Friday, December 31, 2010

Finished Objects!

The past few months have been rough, but although I haven't posted, I have been knitting.

Just before Thanks-giving, after a bout of hospital knitting, I finished a pair of socks. The socks, Wendy Johnson's Van Dyke Socks, shown in the photo to the right, are being modelled by the happy recipient, The BoyChild (formerly known as Mr. BigFoot). These socks were knit with Colinette Jitterbug in the Velvet Damson colorway. They were a fun, and fairly fast, knit. (As always, click on any photo to enlarge.)

Early this month (on 02 December to be precise), I finally finished a pair of socks I'd started at the end of August. The recipient, who wears a size 13 (!!) shoe (and is the new Mr. BigFoot),  requested a plain stockinette foot, which I found incredibly boring. But socks are good hospital knitting, so after I finished the Van Dyke socks, I pulled this pair out of the "started but not yet finished" basket. These socks are another Wendy Johnson pattern---her Traditional Gansey Socks. I used a gusset heel on these socks, which seems to be bigger through the ankle area, since the recipient has a problem with swelling of his feet and ankles. These socks were my Christmas present to my dad, and he likes them very much. The socks were knit using Zitron Trekking Pro Natura, in the Denim Blues colorway.

I finished another project on 21 December---a sweater-tunic for my oldest grand-niece, which has been languishing in the "you-need-to-finish-this" basket since last February. (Some of you may recall that this was one of my projects for the Ravelympics.) The sweater body was been finished since January; all that was left to knit were the sleeves and the neckband. Because my grand-niece had requested that the sweater be long enough to wear as a tunic, I had to order another skein of yarn. My LYS (local yarn store) no longer carries this yarn, but I was able to find some online. After finishing the sweater-tunic, I had about half a skein of yarn left, which I used to knit a (rather-short) scarf. The photo at right shows both being modelled by the delighted recipient. This sweater was knit using Universal Yarn Classic Worsted Tapestry yarn, in the Playtime colorway. The pattern is a variation on Ann Norling's basic kid's sweater pattern. The scarf is a  K1, P1 rib.

I have three finished shawls and (with some industrious knitting tonight) another pair of socks to talk about, but I'll save them for tomorrow.

Did you have a finished-object spree this month? If so, what did you finish?


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where has the time gone??

It's almost midterm, and I haven't posted since before the school year started. Needless to say, my knitting time is drastically decreased during the school year.

I have been knitting Brooklyn Tweed's Girasole Shawl (in Noro Kureyon Sock in the S40 colorway), a big circular shawl pattern test knit (in Great Adirondack Silky Sock in the Cantaloupe colorway), a smaller shawl of my own design (also in Great Adirondack Silky Sock, but in the Grenada colorway), and a pair of socks for the Boy Child (a.k.a. Mr. Bigfoot) (in Zitron Trekking Pro Natura in a steely-blue color).

I have accomplished the following since school started:
* the buttonholes are in the Coat of Many Colors,
* the sleeves in my grand-niece's sweater-tunic are half knit,
* an additional half of a pattern repetition in the wedding stole.

Not much to show for six weeks, is it? :::sigh::: But the junior mechanical engineering students are learning the finer points of mechanical design and analysis, the freshmen (two sections) are learning that college is *not* like high school, and my honors seminar students are enjoying reading Jane Austen and learning about what life in England was like during her lifetime.

What are you knitting? Hopefully, you're making more rapid progress than I am!


Sunday, August 15, 2010


I finished the shawlette for which I was test knitting the pattern on Wednesday (the 11th). I was afraid that I would run out of yarn before I reached the end of the pattern, but after I bound off, I had two whole yards of yarn left. That's about as close as I care to come.

With the wedding stole, on the other hand, I will have yarn left over when I reach the end of the pattern. Last night, I hit the 85 percent mark: I left off halfway through the ninth pattern repetition. (The pattern calls for ten repetitions.) I may add a few more pattern repetitions, to add a bit of extra length and to use all the yarn.

I will post pictures of the shawlette and the wedding stole once the designers publish the patterns and/or give me the okay to post photos of their designs.

I was waiting to finish the shawlette before casting on a shawl of my own design, but despite the shawlette being finished (not blocked yet---that's a project for later today), I still haven't started that particular shawl. I did, however, start Jared Flood's Girasole, as part of a KAL (knit along) with a group of ladies (mostly) and gents (a few) in one of my Ravelry groups. I've also started another, large shawl pattern test knit. The new large shawl test knit is a circular shawl, knit in fingering or laceweight yarn. I'm using fingering yarn because I didn't have enough (1400-1600 yards) of any laceweight yarn.

One of the reasons I haven't cast on the shawl of my own design is that I have been working, off and on, on the Coat of Many Colors---the Adult Surprise Jacket knit in various Noro Silk Garden colorways. The Coat of Many Colors now has buttonholes! (TCOMC has been waiting for its buttonholes since mid-January. In April, for part of a day, it had ugly one-row buttonholes. Now, however, it has nice, neat, three-row buttonholes.) I need to knit a couple more rows on the placket, then it will be time to bind-0ff. Long-time readers of my blog will recall that the placket row has more than 700 stitches, so knitting a row takes a while. Early in the week, TCOMC was my it's-too-late-at-night-to-knit-lace project; now the Girasole seems to have taken over that role. But I will finish TCOMC this month! Once the knitting is completed, I'll have to weave in the skillions of yarn ends on its back side. (The photo shows the state of the Coat of Many Colors in late January.)

I want to cast on the shawl I designed in the next day or two. I plan to knit it during the "Kick-off Celebration"---the Powers That Be's term for the mandatory three days of speechifying, meetings, etc. that faculty and staff are required to attend on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

I have not yet cast on my August pair of socks. Socks would be another good project for the Kick-off Celebration, so I hope to get this month's pair started before Wednesday morning. Or perhaps I'll start them Wednesday morning, during the first speech of the day. This month's pattern is a more manly one than most of Ms. Johnson's patterns, so I was contemplating knitting these socks for the Boy Child. But given that this month is half over, I may not have time to knit for Bigfoot. I'll have to think about that some more between now and when I cast on.

Also on the needles---but about three weeks behind the rest of the group---is an Aran KAL. This sweater (called Ingvold Aran) is being knit from the top down. I'll be knitting a cardigan, but at the moment, I'm still working on my swatch cap. A lapful of worsted wool is a bit much in 90-plus degree weather (which is why I'm three weeks behind everyone else, since they live in cooler climes).

What are you knitting this month?


Sunday, August 1, 2010

Finished Objects!

I have finished several projects this month---three shawls and my July pair of socks.

The first object finished was a scarf/shawlette. The pattern is called Baktus. It's a simple, easy knit---all garter stitch---and it is knit from one side to the other. Mine was knit with two skeins of Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn in the Tropical Ginger colorway. I started this scarf on 29 June and finished on 11 July. This scarf will be a Christmas present for my youngest sister or one of my nieces. Once I have all my Christmas knitting done, I will decide who gets what item. (As always click on any photo to enlarge.)

The second object finished was a lace scarf for which I test knit the pattern. The pattern is called Easy Bamboo Lace Scarf, and it is by Michelle Miller (a.k.a. Fickleknitter). My scarf is made out of Monkeypal Superwash Sock yarn, in the Purple People Eater colorway. It was a fast, fun, and easy knit. I started on 08 July and finished on 15 July, despite several restarts attempting to get gauge. The photo at left, taken while the scarf was still on the block board, shows the pattern better; the photo on the right shows the color variation and the "big picture."

My third finished object was a shawl. (Are you noticing a trend here?) The pattern is Reflection Shawl by Ruth Greenwald. It is knit with Fleece Artist BFL Sock yarn in a colorway dyed for a sock yarn club I belong to. (BFL is Blue-Faced Leicester.) This was the first time I'd used a yarn with a BFL base, and I liked it. This shawl was also a fast knit. I started on 17 July, restarted (because I thought my cast-on was too tight) late (nearly midnight) on 18 July, and finished on 24 July. This shawl was knit from the neck down---but started with only 11 stitches (the center panel and two stitches on either side of it). As I neared the end of the pattern, I had plenty of yarn left, so after determining how many yards it took to knit a row, and how many yards of yarn I had left, I added ten rows of eyelet alternating with garter stitch ridges before the final rows of eyelet and garter stitch. This shawl is my younger sister's Christmas present. When I opened the package and saw the yarn, my first thought was "Linda yarn." Her favorite color is yellow.

My fourth---and final---finished object this month was my July pair of socks. These are Wendy Johnson's Serpentine Socks from Socks From the Toe Up. My socks are knit with Colinette Jitterbug, a wonderful sportweight sock yarn that I had never used before, in the Blue Parrot colorway. Although at first glance the pattern appears to be cables, there is nary a cable to be found. The movement of the stitches is accomplished by strategically placed yarn overs and knit two togethers or yarn overs and slip-slip-knits. The bottom photo shows the pattern and the color variation in the yarn. These socks were another fast, fun knit. I started my socks on 01 July, knit regularly on them until the heels were turned on 06 July, then got distracted by shawls, etc., and barely touched them again until the end of last week. I finished my socks on 27 July.

As you can see, I knit until I was almost out of yarn, resulting in knee socks. The socks hadn't been blocked yet when this picture was taken, which is why I'm modelling them instead of my sock blockers doing the modelling.

Although I hoped to finish a few projects that have been languishing on the needles for a while, I wasn't able to do that. But I have been working on the sleeves of my great-niece's sweater-tunic.

I've been wanting to start a sweater. I've knit the gauge swatch, and since the sweater is an Aran with a lot of different cables, I'm knitting a swatch cap, so I'll know the gauge for each of the cables. Before I can start the sweater, though, I have to finish the one of the Adult Surprise Jackets, since my two US8 size long circular needles are being used on the ASJs.

The wedding stole I'm test knitting is coming along. I'm about halfway through the third pattern repetition.

What are you knitting this summer?


Monday, July 19, 2010

New Projects, Old Projects, Languishing-on-the-Needles Projects

I have some FOs (finished objects) to show you as soon as the second one comes off the blocking board. These finished objects are not socks.

Are you amazed? Astounded? Flabbergasted?

I am even a bit surprised. In fact, the pair of July socks that had its heels turned on 06 July is still a couple inches short of a leg. And, if that weren't enough, the third June pair of socks, which had one heel flap knit on 05 July, is still waiting for the other heel flap to be knit (and the legs).

So what have I been knitting? Scarves and shawls.

The two finished objects are both scarves. And I have three other scarves/shawls on the needles.

Why three more? A hard one, an easy (i.e., almost mindless) one, and one that requires thought and stitch counting but not to the exclusion of everything else.

One of the shawls, a wedding stole, is knit in cobweb lace. I have not knit with cobweb lace since I was a kid. On this project, I got off to a rough start. There was an error in the pattern directions, which I did not realize until after I had knit the first row and still had four stitches on the needle. Ripped out, restarted, got through the first row just fine...and somehow lost a stitch---a yarn-over---when I purled back. Ripped and restarted (again).  The third time, I added two rows of stockinette stitch at the bottom of the pattern. Since I always cast on to a larger needle, I was having a hard time starting the lace pattern and changing from one needle to  a smaller one, so I gave myself the two rows of stockinette to change needles and to establish the border, and to set two markers in open sections of the pattern.

The markers made a big difference. Instead of counting from the beginning, I only had to count 36-40 stitches. I could count stitches in each section as I knit them and when I reached the marker, to ensure I hadn't dropped a stitch or lost a yarn-over or, on the back side, inadvertently purled a yarn-over together with the next stitch.

After about 10 rows, I decided that the yarn needed a larger needle. But I'm test knitting this pattern for the designer, who wants to know the gauge I get with a US3 needle, so I had to change the yarn, since I couldn't change the needle.

With the second yarn (the cobweb lace) and with the pattern error in the first row corrected, and with two stockinette rows at the beginning and two markers in open sections of the pattern, I haven't had to tink back more than 40 stitches. (And I've only had to do that once.)  But I can only knit four rows at a time, then I have to do something else for a while.

The stole coming along, but s-l-o-w-l-y. The pattern is 113 stitches wide, with 36 rows. The stole requires ten pattern repetitions. I'm ready to knit row 19 in the first pattern repetition.

More on the other scarves/shawls later. This month I'm also determined to finish some projects that have been languishing on the needles for months: the two Adult Surprise Jackets (one is called Coat of Many Colors) and my oldest grandniece's sweater-tunic. Watch the progress bars on the left (in the "On the Needles" section) to see if---and how quickly---I follow through.

Once I get those finished, there's another project, called Purple Jacket, that hasn't been touched for about a year. Partly that was due to my gauge change, partly to a lack of time, and partly because the sections of the project still to be knit aren't as interesting as the initial section.

What are you knitting? Have you made any knitting resolutions this summer?


Sunday, July 11, 2010

What's With All the Knots?

This week, I have knit on five projects, using five different brands of yarn. Three of those yarns---three!---had one or more knots, where the yarn had broken and been tied together.

Some of the knots were large, some were tiny. Their size is immaterial. Their presence, however, is not.

In two cases, the yarn had a regularly repeating color variation, and one section---or parts of two segments---of color were missing. Thus, the scarf for which I painstakingly matched my skeins of yarn so that one half would be the mirror image of the other, will not, despite my efforts, have matching halves.

Do yarn manufacturers think knitters are blind? That we don't care if one or more color segments are missing from a skein of yarn?

Why don't yarn manufacturers sell such skeins at a reduced price? Or at least indicate that the skein isn't perfect? They could sell the less-than-perfect skeins at a "factory outlet" type store, where anyone who bought a skein would know that, for some reason, it wasn't quite like the skeins displayed at local yarn shops.

Of course, the manufacturers wouldn't make as much money as they do now. But, on the other hand, I'm unlikely to ever buy another skein of this manufacturer's yarn, so while the company made an extra profit on this skein of yarn, it won't be getting my money in the future.

Do knots make you nutty? Or is it just me?


Thursday, July 1, 2010

Second Pair of June Socks---and Other Projects

I finished my second pair of June socks yesterday afternoon. This was the first pair of socks I started in last month, but the yarn was much thicker than most sock yarn and stiff and, therefore, difficult to knit, so after three days I set the socks aside and started the pair I posted about last week. Once that pair was finished, however, I began working on this pair again. (Click on any photo to enlarge it.)

The socks, like the first pair, are Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace Socks from her book, Socks From the Toe Up. It was a fun, easy to read (or memorize) pattern, and the resulting socks are lovely. The yarn is Pagewood Farm Glacier Bay, in the Grape Juice colorway. The manufacturer calls this yarn "their thickest, baddest sock yarn," and on another page of their Web site describes it as an "ultra light worsted." The socks will certainly be warm on cold winter days, but I would have appreciated it if the manufacturer had indicated on the label that the yarn was not typical superfine (fingering weight) sock yarn.

I had a third pair of socks on the needles in June, but didn't finish them. They started out as the second pair of Diagonal Lace Socks, but when the color variations in the yarn I was using for another pattern (Ms. Johnson's A Finer Peace Socks) obscured the pattern, I ripped both pairs back to the toe increases, and switched the patterns. The color variations didn't affect the Diagonal Lace pattern (see the photo of last week's socks), and the semi-solid color of what had been the second pair of Diagonal Lace Socks worked very well for the A Finer Peace Socks. But the A Finer Peace pattern was very similar to Ms. Johnson's Peace Socks, of which I made two pair last October (see here and here), and bore some similarity to the Lace and Cable Socks I knit in April. I wasn't enjoying knitting that pattern, so once again, when I was about halfway up the foot, I ripped back to the toe increases and changed patterns. I'd knit almost---but not quite---to the heel turn by 28 June, and had a good chance of finishing the third pair of socks...

Except that I started another shawl on 29 June.

I already have a large circular shawl (of my own design) on the needles. One shawl at a time should be enough, right? Apparently not. The recently started shawl is smaller---sort of a cross between a scarf and a shawlette---and triangular instead of circular.

The circular shawl I call Starburst. It is knit with Jojoland Melody Superwash yarn, in the lavender colorway (MS-28). The triangular shawl is a pattern called Baktus. It is knit with Crystal Palace Mini Mochi yarn in the Tropical Ginger colorway (0133). Both shawls are larger now than when these photos were taken. The progress is more noticeable on Baktus, but its visible on the Starburst shawl, too.

Now that the first summer session is over, my summer vacation has started. (Hurray!) My goals this month---in addition to two pair of socks---are to finish three UFOs (unfinished objects): the two Adult Surprise Jackets and my grandniece's sweater-tunic. All three of these have been languishing on the needles for months. I haven't knit a stitch on the Dream in Color Adult Surprise Jacket since February, on the sweater-tunic since early January, or on the Noro Adult Surprise Jacket since April. (Photos of all three garments are here.) Once those three are complete, then (and only then!) I intend to start an Aran sweater or jacket.

What are your knitting plans for the month or the summer?


Saturday, June 26, 2010

First Pair of June Socks

I completed my first pair of socks for June last weekend. I finished knitting them late Friday night, and finished the finishing (weaving in the ends of yarn at the toe and cuff) Saturday afternoon. The socks are Wendy Johnson's Diagonal Lace Socks, from her book Socks from the Toe Up, knit with my favorite sock yarn, Dream in Color Smooshy, in the Lunar Zazzle colorway. (As always, click on the photo to enlarge it.) The pattern is easy to "read" from the socks themselves (or to remember, if you aren't experienced enough to "read" the pattern in the sock), and the socks were fun to knit.

The pair shown is actually the second pair of Diagonal Lace Socks I started. The first pair is still a WIP (work in progress). I found the yarn, which is thicker than most sock yarn, as well as stiffer, difficult to work with, and after four days of feeling like I was fighting the yarn every inch of the way, I set the pair aside and started the socks shown above. I turned the heels on the first pair tonight, so I hope to finish them before the end of the month. 

What are you knitting?


Sunday, June 6, 2010

May Socks...and Other Things

May, with final exams, commencement, and all the end-of-the-academic-year "stuff," is always a busy time. It was especially busy this year since my department was interviewing candidates for three positions (two new, one existing), and most of that interviewing was done after commencement and exams---that is, during what should have been the first two weeks of summer vacation for the faculty.

But, despite all the work-related duties and distractions, I managed to knit two pair of socks in May. The first pair (shown at right), Wendy Johnson's Labyrinth Socks, from her book Socks from the Toe Up, was knit with sportweight yarn. I don't have much sportweight yarn, and what I did have contained lots of color variation, which I knew would obscure the pattern. Then, tucked away in the "maybe I should get rid of this yarn" box, I found a sportweight cotton that did not have much color variation, so I used it. The yarn is Cascade Fixation, a 98 percent cotton, 2 percent elastic yarn, in the Hot Pink Effects colorway. I was pleased with the results, as was my mother, for whom I knit the socks. She is modelling them in the photo. (As always, double click on a photo to enlarge it.) The socks were a quick, easy, fun knit.

The second pair of socks I knit, Wendy Johnson's Catnip Socks (shown at right), was not as quick or fun (in my opinion) to knit, but they are lovely. They took longer to knit because the pattern calls for superfine (fingering weight) yarn---I used Araucania Ranco Multy in colorway 302---but the pattern repetition was easily memorized. Initially, I knit a short-row heel, but as I started up the leg, I decided that I didn't like the way the short-row heel looked, so I ripped it out and, instead, knit a gusset heel, which worked beautifully and looked great. These socks were a gift for my youngest sister, who saw them a few days before they were finished and liked them very much.

As a result ripping out the heels and reknitting them, I didn't finish these socks until about ten minutes before midnight on 31 May, but I did get them done, including weaving in the ends, before the month was officially over!

As for Other Things...I was conned---er, persuaded---into teaching a summer school class, Thermodynamics, in the first six-week summer session. I had said I wouldn't teach summer school unless at least five students were signed up. Six students had signed up for this class. One dropped before the first class, after hearing how much work would be required. One, having heard my first class "we are doing two and a half weeks of regular semester work every week, so you cannot get behind and you must do several hours of homework every night" spiel, dropped between the first class and the second. He told one of the other students that he was withdrawing from the class because of "scheduling conflicts," but since the students set the class time, after asking about and discussing everyone's work schedules, "scheduling conflicts" is a flimsy excuse. (Even the student who had been given this explanation didn't believe it.)

So, by the second day, I was down to four students, but by then it was too late for me to change my mind about teaching the class. The first exam wasn't pretty, but no one gave up. The second exam was ugly---so ugly that I declared it was a "practice test" and that there would be another exam tomorrow (which there will be). One student emailed me after the test to say that she was dropping the class. Another student didn't show up for class the day after the test. Although I haven't officially received notice that either one has dropped, I think it is safe to say they won't be back. Now there are two students. Spending twelve hours  a week teaching Thermodynamics to six students is one thing; spending that same twelve hours a week teaching two students is a whole 'nuther thing. (The twelve hours is only the time spent lecturing; it does not include lecture prep, test prep, grading assignments, etc.)

One final Other Thing...remember the three positions for which my colleagues and I were interviewing candidates? The Powers That Be informed the dean and me a week ago that only two of those positions are in next year's budget. No one could satisfactorily explain why all three positions were not in the budget. Nor could TPTB satisfactorily explain why we have been interviewing candidates in three areas when there are only two positions in the budget. Needless to say, I was not amused. Nor do I relish another year of being one faculty member short in my department. What, one wonders, do administrators use for brains?

How is your summer going?


Saturday, May 1, 2010

April Socks

This month, being the last four weeks of the semester, has been even more hectic than the previous three. But yesterday was the last day of classes. (Hurrah! I was probably as happy about that as any of my students, even those with a severe case of senior-itis.)

Last night, since it was Friday and it was the last day of class, I sat and knit. (I did not grade a single paper, despite having a rather large, just-turned-in pile of senior design reports awaiting my attention.) I was six rows of ribbing short of finishing my April socks, and since it was also the last day of the month and since I hadn't knit a stitch for days, I was determined to finish the socks.

And I did.

The socks are Wendy Johnson's Lace and Cable Socks, from Socks From the Toe Up, knit in Dream in Color Smooshy yarn in the Beach Fog colorway. (Click on the photo to enlarge.) The socks were a fun, easy knit (I'll explain my tricks for cabling without a cable needle another day). I added the lace panel on the front to the back of the leg.

This month's pair of socks, Ms. Johnson's Labyrinth Socks from Socks From the Toe Up, calls for sportweight yarn. I don't have much sportweight yarn, and most of what I have is multi-colored yarn for which the colors pool and/or landscape. Last night, while I was mulling over the yarn possibilities, I worked on the other pair of April socks (that is, the alternate pattern, Ms. Johnson's Swan Song socks), for which I had cast on and knit eight rows earlier in April, but hadn't touched since. Since I am still mulling over yarn choices, I knit more on the Swan Song socks this morning.

What have you been knitting?


Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Socks Times Two

I finished the red socks for my younger sister (see 09 March 2010) on 20 March, but haven't gotten home from work while it was still daylight to take a photograph of them. I was finally able to take a photograph of them over the weekend. (Click on a photo to enlarge it.)

She wanted knee socks, and knee socks she got. The legs are 14 1/2 inches long from the bottom of the heel to the cuff. That's a lot of sock, even in a size small---147 square inches. The pattern is Wendy Johnson's Nanner Socks.

Last night, I also finished the pair of socks I was knitting (for myself) this month. They, too, are a Wendy Johnson pattern; this one is her Waterfall Socks. Both patterns are fast, easy, and fun to knit, and the results are lovely.

The red socks were knit with Lorna's Lace Shepherds Sock yarn in the Bold Red colorway. The Waterfall socks were knit with Dream in Color Smooshy (my favorite sock yarn!) in the Into the Mystic colorway.

The Waterfall Socks are almost as long as the red socks, but, since I'm quite a few inches taller than my younger sister, the Waterfalls are a couple inches short of being knee socks. I wore them today, but if anyone noticed, they did not comment.

I knew, and I suppose that's all that matters.

I'm currently turning the heels on another pair of socks---yet another Wendy Johnson pattern, this one her Mallow Socks. I hope to finish them before April 1st, when the next sock challenge begins, but that seems unlikely. Knitting while reading a pattern off a chart always takes longer than knitting a pattern with an easily memorizable repeat.

What are you knitting now?


Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Knitting Olympics, Part II

My knitting olympics was not as successful as I had hoped. I had three WIPs (works in progress) that I hoped to finish---a sweater-tunic for my oldest grandniece and two Adult Surprise Jackets for myself, one in Noro Silk Garden Worsted, the other in Dream in Color Classy in the Dusky Aurora Colorway---as well as pair of socks I hoped to knit for my younger sister.

By the closing ceremony, the socks (Wendy Johnson's Nanner Socks) were two-thirds to three-quarters finished. The legs were only about three inches long, which means I knit 10 inches worth of two socks. (Or twenty inches of "tubing," 7 inches in circumference.  That's 44+ square inches of sock. To put that into terms non-sock-knitters can readily understand, if I'd been knitting a strip one inch wide, it would have been 44 1/2 inches long by the closing ceremonies.) I have worked on these socks, off and on, since. When I asked my sister over the weekend how long she wanted the leg of the socks, she said she preferred knee socks. So, I still have a few inches to go.

As for the WIPs, I never touched my grandniece's sweater-tunic, which still needs sleeves and a neckband. I also never worked on the Noro Adult Surprise Jacket (a.k.a. the Coat of Many Colors). I need to pick up the buttons I ordered before I can knit the next row---the row with the buttonholes---and I never got to my LYS (local yarn store) to pick them up.

In hindsight (so much clear than foresight!), I ought to have started with the project closest to being finished instead of the one with the most still to knit. But I didn't.  I did, however, add five inches to the other Adult Surprise Jacket. (Back to the hypothetical one-inch strip. If I'd been knitting it instead, I would have increased its length by more than 200 inches.) I left the much lighter colored skein of yarn in the jacket, and knit about five more inches---almost two more skeins of yarn. The two skeins after the light one are darker, but not quite as dark as the first three skeins. I'll post a photo of the jacket when it is finished.

I will pick up the buttons on Friday. This week is spring break, so there are few demands on my time, other than the ever-present grading. Grading is the main reason why I didn't make more knitting progress during the Olympics. I only knit during the figure skating and speed skating, and I graded during all the other events.

While I didn't get as much knitting done during the Olympics as I hoped, I did get most of a pair of socks knit and made significant progress on one of my jackets. And I didn't fall behind on the grading. All in all, I'm pleased.


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Thou Shalt Not Covet...

University administrators are strange creatures, whose logic and thought processes are far different than professors'. A strange thing, indeed, since administrators were once professors.

The Powers That Be at my university have had their eyes on a lab---one of my department's labs---for some time. Until recently, they have only talked about maybe, someday, finding ways to "better utilize the space." In November, however, the tone shifted. Two weeks ago, it became possessive.

Now, instead of covetously eyeing the lab, they are talking about ripping out equipment---valuable, essential equipment---and converting the lab (which is a separate, single-story building) into a special "center."

My department would reap much of the benefit of this "center"---as would I, since my lab would be located there. Showcased, probably. I, however, am not dancing with joy. I am, in fact, furious. If the Powers That Be prevail, my department will lose valuable resources and, probably, the ability to offer a minor in aerospace engineering.

The Powers That Be seem to be of the opinion that there is only one way---their way---to create this "center." I disagree. The Dean of Engineering does, too (although he didn't at first). One thing the PTB seem not to have considered is that their plan to rip out this equipment will infuriate most of the alumni who graduated in the 1950s and 1960s and 1970s---people who have retired or are about to do so and are deciding how to divide up their worldly goods when they pass on to their heavenly reward. If the PTB prevail and rip out this equipment, the university will lose any chance of getting an endowment or a bequest from those alumni.

The Dean talked to the President this afternoon. The President agreed not to do anything for a week. In the next week, I have a mile-long list of things the Dean (who will be out of town, on vacation) wants me to do, so we can try to change the PTB's minds. We may be fighting a losing battle, but I will go down fighting.

The most infuriating thing of all about the whole business is that no one has asked my opinion. Not once. I am Chair of the department affected, and I'm also in charge of the program that will benefit most from this new "center." My viewpoint ought to be worth something.

The fact that no one has asked what I think doesn't mean I haven't expressed an opinion. The Dean got an earful twice in the past two weeks, and when an opportunity presented itself yesterday, the Vice President for Academic Affairs got a blast, too. A much gentler blast, but one he wasn't expecting. He condescended to say that he and I and the Dean should get together soon and talk about what to do.

I'm not holding my breath.

But I am ready to bring out the big guns.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Knitting Olympics

Since completing the Purple Socks last weekend, I have not yet cast on another pair---which is unusual. I'm not sure why I haven't been motivated to do so, since the next pair, which are for my younger sister, are my entry in the "Sock Hockey" event for the Ravelympics.

For those of you who have not, perhaps, heard of Ravelry, it is like Facebook for knitters and crocheters. The Ravelympics is a knitting Olympics, in which you are supposed to challenge yourself, the same way the athletes do when they compete.

In addition to my "Sock Hockey" entry, I have three entries in the "WIPs Dancing" event. (A WIP is a work-in-progress.) My first entry is a sweater-tunic for my oldest grandniece, which I started in November. The front and back of the sweater are finished. I knit the shoulders together early in January, but have not been motivated to knit the sleeves and neckband. (I also haven't had much time to knit the past month, but that's another story.)

Instead of starting the next pair of socks, or finishing my grandniece's sweater-tunic, I have been knitting one of Elizabeth Zimmerman's Adult Surprise Jackets.  (I'm actually knitting two of them at the same time---both entries in the "WIPs Dancing" event---but can't do any more on the other one until I get to my LYS (local yarn store) to pick up the buttons I ordered a month ago.) The Adult Surprise Jacket I have been knitting is coming along slowly but surely. It is knit with Dreamy in Color Classy in the Dusky Aurora colorway.

I love Dream in Color yarn, both the Classy, which is worsted weight, and the Smooshy, which is fingering weight (and, thus, great for socks). But Dream in Color yarn, which is hand-dyed, does not have dye lots, so if you order it online (as I did), you don't know what you're going to get until you get it. As you can see from the photo, what I got was three skeins that were quite dark in color, and several that were lighter. And being the kind of person who likes everything to be just so, I don't like the obvious change in color. It isn't quite as drastic as in photo, but it is very noticeable. Since since I do most of my knitting at night, in artificial light, I didn't notice how much lighter that fourth skein was until about a week later, when I was nearly finished knitting that skein. The remaining skeins of yarn range in color, too, and while none are quite as light as the problem skein, there are a couple of lighter ones. I started skein five and have kept on knitting, but...

Should I put all the light skeins together so that it looks like I planned the color change? Should I try to spread them throughout the jacket? What do you think?


Monday, February 15, 2010


For some time I have been considering whether or not to create a new blog (this blog)  for knitting and academic matters, keeping the old one for writerly things. I still haven't completely made up my mind about this, but I've taken a big step forward today, with a new location and a new look.

First of all, let me make clear that I am not a professor who teaches knitting. I'm a mechanical engineering professor who likes to knit. I teach design and mechanics classes, usually, with an occasional thermodynamics class---or something---for variety. And I have been teaching for a very long time. Decades (plural), in fact.

I learned to knit (and crochet) at my German grandmother's knee when I was five. Knitting has always appealed to me far more than crocheting. The last time I crocheted was about fifteen years ago, shortly after my grandmother passed away, when I finished a lace tablecloth she was making to fit my parents' dining room table with all the leaves added. The last time I knit was last night.

Sweaters are my passion, particularly Arans (a.k.a. fisherman's sweaters), but last year I discovered (or re-discovered, after more than 40 years) that I'm also very fond of knitting socks. I knit them from the toe up, and prefer to knit both socks at the same time, using the Magic Loop method. The pair I completed Friday, for my youngest sister for her birthday, is shown in the photo. I call them "the Purple Socks" for obvious reasons.

I'm also an avid reader, mostly novels, history, and biographies.


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