Lie vs Lay, Revisited

I think I might have confused some of you with my first lie vs lay post, because I see people who used them correctly before start to use them wrong. 😦 I’m going to try to clear things up in this post by using examples from common confusing situations.

To review, here are brief definitions of the verbs to lie and to lay. The verb to lie, when meaning to recline (as opposed to not telling the truth), is an intransitive verb, so it is used without an object. Whatever lies down does so by itself. Meanwhile, the verb to lay means to put or place something down, and requires a direct object because it is a transitive verb. The subject lays the object. For a more in-depth explanation, please see the original post.

Here is the table again, slightly modified for clarity.

Present Tense Simple Past Tense Past Participle Progressive Tenses
lie lie lay lain lying
lay lay laid laid laying

The infinitive
Incorrect: You need to lay on your back to do this exercise.
Remember, the verb lay means to place. In this case, you need to recline to do the exercise, and therefore use the verb lie.
Correct: You need to lie on your back to do that exercise.

The simple past tense
Some of you might have remembered me saying “don’t use lay when you mean to recline” and are avoiding it entirely. However, the simple past tense of the verb lie happens to be the word “lay,” which is probably where the confusion started.

Incorrect: I laid awake for two hours before giving up on my nap.
“Laid” is actually the simple past tense and the past participle of the verb lay. For this example, the correct verb is lie.
Correct: I lay awake for two hours before giving up on my nap.

Incorrect: Her hair laid in a pile on the floor.
If you think the verb lay means to recline, of course the simple past tense would be “laid.” However, the correct verb here is actually lie. “Her hair” is the subject of the verb. It is in a pile on the floor. It’s not placing anything in a pile on the floor. The simple past tense of lie is “lay.”
Correct: Her hair lay in a pile on the floor.

Laying or lying?
I know I kept emphasizing that the past tense of the verb to lie is lay, without specifying it was the simple past tense. This may have led people to think any reclining that happened in the past becomes something with “lay” in it, and I’d see errors like the one below.

Incorrect: She was laying on the grass.
The past progressive of the verb lie is lying.
Correct: She was lying on the grass.

The same goes for the present progressive.

Incorrect: I don’t have a ton of cash laying around.
Your nonexistent cash is not placing other objects around. The present progressive of the verb lie is lying.
Correct: I don’t have a ton of cash lying around.

Lay in bed or lie in bed?
Here are two sentences that use “lay in bed.” One is right, one is not.

Correct: I lay in bed for twenty minutes but didn’t fall asleep.
This is correct because we’re talking about reclining in the past. The simple past tense of the verb lie is lay.

Incorrect: If my head doesn’t stop hurting, I’ll just lay in bed.
You’re talking about reclining here, so this is the simple future tense of the verb lie. It should be “I’ll lie in bed.”

Lay down or lie down?
Incorrect: The ultrasound technician told me to lay down.
In this case, the correct verb is to lie. If you’re commanding someone to recline, use “lie down.”

However “lay down” is not always wrong. It’s right if you’re referring to placing an object down.
Correct: Lay down your burdens.
Here, your burdens are the object of the verb. You are placing them down, figuratively.

Lay flat
I hear this all over the crafting world. 😡

Incorrect: Let your swatch lay flat, and measure out four inches.
The knitted fabric is not actually placing anything down. Therefore, you want to let the swatch lie flat.
Contrast that with “lay your swatch flat,” which does make sense because you’re placing the swatch (the object of the verb) so that it’s flat.

Incorrect: Pull your threads tight so it lays flat.
The threads are not placing anything flat. Your work lies flat.

At this point, you might be thinking, but clothing tags say “lay flat to dry!” This is my interpretation. I don’t know for certain if it’s accurate. I think it means “lay [the garment] flat to dry.” Remember that the verb lay means to place, and must be used with an object. In this case, the object is the garment, and it has been omitted from the sentence. (I’ve seen some tags that say “dry flat.” Again, the object is omitted, but the wording is more concise and avoids perpetuating the “lay flat” confusion.)

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I hope you found this post helpful. This is my current grammar pet peeve because I’m hearing it used incorrectly more and more. It’s also a pity that there are people who write with otherwise correct grammar but mix up these two. As always, feel free to ask for clarification if you need any.

Knit hat with swirls

One reason I knit is to challenge myself. I come up with my own patterns and every project I do utilizes a number of new skills. This time I was overly ambitious. It was my first time making a hat, knitting in the round (with circular and double pointed needles), doing k2,p2 ribbing, and stranded colorwork.


I started this project almost two years ago, and didn’t touch it again until I finished it over Thanksgiving break last year. I ran into several setbacks along the way, so what you see in the photo here is actually my fifth attempt (not counting all the failed cast ons when I ran out of yarn, and the starts when I forgot to properly join the ends when knitting the the round and it ended up loose and sloppy. Including those might have made it 30, but I didn’t count.) I eventually figured out that when doing long tail cast on, the strand in back uses twice as much yarn as the one in front.

I don’t think I prefer one over the other, but there are certain advantages of circular needles over double pointed needles. One is that you don’t have to worry about your work sliding off the ends of the needle. Casting on is also more straightforward with circular needles. I started the hat with double pointed needles because my circular needles were too long. I switched to circular needles after adding the second color, because the fabric had gotten thicker and was threatening to slide off. I still had to pull the extra length of cable out between two stitches, and adjust it as I went along.

When I first attempted k2,p2 ribbing months earlier, it looked messed up, so I scrapped that idea. This time, I kept at it and realized that it always looks messed up for the first three rows or so, and then it starts to look like k2,p2 ribbing.

This hat was based on the one shown in the Learn to Knit Fair Isle videos by VeryPink Knits, but I wanted to come up with my own stranded colorwork pattern. It’s actually pretty straightforward; just make your design on a grid. Each square corresponds to a stitch. The problem I ran into was getting it to fit with the total number stitches, when repeated. (K2,p2 requires a multiple of 4.) It hadn’t occurred to me that I could do a decrease and reduce the number of stitches to an odd number. I ended up making a different design, which is the swirl that you see now.

Since I wasn’t following a pattern and didn’t bother with gauge, I made it harder for myself. At first, I thought 84 stitches would be big enough for me, but it wasn’t, so I took it apart and tried 108 stitches, which ended up far too large. This was after I had knit several rows of ribbing. That’s why gauge is important!

A lot of knit hats look longer than they are wide. The length isn’t so much a problem, since you can always fold up the extra. I was more concerned about the width, because I wanted my hat to feel comfortable when worn. I figured if it was too wide, I could make the rest shorter so it would be stopped by my head before it could cover my eyes. I settled at 100 stitches, but I think 96 stitches would have been fine. I now wish I had made it 3 rows longer, since I like having my ears completely covered.

Here’s a note on measurement. (Pardon my weird drawings.)

It’s common to see instructions for measuring the circumference of the head like this: Going by that measurement would yield a hat that ends up too tight, because most people wear a knit hat like this:
hathorizontal hatdiagonal

I haven’t decided what to make for my next project, but now that I’ve done stranded colorwork, I’d like to tackle intarsia.

Why I haven’t been posting, and some words on copyright

I haven’t been posting here and I might not again until the end of the year. In addition to my job, I am taking classes for my career, so that’s eating up my free time. That said, I am not going to abandon this site, as I have many plans for future posts.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been posting pictures of my original designs over the past year. I haven’t had as much time to make jewelry, but the main reason is that I fear that someone will copy my designs. I really don’t want my images ending up on a bookmarking site (like Pinterest or We Heart It) because they can spread like crazy afterward and end up in the wrong hands. Some say it’s free advertising, and I might take advantage of that someday if I actually launch my business, but not now. People often use those sites as an image bank and, instead of crediting the original source, they put Pinterest as the image credit. Unfortunately, results from Pinterest often appear in image search results before the original source.

Over a year ago, I started writing a lengthy post about copyright in relation to craft tutorials, but that’s currently on hold. However, something happened recently that prompted me to revisit the topic.

A few weeks ago I discovered that someone used one of my images on her website without my permission. She uploaded a smaller version to her site, and linked to mine. Although in the back of my mind I knew it would happen sooner or later, I was shocked to see my photo on another site. I am not happy about that because I do not want my images appearing on other websites. As the copyright holder, that’s entirely in my right.

Wait, isn’t everything that’s available for free on the Internet in the public domain?
Not necessarily. Given the duration of copyrights, there are actually very few recently created works that are in the public domain. See this chart for more information on copyright expiration. Just because something has been shared over and over again online and you don’t know where it first came from, does not mean it is in the public domain.

Most online content is in fact copyrighted, even if there isn’t a notice. Starting from January 1, 1978, all original creative works are under copyright protection as soon as they’re fixed in a tangible form. After the Berne Convention Implementation Act of 1988, a copyright notice is not necessary for works created after March 1, 1989 to be protected by copyright, although it would certainly help in a copyright infringement case because the infringer cannot claim to be unaware that the material was copyrighted. Although registering a copyright is optional for your work to be copyrighted, it is required if you wish to take legal action.

Maybe I hadn’t made it obvious enough. I didn’t want to look possessive by placing a giant watermark on my images. I only put “quirkyintrovert” on them so people can find the source if it does end up on another site. After all, it’s not going to stop people who are really intent on stealing from doing so.

I only had a copyright notice on my About page, so I added another one in a sidebar widget. It contains a link to a more detailed copyright notice, because it appears that many people don’t understand the meaning of “all rights reserved.” Unfortunately, it won’t be readily visible on a mobile device, so I might just have to go through and add a notice to all my posts.

She gave you credit, so what’s the problem?
Giving credit only means you didn’t plagiarize. I’ve been guilty of it too, when I didn’t know better. After I did know better, I began to only post links to sites with photos that inspired me, rather than posting the photo on my site. I’ve also removed images that weren’t mine from my old posts, and only linked to them instead. I started with the ones I could remember, and am working through the rest.

There are plenty of bloggers who state you’re welcome to use one photo without asking, as long as you link to their site and give them credit. In fact, there are many images on the Web that have a Creative Commons license. However, if there is no mention of those, it’s safer to assume you will need permission. The copyright holder could sue you without any warning, and if you’re found guilty of copyright infringement, you will have to pay them, even after you’ve taken their image down. (Read about this blogger’s experience here.) Even if you’re an educator, you might still need permission depending on how you’ll present the materials to your students. Here’s a handy interactive tool on permission exemptions for instructors.

Most importantly, (and this has nothing to do with the law), please be respectful of the ownership that creators have over their work. These people put time and effort into creating something, and additional time and effort to share it on the Web. It’s so easy to download a photo and distribute it without thinking about where it came from. The attitude of “anything on the Internet is free for me to use” needs to change. Just because you can see an image and easily download it, doesn’t mean it’s right for you to take it.

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After this happened, I’m less inclined to share my original creative work publicly online. Maybe not until I have started my business and registered my copyrights.

Were you aware of these things about copyright law? Have you ever had your work used without your permission? What did you do about it?

What is it about washing a car?

What is it about washing a car that makes people want to stare at you?

Saturday morning I was washing my boyfriend’s car by the side of the road. [Edit: He thought of going to the car wash because his parents were visiting, and he didn’t want they to ride in a dirty car. I convinced him to wash it ourselves because it’ll cost less and it’s a form of physical activity.] During the time I was out there, seven people passed by, and five of them stared at me. Not just looked, but stared, as in they turned their heads to keep looking as they moved forward. I don’t believe it had to do with my appearance; I was wearing an old T-shirt and shorts and I wasn’t moving suggestively. This was far from the scene from Cool Hand Luke. The passersby weren’t all men. Even women and children looked stared.

Although I was annoyed at the time, I was more confused. What could possibly be so fascinating about someone washing a car? Do people no longer wash their cars, making it such an unusual sight? Are the people in this town so wealthy that they only go to the carwash instead of doing it themselves? Or did they stop washing their cars after using a hose to wash cars became prohibited in order to conserve water during this drought? I was using a squeegee and bucket, so I wasn’t breaking any rules. Was I doing it the wrong way?

First it was a boy riding a bicycle. Maybe this one doesn’t count since I hadn’t started washing yet. He noticed me approaching with the bucket as my boyfriend parked by the curb. He first looked at me, then kept looking at my boyfriend as he got out of the car. All this time his bike was still moving forward as his head was turned over his shoulder. I was hoping* there would be an obstacle in his path to teach him to not stare at people. There wasn’t. He’ll learn, eventually.

Next, there was a couple walking on the other side of the street. They both looked, but the woman kept looking at me as they walked on. Maybe she was thinking, “Why is she using a squeegee and not a sponge?”

A few minutes later, a little girl came over and stood behind me. I was already annoyed by then so I ignored her until she said, “I’m waiting.” I thought of greeting her with a “Hi” but since I hadn’t slept well and was not in a good mood, I turned around and calmly said, “You’ve never seen someone wash a car?” (Afterward I felt kind of bad for saying that, but I didn’t say it with a sarcastic of a tone of voice.) She appeared interested and commented “Dirty water!” after peering into the bucket. I said, “uh huh” and kept washing.

After that she ran back to her mom and brother who had just left their apartment and said “I’ve never seen someone wash a car!” Really? When I was growing up there were kids her age who helped their parents wash their cars. I was one of them. My guess is that she may be five or six years old. Her brother appeared older, and from what he was saying, it sounded like he had either just finished second grade or will start it next fall.

After they left, there was a man on a bicycle, who appeared rather aimless. He was looking in my direction until my boyfriend returned with a sponge and I told him what had happened. At the same time, two cyclists rode by, but I’m not sure if they looked at us.

My boyfriend’s theory is that people’s eyes are drawn to activity. If that is the case, then people would want to stare at me regardless of whatever I was doing. But I don’t recall ever having that many passersby stare at me. I was determined to put that to the test. After I finished with the car, I decided to hula hoop in the same area. (I usually hoop in the park behind the apartment and few people have stared at me.) I walked back and forth on the sidewalk, while hooping.

Perhaps there isn’t much to stare at when someone is hula hooping because the hoop just goes around and around, but I was walking while waist hooping and I briefly did one trick. I’d like to believe that’s at least somewhat interesting to look at.

Unfortunately, nobody passed by for a really long time! Then came a man in a driving school car. He got out to wait for his client for a few minutes and watched me hoop, but he was waiting, so it wasn’t like he was just passing through. After that, a woman across the street came out to meet someone. She looked at me briefly when she was moving her truck, but she did not stare. Later a male cyclist appeared, but he was paying more attention to any possible traffic. He might have glanced at me, but again, he did not stare. Three is a very small sample size, so it is still inconclusive.

The following week I went out there and hooped again. I walked back and forth on the sidewalk while waist hooping. Of the six people who passed, two stared. I was out with the hula hoop again a few days later. Only two people passed and they didn’t stare. Three cars drove by and I didn’t really look at the people inside, but there was one passenger who obviously stared.

Interestingly, later that day as we were leaving, we saw a couple near the same spot, washing a car. I did not stare at them. A female cyclist was passing, and she stared at them as she rode past. (I count it as a stare because she turned her head to keep looking.) Admittedly, I stared at her staring at them because I turned my head, but I really had to know.

I find this rather confusing and amusing, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it.

Have you ever had passersby stare at you while you were washing a car? Have you ever stared at someone washing a car? What is it about washing a car that makes people want to stare?
* I was only jokingly hoping. I’m really not that mean.

When You Sing Happy Birthday

My boyfriend’s family recently celebrated three birthdays in one week. (They weren’t the actual birthdays; they celebrated because his parents were visiting.) It was the first time I heard people sing Happy Birthday with everyone singing in a different key. It clashed! I know sometimes it takes a while for everyone to converge on the same key, but this group didn’t even bother. They went through the whole song with everyone singing in their own key.

The first time, I thought they were just taking a long time to converge. Two days later, they started when I was in the restroom so I wasn’t around for most of it, but it still ended with everyone singing in different keys. The third time, I was confused. I tried matching someone else’s pitch at first, but halfway through I could hear myself clashing, so I brought it down to match his brother’s key. Everyone else continued singing in their own key. I thought that was strange but I haven’t been to enough birthday parties to know what is normal. Meanwhile, my boyfriend was used to it. He knew it didn’t sound good, but he didn’t know why.

Usually in my family, my aunt would start and since she’s loud and has a higher pitched voice, we’d all go along with the key she’s singing in. It’s higher than what I’d prefer, but I can still do it, and will, for the sake of these 19 seconds not sounding terrible.

I wonder if this has to do with differences between collectivist and individualistic cultures. Perhaps people from individualistic (primarily Western) cultures will sing in their own key even if it clashes with the key other people are singing it in. Meanwhile, people from collectivist (primarily Asian) cultures will try to all match? Or maybe it has to do with his family’s lack of music training? However, I didn’t have formal music training until I started band in 7th grade. We did sing in elementary school and most kids sang in the same key as the teacher, except for the few who were off tune.

I was curious about what other people do, so I watched three videos of families singing Happy Birthday on YouTube. (I know it’s a small sample, but there’s only so much I can take….) One family took some time to converge, but eventually did. The other family sang it all the way through with most people singing in their own key. The third family was a mess; even the timing was off. So does that make my family the unusual one? 😀 I’m interested in knowing what your experiences have been when singing Happy Birthday with other people.

When you sing Happy Birthday with a group of people, do you:

a) try to match the key most people are singing in
b) sing in your own key, without paying attention to what other people are singing
c) What’s a key in music??? :/

The times when you have sung Happy Birthday with a group of people, they generally:

a) eventually converge on the same key
b) sing in their own key the whole way through
c) What’s a key in music??? :/

Update on Shrek

It had rained over the weekend so I was concerned Shrek (from my previous post) would be soaked, but when I walked by Monday morning, he didn’t appear to be wet. His hat had come off and was resting on his back. I didn’t take a picture, though.

When I walked by this morning, the hat was back on his head, and he was looking bright and happy. I didn’t stop to take a picture, since I was already running late. I figured I would do so on my way home.

As I approached the tree this afternoon, something seemed different. Shrek was gone! I even looked at the other trees to see if he was in one of those, but he was nowhere to be found. The hat was on a picnic table at the other side of the playground.

So this is how it ends. I had fun checking on him every time I walked by and will miss doing so. Hopefully he was reunited with whoever lost him or found a nice new home (if he had indeed been abandoned).

Watching from the trees

I walk past a playground to get to and from work. About three weeks ago I noticed what appeared from the distance to be a large plush Shrek doll lying on a picnic table. The next day, I saw it up in a nearby tree.

Two days later, he was still there.


Every time I walk by, I’ve been checking to see if it’s still there. So far, it still is, but its position has changed. I wonder if that was because it was falling, or if someone repositioned it.

Last Friday, he had gone from standing to sitting.


At first I thought a child lost him, and as goes with many things lost by children around here, they’re never recovered. I’ve seen articles of clothing, a lone shoe, and pacifiers hanging from tree supports, waiting to be reunited with their owners. They remain there for months, getting battered by the wind and rain, fading under the sun. Then I wondered if maybe someone purposely left him behind. After all, I wouldn’t want a plush Shrek doll since I find it kind of ugly, though it is a bit cute. Then again, as a ogre, he is supposed to be ugly.

When I passed by on Sunday, I was surprised to see that someone had given him a hat! That made me wonder if he hadn’t been abandoned after all, and someone had put him there for fun.


It’s been raining these past two days. When I passed by yesterday afternoon, Shrek was still there, so perhaps he had been abandoned. He didn’t appear soaked, but I didn’t touch it to check. I fear the rain will render him moldy and stinky, but being out in the sun might help.

I’ll keep checking to see if he’s still there.