building 005 I spent a good amount of time yesterday sorting, scrubbing, and dusting. #2 son helped me with the errands, and I went to his gymnastics session.

I sewed the facing to the jacket, which I think will solve the problem eventually. However, I still spent a bunch of time trying it on, pinning, taking it off, stitching a little bit, trying it on, pinning, stitching a little bit, etc.

I think I will finish it today, but not in time to wear to church this morning.

The reason that I did not complete it yesterday — nor the apron — is that I knitted these wrist bands for #1 son.

building 003 I have said before that I would not knit anything for that boy ever again. He nags and criticizes and stands over me while I work and just generally makes himself a pest when I knit things for him.

The solution is to make something that can be completed in one day.

I asked him to pose for this picture in the Wonder Woman position, but he refused.

Should you ever want to make these, you will find it very easy. They are just like the cuff of a sweater, or the beginning of a sock or a mitten. I made these of worsted weight over 40 stitches on a #2 sleeve needle. If you customarily make socks or mittens, you probably have an idea how many stitches you want to use. If not, swatch and calculate.

Cast on, join without twisting, and work in 1×1 rib for desired length. Bind off.building 001

Now take a handy crochet hook and some elastic thread and slip stitch across the inside surface. You do this by putting the point of the hook under just the back stitch of each rib. Pull the elastic thread through, keeping a loop on the hook. Move on to the next rib and pull the new stitch through the old one so that you have just one loop on the hook

This is a good thing to do for any kind of cuff, especially in cotton yarn. It gives a nice snug fit. It is a good rescue for stretched-out cuffs on old sweaters, too, or socks made a little too big.

I have never found that it matters much what size crochet hook you use.

building 004 The wristbands received the coveted “thumbs up” of approval.

In Sunday School, we are doing a unit on haves and have-nots. The past couple of weeks, we have had presentations from people who have done mission or service projects in Tanzania and Belize, and the first week we looked at information on poverty in our own state. This week we are looking at scriptures on the subject and examining what we’ve learned about poverty in Tanzania and Belize and in our own state, in light of the scripture.

I think the study is proving an eye-opening one for the kids. Last week a man from the church responded to what we had been discussing. “People in poverty in our country are rich compared to people in other countries,” he scowled, “and these left-wing liberals want us to be so sorry for them. They should just go get a job.”

I rarely encounter anyone with this attitude, though I had understood that they were out there.

It reminded me of a book called The Undeserving Poor which I once read. It pointed out that, statistically speaking, anyone in  the U.S. who gets married and stays married and gets a job (any job) and keeps it can expect to be out of poverty within five years.

Any conclusion based on statistics will not be perfectly true for all cases, and there is always the correlation vs. causation question, but the book went on to suggest that it would be possible to cope with poverty in the United States pretty effectively if we were not so wedded to the idea of personal freedom.

I don’t want to suggest that this was the thesis of the book; indeed, it critically examines the notion of a “culture of poverty,” is critical of the attitude expressed by the Republican at my church, and is generally a left-wing liberal book. At no point is the author suggesting that a lack of personal freedom would be a worthwhile trade-off for an improvement in the poverty rates. Indeed, the book overall supports the conclusion that poverty is a matter of injustice, a position which is also the central claim of the materials we are using to teach the Sunday School class.

The part that I am thinking about this morning, though, is the one one that talked about programs that have involved doing whatever it took to get the recipients to work every day. These programs are effective, but were judged too coercive, too expensive, and too intrusive. Programs encouraging marriage have been ridiculed , often for very good reasons, and are so incompatible with prevalent attitudes in Hamburger-a-go-go-land that there simply have never been any that could be examined for their success rate.

It is like solutions to AIDS or heart disease. Yesterday I did no movement more vigorous than scrubbing the floor, and ate nothing that I should have and lots of things I should not have. A public-health movement that would have someone snatching the pizza from my hands and shooing all us observing parents out onto the gym floor would probably be far more effective on the American rate of heart disease than one that involves posting pyramids hither and yon.

Perhaps this is what we should do with our teenagers. That summer between high school and college, all of them could be official nags for the government. The dedication that keeps #1 son mercilessly hovering over me saying, “Why aren’t you working on my wrist bands?” every time I set one down to drink some tea could be harnessed for good. An army of teenagers nagging adults to give up smoking, wear their seat belts, go to their entry-level jobs, eat their vegetables, and drink responsibly would give the kids the chance for revenge on the adults who have nagged them all these years, while also providing non-coercive (since they have no power) yet desperately annoying motivation to the adults.

I’ll go write a letter to my senator.