even a lot of techs don’t think of it. But more likely, something in the laptop’s innards has failed/broken/burned out, and you will have to replace it. Give it a good send off – it’s been a pretty faithful companion.

    Lovely lace pattern. I wouldn’t worry so much about the structural integrity – blanket, not bridge. But it is important to make the lace tight enough that tiny fingers won’t get caught in the holes. So definitely go down a needle size or two.

    Happy American Memorial Day.

    • Huh. Had my old Sony Vaio die on us awhile ago (when we only had one computer between me and mom), and the folks we took it to replaced the hard drive, and had it fry on them when they booted it up.. So that may’ve been the problem… Lesson learned. And yes, we’ve since gotten a desktop and a laptop, but I think I’m going to wind up getting a second laptop for myself since mom permanently ‘borrowed’ the HP I got about a year ago. We’ve nicknamed it Loki, and it’ll occasionally act like its namesake. ‘Course, it’s mostly because it’s running Windows 8.

  5. Question: I looked up your yarn, and it’s a superwash. Aren’t you concerned that the whole thing will grow a lot when you wet block it? I don’t have a good history with superwash wools. Perhaps you wet blocked your swatch and just didn’t know that.

    • I did wet-block the swatch (always wash a swatch) and that’s the post -wash effort there. It’s true that superwash grows a lot when washed – but less so when it’s knitted tightly enough, so I’m not worried. Also, I always “wet-block” around here that’s just what blocking is, because you’ll need to wash the thing, right?

      • I meant to say in my original comment that “I” didn’t know whether you had wet-blocked or not. Didn’t mean to sound arrogant! BTW I even wet-block work in progress to check on size. Maybe it seems fanatical, but it’s worth the reassurance.

  6. Planned good-byes are far better than spontaneous good-byes which look more like “Get the heck out and don’t let the door hit you.” around here. I’m sure you’re much more grown up than that. Just sayin’.

  7. Glad it’s working now, but you’re right, time for a worthy send off to be in the works. Just today I was sending my photos to the hard drive (it doesn’t do it automatically) for exactly that reason. I would cry if I lost thousands of my photos. It will probably be weeks before I have the nerve to delete them from the computer, even with the backup. The blanket, as others have said, is going to be lovely. Carry on.

  8. And you thought miles and miles of white baby blanket knitting would be boring for your readers! I was riveted just now. Funny how life seems to “entertain” when we feel like we’re falling shot.

    • Amen to that! Right now, our family version of being shot involves my job being outsourced and my last day coming up on June 5th, mom having breast cancer, and needing to raise money to get the house repaired/bathroom completely redone. So yeah, miles of white baby blanket? Bring it! (Here, my coping is miles of off-white lap blanket knitting for mom, and white yoke sweater knitting for me.)

  9. Thank you so much for explaining about holding down the fabric with your foot. I was thinking your right hand looked – well, I try not to judge, but compared to your left hand – really unfortunate.

  10. Yeah…my laptop did the same thing to me about 6 months ago and I’ve been crawling along using my big tablet thing. I finally decided enough was enough this weekend and bought a new laptop. It’s just so much easier than using a touchscreen to type and less aggravating when you accidentally touch the wrong link and have no mouse..

    Well done on the swatch, looks like it’s going to be a lovely project.

  11. Blankets for little ones especially need to be solid, lace or no. Although I did learn to knit lace ones for my grandkids after my daughter-in-law confessed that her childhood blank, she was always sticking her fingers through the holes and it was a great comfort to her. So for the two babies she had after that, now that I knew what spoke to her, lace it was. Solid, though, as much as I could. (As for the first blankie, well, grandson #1 created his own there for awhile.)

  12. Rest assured that some of us that work in the technology world get just as perplexed from time to time when things go awry. I would like to run away from it from time to time. And like you, I call the hubster to my rescue. And he does come to my rescue many times.

    I hope you have found the groove with knitting the blanket and are moving right along.

    Sure hope we run out of rain before you come back to Texas. This month, it has been raining a lot.


  13. I agree with the sentiment to prepare for a new computer now. My laptop warned me two years ago (when it was only a year old) that the hard drive was going to crash. Because it was telling me this itself and because I wasn’t entirely sure what the hard drive was actually doing, I ignored it – how serious could it be if it was telling me itself? – and then it just died. No back up, nothing. It was quite traumatic. If it ever tells me this again (I had it repaired), I will believe it.

  14. It could be that you need a new battery for your laptop… batteries have a charge memory and if you plug it back in before it’s dead, it will only charge from that point… there’s a way to have the computer tell you if the battery needs replacing but I don’t remember how to turn it on (maybe your tech team will know)…

  15. You *say* you started the blanket.* Has the situation with the yarn colors been resolved?

    *well you said you were off to the races, and that sounds to me like you started it??

  16. I like how I not only amuse myself reading your blog, but I also learn some really important tips! I never would’ve thought about fabric density! Maybe sometime you could write a Tips for Knitters book based on personal trial and error? 🙂

  17. Can someone tell me where to find that lace pattern? Google is not helping, even though I have tried several variations on the name.

  18. Hi! Glad to hear you have lots of backup. I seem to have to keep learning this lesson, but I think I finally have it. Last time it turned out the extra hard drive I was backing up to quit working, and the software I was using didn’t mention it to me. Now I check on it every so often. Meanwhile I keep hoping that some dara recovery outfit will offer a package deal with a good price to try and recover the stuff on the four crashed drives I have lying around.

  19. I had the same situation with my MacBook Pro last year. Instead of replacing the entire laptop, I just had a new hard drive installed, and the tech transferred files etc. onto it from my backup. (You’ve got to love automatic backups; such lifesavers!) It was much cheaper than buying a new laptop. The new hard drive has no moving parts, so is presumably less likely to develop problems (famous last words).

    Good luck with solving your computer’s problems. Please don’t wait until it’s too late.

  20. Thank you for reminding me to back up my computer!

    And thank you also for sharing with the rest of us — your space is one of my guilty pleasures!

  21. And little piggies could poke thru too, and that may make baby uncomfortable. Good luck with the computer, at least this time you’re prepared.

  22. Lani said it-you can have your hard drive replaced if that is the issue. We bought applecare for our macs and they replaced my hard drive and transferred all my files at no charge. It’s worth a try.

    I’m excited to watch the blanket progress!

  23. I am really enjoying the theme/design of your weblog. Do you ever run into any web browser compatibility issues?
    A number of my blog audience have complained about my
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  24. Good luck with your laptop!

    Are you winging the lace or are you consulting books (perhaps the Oracle/Barbara Walker)?

  25. Thank you for that excellent knitting lesson! I am about to begin my second cardigan and I am designing it myself. Turns out my swatches are okay! I had begun to wonder if the fabric was too stiff, but it aint!

    The blanket is begun and boy will it be beautiful! Anxious to see it when it’s done.


  26. I know you have a really excellent computer support team. But go ahead and take it into the Apple store. You may just need a new battery or something very simple and cheap.
    (I run my own business, too. Let me tell you, I keep my computers running on the cheap, but I have to have good equipment. This machine is called “Abby Normal”… because it’s a Frankenmachine. Made up of all the good parts from old machines.
    Good luck.
    And beautiful blanket. 🙂

  27. I feel your pain. I just lost my hard drive – going along fine and then BAM – gone. And of course it happened when I was travelling and took my laptop so I could work on the road. Ugh!! Then Dell sent me a replacement which they said I could ‘install myself’. Right! $164 later I’m back up and running. It’s maddening!

  28. Stockinette lace is prettier, but CURLS like crazy, IMO, and blocking doesn’t help. I now do garter lace exclusively: why go to all that trouble if the lace is going to curl into a tube and be invisible anyway?

    If there’s a way to avoid that curl I wish someone would tell me. (Garter stitch selvage doesn’t help.)

    • How big a selvage are you doing? Usually 4 or 5 stitches of garter or seed stitch are enough to tame the curl.

  29. Please tell me the wine you poured was white? I don’t know if I could stand to hear about a stain on the precious amount of yarn you have in your possession!

  30. Sorry to hear about ur PC. 🙁 I’m pretty sure my router is dying as Mr Darcy us about to declare his love for Lizze Bennet, or Keefer is about to defuse a bonv and suddenly my Netflix freezes and dies. I’m trying frantically to catch up on my blogs and podcasts before I get too far behind. Good luck!

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