I had a rough day at work yesterday. We didn’t have anything people wanted, I couldn’t help anyone, and most of the folks I saw or spoke to were angry.

Chamber singers rehearsal was just what I needed. Music is relaxing in the same way that dance is: completely involving, but different from what I’m usually thinking about. After a couple of hours concentrating on the harmonies when Diana removes Love’s fiery weapon (fa la la la) and getting the pax hominibus to go with a swing, I felt much better.

socktober button My Socktoberfest sock continues. I am making the Log Cabin socks from Handknit Holidays in sport-weight Wool-ease on #3 needles. Ozarque said that sockmaking directions sounded like word problems in arithmetic, and of course she has a point. “If you begin with 48 stitches, turn the heel and pick up stitches along the sides to reach 60 stitches, how many rounds of alternating k2tog and ssk…” I hope that it makes more sense if you are actually knitting a sock, which Ozarque is not doing. I am now imagining poor souls attempting to knit a sock and getting the leg finished, perhaps in some fancy pattern, and then finding their eyes sliding off the page when they attempt to make the heel.

If that happened to you, you could of course make a thumb instead and end up with a mitten. Or you could make legwarmers, or even wrist warmers, which have never made any sense to me. Perhaps they began as socks and the knitters gave up when they came to all that math.

The good news is that once you have gotten to this point on the sock, all that is past. There is no more counting, foot even, till you get to the toe. You have created a heel and gotten back to the original number of stitches (for the Log Cabin sock, 48) and now you just knit around until it is long enough. At this point, I would usually put the stitches back on a sleeve needle (a 9″ circular needle) till the toe decreases begin. In this case, it is handy to have the front on a separate needle because of the cables, so I am sticking with the dpns.

How long is long enough? If you are making socks for yourself, then it is handy to know that the length of your foot is just about the same as the length of the inside of your arm from elbow to wrist. This allows you to check the length of your sock without taking your shoes off, which is good if you are knitting at a public lecture or a fancy party or something. If the sock is for someone else, you’ll just have to carry a tape measure.

Now that we are past the complicated part, we can do something else while knitting: read blogs, practice songs… I am fact-checking an article for our state history encyclopedia. Unlike my previous assignments, this one is about something that took place during my lifetime, which has made it a different experience. I felt detached and interested while I read about political scandals of the 19th century. The subject of my current article was involved in a political scandal of the 20th century — specifically, President Clinton’s tomcatting.

Because I’ve been asked to find a good source, I’ve been reading through newspaper archives in an effort to find something that isn’t a report of other people’s reports. I hadn’t previously registered how much of our news reportage ends up being gossip. But I figure someone must have actually talked with the woman and filed that first report, so I am slogging through all these articles from 1988, and something odd keeps coming up.

I remember when the scandal was in the news all the time. I don’t recall that “Was that the best he could do?” was a central theme, but apparently it was. My encyclopedia subject was Miss America the year before she claimed to have been involved with Clinton, and reports of her involvement frequently say something suggesting that at least this one was pretty. I don’t recall that the elder Mr. Bush’s “White House call boy ring” inspired judgements on whether the boys were cute enough for the politicos involved to have bothered with. I haven’t heard anyone speculating on the physiques of the pages Mr. Foley preyed upon. Is this something to do with the gender of the people involved? I don’t know. It just strikes me as odd.

#2 daughter is coming home tonight. I will have to give up saying “home” now that she actually has her own home, but it isn’t easy. My elder daughter has been married for three years, and I still catch myself saying she is coming home when I mean she is coming here. #2 daughter and I have a couple of parties going on this weekend, and we have to get #1 son kitted out for Homecoming and attend #2 son’s climbing competition. I have no intentions of trying to accomplish anything this weekend, though I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I finished this sock.