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?


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