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.


Ring Memberships