Monday, October 29, 2007

Someone else's contest

But a very good one. It involves dogs and yarn and therefore doesn't get too much better. Go here, and guess a bulldog's weight by November 2nd, and you might win sock yarn. Life is good. If you're feeling particularly generous, you could mention I sent you, but you don't have to.


It's a funny thing about this sweater. In knitting it, a whole bunch of things came together that I've done before in knitting without the explicit aim of getting to this kind of project. Most of those things weren't even successful, or finished, but without them, this would have been much harder than it was. Last Christmas, I started a pair of Anemoi mittens, which involve two-color stranded work. I love those mittens, and will finish them someday, but I'd intended them to be done for a trip to Tahoe, and didn't finish them in time; once I was done with snow for the year, it was hard to stay motivated. However, that experience definitely taught me a lot about keeping a reasonable amount of tension on yarn while carrying it behind knitting, and without that, I think this would be a much more puckery sweater, or else the floating yarn would be so floaty that it would catch on things.

I knit the sleeves on the sweater using two circular needles; I had never done that before starting the Boudica socks that I'm still working on (I've gotten distracted again, but I'll talk more about that later this week). I'm glad I worked out some of the kinks in dealing with two circulars before trying it with two balls of yarn. I think this could have been extremely painful otherwise. And, of course, if knitting socks has done nothing else, it has taught me how to pick up stitches neatly, and the difference between a ssk and k2tog decrease (btw, I think that knitting socks has done far more than that; but I will save the paean to sock knitting for another day).

And finally, knitting lace has taught me (the hard way) about the joys of blocking, and what it can do for a final product. I think I've mentioned that when I knit my first two big lace projects, I didn't know from blocking. Mind you, I also had no close friends who knit, no knitting mentors, as it were, to knock me over the head and shout things at me like, "Water and pins, you dolt! Water and pins!" When I finally figured it out, I was in awe. Icarus just wouldn't have been the same without blocking. This is also true of Kauni. It was a bit clingy and stiff, but a good soak in some water and wool wash from The Loopy Ewe (loving that wool wash!), plus a solid set of pins, did wonders. Of course, it took absolutely forever to dry (I almost wore it out to dinner on Saturday anyway, but I figured that smelling like a wet sheep wouldn't make the other patrons of my favorite Ethiopian restaurant happy, and I'd hate for them to lose business on my account).
There it is, pinned out. And here it is, on me (note: taking pictures of yourself in a mirror is difficult).
The colors don't show too well (flash really doesn't work in a mirror), but the fit does. It's boxy and comfortable, which is what I was going for.

In case you all were wondering why I'm so damned excited by this whole thing, I should mention that this is my first completed adult-sized sweater. It is also my first completed colorwork object (I don't count stripes), and the first thing I've knitted with steeks (still waiting for the SPROING!). So, ttthhhhpbt!

Later this week, I will discuss the commencement of the Holiday Knitting Madness, which I am trying to downgrade this year to mere Holiday Knitting Nuttiness. Meanwhile, I'm going to go back to trying to adjust my syllabi to make up for a missing week, while still not knowing what the provost is going to tell us we should do about it; apparently the fact that I have to face my classes tomorrow means nothing to the administration. Sigh...

Friday, October 26, 2007

I am SO not lying

Just to prove to you that I have, indeed, made progress on something during this strange and difficult week, here:

It's not a great photo, as it was taken by my in-computer camera, which, when trying to shoot a sweater lying on the floor, must be held up over said sweater, gantry-like (not gansey-like; that would be much more graceful), with one hand, while attempting to manage the cursor (not curser, although there was some of that) with the other hand and not get your hair into the shot.

I am over halfway done with the second sleeve (only four more squares to go, then the checkerboard), and then the neck and I'm done except for weaving in the ends, which, thanks to the combined miracles of knitting in the round, steeks, picked-up stitches, and the three-needle bind-off, should be a cinch (laugh with me now, people, because when a knitter says that, she's just asking for trouble).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

And the winner is...

It's the day to pick names for the blog contest. But first, while I have a captive audience (so rare...) a few business items.

The fire update is that we seem to be out of the path of danger at this point. The wind has turned, and the fires are heading back into the hills. This doesn't mean that the work is done for the firefighters who are out there on the front lines, nor that the threat is over for everybody, just that it looks like we've been spared this time. In many ways, this fire has been more frightening for me because we bought a home in a place that is not usually prone to fire danger. We're not in the hills, or in a canyon; we live near the center of our town in an area that is not generally at risk, but the mixture of heat and fuel load and expanded living area of the population has made controlling fires like these harder and riskier and means, it appears, that the danger area has expanded. I'm grateful that we've been lucky this time.

My friends who were staying with us have also been able to finally get back to their (untouched) home today. My other evacuated friends are also getting home. I realize how lucky we all are to have escape unscathed. Thank you all so very much for your kind comments and emails to me; it was nice to know there were people out there pulling for us, especially as things around here seemed more and more surreal. Now we're just dealing with heat and really bad air. I realize that this is so much better than trying to rebuild our lives after losing a home, and I am grateful. We will also be home this weekend (yes, I was brave and cancelled the trip), and have some time to try to move out of this hunkering-down space and back into real life.

On a different topic entirely, I realize that I forgot to tell you all who your (inadvertent) benefactress is, in that the reason why I decided to have a blog contest is because I actually (for the first time EVER) won a blog contest that Adrienne had, and she, being the lovely and generous person that she is, sent me a skein of Tofutsies, which is sitting in my knitting basket right now, waiting to be knitted. Thanks, Adrienne!

A comment on the pattern-memorization comments. They fell into a few general categories. There are apparently a lot of people who have my problem with memorization (or else who wanted free yarn without having to share their memorization secrets; I can respect that). It's good to know I'm not alone. There are also a large number of you who must get some very strange looks when knitting in public, as talking or singing through a pattern is a popular strategy. Seriously, I did not expect that one at all, but singing knitters are apparently a lot more common that I'd ever thought (I really have to find a knitting group down here -- the things I'm missing out on!). Other strategies that were mentioned involved examining the pattern for its internal logic to help remember where it's going. There were a number of lovely note-taking suggestions involving office supplies ( supplies....I love office supplies), and one that suggested using the back of my hand for notes. You all are some seriously creative people. Rachel brilliantly suggested knitting a couple of clean repeats and then using the knitting itself as the pattern (so beautiful in its simplicity -- I actually smacked myself on the forehead when I read that and thought "doh!"). What it boils down to is that you all totally came through for me, one way or the other. You're the best!

Thus I was very glad that I hadn't offered the yarn to the best comment -- I would never have been able to make that call. Instead, I promised you a random drawing, and random is what you get. I wrote every name on evenly-sized pieces of paper (office supplies!), plus writing extra names for those who were said to have sent people here from their blogs, and put them all in an old tin box. These were covered and shaken vigorously, and subjected to the groping hand of a blindfolded 6-year-old, who pulled out the name:

Kathy! You won! Email me at jahlers AT csusm DOT edu so I can get your address and send you your yarn.

All right, excitement's over, people. Move along, move along. Kauni pictures tomorrow, I promise.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The voices in my head

I'm finally starting to feel like we won't have to evacuate. The air is still full of soot, and there are drifts of ash on the driveway and patio, but the fires aren't nearly so close as they were. I actually slept last night, instead of doing the light snooze/keeping an ear out for evacuation orders kind of sleep I've been doing. Rick's on his way home from the airport right now, and that's the last thing I need to feel like everything is going to be normal again.

Of course, I still have to finalize the decision not to go to a family wedding in Houston this weekend. To be honest, I'm very clear on the decision: I don't want to leave my house right now. It's the bit where I have to tell my parents that I'm dreading. They SO want us to be there, and when I said last night that I thought we probably wouldn't make it, there was a lot of "surely it'll be fine by then" talk going on. I'll just have to keep saying this out loud. Clearly.

Before going to sleep last night, I savored the sense of feeling safer. I think I'm ready for a funny movie (I don't know about you, but there comes a time after stress when I need to laugh). Maybe The Gods Must be Crazy? It turns out I have a very juvenile sense of humor that is entertained by people falling down stairs and into lakes. Besides which, that movie has one of the greatest lines of all times, when one woman turns to another in a crowded cafeteria and asks, "Do the voices in my head bother you?" That's how I feel right now -- I'm hoping that the voices in my head aren't bothering you all. But they need to go somewhere, and here is where they're going.

A friend of mine and her family are staying with us now. They've been evacuated, and while they're house is still OK as of this point, the fires are still close and they can't get to their home. The web sites keep saying that my town is potentially threatened, but I'm feeling safer. OK, I've circled around to the beginning again, so I'm going to knit more. Pictures of Kauni soon, I promise.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

We're still here

So far.

I finally got to sleep after midnight last night, after packing tents and sleeping bags into the car. I had a (very basic) plan for a middle of the night evacuation, involving loading two kids, two cats, a dog, two guinea pigs, water, pet food, medication, litter box, snacks, the computer, camera, Kauni, and photo albums into the car (in that order) and heading for the beach. I had all the phones turned up loud, in case the reverse-911 call came, and a flashlight by my bed, in case we lost electricity and had to evacuate in the dark.

K woke me up at 6:30 to tell me that it smelled like smoke. Of course, that's to be expected when there are fires burning all over the place. They don't seem to be near us, but the ash is falling out of the sky like little snow flurries. The humidity is below 10%, and the temperatures are supposed to go over 90 today. At the beaches. With luck, the Santa Anas will die down sometime tonight, and things will get easier on the firefighters.

At this point, I've given up on trying to concentrate enough to get grading done, and I'm going to knit and listen to radio updates on the computer (our local NPR station is out on the radio, since their tower burned down, but they're streaming live). Thanks everyone who has written with good wishes. I'm trying to email or comment on your blogs if Blogger lets me; if I can't get through to you, please know that your comments really mean a lot. I'll try to update later if I can.

Monday, October 22, 2007

It's burning

And by "it", I mean San Diego County. The whole thing, so far as I can tell. NPR is unclear, but there are either seven or eight fires burning, and all of them are 0% contained. Which is to say that none of them is in the least contained.

They've shut down an 8-10 lane freeway in hopes of keeping the fire from jumping it. I've had a couple of friends evacuated from their homes (one of them, frighteningly, couldn't get out of her neighborhood for a while; I spent quite a bit of time on the phone this morning checking roads and traffic for her and wishing her out of there -- she and her family are safe now). My university is shut down, as is the girls' school (and, in fact, most of the school districts around here). The air is starting to smell like smoke.

We should be OK here, which is nice, especially since R is out of town. I looked out my front window this morning, and a coyote was sitting on my front lawn. She didn't go anywhere, even when she saw me and the dog looking at her. I wanted to go out and give her water, but I didn't want the kitten to get out. I'm guessing she's evacuating, too.

The wind has been blowing all night. The air is so dry that my skin is chalky and puckered, even though I keep drinking water. It's gusty, and there's no moisture to be found; it's the worst possible conditions for fire-fighting, and I keep thinking about the folks out there who are trying to stop this mess. Another day I'll rant about living in places that are meant to burn, and how I'm not OK with expecting people to risk their lives protecting homes that shouldn't be where they are, but for now I'm just hoping everyone gets out safely.

Send water.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

I am Steek Woman, hear me roar

Forget reading and writing. I have something much more exciting to announce today.

I did it. You know: It.

I cut the steeks. Whoo-hoo!

Last night, I spent a great deal of time staring at Kauni, trying to decide if it was Done; or at least, if the body was Done. The one thing about knitting in the round this way is that there's no way to slide that baby on over your head to get a realistic sense of how far you are. I measured and remeasured, but I was caught between wanted to be sure that it was long enough, but not too long (Goldilocks, anyone?). It's really important that it not be too long, because if it is, it'll rest on my hip-area and wrinkle up unattractively. I am endowed in the hip area, which was great while having kids, and which my friends from Botswana and Senegal assure me would be greatly valued in other parts of the world, but which does mean that the longer sweater/tunic thing is not always particularly attractive. So, Too Long = Bad.

I decided that I was pretty much done (this decision spurred on further by the fact that my yarn colors were converging again), but knit an extra three rounds for good measure. I then knit a round in which I bound off the neck and steek stitches, and lined it up to bind the shoulder stitches off together. Thanks to Stell's very useful comment from the other day, I had decided not to Kitchener the shoulders. The remaining question was whether to do a 3-needle bind-off on the outside, or whether to turn the thing inside out and do it on the inside. I started by binding off on the outside, and decided that I wanted a more hidden-seam kind of look, so ripped and tried again. That did the trick:
That done, there was only one thing to do. I girded the ol' loins, and figured it would be better to just get it over with. So, I sewed along on either side of the neck steek, reminding myself as I did just how sticky this yarn was, what a bear it was to frog, that lots of people cut steeks without even sewing on either side, so that even if I screwed the sewing up, everything was probably going to be just fine.
There it is, all sewn up, awaiting its doom. At that point, I quailed, and called Rick away from his packing (he left for San Antonio this morning). He, being a supportive spouse, came into the living room to stand behind me as I cut. Of course, being also a spouse possessed of a very dark sense of humor, he also said things like, "You're going to cut THERE?!" and "My god, what are you DOING?!" Then T walked in and asked, "Mama! Why are you cutting your knitting?" and I had to lay down the scissors for a moment to gather my courage. The end result:
That done, I headed for the armpits. I sewed up and down both sides of the steeks,
and hacked away.
Both sides done, I laid it down on the couch and stared at it. I keep expecting it to emit a sort of pitiful gasping woolly sound and burst into its constituent stringy parts. I feel like I did last summer after my back surgery when, every time I'd move, I'd expect titanium parts to come flying out of my back with a loud SPROING! They never did, but it took a long time before I stopped expecting it.

As the sweater did not go SPROING!, I decided to try it on to see whether I'd (quite literally) cut too soon. I think not.
It's not a great picture, but you can see that it it neither too tight nor too short. Neither is it too long. I may declare it Just Right. (Note also that I am wearing my pjs still; this was in case everything went dreadfully awry and I had to go back to bed to sleep it off. )

I think I'm going to get dressed now. I may take the girls to the zoo, just so I can stop waiting for the sweater to fall apart. SPROING!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pattern acquisition

First, thanks so much to everyone who has popped by already to share pattern-acquisition expertise. There's still plenty of time for anyone else to chime in! I've tried to visit the blogs of each person who's commented, but for some folks, I'm not able to link to a blog from the name in the comments (and Blogger doesn't give me email addresses, so I can't write back to you that way). But it doesn't mean that I don't appreciate what everyone's written -- I do!

Second, it is so good to know I'm not alone. While it means perhaps fewer mind-bending suggestions for ways to memorize pattern repeats, it is nice to know that I'm not the only knitter out there who needs her cheat sheet (and I give my students such flak when they ask for one for tests).

A few folks mentioned charting, and wondered whether that's how I'm doing it, or if I'm using written-out pattern notes. I am all about charts. When I started knitting, to shorten a very long story, I knit a lace scarf (my first FO) on a silk blend yarn with written-out pattern notes (didn't even know to block the thing before giving it to its intended recipient; luckily, silk yarn falls out nicely, so the pattern showed up after a few wearings). I then dove straight into the Japanese shawl in Cheryl Oberle's book, which is also not charted (and which took me three years; I'd like to believe that writing a dissertation and having a baby during that time is part of the reason, but I'm not so sure; see below). Charts terrified me, and I avoided them at all costs (I am definitely a writing-oriented sort of person; I even read my dreams as text sometimes, which I am told is very odd -- you all are welcome to chime in on that one, too, and make me feel less alone).

And then I fell in love with the Icelandic shawl in Oberle's book. It's only charted. Someone told me that you can learn to do anything if you want the product badly enough, and I suppose it's true, so I bought the yarn and dove right in. This one took me three years, as well (again, a second baby came along during this period, as well as a move, but still...). But by the time it was over, I was converted to charts and loved them. I now think that if I had to knit something that was written out (like the patterns in Barbara Walker's lovely book), I would chart them. So, it's not the chart thing.

I have a lovely magnetic chart-keeper from KnitPicks, which I use with bigger charts (like the one for the languishing Hanami). Other than that, I xerox the pattern and cut out the chart so it's minimally sized and keep it tucked into whatever knitting bag I'm using. I like the spiral-bound index card notebook idea; I could tape the charts in there, and they'd be a bit stiffer (or I may just do it on a plain old 3x5 card). It doesn't help me memorize, but it controls the chart a bit better. I particularly like the idea of putting the pattern notes on the back of my hand -- that'll get some attention from my students (who regularly write homework assignments on the backs of theirs; which could explain some of what they turn in to me). I'll keep you updated on whether anything suddenly clicks for me as I try out these new ideas (or whether I just go for the acceptance route, which might also be a learning experience).

I've been working away on Kauni; yesterday's three-hour meeting was certain a nice chunk of knitting time. I've only a few more inches to go before I can bind off the shoulders and cut the steeks (eek! do you think those rhyme on purpose?). I'm wondering whether it would be a bad idea for some reason to put the shoulder stitches on stitch holders while I cut and then to graft them together (my love of Kitchener strikes again). Would that make a weaker shoulder? Would a three-needle bind off be better? The pattern notes say to bind off and then seam, but I am not fond of seaming, and will avoid it when possible; with Kauni, I can see ways to avoid any seaming at all, but I'd love to hear any shoulder experience you all may have. Here it is:
Here's the neck steek. It'll be a v-neck, so I've been decreasing on both sides.
I don't think it'll be done in time to wear to Houston next weekend (I'm not sure the weather would be right for it anyway); I'm hoping to have the body finished and the steeks cut, though, since picking up and knitting the arms might be good travel knitting. It's either that or the Boudica socks, which are finally coming along nicely. I decided to do short-row heels, as I'd like to be entirely comfortable with doing those on toe-up socks (which these are) before learning another toe-up heel technique.

T's play-offs for soccer were today. They didn't advance to the finals (it's been a rough season), which made me sad for both her and Rick (it's his first year coaching). On the other hand, it does mean that they can come with me and K to Houston next weekend (we were waiting with bated breath to see whether we'd need to cancel their tickets -- thank goodness for Southwest's liberal policies!). I think we'll have time to visit NASA, which I'm looking forward to.

Tomorrow: reading and writing.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Free yarn!

OK, not entirely free. Being a linguist, I'm going to ask for words in exchange for the yarn. Sorry.

See, here's the deal (incoming confession of incompetence): I am a bad memorizer. Really, really bad. So bad that when I took my Master's orals, I could not think of the name of a single relevant theorist. I could outline their theories, discuss the relationships among them, even quote some of what they'd said, but when it came down to producing their names, I was reduced to saying things like "It's that guy, you know, the Polish one, with the belted l in the middle of his name? With the cool theory? YOU know." (alas, this is what I actually said) And of course, they DID know, because they were the professors, and I was not, and more to the point, I'm the one with the memorization problem. (For the record, I did pass. But the shame of that sentence up there remains.)

I manage this problem by avoiding straight-up memorization at all costs. I am all about reasoning things out from first principles. The benefit of this is that if something gets forgotten (and we've all had this happen), I can go back and figure out what it is that I was supposed to know. I tell my students this all the time: forget memorizing lists of nouns (mostly 'cause that's never gonna work), and learn how to recognize one when you meet it. Forget remembering the features of gendered linguistic behavior and go out and watch some men and women talk. You'll find much more interesting data that way.

So, this works fine in my professional life (barring the occasional bits where I blather about Polish names and belted l's). However, not so much in knitting, where it means that I can't seem to remember simple pattern repeats for the life of me. I'm talking simple here, people -- six stitches and four rows. Beyond me. It is starting to be a problem in that I enjoy knitting socks that have nifty things going on with them, but I also enjoy knitting socks because, in theory, I don't need to carry a pattern with me. I can knit a basic pair of socks sans pattern, no problem. But add some lacework, a little cabling, and I'm stuck to my pattern notes like glue. This limits the portability of many projects. I know people who say that they knit a pattern repeat once or twice and BAM they've got it. Not me. As a ray of hope, I am OK at recognizing where I am in a pattern by looking at the stitches on the needles; I just don't know where to go next without my bits of paper.

Here's where I've decided to lean on you guys for a little bit of help. I'm hoping that you can help free me from the tyranny of little bits of paper (at least for the smaller sorts of patterns; I'm not looking for miracles). If you leave a comment letting me know how you remember patterns, I'll put your name in a drawing for these two skeins of sock yarn:
These are two skeins of Gypsy Girl Creations, fingering weight, in the colorway Brindle. In spite of the fuzziness of these pictures, they're quite beautiful, in a warm, fall-colory sort of way. But so desperate am I to rid myself of the aforementioned tyranny that I am willing to part with some of my beloved yarn. So, commenting with ideas on learning a pattern gets you an entry, commenting telling me that I'm not alone in my clueless state gets you an entry, and anyone coming to comment who mentions that they got here through your blog gets you an extra entry (be sure to leave either a blog or email address so I can let you know if you've won). I'll do the drawing on Thursday (the 25th) before leaving town on Friday morning (for Houston, but this is another story); I SO want not to be juggling patterns whilst sitting in a very small airplane seat next to a very mobile 6-year-old. Please, folks, I'm desperate.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


A friend of mine said a funny thing to me the other night. She said that she thought that there shouldn't be private schools because they make the public schools look bad; she then linked the decline of California schools to the increase in private schools by suggesting that private schools have drawn enrollment from public schools, thus making them bad. I didn't really say anything in response for two reasons: 1) I was so surprised by the reasoning that I didn't quite know how to formulate a response, and 2) the fact that her kids go to a public school, and mine (at this stage) go to a private school has been a longstanding problem for her, and I find it easier to not engage deeply in this conversation (yes, that's a cop out).

I have pointed out to her many times that, as I teach at a public university, and moreover, as I teach future grade school teachers (something like 80% of my students fall into that category), I really do support public schools not only philosophically but concretely. Furthermore, I am glad that my tax dollars go to the public school system (from which, I may point out, I am taking nothing right now), and that I have always voted and argued against the voucher system, because that would put a drain on public schools. I pointed out as well that I am also all for repealing the horrible state-wide proposition that has drained California's schools of money (the one that freezes property taxes at the purchase price of the home, and that also allows people to take their property tax base with them one time when they move; there are people in our neighborhood who are paying taxes on a $30,000 base for homes that are worth more than $600,000 -- and we wonder where school funding has gone).

What I think I really wanted to say, though, was that I am not indignant about private schools because they make public schools look bad. I am indignant that we deny a quality education to those who can't afford private schools. Californians should be ashamed of our public schools; I don't mean on an individual level -- teachers at schools are amazing, and work harder than anyone should have to in order to take care of the kids they teach, and there are some very good individual schools -- I mean on a statewide level. This state has somewhere around the 8th largest economy in the world. The world, people. And our spending on schools is somewhere in the bottom 3-4 states in the U.S. We're down there with severely impoverished states like Arkansas and Mississippi. Because we're unwilling to pay taxes on what our property is worth. Because we don't think education is important enough to spend money on. Because our schools are "good enough". That's what we should be embarrassed by. The proliferation of private schools is not the cause of the plight of public schools, it is the result. And while I believe in public schools with all my heart, and Tess will be going to one next year (because the one near us for those grade levels is good), I will not sacrifice my children's education to the ideal of a good public school that doesn't exist in my neighborhood. It is not all right with me that schools are so underfunded that parents are picking up the slack. I know parents who have, in their children's schools: graded papers and tests, taught math, taught P.E.. Every one of those things is curricular; they should not depend on a volunteer work force.

All I can do is fight the drain on our schools at the top level and hope that by the time my grandchildren reach school age, California's schools will once again be good. Thirty years ago, they were the best in the nation. And now they are almost the worst. I don't think we should be blaming private schools -- I think we should be blaming a citizenry who would rather pretend our public schools are acceptable, because that's better than admitting that we're sending the state's children to schools which are mediocre (if that).

And in case you think I'm guilty of hyperbole here, or that I don't know what I'm talking about, I am teaching students who are the product of those schools. I have extremely intelligent students who cannot write a coherent essay, who cannot summarize a newspaper article in their own words, who cannot consistently find the subject of a sentence. And these students are going to be K-8 teachers. It's not that they're not capable; it's that they've never been given a good education. And I am trying, I truly am trying, to make up for that. So are my colleagues, but we can't do it all in college. This has to start in grade school. Children must be given the opportunity to learn that education is fun, it's wonderful, that school is not a chore, that a high school diploma and a college degree are not something you get just for showing up, but that they are evidence of an ability and desire to use your brain for something.

I'm sorry. This has really been bothering me, and I had to tell someone -- tag, you're it. I guess that I feel a certain degree of despair. Anyone who's been reading for a bit knows that I have a strong attachment to this place. That doesn't mean that it's perfect by a long shot. And this is one of those areas where we have fallen down but hard, where the proposition system has (as it so often does) failed us, and caused us to bankrupt our future. How will future generations maintain the economic base of which this state is so proud if we don't invest in them now? How will we develop an intelligent voting population if students can't critically evaluate ballot information, if they assume that television news is always right (!!)? To my mind, the entire point of public education is to build a thoughtful and critical (in the good way) voting population in a democratic state; if public education is awful, how can a democracy work?

All right, rant over. Please tune in next time for a blog contest which will end in one of you receiving sock yarn! (See, it was worth reading this far, no?)

Monday, October 15, 2007

Where does the time go?

How is Monday over already?! This is my one day where I get to work at home (an attempt to find a day each week to concentrate without folks knocking on my door), and it's over! How did that happen?

What's worse, I spent the whole day working on one thing. I mean, it's great to have it done, but it might have been nice to do something else, for just a minute. It's a co-authored paper that I'm editing, and I found myself very annoyed by some of the suggested edits, because they're more a British/American thing than the kinds of substantive edits that I am usually happy to address (as in, there was a comment along the lines of "uses punctuation wrong"; excuse me?). But if it's just a dialectal style thing, it seems like it would be very hard for me to know how to change what's "wrong", since I don't speak or write any dialect of British English (is this the linguist in me coming out?). I mean, I wouldn't demand that someone respell "colour" in my edited volume... Ah, well, it's done. I wish, thought, that I'd also had time to think about an abstract I'd like to write for a conference in New Zealand next summer (love NZ, would like to go back). Tomorrow, however, is another day. (I'm starting to feel like a mix between Little Orphan Annie and Scarlett O'Hara -- now there's a book with one of the world's best opening lines...where's my copy of that book? I could get into that right now...)(That parenthetical is evidence of what I call the shiny-object-distraction syndrome that takes me sometimes, in which I tool along down one train of thought, until, Oh, look! A shiny object! And I'm off in a different direction. Others might call it distractable. I choose to think of it as whimsical.)

I took the girls to the Mingei yesterday in Escondido to see the origami exhibit, which was truly amazing. I mean, look at this dragon:
It's made out of one 9x9 foot sheet of paper. Seriously. I'm in love. And there was a crane:
And a nautilus:
And wouldn't you have loved this for a wedding bouquet?
There was more, but I will try not to go overboard here. The kids got to take origami lessons from different people, and had an absolute blast. After errands, the day ended with a potato and ham frittata, baked tahitian squash and green beans, followed by a strawberry-rhubarb crumble (I love the farmer's market). After another chapter of The Blue Djinn of Babylon for the kids, it was bedtime for them, and work time for me.

I'm starting to feel like we've really lost the work/family balance thing, and it's distressing me quite a bit (not to mention being a strain in discussions with R about these things). In my optimal world, work happens at work, during the day, and evenings and weekends are for time as a family. Sometimes that doesn't happen, but when it doesn't happen more than it does, I get fretful. I know it means it's time for a change, but it's hard to control what and who has to change for it to really ease up, y'know? I guess I can only do what I can do, and leave the rest alone. Meanwhile, it's lentil stew for dinner tonight, and, with this paper done, maybe I can actually knit after the kids go to bed. Fingers crossed, everyone, fingers crossed (meanwhile, I'm sending out good paper writing thoughts to everyone else who's working on one right now, too!).

Saturday, October 13, 2007


It's been a week. Every time I thought I'd be able to sit down at work and have an hour or two to get something done, something else came up -- usually a student, with questions that I have answered a hundred times in class, but which apparently needed to be answered again. I should point out that I really don't mind working with students who don't understand something (in fact, I love it -- the lightbulb moment is always a thrill), but it's very hard to answer the same basic questions again and again. When I have said in class, many times, that prepositions always come before a noun phrase (hence the name; they must be pre-posed relative to something, right?), and a student sits in my office asking, "so, do you mean to tell me that there's always a noun phrase after a preposition", I want to answer, "not only do I mean to tell you that, but I HAVE told you that for the past seven weeks -- where were you?". I know this is impatient, but it's not a question indicating a lack of understanding; it's a question indicating a lack of paying attention. And spending many hours during the week answering exactly this sort of question can be wearing.

OK, rant over (I'll save the rant about students who snigger in class when presented with information that makes them uncomfortable for another day). What I'm really here to do today is to say that I have, in fact, been knitting (it's a miracle!). Moreover, there has been progress. Oh, frabjous day. Kauni first. I knitted along merrily this week, passed the point where I had gotten to before frogging (as measured by the small ball of yarn external to the center-pull ball), and kept going. Then I got to the point where I had to put in steeks on Wednesday night, quailed a bit at the thought (I'd never done it before, how was I to know it was easy?), and put it aside for a night. However, last night I girded the ol' loins and hit the needles. The result was two beautiful little armhole steeks.
I didn't get much further than that, but I was so relieved to get the first step of steeking done that I sat and admired it for a while. (Can you imagine how I'm going to be when it's time to cut them? Y'all are going to have to come hold my hand.) Of course, it's quite worthy of admiration, in my opinion. Look:
And a little closer up:
I'm glad I frogged it (I know, I know, a lot of griping led up to this realization; thanks for sticking with me through it all). I think the color changes are much nicer this way.

While I was avoiding the casting on of steeks (yes, it was easy, no I shouldn't have been avoiding it, but I'd never done it before, and it therefore required thought, not to mention math in figuring out where the armholes needed to be; next time I'll dive right in, I promise), I worked on the Boudica socks -- bet you'd forgotten about those.
I'm not very far along on them. I don't know if it's because of the small gauge (I'm knitting them on size o needles), or because I'm knitting them on two circulars (I've never done that before, and while I know that in the long run it might be faster because there are fewer needle changes, it's been a learning process, and I think I'm resistant because I am just so charmed by dpns), or because I am just no good at memorizing patterns, even very easy six-stitch, four-row patterns (more on this tomorrow), but whatever the reason, I am not flying through these. This is a bummer for two reasons: I really like how they look, and the yarn is lovely, so I'm sure I'll enjoy wearing them; and, I have this Dream in Color yarn staring at me from the copper bowl, shouting "knit me, knit me" in its little yarny voice, and it's killing me.

Now, I'd probably cast on the DiC anyway, if it weren't for these:
(or should I say, "this"; to date, this is all I have). It's the Cherry Tree Hill Sockittome Fall Foliage yarn. And this is how far I've gotten. I think I know what the problems are with this one. First, although I absolutely adore how this yarn feels, and I think it's going to be great on the feet, it is very splitty, and it tends to stick to itself, in that I'm-mixed-with-a-bit-of-acrylic way that is different from the way that wool adheres to itself. Together, those two factors mean that I'm not enjoying knitting it as much as I might. Second, I had considered actually writing up whatever pattern I end up creating for these and maybe submitting it to CTH, since they're looking for patterns for this yarn. I think I am going to let myself off the hook for that, since it seems to be freaking me out more than exciting me when I knit them. I keep asking myself whether the pattern is really showing off the best features of the yarn, and whether I will be able to figure out how to write it up, and whether I should frog it and try something different, ad nauseum, and I think I'll be much happier if I just think of these as nice socks for myself and lay off the whole developing-a-pattern mindset (especially since I've never done it before, and it's starting to feel like another publication to add to my growing list of articles that must be revised and/or edited). So, that's those socks -- what do you think of the pattern and the yarn together?

I treated myself this week to something I've been wanting for a while, given how much I enjoy knitting socks. Sock blockers:
I got them from The Loopy Ewe, and they make me very happy (if for no other reason than that I find it difficult to take pictures of a sock on my own leg without looking like I've got fat ankles). They also make me happy because this order elevated me to Loopy Groupy status (my husband finds this funny for some reason, and chortles whenever he hears it, nodding and saying something about how he already knew I was a member of that club), and I got a package with all sorts of lovely little presents from Sheri; I thought about posting pictures, but figured it'd be more fun for anyone who might end up ordering a lot from The Loopy Ewe to get to be surprised the way I was. Either way, it was a nice end to the week.

One last treat: it rained and rained last night, and T's soccer game was cancelled this afternoon (SoCal grass apparently being not very hardy), so our day suddenly got a lot more relaxing. Therefore, this afternoon, I'm taking the girls to the Mingei, where they're having an exhibit on origami, including origami lessons for kids. Meanwhile, I think I'll knit a bit. Thank goodness for rainy Saturdays.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Why I love my daughters: Reason #890,325

Two bits before I discuss the latest reason to love the girls beyond all reason. First, I already did, so this is nothing new.

Second, I should explain a small parenting quirk of mine that comes from being a linguist. It has to do with the handling of the learning of swear words by small ones. Many many years ago (and really, far too early in her career as a speaking human being), the older small one, being about three years old, acquired the f-word from a child at daycare (said child had an older brother, and was therefore quite precocious). I learned this while driving home one day, when, in a contemplative tone of voice, and clearly trying the whole thing on for size, T said, very clearly, "f**k" (avoidance of spammers here, rather than any problem with writing this particular word). Then there was silence.

It was clear from that silence that she knew that something was supposed to happen at this juncture in the conversation. Probably something fairly spectacular; after all, why go to the trouble of learning such a wonderful new word if it doesn't serve as some kind of conversational trigger? Of course, the linguist in me was merrily theorizing: from whom had she acquired it, what did she think it meant, was its meaning shifting in some interesting way from the prototypical meaning of the word (that is, "sex") to something more like "word which gets a reaction", what did she expect me to do now, and (finally, I know you were waiting for this) what *should* I do now? Mind you, my attitude towards the whole thing was the rather unorthodox, well, it's a great word that's very useful in a number of contexts, and frankly, it's a miracle she hasn't heard me say it before now, but I'd really rather she didn't say it in front of, for example, her teachers or grandparents. So I took the linguistic approach.

I said, "Boodle" (she's the boodle, her sister's the ick -- which is a diminutive suffix in some languages, rather than an expression of disgust; what do you want from me?), I said, "Here's the deal" (the girls told me lately that this is the phrase that says to them that things are getting serious; I had no idea), I said, "That is a great word. It's very useful sometimes to have a word like that in your vocabulary. But here's the thing. It's really a word that's for adults to use, rather than children. People don't expect children to say it, even if you're very upset. So, let's say you can use it in front of mommy if you want, but it's probably better not to upset people by using it in front of anyone else."

Further silence. Then, "OK". And that was all. She tried it again in the car a day or two later (cars being wonderfully safe places for trying things like that, since she was sitting in the back and couldn't see my face), and that was all. I was pretty sure the lesson had taken when, several months later after nearly getting hit by someone running a stop sign (note the car context again), I said, "S**T!!". And then I said, "Oh, s**t, sweetie" (this is a recursive sort of thing that's hard to stop), "I'm sorry". And she said (bless her), "That's OK, mama, it's a grown up word and you're a grown up. I'll say shoot instead." Heh.

So, this is all a long lead-in which will help to explain why we were having the following conversation in the first place. We were in the car (!!), and I got cut off by an idiot, whom I duly called an idiot. Older daughter tells me that she's not particularly fond of that word, since it seems rather mean. I pointed out that I wasn't so much being mean as describing the person factually, but that I could respect her stand on the matter, and did she have any alternative suggestions, because frankly, I needed something to call this person. She wasn't sure, so I suggested "newt brain" (I thought syphilitic newt brain might lead the conversation in directions I wasn't ready for). Both girls thought that was still a bit harsh (I'm looking forward to rehashing this conversation when they're 16), and suggested bird brain instead. I told them that it wasn't really strong enough to describe someone this lacking in sense, and older daughter thoughtfully said that there was something she'd read in one of her books that might work. I told her to lay it on us. She said it was "thrice-accursed son of a b-word" and added, "but I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to say the b-word" (ah, how the early lessons of youth do stick). I agreed with her that no, the b-word was on the grown-up word list and probably not so good (mental note: check older daughter's books more carefully next time). Younger daughter suggested "thrice-accursed bird brain" as a useful alternative. We thought about that for a moment, and then I said, "How about thrice-accursed newt-brain", which received a resounding YES from the back seat. So, this is our new term for bad drivers.

I still think thrice-accursed son of a syphilitic newt-brain has a nicer ring to it. But that's another conversation.

Monday, October 8, 2007

A meme!

Wanda has tagged me for a book meme (thanks, Wanda!), so, after knitting and contemplating last evening, here goes (fair warning, I have trouble making decisions, so I cheated and slipped in multiple answers for some):

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why? Paperback. I love to carry books around wherever I go, and hardcovers are heavy. They're also unwieldy to hold in one hand, or to read while lying down.
2. If I were to own a book shop, I would call it... This one should be easy (I actually worked at a naming and branding company for a while), but I find it oddly difficult. Maybe, The Magic Carpet? I know that it would have lots of comfy, squooshy chairs, and maybe a cat or two (I know, hard on allergic folks, but this is my fantasy), and space for children to sit on cushions in the kids' section to look at the books, and coffee and tea and scones (ditto re the spilling, but again, it's my fantasy!).
3. My favorite quote from a book (mention the title) is..."There's nothing half so much fun as simply messing about with boats." Wind in the Willows. This is an unfair quote of me to put, since I've never read that book the whole way through, but it's one of our family's favorite quotes in spite of that fact. Maybe because we all love the water.
4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be...I think I'm going to go with a bunch of other people and say Madeleine L'Engle. Can I have her and Ursula Le Guin together? And there's this small part of me that would like to meet Heinlein, just to see if he's as sexist as he seems in his books (which are, nevertheless, wonderful stories)(I guess I could add Chaucer under the lunch-with-apparent-sexists-who-are-nevertheless-interesting list, too).
5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except for the SAS survival guide, it would be… This was a hard one, but I kept coming back to one answer: the OED; not only does it have all those nifty words, but all of the quotes of their first attested use with each meaning! It doesn't get much better than that. And, if I could slip it in, The American Heritage Indo-European Root Dictionary.
6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that… held my book and turned the pages, so I could read and knit without having to use spare silverware to hold books open.
7. The smell of an old book reminds me of... Used bookstores, and the excitement of finding a good book, and of opening it, and wondering what it will be like, and who has read it before me, and what they thought of it, and who they were, and why they bought the book, and then sold the book. I think I prefer used books to new -- I get not only the story in the book, but the story of the book (even if I have to make it up myself).
8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be
…either someone who has come through hard times with their integrity and sense of self intact, like Cordelia Vorkosigan in the Vorkosigan Saga or the main character in L'Engle's A Severed Wasp, or someone who can do impossible things that belong to a fantasy world, like Egwene al'Vere in the Wheel of Time series. But I'd want a ticket home for afterwards, so I could tell the girls all about it.
9. The most overestimated book of all times is…most bestsellers. The sequel to Dune.
10. I hate it when a book…is so badly (or, frankly, over-) written that the writing distracts me from the story.

Oh, boy. Now I have to tag people. Forgive me if you've already gotten this one; I'm only mentioning a few people, but join in if you want! Anne, Janice, Stell, Adrienne (that's what you get for drawing my name out for a prize!).

I made progress on both the sock and Kauni yesterday (yes, I have taken it out of the doghouse, and am now back where I was before the frogging began; it's behaving), and, with luck, I'll post a few pictures this evening, when I've finished wading through a pile of papers to grade, and another pile of papers to read to prep for class tomorrow (!!).

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Internal views

Thanks so much everyone, for your input on my rant the other day. It's good to know that I'm not the only one who thinks that this sort of activity (both the boy vs. girl and group criticism session) is more damaging than helpful. I'm waiting right now to hear what the teachers who were running the session think/were thinking/are planning to do (they come in once a week to do this class; it was Tess' main teacher who was so understanding). Meanwhile, I'll keep talking to Tess about it to mitigate some of the effect (luckily, the kids in her class really do get along well across both age and gender lines, so I don't think that this is something that will hurt that in the long run).

Yesterday, we went to the Bar Mitzvah of the son of a friend of mine. I've known him now for over five years, and it's amazing how much a child changes during that time. It was wonderful to see him standing in front of everyone in Temple, so confident as he read in Hebrew. There was a party afterwards at my friend's house, with a great mix of people, including a number of her son's friends from middle school. At one point during the evening, I happened to see Tess, standing back and watching the girls from middle school as they were dancing and joking around. I could see on Tess' face that for one moment, she was seeing in those girls the self that she is going to be in a few more years. There was no envy or disappointment that she wasn't like them, just a sense of two selves, separated on a timeline, a looking-forward with no attachment. It stopped my breath for a moment to see her, seeing herself so clearly.

It doesn't happen often, to see one's children in the middle of these internalized moments. When Kivrin turned five, the same thing happened. We had all gone out to lunch with a few friends to celebrate (Rubio's -- her choice), and I had given her a set of dress-up jewelry (both the girls are huge fans of dress-up). She unwrapped it, and put on the clip-on earrings, ring, and tiara, and as she adjusted the tiara on her head, for one moment, she smiled. It was a smile of such surpassing sweetness, it stopped my heart. I could see in her face that she was seeing herself as lovely, as grown-up, as Five. She didn't need to look to us to tell her that she was all those things; it was entirely internal, an awareness of who she was at that moment.

What is perhaps most wonderful about these moments is that when I see my daughters seeing themselves, there is a powerful sense of acceptance and of love. I don't think that I look at myself with such grace and open-heartedness, and I would that I did. That holding of self in esteem is something that is all too often lost on the road to adulthood, at great price. I want so much for them to hang on to it. Yesterday's celebration gives me hope. I saw Adin standing there in front of a room full of people, and when he looked at us, it was in the confident knowledge that he was loved, and that there was nothing to fear in the experience. Later, at the party, he played his saxophone with the band, and he had that same pleasure in the doing, that same lack of fear that he would be disregarded or mocked. I could never have done that at his age (hell, I probably still couldn't); I would have been sure that I'd be made fun of for making mistakes, or for even thinking that anyone would have wanted to hear me in the first place. But it clearly doesn't have to be that way, and I don't want it to be for my girls.

BTW, here they are, all dressed up for yesterday. Note: they deliberately choose dressy outfits that match. I am well aware that this will change at some point in the near future, but in the meantime, they like it (these are the same girls who, in spite of all their quarrels, choose to share a room, and seem to like playing together), and who am I to argue (even though I know that people think I'm some strange psycho-mom)?

There is some knitting content here, if you've stuck with me this far. Yesterday I bought the second of Barbara Walker's stitch dictionaries (no, I do not have the first, but I couldn't buy all of them, and the second one was bigger; yes, I am a bit childish that way). Wow. I mean really, wow. I spent last night and this morning looking through it, and I am simultaneously completely thrilled by the thought of all the things I could *do* with those stitches, and crushed by the fear that I will never be the kind of creative knitter who could come up with those sorts of beautiful patterns on my own. However, I already have Plans for some of those stitches, and am about to go and frog the beginning of the Cherry Tree Hill Fall Foliage sock, which wasn't working out quite like I'd planned anyway, and which I think will be much better with some of these new patterns. Here it is, so far:
Now that I look at it again (in spite of the blurry picture) it's not bad. Maybe I do like it, and I'll go with this for this pair, and try something new on another pair. I'll try a few more repeats and see how I feel. Decisions, decisions...

Ooh! I just saw that Wanda tagged me for a book meme; now I get to think about books while I knit. Thanks, Wanda!

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Of gender and classrooms

Warning: minor rant incoming (at least, it is planned to be minor; I'll try to stick to that, since there's yarn content to be gotten to before dinner comes out of the oven).

I picked the girls up from school today, and as we were walking out to the car, Tess was giving me the update on her day. I was listening with half an ear (I was also thinking about how to go to the store to get milk, and what homework needed to be done; you know how it is). I heard her say something about her human values class, and that she was an ambassador for the girls (here's where my attention was caught) to bring their complaints about the boys to the boys' attention.


So I asked some questions. What do you mean ambassador? She told me that their assignment for human values this week was for one ambassador from the girls (her) and one from the boys (someone unnamed) were to gather from their constituencies complaints about the other group. They were then to bring those complaints to the opposite ambassador, who would negotiate a change in behavior on the part of his or her constituency. She mentioned that she'd already gathered some complaints from the girls, and that they included poor hygiene, general aggression, name-calling, etc. The boys had already levied complaints about gossip.

I about foamed at the mouth.

Two general issues come up here. One is the whole boys versus girls thing. I teach future teachers. We discuss with them the pedagogical and social problems with setting up a constant boys/girls, us/them mentality, and how to avoid it. And here these people are, advocating it. In particular, setting up a complaint sharing in this way is just asking for stereotypical complaints to arise, and lo, they did. (I'm telling you, I'm tempted to write a paper about this, I honestly am.) I also have a very serious problem with the "you all do these things, and I know it because someone said so, but I can't tell you who" set up here. It's exactly *not* what I'm trying to teach the girls. I would SO rather they felt able to walk up to a person honestly, say, "this bothers me, can we talk about it", and go from there. Grrrr...

So, I called her teacher. She was as upset and surprised as I was (the human values program has generally been very good, and I like what they talk about). She's going to talk to them, and deprogram the kids, and I've spoken to Tess. The funny thing is, this being a Montessori school, the kids are less concerned with gender issues that I've seen elsewhere (and frankly, the girls are just as dirty and aggressive as the boys, who gossip plenty!). So, we'll see what happens.

OK, rant over (for the moment).

I got some pictures of Kivrin's socks this morning:
(note the toes turned out in approved Irish dancing fashion) I'm pretty happy with them, especially given that they're all my own design (such as it is). She's quite charmed with them herself, and insisted on wearing them to school, which is the reaction that a mother wants. Of course, I didn't quite manage to use up the sock yarn, so I still have little tiny dribs and drabs of the Cherry Tree Hill and the STR yarn. Ah, well.

I also got my Dream in Color today! Three colors, and I love them all:
Those colors are (from left to right): Summer Sky, Beach Fog, and Visual Purple. The strange thing was that I almost didn't get the Visual Purple, and at this moment, it's the one I'm most excited about knitting up. Funny ol' world, isn't it?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

And now back to our regularly scheduled chaos

Wow. You'd think I'd get to bask in the glory of getting last week over with, wouldn't you? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm in a much better state that I was last week; I'm even sleeping every night. All night. Going to sleep right away, even. Life is good.

I just mean that the other things that I should have been doing while I was doing all the stuff I was doing last week were not found mysteriously completed when I turned around and looked at them again. Nope, they're still lined up, waiting patiently, looking at me with slightly quizzical expressions, as if to say, "and you thought we'd be where, exactly?" They love me. They are willing to wait for me. I should be more touched by this attitude than I am.

On the knitting front, I'm almost done with Kivrin's second sock (yay!), and I'm hoping that an almost-three-hour academic senate meeting today will put me over the top (in the good sense of having achieved something, rather than in the running-around-stark-raving-mad sense). (BTW, do you think it's a bad thing that at Monday's reception for recent aquire-ers of tenure, when congratulated by the VP of academic affairs, I told her that I am just glad it's over because, as I've told my kids, I can now run around campus nekkid and they can't fire me? She laughed, and then said, "until we could prove mental incompetence". I'm going to assume she was kidding.) These socks were the victims of major distraction yesterday afternoon, although I'm back on track now.

See, Kivrin's been wanting for ages to do something that her big sister doesn't do, and hasn't done before her. Gymnastics has been mentioned, as have various forms of dance. When we were at the Scottish Games last spring, we watched the Highland dancing. When it was over, she looked at me quite seriously and said, "I want to do that. Like them. Me." Well, that was pretty clear. So, yesterday, I took her to a nearby studio that does Irish dancing (not the same thing, but if she loves it and wants to switch, we can make the longer drive to Escondido for another studio later), and she started in. She loved it. And it was so much fun to watch her learning her jump-two-three (new terminology!), that I wasn't paying attention to my knitting. So, I knit a beautiful heel flap, in the STR as planned, then merrily and neatly picked up stitches all along the edge, started along the instep, and then realized that things looked a bit odd. It took me a minute to figure out what you all probably saw right away, which was that I'd forgotten to turn the heel. Doh!

I've wound my beautiful new Cherry Tree Hill into pretty little balls. I was a bit afraid of the colors when I got the skein, because the orange part looked so big and, well, orange. But when it's wound, you can see that the color changes are quick and beautiful, and the orange really makes the other colors pop. Here is the hank laid out:
And now, wound into little balls (I split it in two, so I'd know how much I have for each sock).
It's a little blurry, but don't they look exactly like fall? I am very happy with these, and can't wait to start knitting. I've got some ideas for putting a pattern together that's very autumnal, and we'll have to see how they work out.

Part of the reason I can't wait to get started is because Sheri got some Dream in Color in over at The Loopy Ewe, and I have been dying to try it (everyone who writes about it says such nice things). So I bought three skeins. (oops) But I'd like to get at least one of these socks done before casting on with that, so I've got to bust a move.