Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Random thoughts

Sometimes I dislike being a grownup (read: responsible).  Today is one of those days.  I am working (and I have gotten work done!  I now have something which could pass as a powerpoint presentation for the AAA, plus a handout, plus a draft of an annual report for the section whose program selection I just chaired; and I'm about to prep for tomorrow's classes)(however, I have to admit that I did not get through the pile of grading that is waiting for me - I hit the wall).  But it did mean that I couldn't spend the day with three awesome women, engaging in a yarn crawl of epic proportions (seven stores!), and ending with this.  Le sigh.  My friends really are good people, though - they have been texting me with updates and pictures all day, and they're getting a copy of the book signed for me.  Living vicariously is good, although not as good as going along...

In other random thoughts, I will share with you a brief story.  The other day I was explaining co-referentiality to a student, and she asked for an example.  I said, well, the phrases "Barack Obama" and "The President" are currently co-referential - they refer to the same person.  This was apparently a good example, because she wrote it in her notes.  Only turns out (who knew?) that our president's name is spelled Broc.

Does this scare anyone but me?

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I think I've entered into the Knitting Doldrums.  Apparently all of the projects I have actively OTN are either stockinette/garter stitch, or involve colorwork and (thus) multiple balls of yarn (making for bad meeting knitting), or both.  So I'm bored.  I mean, Baby Surprise Jackets are fun (and in fact, I just wound on for a third and last one today), but they're garter stitch.  I also cast on for a pair of these scarves, out of a lovely alpaca laceweight.  But it's stockinette.  And really unattractive stockinette, to boot (I know, they'll block out beautifully, but at the moment not so much with the beauty).

Meanwhile, I'm slogging away in the Slough of Linen Stitch.
I'm further along than that, although not a lot.  It takes about 25 minutes to get through a single row on this one.  In many ways, it would make perfect meeting knitting, except that it comes with three huge balls of yarn, which is neither small nor inconspicuous.  That's the Vancouver stole, by the way - I got the yarn for it at Sock Summit, and I cast on a few weeks after getting home.  But as I said, the rows are almost 400 stitches long.  And that's 400 stitches of linen stitch, so not all that fun.  The results are stunning, but it's a slog.

I also finished the first of my second pair of Silk Road socks - this time for me.  And they fit!
These are actually rather fun to knit, and I can do everything without the pattern (since it's my pattern).  But I do have to look at my hands when I knit stranded colorwork like this - again, not so good in meetings, as eye contact is an important part of letting people know that they are being listened to.
As per my usual rule, I promptly cast on for the second sock upon casting off for the first.  I really should make these my evening knitting project, but there's this small part of me that wishes the Vancouver stole would be ready for taking with me to the American Anthropological Association meetings in mid-November.  They're in Montreal this year, and I understand that it's chilly in Canada in November.  (heh)  Of course, the fact that I also have to have a paper written in time for the meetings, as well as a presentation prepared, and a report for the business meeting of my particular association, means that there are a lot of deadlines all coming in at once.  The stole probably won't get done.

So, what does one do in the face of multiple looming deadlines and boring knitting?  Cast on!  I just wound up some gorgeous Jitterbug sock yarn in a deep electric blue that has been marinating in stash more than long enough.  The plan is to cast on for a pair of Isabella D'Este socks just as soon as I finish up here and seam the second BSJ.  I just saw that there is no picture of the socks on the Ravelry site, alas.  These are from the new Knitter's Book of Socks, by Clara Parkes.  I will talk more about how much I love this book in another post, but for now just let me say this: I totally want to be Clara Parkes when I grow up.  The woman thinks about yarn and wool in the most wonderful ways, and the collection of patterns in this book is wonderful.  If you knit socks, and if you like to think about the technical aspects of yarn and yarn choices, then this book is the book for you.  (I guess I just wrote about it; I don't know what else to say, really - I just love anything by Clara.)  I had a lot of fun talking to Rick about some of the more engineeringly observations about tensile strength, etc.  It's kind of fun when our worlds collide that way.

So, off to try to knit my way out of the doldrums!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coming up for air

It has been a mad couple of weeks, starting with a two-day external program review (two reviewers visiting from off-campus; I chaired the internal review report writing process, so I needed to be heavily involved; twelve-hour days, etc etc), following up with a delightful (but busy!) weekend taking care of the three children of dear friends of ours (leaving me to shake my head in awe at parents who regularly handle five kids), and ending with a twenty-hour stack of papers to grade (as in, it took me close to twenty work hours to grade 35 papers).  I guess I know where the last two weeks have gone!

In all of that, I haven't managed a whole lot of knitting, alas.  I did get two swatches knit with the sample yarn I spun for the gansey.  In fact, I got those done relatively early on in the whole thing and have been carrying the swatches around in the bottom of my book bag for nearly a week and a half, hoping for an opportunity to take a picture - even if it had to be on PhotoBooth - to share.  That actually turned out not to be a bad thing, as I am reassured by how well they survived.  (Also, in answer to a question that someone left about blocking my yarn before I knit with it - yes, I do soak, snap, and hang (unweighted) my skeins of handspun before I knit with them.  I also blocked these swatches after knitting.)
The swatch on the left is knitted with the woolen-spun yarn, size three needles on the bottom, and size two needles on the top.  The swatch on the right was knitted out of the worsted-spun yarn, on size two needles (because I liked them so much better in the first swatch).  I am thinking that the size two needles on the woolen-spun yarn is the way to go; any opinions?  I should say, by the way, that several people pointed out the flaw (that I hoped no one would notice) in my blatherings about spinning style and warmth/weight issues.  Woolen-spun yarn, while lighter than worsted-spun, tends to be warmer, because all of the air in the yarn (which makes it lighter) traps heat.  (I should note that part of the reason why I didn't say that is because ganseys are traditionally knit out of a tightly-spun five-ply, and they were used by fishermen in some of the worst weather you can imagine, so I kept ignoring what I've read again and again about woolen-spun yarn being warmer, because obviously these sweaters kept those guys warm!  I wonder if it's a wind/rain thing?  In other words, perhaps a tightly spun and knitted sweater is more wind- and rain-proof?  That would be even more true if they were spun in the grease.)  In any case, there are three four factors (I feel like the Spanish Inquisition) which make me think that going with the woolen-spun yarn is going to be the way to go:  first, it's going to make Rick happier, as he doesn't tend to like weighty layers; second, I like the way the knit/purl motifs look better in the woolen-spun yarn; third, this fiber seems happier spun woolen - it's a bit more wiry when it's spun worsted; and fourth, I spin faster when I spin woolen, and I'd like to finish this sweater sometime before the girls graduate from college.

Of course, now I need to find the time to actually spin the yarn.  Even though the woolen spinning goes much faster, I still need to get to the wheel.  On the other hand, I also need to get to my spindles, as I'm teaching another intro to spindling class a week from today at my LYS (I don't know if anyone who's reading is from around here, but right now there's plenty of room in the class, if you want to give it a whirl - it's a very low-key commitment to try something that you might like a lot, and we always have a lot of fun)(and yes, I meant that pun-like thing in the last parenthetical).

Meanwhile, I've been knitting a little bit here and there.  I finally knit my very first baby surprise jacket.
And my second.
 And you know what?  It really is quite a surprise the way a total amorphous blob, given the right twists and tweaks, turns - hey presto! - into a sweater.  Very cool, and I haven't the faintest clue how anyone, even the immortal EZ, could have come up with this thing; truly, it must have been inspiration, in the original sense of the word.  I also took a 30-minute skill-building class today on mattress stitch (appalling that I haven't done it before, I know), and stitched up the shoulders on that first sweater like a pro.  I have decided that I am not particularly fond of sewing up garter stitch seams, but at least I know that I'm doing it right.

I knitted the first one (which will be accompanied by little bitty matching booties) for Knit for the Cure, which is a fundraiser that my beloved LYS puts together every year.  The store gathers up knitted donations which they sell in a booth at the end of the Susan Komen Race for the Cure in San Diego.  I'm also walking this year in the 5k (on November 6th), with the team that my friend Pam has put together: Purls for the Girls.  If you happen to like to donate to that particular cause, and you haven't had a chance to do that this year, I know the team would appreciate your support tremendously.  If you do, please let me know, and also (regardless of whether you donate) do let me know if there's anyone you'd like us to be particularly remembering or thinking of as we knit our way through our 5k walk.

The second jacket is for a friend of mine at work whose baby is due soon; there will be booties to accompany that one as well.  These little jackets knit up pretty quickly, and they work well for meeting knitting (garter stitch all the way, and very small).  They also seem to be about all that my brain can handle these days; I am so terminally distracted by my ever-growing and unshrinking to-do list (which now stretches into mid-December at least), that I actually completely forgot to bring my computer to work one day this week.  It's always a bad sign when I forget something that obvious and important (especially when I've left the computer sitting right next to my bookbag, and right under my car keys).  Clearly, it's better not to try something like a pair of Cookie A socks or stranded colorwork at this point in time.

With luck, the next post will come much sooner than two weeks.  Meanwhile, happy weekend - what kinds of fun things are you all doing to celebrate your Saturday?