Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Desert Sand Socks

I attended what I thought would be the most boring grant writing seminar for faculty writing NIH and NSF grants – I am not a faculty member and I will never be writing an NIH or NSF grant. But it was chock full ‘o writing tips. That with the book on writing that I am reading (rather than writing my research paper) has given me tons of great tips. The best one is to start writing down little bits of things – thoughts, observations, memories to mine for future reference. This promises to be the best ever non-detectable low-tech way of not listening to a boring meeting. There’s no teacher coming around to look over my shoulder and see that I have written down something about some dude in a lime green suit – I am not kidding, a totally normal looking guy with a lime green suit with too short pants and a too tight waist.

I also brought with me (Minnesota style syntax) the best ever things to keep me busy during the seminar:

• Starbucks gift card (one a.m. coffee and one decaf, no whip, sugar-free, low-fat mocha)
• Small notebook (for notation about the weirdos)
• Articles printed out on innocuous white paper that I read for my research paper
• And Bird by Bird for lunchtime reading.

I need to think ahead like this more often. Low-tech meant though that I couldn’t google the nutritional content of my lunch.

I was able to wear my new socks to the seminar too – and my feet were so hot.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

I am dreaming of a white Easter

I woke up at 4 am and waited until 5 am to get out of bed. I wanted to make sure the Easter Bunny had had an opportunity to leave me chocolates. I came downstairs, not to find the Easter weather, but a continuation of the snow storm that had started Thursday evening. We've got about 10 inches on the ground. It seemed more likely to have a Santa sighting – or possibly Chinese New Year. I had served Chinese take-out to my Easter guests (my in-laws).

Having guests also meant having a forced house cleaning – a two-person, five-hour ordeal. I did more steps than was advisable with my ankle still recovering, but we made major progress. We moved our TV and couches from the dining room into the living room and actually made headway on getting the place kinda clean-ish. I look around and it is hard to believe what I now consider ‘clean’, but I am indeed pleased the progress.

I finished Drunk, Divorced, and Covered in Cat Hair this morning at 6 am. It proves that I can still finish something. I actually read an entire book – granted it was a very funny book and related to my favorite hobby, but still…it was a whole book. And a finished a sock. I haven’t been able to finish much of anything lately. I have been an intermittent visitor of Crazy Aunt Purl’s blog and her book is fabulous. The author, Laurie Perry, is so funny and she writes about things we’ve all felt, but no one usually says these things out loud.

Here’s the first sock:

Yarn: Cascade Yarn: Wildfoote in Desert Grass
Needles: Size 1 Addi Turbo Circulars
Pattern: Ann Norling’s adult basic socks

I am supposed to be writing a research paper on high involvement organizations for my organization development class, but instead I have started another book. Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. This is a book of instruction of about writing and life. The premise is that in order to write, a writer must write. Anne’s advice is like a quote from the movie (one of my faves) Throw Mama from the Train “a writer writes’. Her brother, when he was 10, had an assignment to write a report on birds. He had three months to write it and was beginning the report the night before the report was due. Their father, a writer, said ‘you must write this bird by bird, buddy, one bird at a time’. The irony of reading a book about writing while the deadline for my research paper looms has not been lost on me. While I am only about 25 pages in, I already love this book. I wonder if I can weave this in directly to my research topic. Doubtful. But like Laurie Perry, it is Anne Lamott’s honesty that makes this so accessible.

Lastly, I got folk Style by Mags Kandis from my in-laws. The book is posing by my new trim in my new living room. Check out the craftspersonship. That’s right. The Mr. made that. We don’t need no stinking professionals.

Friday, March 14, 2008

I knit, and then knit again, and again, and again

Sometimes the easiest or most routine thing turns into a head scratcher. I have made many pairs of socks and thought I'd like another pair - a nice easy project. So, I started the columbine socks from Socks Soar on Two Circular Needles and I started on Addi Turbo 2s. These looked very large and it was increasingly clear that these would be hanging around my ankles. I took that sock apart (this would be a process repeated three times). Then I started on some Inox circular 1s - which I had forgotten how much I hated because the joins are so poor I can't get the sock to move freely over them. And they have four distinctly different tips. And these were looking significantly smaller - much too small. And I have made socks on these before with a similar number of cast on stitches, so I didn't know what to make of that. Wildefoote seems similar in gauge to the Trekking XXL I have been using lately. Then I unraveled those and headed to Borealis Yarns to find some different needles and consider a different pattern. I thought I'd try the adult basic sock pattern from Ann Norling. It is an easy versatile pattern that I have done several time in three different gauges. This seemed safe enough.

I did learn something new though from the nice lady at the yarn shop. She tells me that that Addi 2s are actually a size 2.5 to the rest of the knitting world which might explain my gauge trouble. She also said that Addi 1s are more of a 1.5, so I picked up a 24 inch and a 32 inch (because that's all they had - this becomes important later). She said that these are the only two needles whose size is not what it appears. I got home and got to work on a plain ol' 3x1 ribbed sock with 64 stitches cast on my new Addi 1s. My gauge was good and they looked good - nothing exciting, but at least I was getting somewhere.

Wildfoote is splitty anyway, but all the knitting and reknitting had taken a toll on the yarn, so I had to cut my losses and ditch some of it because it was a mess. But, I was reading a blog about the magic loop method and the 32 inch was long enough for that and I tried that for awhile. It worked well enough and I don't know yet if I like it better than using two circs, but I will continue to try that a bit.

I knit and reknit the heel about a total of four times - once after I had picked up the gusset stitches, knit a few rounds, and realized I had dropped one of the end stitches from the heel. I cannot figure out why I have been having so much trouble - this is the longest it has taken me to make a pair of socks and I am still not done with the first one. I didn't have anywhere near this much trouble on the first pair of sock I made. But I do believe that this first sock is coming to an end soon. I haven't taken any pics lately, more later.

Other than my lack of any real progress on projects, I had a midterm on Monday and have been spending many hours studying and will be working on a research paper next. And spring keeps making some wimpy attempts at arriving and we're all ready for it to make its real arrival.