Thursday, January 28, 2010

Think of the Knitting

My oldest daughter is three and going through a phase where she does not want her little sister (15 months) to play with any toys (it matters not to whom they belong). Screaming matches, tug-of-wars, and pushing episodes have all ensued. We agreed that Jeneric could name three toys every day that were hers and hers alone for the day and if she chose, she could put these up high where Toddler Wily could not get them.

Tuesday night:
Jeneric asks me what things I want to put up high, so Toddler Wily can't get into them. Like the sainted mother I am, I reply that there's nothing I want to put up high. I'm happy to share with Toddler Wily. Jeneric calls my bs. She tilts her head to the side and says, "Hmm. Mama, I think you want to put your knitting up high, don't you?"

Touché, little one. Touché .

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Will wonders never cease?

If you can believe it, dear readers, I have taken up Na Craga! Over the weekend, I excavated the WIP stash to unearth two sleeves, a front and the ribbing on the back. I ripped the ribbing (and found a broken yarn, to boot), cast on and knit the ribbing and first pattern repeat. The picture is horrible, but that's what you get at 10 pm using PhotoBooth!

Photo 6

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Star Towels

A few years ago - maybe four? - I had a lot more free time on my hands. I also had grand ideas about weaving a project a month. Towels, place mats, runners, ordinary cloth, you name it. It's taken a while, but I'm starting to make time for hobbies (other than knitting). Eric and I turned out 2 rugs over the last year (simple log cabin rugs that are really nothing more than a slight of hand for the eye). We also wove one shawl - our first project using tencel. I am sorry to admit that we took pictures of nothing.

The weaving stash has long contained some cones of cotton - red and white:

We plan to use these together to make a few Star Dishtowels:
(a free project available from Handwoven.)

Before we warp, we do have a decision - which towel? The all-over star pattern, pictured on the right? Or the striped version, pictured on the left? Readers, care to weigh in?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Norah, FO

This past weekend was far busier than I expected. Although I'd hoped to finish a hat, wind a warp, piece a quilt back and begin quilting said quilt. Instead, I:
  1. Advanced from white to yellow belt and broke a board. I study at the Mid-Michigan Academy of Martial Arts, which is a mixed martial arts school. I love it. And for a beginner, I'm pretty decent.
  2. Finished Norah!
    Photo 20
    I cast-off Norah with angst. It looked too tall, the tick/lice patterning was bumply and it looked distinctly homemade. Indeed, the hat could stand to be about an inch shorter, but it fits and is warm (I wore it to work today). Blocking smoothed out a lot of the bumps and frumps. I like the hat. In time, it may just replace my beloved Kittiwake. Full details on Ravelry.
  3. I did manage to piece the quilt back. Two cuts and one seam. Easy. A little more challenging with a toddler helping, but it got done. Said toddler also wanted to help with making the quilt sandwich, but since she couldn't help but walk all over the quilt, well, that was not about to happen.
  4. No warping, but I did pull together the necessary materials, including the pattern and the yarn, both of which had been marinating in the stash for several years.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The other, other fiber craft

Sewing, that is. I don't sew nearly as often as I'd like, in part because my sewing room is also the kitchen.


This weekend, I managed to find a little inspiration. For two afternoons, I cleared the clutter from the table and got down to business. The first step was to remember where I was in this project. I had sewn strips together, but could not remember how I'd arranged these blocks of fabric. So I laid everything on the floor and flipped and positioned and flipped again until I found an arrangement that mostly, sort of worked. Then, I labeled it. Should have done that back in July when I started this quilt! Lesson learned.

And yes, it is critically important to color coordinate your socks with your quilting project.

From there, it was a lot of pinning and alignment and repinning and alignment.

And a bit of sewing until...
A complete quilt top - look Ma, it even has the borders! I hope to spend time this weekend reteaching myself how to piece together the back - then executing that maneuver. After that, it's off on an adventure of quilting on my own machine with a finishing maneuver of binding. Note to self: invest in an obscene number of safety pins, pronto.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

New Year, New Resolution

Previously, I outlined my knitting resolutions. Today, I’m going all-out with the boredom factor to detail my one and only personal resolution (aside from getting a new job).

Resolution: Stop drinking so much soda*.
Odds of succeeding: nil.

Merriam Webster defines resolution as:
  1. The act or process of resolving.
  2. The subsidence of a pathological state.
  3. Something that is resolved.
No wonder most resolutions fail. Goodness, what is a resolution but crossing your arms, stomping your foot and saying, ‘There. I fixed it.’ There. I stopped drinking soda. Except no, I haven’t.

Resolution is such a vague term that this year I’m going to use the much more apt terminology of goal setting.

Now setting a goal can also spell trouble. However, I am flush with incite into goals. In scientific teaching, we say that a goal is something with a measurable outcome. Revisiting my Resolution, I need to add some component that I can quantify. For example:

Goal: I will drink soda only when at a restaurant.
Measurable component: I can count the number of times I buy soda in the grocery store or a vending machine on campus.

That’s very nice, you might say. Let’s call it a day. Unfortunately, I don’t know how or when I’ll get to that goal. At the dojo, we say that a goal is a resolution with a written plan and deadline. Once again, let’s revisit that Resolution, now a Goal.

Goal: I will drink soda only when at a restaurant.
Step 1: I will not buy soda at the grocery store. This means no cans or bottles AND it means no 99 cent cups at the checkout counter. Deadline: January 1, 2010.
Step 2: I will buy no more than one soda from a vending machine in any given week. This means I will need to bring something from home – likely water or iced tea. Deadline: March 1, 2010.
Step 3: I will buy no soda from vending machines. Deadline: May 1, 2010.

The astute reader will notice that one deadline has passed. I am holding steady after 1 shopping trip and successfully resisted purchasing either a case of soda or a cup of soda at the checkout. I feel okay about this knowing I can still buy a bottle of soda at work, if I need to. I’ve got some time to survey my beverage options (are Margaritas okay at work? No? Are you sure?), make sure I’ve got proper vessels for transport and get past those withdrawal headaches.

There you have it. My over-analyzed, three-step program for kicking the soda habit.

*You should know that I am ashamed to admit that when I first typed this, I used pop instead of soda.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Rage

Lest you think I’d forgotten the complete title of this blog – Knitting Rage – let me assure you I have not. In New Jersey, rage was easy and superficial. Yell about the bad drivers, crazy maneuvers on the Garden State and call it a day. Although Michigan hosts an unusually large number of Sunday drivers, it’s nothing to get worked up about. I could whine about the lack of culture, our inability to find decent pizza, bagels or Indian food. But that’s whining, not rage.

Today’s rageful thought of the day is about choices and the inward rage that sometimes accompanies those choices. Every evening, after the girls are in bed and have had their 93rd drink of water, I put the kettle on for tea and curl up in my big brown chair. Most nights I cruise blogs for 20 minutes and then turn to knitting. Occasionally, I get off my duff and hit the sewing machine. But every night, I struggle with guilt. My work chirps at me: read a paper, analyze that data, write up those results, think of something brilliant! As a postdoc in science (albeit it biology education), there is a common stereotype that we (a) have no life, no hobbies, no interests outside of the lab and the corollary (b) all we do is work, work, work – 80+ hours a week. Even within my field, there is the perception that hobbies and family are unfortunate and only detract from one’s research.

So that is my rage – at the stereotypes, at the departmental perceptions, at my own inability to clearly define myself, my life, my research. There is rage at society and the trend to work more, harder, longer. There is rage at the growing perception that our work defines us.

This semester, I’m sitting in on a graduate seminar that’s all about the Mommy track – how to balance family and a career. As a mother, I am hoping to gain incite into balancing work and family and guilt. As a scientist, I’m interested in whether the what, why and how we teach can prepare our students to better maneuver this evolving landscape. I expect to pick up this thread several more times this spring. The role of gender in science and education is becoming increasingly interesting.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Norah Hat, Redux

Fair Isle knitting. Well. It has long daunted me and I can't quite explain why. Not that it is easy - but it is not hard. And not that my little Norah Hat is perfect. My first attempt was way too tight - a 16" circumference hat rather than 20". My second attempt is, perhaps, too loose but blocking fixes many sins and it may just help the two colors meld together better than they currently do.

I knit with both colors in my left hand. I tried briefly to hold one in my right and failed completely. It just didn't work for me. Ravelry to the rescue with a techniques video (which I can't seem to find just now)... in any case, two colors, one hand and away we go.

It's given me confidence to look a little more honestly at the the Endpaper Mitts. I have 2 skeins of Louet Gems Fingering Weight in a pale blue and a gift certificate to Threadbear... might have to swing over there for some contrasting cream or white!