Done Some Monday Afghan

I went to a great event this month, the Charlotte version of the World Wide Knit in Public Day (a.k.a. WWKiP Day). The Charlotte Knitting Guild (who organized it) and a raft of local yarn shops and other sponsors (who donated supplies and raffle prizes) created an event that I hope will recur every year for many years. I was got there late and had to leave early, and as I was slowly and sadly trudging away with my knitting, my cooler, and my folding chair, I heard someone calling me on a bullhorn. I walked back to find that I’d won an afghan kit from Charlotte Yarn! The kit included a circular needle, ten balls of Encore® Worsted yarn, and a book of afghan patterns. It is produced by Plymouth Yarn, and the booklet has 15 designs by JoAnne Turcotte, the Design Director of the company.

I probably would never have done a piece this large without the kit to get me started. I am about to finish the second repeat, doing 3 to 6 rows a night just before bed. The pattern is easy enough to do while watching a movie. I think I’m going to like the finished work a lot, but the white color is doomed in our house. The poor thing is already covered in black cat fur.

My first afghan

A couple of quick snapshots

Afghan in progress 2


By the way, my nickname for this project is a joke about how slowly I knit. The pattern book is called “Done by Monday Afghans.” The intro describes a person casting on after work on Friday and finishing up on Sunday evening after a relaxing weekend of knitting by the fire. I’m estimating that it would take me three such weekends to finish this project… so yeah, I’ll be done by Monday. Some Monday!

Stress and knitting

I only learned to knit nine months ago, but since then I’ve fallen into the pattern of stressing about unfinished projects. Last night, I knit three rows on the afghan, then set it aside to get ready for bed. I realized that I had no expectations about this particular project, and it was fine to get it done whenever. That realization was nice. I felt relaxed about working on the afghan a little at a time. I decided to treat all my knitting like this. After all, I’ve got more than enough other expectations …both external and internal… supplying plenty of stress, and don’t need my hobby to be another source of the lovely stuff.

Hope I can keep this perspective for a while!

Excuses, excuses… just show me the post, already

I have a bunch of ready-made excuses for why it has been six weeks since I last posted here (trip to New England, work is crazy, no time at home… et cetera, et fracking cetera… weep for me), but none of them matter a bit. Reality is that I could have posted any time, but I ended up watching Battlestar Galactica DVDs or surfing Ravelry instead. I finally did get started on some knitting, continuing ever so slowly on my next set of fingerless gloves (the Cabled Fingerless mitts by Carissa Browning) and starting on the afghan kit that I won at the Charlotte World Wide Knit in Public event a few weeks ago (many props to Charlotte Yarn for the kit and the Charlotte Knitting Guild, which organized the event). But of course I haven’t gotten photos of any of this. Perhaps this weekend I’ll break through the malaise I’ve been stuck in and get moving again. I actually installed a new WordPress blog on my old server at Not sure what I’ll do with yet another blog, but what the hell.

Sarcasm Seen as Evolutionary Survival Skill

Sarcasm Seen as Evolutionary Survival Skill

By Meredith F. Small
LiveScience’s Human Nature Columnist Fri Jun 20, 9:45 AM ET

Humans are fundamentally social animals. Our social nature means that we interact with each other in positive, friendly ways, and it also means we know how to manipulate others in a very negative way.

Neurophysiologist Katherine Rankin at the University of California, San Francisco, has also recently discovered that sarcasm, which is both positively funny and negatively nasty, plays an important part in human social interaction.

So what?

I mean really, who cares? Oh for God’s sake. Don’t you have anything better to do that read this column?

According to Dr. Rankin, if you didn’t get the sarcastic tone of the previous sentences you must have some damage to your parahippocampal gyrus which is located in the right brain. People with dementia, or head injuries in that area, often lose the ability to pick up on sarcasm, and so they don’t respond in a socially appropriate ways.

Presumably, this is a pathology, which in turn suggests that sarcasm is part of human nature and probably an evolutionarily good thing.

How might something so, well, sarcastic as sarcasm, be part of the human social toolbox?

Evolutionary biologists claim that sociality is what has made humans such a successful species. We are masters at what anthropologists and others call “social intelligence.” We recognize and keep track of hundreds of relationships, and we easily distinguish between enemies and friends.

More important, we run our lives by social calculation. A favor is mentally recorded and paid back, sometimes many years later. Likewise, insults are marked down on the mental score card in indelible ink. And we are constantly bickering and making up, even with people we love.

Sarcasm, then, is a verbal hammer that connects people in both a negative and positive way. We know that sense of humor is important to relationships; if someone doesn’t get your jokes, they aren’t likely to be your friend (or at least that’s my bottom line about friendship). Sarcasm is simply humor’s dark side, and it would be just as disconcerting if a friend didn’t get your snide remarks.

It’s also easy to imagine how sarcasm might be selected over time as evolutionarily crucial. Imagine two ancient humans running across the savannah with a hungry lion in pursuit. One guy says to the other, “Are we having fun yet?” and the other just looks blank and stops to figure out what in the world his pal meant by that remark. End of friendship, end of one guy’s contribution to the future of the human gene pool.

Fast forward a few million years and the network of human relationships is wider and more complex, and just as important to survival. The corporate chairman throws out a sarcastic remark and those who “get” it laugh, smile, and gain favor. In the same way, if the chair never makes a remark, sarcastic people are making them behind his or her back, forming a clique by their mutually negative, but funny, comments. Either way, sarcasm plays a role in making and breaking alliances and friendship.

Thanks goodness, because life without out sarcasm would be a dull and way too nice place to be, if you ask me.
– – – – – – –

Meredith F. Small is an anthropologist at Cornell University. She is also the author of
“Our Babies, Ourselves; How Biology and Culture Shape the Way We Parent” and “The Culture of Our Discontent; Beyond the Medical Model of Mental Illness”