What, then, happens when the females outnumber the males? We have only to look at elementary education for the answer: rampant cuteness. Intelligent women doing important jobs begin to use terms like “boo-boo tape” and “piggy paper.” Ordinary notions about writing transmogrify into “hot dog folds” and “hamburger folds,” not to mention spaghetti and meatballs. Weather bears and counting fish take over. Nothing remains undecorated.

For the five or six years during which the females outnumbered the males in our household, there were definite signs of this creeping cuteness. The daughters called each other “Sissy.” We decorated for ALL holidays, including the Feast of St. Martin.Clearly, we needed a masculine balance.

Now, #1 daughter lives in a balanced household — herself and her husband — but since they are in the Navy, there is a clear preponderance of males. She has to be very assertive in order to have the basics of feminine life, such as a color scheme and conversation. And #2 daughter lives on a girls’ floor in the dorm, but it is a co-ed building with a preponderance of males. And I am badly outnumbered at home. I guess none of us has to worry about excessive cuteness.

I am continuing slowly on my sock, using three aluminum needles and one bamboo. The bamboo is a slightly different size from the aluminum ones (one of which went missing, which is why I had to bring in the bamboo). So far, I can’t see why people rave about the bamboo. This may be because I am only using one. It doesn’t click the way metal ones do, which could be a real plus in some situations, and it does feel very smooth, but it is also shorter than the metal ones, making it easier to drop stitches off the ends. I’ll try another pair with just the bamboos, and see whether I can tell why the bamboo is worth three times the cost of the aluminum.

Does using one needle of a different size (albeit only half a size) have an effect on the knitting? No doubt. I am sure the stitches are less even than they would otherwise have been. However, I think the great Elizabeth Zimmerman is right when she says this doesn’t matter much in a utilitarian item like a sock — after a few washings, it will not be noticeable. And if it is, then anyone wresting my shoe off to check on the evenness of my stitches has other problems.