Friday, June 29, 2007

Straw Poll

No pictures today, sorry.

However, I do have a question for all of you. (At least, I'm assuming there's an all of you, because unless the hit counter is completely wrong, or unless one person keeps refreshing my blog, at least a few people have read this. I'm not saying anyone has liked it, but at this point, readership is readership.)

(Warning: while the background story does not appear to be about knitting, the ultimate question is, in point of fact, knitting related. Stick with me, and have faith.) Several months ago, I got a ticket. It was actually my first ticket in a long number of years, and I have to confess to being a bit surprised and grumpy about the whole thing. See, I was driving a little over 40 in a 35 zone. I had apparently caught up to the car in front of me, which annoyed the officer who pulled me over (he told me so), and, worse yet, I didn't at first notice his lights in my rear-view mirror, which also annoyed him considerably (he told me this as well). Of course, I couldn't share with him the reason why I was distracted, which was that I was listening to a story on NPR about how Colorado had chosen to make John Denver's Rocky Mountain High a state song. And they played the song. And me, I am a sucker for touching stories about folk singers being recognized for their work, and about the deep and abiding love some people have for particular places in the world (I feel much the same way about certain places in California, I just can't sing well enough to tell the world about it, for which the world should be grateful).

So, there I was, listening to John Denver singing Rocky Mountain High, getting all misty-eyed, and I lost track of the speedometer. Alas.

Now, there were a couple of reasons why I couldn't tell the officer who pulled me over the reason for my distraction. First (and I'm sure you all see this coming), how embarrassing is it to confess to getting misty-eyed over John Denver? I mean, really. There was no way I could do that.

The second reason involves politics. I live in North County San Diego. It's a conservative part of the state. Being distracted by a story about a tree-hugging, guitar-playing, hippie singer on a station which is known for its raging liberal bias was unlikely to garner much in the way of sympathy from the sheriff standing outside my car. The fact that I was driving a hybrid whilst being distracted by the abovementioned freaky longhair would also probably not help matters any. All I can say is that it's a good thing that this car came along after the 2000 elections, or I would have had a Gore bumper sticker on it, and that is the kind of thing that can get you into trouble with some folks in this part of the state (when we had a handyman come over once to work on our kitchen, he took one look at our bumper sticker and said, "Y'know. That bumper sticker's gonna cost you extra." I don't think he was joking).

So, suffice it to say that I was ticketed. The entire experience was made worse by the fact that, as the officer pulled away from behind me, I picked up my coffee cup to have a nerve-soothing sip, and the darned thing spilled all down my front. Some days are just not made to go well.

Now for the knitting question. Since I have managed to avoid a ticket for a while now, I am eligible for traffic school (spending a day locked in a small dark room being quizzed about state traffic codes means that your insurance doesn't go up, so I'll do it). The question is this: would you knit during traffic school? I mean, I regularly knit in faculty meetings, and committee meetings, but usually the other folks in those meetings know me, and know that I can pay attention while knitting (far better than the folks who keep checking their email on their laptops and blackberries), so that's fine. Do you think that the traffic school instructor will tell me I can't? Publicly and embarrassingly? If I choose to go to comedy traffic school (hey, anything to get through the day), do you think I'm likely to be mocked (or, more likely than is already the case?)? What say ye, do I start planning the perfect traffic school project now, or do I hang my head in despair and suck it up?

Thank you for your input.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A garden!

It was not all knitting and kilts this past weekend. There was also food and gardening. I have a bit of a problem. I really like food. A lot. And, in the last several years, I have become more and more into trying to eat food that is seasonal and local, when at all possible (this has led to some serious issues in the meat-eating department; can you believe that it is almost impossible to find California-raise free-range meat in a California grocery store?!). So, every Saturday morning, someone from the family hits the local farmer's market. The girls are a big part of this, and have an amazing amount of fun picking things out (this week, it was purple and green dragon beans; I don't know that we'll get those again). I am completely convinced that this is a large part of why they are willing to try most things at least once (that and my favorite kitchen mantra: I am not a short-order cook. I am making one dinner, and if that doesn't work for you, you know where the fruit bowl is.). They are at the point where they know most of the growers who come to the market, and they're recognized all over.

This is not a problem. My problem is that I'd really like to be the sort of person who actually grows some sort of food object. We have fruit trees, but I have these idealized visions of canning my own tomato sauce, from my own tomatoes (this is not completely fantasy; I have canned tomato sauce, I just had to buy the tomatoes, which can get expensive in bulk). This vision has been fueled in the past couple of weeks by reading Barbara Kingsolver's book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. It's a great book to read and I highly recommend it, even though I spent a considerable amount of time while reading it thinking that not everyone keeps an Appalacian farm in their back pocket for the day when they decide to eat locally (I have a real thing about good food choices being priced beyond the reach of most middle-class Americans, let alone folks who are living below that wage line). Nor does everyone have jobs with flexible enough hours that they can spend a significant portion of daylight outside. However, I do think that it's a good thing to grow something now and then, and I thought the kids might like it, too. Never mind that while I can cook up a storm, I have one of the brownest thumbs around (I am a big fan of gardens with native plants in them, because they require so little effort!). However, I took the girls to the plant stand at the farmer's market and let them have at it. Tess chose little bitty marble-sized tomatoes, and yard-long beans, and butternut squash. Kivrin chose soybeans and cucumbers and pumpkins. I chose some roma tomatoes and some heirlooms, herbs, and more pumpkins. And then we tilled and planted:
The girls learned how to get the plants out of the containers and into the ground.
And we ended up with a garden!
Lucky for my brown thumb, DH is an engineer, and a hydrogeologist at that, so he set up drip lines for the whole thing. These plants will not perish due to lack of water.

So, now if I can just find a nice chair to put down there, I can sit near my garden and knit of an evening, waiting for those tomatoes to pull themselves together and grow. If I could only decide whether to do an extra basket-weave repeat on Hanami...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Fun with a gallon of milk

Boy howdy. It turns out you can have an amazing amount of fun with a gallon of milk if you have the right add-ons. Last night, I received in the mail my kit for making mozzarella (from the Cheese Queen, whose site is just wonderful fun, if you're a food kind of person, which I am). So, older daughter and I decided to see just how much fun could be had with a gallon of milk, some vegetable rennet and citric acid. It turns out, a whole lot. Did you know mozzarella, in the making stages, it stretchy? I mean, who knew? (Other than a whole lot of Italians.) You can even braid it, or make string cheese out of it. Of course, we were getting too excited about eating it to actually do any of those things, but the point is, we can. The kit I got has enough stuff to make 30 pounds of cheese! (Grommit -- am I the only one who helplessly says that after saying cheese?) And for dinner, we had BLTMs, with the bread that I also made yesterday. It turns out that after having people in my house for a few days, the way that I take back my space is to cook in it. Bread is particularly good for this sort of thing, since it takes a while, involves lots of puttering, and smells really good. Also, I get all kinds of props from DH and the girls, who think that homemade bread is the bomb. So that's all good.

We did, in fact, make it to the Scottish Games near our house on Sunday, and great fun was had by all, but (if you can believe this) I forgot my camera. So, the men in kilts will just have to live on in my imagination (feel free to imagine them yourselves, if you like, especially the darling one with the bright red hair who smiled prettily and said kind things to my daughter after she stepped on his foot: "it's OK, we'll share", he said, "I'll use the bottom half, and you can have the top half" -- I mean, how charming is that?). Unfortunately, the Wicked Tinkers weren't there this year (and I mean to have words with someone about that, just as soon as I can figure out to whom to address them), and I missed the glorious noise that they make (that and the fact that my younger daughter usually naps during their concerts; I don't know what it is about bagpipes and bodhrans, but she's clearly got more than a bit of the Celt in her from me).

I also did something that I've been contemplating for years. Really years. When I was a wee lass, after having taken piano lessons for a long time, my parents, being the musical sort, asked me what instrument I'd like to try next. My answer was prompt and unequivocal: Bagpipes. Theirs was equally prompt and unequivocal: Over our dead and rotting bodies. Alas. However, since I am now the grown-up (shades of our President: I'm the decider), I can do as I please with regards to loud musical instruments, and I bought myself a chanter. Of course, early attempts suggest something more akin to a dying duck than anything else, but I hope to improve someday (with luck, before I add a bag and drones to the assembly). Wish me luck!! (And if anyone out there has tried this and has any advice, I would be eternally grateful.)

Knitting also took place. I am on the last repeat of the basketweave part of Hanami (yay!!):
(please excuse the odd angle -- I didn't want to wait for photos to download from my camera, so I am trying to play with the one that's in my computer). An artsier shot:
It's just lovely, and I now have to decide if it's long enough to be half done, or whether to do an extra repeat -- I just wish I had a better sense of exactly how much it will stretch... We'll see.

I also finished one traveller's sock, and the other is on its way. The picture here is much more embarrassing (in terms of its commentary on my extreme lack of artfulness), but I'm baring all here (see above discussion regarding men in kilts and bagpipes), so:
I actually like how the colors and the stitchwork go together on this one (whew!). And, I finally put together the pieces of needle felting I did to make a tea cozy:
See the buttons? Those come from my husband's Grandmom's button box. What a treasure trove -- I spent almost 45 minutes going through it before I could choose! Now it goes off to my LYS for display before the needle felting classes.

So, any advice on bagpipes or on the relative stretchiness of lace cheerfully accepted here. Tomorrow, I'll show you the garden we planted.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A post about not posting

This is just a quick post to say that, while I'm knitting, I'm not posting. My in-laws are in town until tomorrow, and time on the computer is scarce indeed. I'm done with my first traveller's sock, though (and cast on immediately for the second, in order to avoid the dreaded second sock syndrome), and have finished another repeat on the Hanami stole, so the knitting is moving right along. And, best of all, today we go to the Scottish Highland games near our house (I think we've already established that I'm a bit dorky, so my excitement should come as no surprise), so tune in tomorrow to see whether I managed to get any good men-in-kilts shots (the firemen play there; firemen in kilts is a good thing).

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to bake a birthday cake for my father-in-law.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Of sex and socks

Warning: small rant incoming.

The other morning, when listening to NPR, I heard a report that I thought must be, surely dear god please let it be, a joke. But I'm pretty sure it's not. And not only because NPR is generally pretty clear about when things are jokes (at least, after they're done laughing), but also because this kind of thing is rampant, and I really should know that by now (oddly, in one of the world's synchronous moments, Enchanting Juno just wrote about another instance of the same sort of thing). They reported that universities, having noticed that more women are applying to college, and that there are therefore more women among their students, have begun accepting a higher percentage of male applicants in an effort to right the imbalance.

Read that again.

In other words, the same universities who so often scream about having to consider whether they are ensuring some kind of ethnic diversity, who call it reverse racism and sexism to have to consider whether they are making enough space for minorities and women, those same universities are so upset at the idea that there is a gender imbalance, in favor of women, that they are fixing it immediately. No mention of the hundreds of years in which gender imbalances in favor of men were seen as the natural order of things; no, of course we're not mentioning that, because this is a clear indication that a gender balance in favor of men is STILL understood to be the natural order of things. Otherwise why work so hard to bring it back the moment the scales tip the other way?

I should not be surprised. I really shouldn't. I teach at a university, where my students consistently express the belief that feminism is evil, or at the very least misguided (I kid you not), that women are subject to hormonal surges that are abnormal in some way, and that male behavior is the standard against which female behavior is to be judged. I teach a gender and language class, and students regularly suggest that it is strange, and in fact sexist, for an author to deliberately write a book with all female characters -- that to do so is some kind of strident feminist plot. I ask what we should call Hemingway then, masculinist?

I think I get to them. A little. Sometimes, on the good days. On the days when I point out that men have as many hormonal surges as women, we just don't have names for them. And we don't suggest that a male president might push the little red button in a fit of testosterone rage, even though I grew up hearing that a woman couldn't possibly be president, because she'd get us into a nuclear war while dealing with PMS. This is a world in which, when a state governor is pregnant with twins (and therefore must, gasp, give birth to them), her ability to continue to govern while dealing with this health crisis is seriously questioned, while male governors undergoing surgery for prostate cancer (a potentially life-threatening disease) are not considered compromised at all. Neither are male governors who are about to become fathers.

It's depressing. It's sad that when I ask my students how many of them consider themselves to be feminists, I'm lucky to get two hands. And those are usually from women who are returning students, and therefore from a different generation from my young twenty-somethings who think that the war for equality is over and won, even though real wages for women are once again falling relative to those of men. I tell myself not to despair, that there are good people working to change all of this, and that reaching even one of my students is one more person who realizes that we still need to be working on this, but it's still frustrating.

All right, on to knitting. I got a lot of knitting done yesterday, both on my sock and the stole. The best bit about the sock is that I can work on it while reading because I'm at the part where it's almost all stockinette:
It's Socks That Rock in the lightweight, in the Lunasea colorway. I really love working with that yarn -- I made DH a pair in the mediumweight, and this is my first pair for me. I'm using one of Nancy Bush's patterns from Knitting on the Road, the Traveling Sock. I had to mess with the pattern a bit to make it fit (it was too big with the gauge I was getting), so I took out one of the lace panels, and made the lace part a bit shorter. I am never sure whether I like doing this kind of more complicated stitchwork with a variegated yarn -- it never seems to show off the color qualities of the yarn as much as I like, but then, I'm not sure that plain stockinette does either.
I think I'm going to have to jump on the Monkey bandwagon for my next pair, and see how that goes. It'll give me an excuse to order more STR (and who really needs an excuse for that?).

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Knitting at last

I finally got to spend some quality knitting time yesterday -- we watched the second half of the extended version of The Two Towers last night, which is a solid several hours of knitting (yay! extended versions!). Before that, I also managed to update my Ravelry page, as well as (necessarily) some of my Flickr photos, so I'm feeling very on top of things here (of course, there are a few small pending matters at work that I'm not so on top of, but hey, you can't do everything!).

I've been working on the Hanami stole for a while, and I'm still just charmed by how it's turning out. I'm in the middle of the fifth repeat of the basketweave part of the stole, with two more to go, at which point I'll have to decide whether I'm truly feeling halfway done, or whether I want to commit to one more repeat. The handpainted Claudia yarn that I'm using has 1100 yards in the skein, so I think that I should have plenty. The yarn is the silk lace, and the 1100 yards only weighs 100 grams, so this is going to be a very light, very lacy stole -- it's amazing just how light the entire ball of yarn is:
(note the cat fur sticking out there on the side) This really doesn't do justice to the colors, which range from a fairly dark olive-y green through to shades of bronze and silver. I found very small beads for the end (smaller than the ones called for in the pattern, but I like these better):
And I think I'll bead the other end, instead of doing the ruffle, as the pattern calls for. I love the weight of the beads at the ends, and I'll want that to be even (I tend to be somewhat lopsided around the shoulders anyway, so that everything falls off of my left shoulder, since I carry everything on my right shoulder and keep it hitched up; beads on one side just seems to be asking for trouble, y'know?). Here's how the basketweave is looking:
(these pictures somehow aren't nearly so sharp as they are on my computer; I'll retake and post again soon) I can't wait to see how this blocks out -- I think it's going to grow quite a lot. I'm actually somewhat farther along than that, since I finished most of another repeat last night. I got myself a project bag to carry it in (those are the new lace Addis I'm using, size 3 -- I absolutely love them for a project like this; the points are pointy enough for the K2togs without being too point -- needle damage to my body is a very real risk in my world):
I love these little Lantern Moon bags! They're the perfect size for a project like this, or for a pair of socks, along with a row counter and a small pair of scissors. Alas, it doesn't fit my chart holder (seen in the background here, from KnitPicks -- why, oh why, did I take so long to get one of these?!), but for most socks I don't need a chart, so it's generally not an issue. And the bag is soft and squoonchy enough that it fits into a bigger project bag if I need to carry multiple projects around (no laughing -- I know that I'm not the only one who carries around multiple projects in case I have a mood swing and need a different knit than the one I'd planned).

This is one of three, no wait four, projects on the needles right now. I'll get them up in a list on the blog at some point, but right now, they're all on Ravelry (except the one I just remembered), so if you have a login name, you can go over there to see them -- if you don't, I know that they're working overtime to send out invitations, so sit tight! I'll write about the socks tomorrow -- I might even manage to finish the first one while the girls have swim lessons today! Of course, I should be working on Hanami, since it's the only project with a deadline, but somehow sitting by the pool at the YMCA just seems to call for more durable knitting... I'm always afraid that if I look up suddenly (which happens a lot when I hear "Mama! Look!"), I'll miss a stitch, and with this silk, a dropped stitch goes far.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Life wins

So, in the wrestling match that happens regularly between me and my life, I occasionally get slammed to the mat. As, for example, happened this past weekend (where weekend means Thursday-Sunday -- have you ever noticed that, over the summer, especially with kids, the weekend sort of spreads? much like fat on thighs...). On Thursday, my daughters' school had a graduation sort of ceremony for the kids who are moving from the pre-elementary classes (it's a Montessori school) into the elementary class. I didn't expect to be quite so touched by the sight of my younger daughter in graduation robes, but she was so charmed by the whole experience, it was hard not to be. She was the line leader, and took her role very seriously:
(note the hands behind the back in approved Montessori style)
She was absolutely thrilled to get all dressed up, and was particularly excited about getting to keep her tassel. I think this is the kind of thing that means a lot to a younger sibling, since she's so rarely the center of attention, compared to her big sister, who gets to do everything first. Her big sister's class sang:
while she watched (if only my students were this well-behaved at graduation!!):
And then it was time to go up for their diplomas (the wicked grin here is much more in keeping with her personality; this child could rule the world someday -- I can only hope she'll use her powers for good):
It was particularly touching because the five kids from her class have all been together since their toddler-room days, and they're all moving to first grade together (a lot of kids leave the school after pre-school, so that's very nice); also the teacher she's had for the past several years is leaving the school, so everyone was saying goodbye. I think she had a good time:
So, that was Thursday.

On Friday, it was her birthday -- it's hard to believe that it's been six years since she was born! I wanted to write a long post about how amazing and unique my small one is, but I was too busy actually doing her birthday with her to get it together. Funny how life does that.

Saturday was a big birthday dinner for my husband, who actually turns 40 today (happy birthday, Rick!). I took him and some friends to dinner at Stone Brewery, which is one of DH's very favorite places, and a good time was had by all (no pics -- too busy trying out good beer). Then Sunday, we went to SeaWorld to celebrate Kiv's birthday (instead of a party, she decided that going to SeaWorld just the four of us was what she wanted). The pictures aren't on my computer yet, so you're all spared (maybe I'll sneak a few in tomorrow), but suffice it to say that, as always, I cried during the darned Believe show (what IS it about seeing people get into the water with a 9,000 lb marine mammal that gets me every time? Is it the faith they have that said mammal will not suddenly get hungry? Or imagining what a thrill it must be to work with an animal like that? Every time we go, I get all teary, and try to decide whether I'm too old to change careers...). We fed the dolphins, which is still exciting, and petted the bat rays (who feel like nothing else I've ever touched), and generally had a great time. And all that, without even going on the rides!

Of course, I managed to come down with a cold on Friday night, and I've been staving it off all weekend while doing all of this, which is part of why I a) haven't posted, and b) am not doing a particularly competent job of posting now (note the lack of humor, or even, so far as I can tell, narrative coherence). It will get better, I promise. And, of course, with all of this going on, I have not managed to knit a stitch since Thursday night, when I completed two whole rows of Hanami (which I have a strong desire to finish before we go to a wedding July 7th -- hahahahaha!! never say I'm not funny). There will be pictures of Hanami tomorrow, along with yarn details. I truly love this shawl. From the moment I saw it on Kay and Ann's blog, I have been in love with it. I bought the pattern, and bided my time, until I found the perfect yarn. I'll let you guess what the perfect yarn for this one might be, but I will tell you that it's not pink (I just don't wear pink enough to make that work).

I promise, less life and more knitting tomorrow.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Overcoming procrastination

A couple of weeks ago, I got lucky. No, not like that -- you people clearly have your minds in the gutter. It's a knitting kind of lucky, which is often the best kind. I showed up at my LYS
right as they were opening. Which meant that I was there right as they were opening not only the store, but also all sorts of other lovely boxes and packages. I mean, how wrong can you go when someone says to you, "The Malabrigo has arrived, and we could use some help opening up all the little packages of yarn in the box"? Squee!! So, unwrapping and squeezing and stroking and generally oohing and aahing over the colors accomplished, Diva Deb opened yet another package, this time of felting materials. They'd just gotten in a new needle felting kit and wanted to know how the whole thing went before deciding whether to order more. Being Johnny-on-the-spot (or Jocelyn-on-the-spot, more accurately), I got sent home with half the package to play with. Of course, it took us about an hour to figure out how to watch the directions on the DVD the company sent, but once we'd gotten the technical difficulties figured out, it didn't look too hard. Spread background wool on the special paper, poke with a needle. Spread the happy-colored stringy wool on top of that, and poke with a needle. Get it really wet and roll it up in plastic to felt in the dryer. Then pour boiling water on the whole mess, and voila! Art. Or something felted, either way.

So, half a package of needle felting materials in hand (and feeling like I should probably have mentioned that I have never needle felted in my life, but oh well), I headed for home full of intentions to complete a project that very evening that would be a thing of beauty and joy forever, and that I could bring back to my LYS before I left town. Have I mentioned my penchant for procrastination?

To be fair, of course, I had to pack up a family of four for ten days away (not to mention preparing the pets for our departure); ten days which included camping, at least one nice restaurant, hiking, and visiting my husband's grandmother. So, it's not like a pair of jeans and a couple of t-shirts was gonna do it. Not to mention getting everything into a Prius. Snort.

So, all things considered (all things here including not only the packing and travelling, but my fear that my project would not, in fact, end up being a thing of joy and beauty forever), I think that I was doing pretty well to get to it last night. Especially after spending a day with the kids at Legoland. All day. At Legoland.

After putting two tired and overstimulated children to bed (I lied a little bit about what the clock said so that they'd go to bed earlier -- this strikes me not so much as lying as strategic mothering), I gathered my materials:

(not the best pictures, but you get the idea).
I bravely forswore also gathering a drink, given that the needle pictured there on the left is barbed. This was clearly not a time for any kind of alcohol-induced haziness. Chocolate, however, did seem in order, so I brought that along, too.

I laid down the base wool:

And poked it with the needle a whole lot. Then I started playing with the long stringy wool that they also gave me, and that's when I stopped taking pictures -- I was having too much fun.

I'm actually a bit surprised at how much fun I was having; I usually don't do so well with open-ended artistic-type projects like this. Half the reason I like knitting so much is that, in the end, you're restricted to two stitches: knit and purl. It really takes the pressure off, y'know what I mean? None of this deciding what basic moves are necessary to get something done. You either knit. Or you purl. Now, I realize that this can be done in all sorts of interesting ways, but I feel about it the way I felt about doing ceramics on a potter's wheel -- sure, there were lots of options, but in the end, round was your starting point. Once I have a solid starting point, I can have fun, but if you give me too many options to start with, I find that a bit disconcerting.

So, I rather thought that this might be troubling in the same way. There were no knit/purl basics to fall back on. You could do pretty much anything, so long as the wool overlapped appropriately. Nevertheless, I had all kinds of fun, and while I'm pretty sure that the two pieces I came up with are not in fact a thing of joy and beauty forever, they're not utterly embarrassing (if you're a five-year-old; and I may just pretend that my kids made these and blame them), and they might even fit together to make a tea cozy as originally planned:

There was something especially satisfying about pouring boiling hot water all over the backs of the pieces after they were felted and watching the paper just melt away. If only life were like that -- I pour boiling hot water on all the stuff I'm stuck with, and it's gone! Alas, probably not a solid life strategy.

More tomorrow about my younger daughter's kindergarten graduation today (I couldn't decide whether to laugh -- I mean, graduation from kindergarten?! -- or cry -- after all, she's my baby. Apparently I decided on crying. In moderation.).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


Procrastination has clearly become my favorite sport (who's kidding who, here -- it's always been a favorite!). Since arriving home from our trip late Sunday night, I have had a day and a half of work time available to me, and have managed to a) dig out from under the accumulated email of a week, and b) start a blog. Note that item b is not a work-related item. In the least. It is, however, excellent procrastination material.

It is also helping me to procrastinate on the non-work front. For example, well over a month ago, I found out that one of my graduate school advisors was retiring. There was to be a party, a big party, at which I, among other former students, would have a chance to stand up and talk about her, about her effect on my research, etc. In front of people. Now, I realize that, as a professor, it is the case that I stand up and talk in front of people regularly, for a living. This doesn't make it any easier, especially when it comes to writing and delivering a meaningful, touching, humorous, and academically rigorous speech in front of a large number of former professors. Lucky for me, my university's graduation was on the same day.

So, I resorted to knitting (you were wondering when knitting was going to come into this, weren't you?). And, I knitted this beautiful scarf (from Victorian Lace Today; at some point soon, I promise, I'll get all this year's FOs up in the side bar, with pattern and yarn notes, etc -- more procrastination material!). See?

Nice, huh? I knitted my ass off, and had it done in days. In plenty of time to FedEx it to her so that it would arrive on the day of the big to-do.

It's still sitting on my desk at home.

Why, you say? Why the procrastination? Well, there are two reasons. No, make that three reasons (shades of the Spanish Inquisition, here). First, I'd have to wrap it. This doesn't seem like such a major obstacle, given that we actually keep the wrapping paper in the den, right next to the desk upon which the scarf is ensconced. Except I have children. Small children who enjoy crafts. Small, devilish children whose entire joy in life comes from taking and misplacing every pair of scissors in the house (including the four, count 'em, FOUR pairs of designated kitchen scissors), and then, just for good measure, absconding with the tape. Now, I'm a good present wrapper, but it's much more difficult to wrap presents without either of those (because, without the scissors, it's hard to do the ribbon-ful, tapeless form of wrapping -- my teeth just aren't strong enough to cut through that silly wrapping ribbon).

So, there's one problem. Of course, once I got it wrapped, I'd still have to go to the post office to stand in line, get it weighed, and send it off (assuming I can find the address). 'Nuff said.

But even that's not enough. Before steeling myself to go to said post office (with the mean people behind the counter), I would need to write A Letter. You know, the sort of letter that says meaningful things about how much this advisor has meant to me, the ways in which her teaching and example have caused me to develop as a professional and as a person, and which does it without being maudlin or dorky. Like that's going to happen. I've been telling myself that I'm not writing the letter because my computer isn't hooked up to the home printer, and that therefore I could write my fingers off and still not be able to print it (we won't talk about how easy it is to install printer drivers). But here I sit at work, connected to printers galore, typing not a letter, but a blog entry.

You've just gotta love this procrastinating gig.

Monday, June 11, 2007

A journey of 1,000 words...

...begins with a single post.

Having surveyed a grand total of a couple of blog archives (I'm apparently all about detailed research), it appears to be traditional to begin a blog with a list of the reasons why the blogger has chosen to blog. I have always been a bit of a sucker for tradition (more on this in future posts), so here goes. The short list boils down to one reason: my family and friends, non-knitters all, appear to be running out of patience with a constant stream of knitting talk.

Oh, they listen, but the smiles are getting more forced, and there's a certain degree of non-comprehension in their eyes (clearly, any discussion of steeking and my fear of it is right out). As a teacher, I know all about the Look (the glazed eyes, the frozen smile), and while I have the right, and indeed am expected, to attempt again and again to convey to my students why what I'm talking about is a) interesting, and b) important, that sort of license is not part of general friendship contracts. So, I clearly need additional friends. Or at least, I need to talk people who might be interested in the shortcomings of knitting patterns, the problems of the knitting budget (or lack thereof), and the relative merits of laceweight when it comes to stashing (more bang for the space buck).

This problem was borne home to me most dramatically last week, when I, family in tow, drove 1500 miles round trip (we did go the long way, to be fair) to see the Yarn Harlot speak. My family was fairly patient about the whole thing (I promised, and provided, s'mores on all camping legs of the trip, which may have had something to do with it; also, they all benefit from my knitting, in the forms of sweaters, hats, mittens, and socks -- which, frankly, with a six foot six husband with size thirteen feet, really involves a lot of love -- not to mention increased patience, and a lack of yelling). And really, they don't look like they suffered any, no?

But none of my friends quite understood. That is to say, when I mentioned that our family vacation revolved to a large degree around travelling to hear a knitting author speak, boggling took place. Lots of boggling. What particularly seemed to cause boggling was the justification for this trip (aside from "I want to, dammit, and this is as close as she's coming"; to be fair, my friends are all supportive enough of me to think that this was a good enough reason in and of itself) was that I had just gotten tenure. Almost no-one understood that I could honestly think of no better way to celebrate surviving the hell that is getting tenure than going on a camping trip with my family, culminating in a yarny talk, and a visit to a new yarn store.

Proof that we made it (it's a bad picture of me, don't look):

Thus, I hope to perhaps, over time, find some folks out there who do understand. There were people Harlotting in Petaluma who had also travelled long distances, who said that they actually (gasp!) go to places like Rhinebeck (from California!) to see yarn, and who absolutely understood why a celebration centered around yarn activities would be a good one. These are the same people who understand why I had to pack multiple knitting activities for the trip (the lace for hanging out indoors, a simple sock for hanging out on the beach, a sock with a cabled pattern for the car... you get it). I figure at least some of those people have to be out in the blogosphere somewhere, willing to read about my love of knitting, and maybe (just maybe!) someday to actually (gasp again) post replies.

So, I suppose there really is no list. Just the one reason; I mean, sure, there are other reasons. It'll be good for me to write regularly (about something other than linguistics) -- I mean, I sign up for Nanowrimo every November, make it to 10,000 words and punk out, maybe I just need to keep the writing muscles warm? Maybe fiction isn't for me? Maybe I don't have it in me to write an actual novel about knitting, but writing about the knitting I'm doing is possible?

Of course, I can think of lots of reasons NOT to blog. I don't think I'll be telling anyone I actually know about the blog, which reduces my chances of having any kind of readership to approximately those of a bat in hell, but see above for my reasons for this. Also, I read a lot of really good knitting blogs (I'll put a list of them here at some point soon), from people who post a) regularly, and b) eloquently about c) competent knitting, and frankly, I don't know if I can live up to those kinds of standards. I mean, I can offer grammaticality (most of the time), and good spelling, but that just doesn't seem like enough, y'know? So, I guess I'm afraid that I'll sit here, with a well-spelled, grammatical, unread blog. Alone. Sort of like office hours in the week after a midterm. At least in office hours, I can knit.

I suppose I can sit here and knit when no-one reads this, too. That's something.