ReaderWriterVille

Blog in progress

Category: knitting

Weeknote 2

School, snow, freezing rain, ice; all the fun stuff.

WORK

Between the intro sessions and the MLK holiday, I’ve only taught 50 percent of my class periods over the last two weeks. One is going very well, the other is only OK, perhaps because I haven’t taught it in three years and I’m still feeling my way to a rhythm. They’re both set up the same way, with theoretical and abstract readings to provide a foundation, but I walk out of them feeling quite differently. Oh well, it’s the beginning and it’s me, not the students. The OK one will improve.

I forgot to mention that I’m the Director of Undergraduate Studies this semester. A colleague and I have split the work for the last two years and this is the last of it. I describe being DUS as comparable to being nibbled to death by ducks: there are rarely big crises, but there’s always something. So. Much. Email.

Nothing else I can really write about, just the usual meetings. My two regular seminars start up again this week and next, so that will provide a rhythm along with class times. I have some letters of recommendation to write and a bunch of research papers to write up comments on.

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING

The Chiefs are going to the Super Bowl! I’m so happy for the team and the fans. They are a blast to watch, and it should be a great game. As a long-time 49ers fan as well I suppose I should be rooting for them, but it’s Chiefs all the way. Time to dig out our magnetic car logos and wear my logo wool varsity jacket.

One of my 2019 holds from the library came in, Javier Cercas’s latest “nonfiction novel” Lord of All the Dead. It’s a companion work to Soldiers of Salamis and so far it’s really good. I love his writing style, which is deceptively informal and feels unselfconscious, but the words and phrases are beautifully chosen. You notice how well it’s written almost after the fact.

I’m also continuing to work my way through The Steep Approach to Garbadale, which is starting to be work. Much as I love Banks, this is not his best novel by any stretch, and the audio format makes the digressions and quirks more apparent to me. I just hit a chapter where the breasts of not one but two women are described in detail and I was grateful to have a reason to stop listening for a while. I’ll keep going because it’s Banks, but I’m bummed he is yet another male author whose characters are obsessed with breasts over other body parts. I hadn’t noticed this is his other books, but then I’ve mostly been reading the M. novels up to now.

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Weeknote 1

I’m starting over numbering the 2020 Weeknotes. Let’s see how many I can manage; I had 21 in 2019, but I didn’t start until partway through the year.

WORK

The spring semester began yesterday. I’m teaching two undergraduate classes, both of which I’ve taught before and which I enjoy a great deal. They also require regular updating because things are constantly happening, but that also means that the students are interested. And I have enough assistants that I don’t have to do all the work myself. It feels like a light semester even though technically it’s not.

I got to throw a drinks party for a visiting professor and his family, whom we’re trying to recruit. The weather was awful but the party was fun. Fingers crossed.

I’m on one (and a half) committees this semester. The one is a college scholarship committee that is always enjoyable. There’s nothing like interviewing whip-smart high school students to make you feel as if maybe the world isn’t so bad after all. The half is the end of the Committee That Ate The Second Half of 2019 and Part of My Sabbatical. It shouldn’t be too much work, maybe a couple of meetings and a memo.

Which means I may actually have time for some writing! Which is good, since the pile of to-be-written is rivalling my pile of to-be-read.

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING

Liverpool, all through the holiday fixtures. I’m almost starting to believe that at 16 points clear of the 2nd place team in the EPL, they can win the title for the first time in 30 years. Almost. I’m not counting ANY chickens.

I’m also watching the NFL playoffs and rooting for the Kansas City Chiefs. We went to all their games for five years in the early 2000s when we had friends on the staff. They been shut out almost as long as Liverpool has, and I’d love to see them make it.

I read a fun, unjustly obscure book when we were away for the weekend right after New Year’s. It’s called The Ascent of Rum Doodle and it’s a satire of the mountain-climbing memoir genre of the 1930s and 1940s. We found it in a store in London and I bought it because the Mt. TBR Challenge has Rum Doodle as its first level. I’d never heard of it before but as I was reading, I was reminded of passages of various serious mountaineering books I’ve read, including the excellent Into the Silence. The satirical tone gets a bit heavy-handed at times (as satires do), but the book is short and sustains itself well.

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Achievement unlocked

I won’t tell you how many months this languished for want of a seam, but I finally got it done.

green poncho modeled by me

The pattern is the Easy Folded Poncho from Churchmouse Yarns. It’s just a stockinette rectangle but I’m glad I bought the pattern because the dimensions are just right and there were a few technique tips I know but wouldn’t have thought to use.

The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed from my stash. The color is called “pickle” and it goes unexpectedly well with the pants, whose color is “Martini olive.” They’re quite green in outdoor light and not something I’d usually choose but I love them and I really like the two together!

I was skeptical about wearing a poncho under a coat or jacket, but it smushes up into a cowl/wrap thing and works well. And it’s warm.

My next wrap-like project, the Paris Loop, is coming along. Pics when I finish; it’s knitted in the round so no seaming. I could get it done before 2021 even!

Weeknote 21

It’s now November. Where did October go? I failed to write any Weeknotes so I’ll never know.

WORK

Classes are into the final stretch, and we are all feeling it. Grading keeps arriving and I keep falling behind. The classes themselves are fine, and the students are hanging in there. But 14 and 15-week semesters are LONG, y’all. Still, Thanksgiving week is right around a couple of corners.

My administrative responsibilities are almost over! We had The Big Memo and The Big Meeting About The Memo and the forces of good prevailed. And you’d better believe I had TheH pick up a bottle of champagne to celebrate. Three years of trying and we finally got past the biggest hurdle.

Other administrative decisions were also made, some of which will have the effect of reducing my likelihood of being called on to do administrative work. Which is all to the good. I don’t know that all the consequences of those decisions will be as positive, but from a MeMeMe perspective it’s at least a draw. I know I’m being vague but I don’t write details about my job here. Even though I have a tiny readership, you never know.

On the research and writing front, I presented a paper in a seminar and got fantastic feedback, the helpful kind that makes me want to keep working on it. So all in all, a good work week.

READING/WATCHING/LISTENING

My reading and watching has been dismal for the last few weeks, but I l managed to read three books on a weekend with plane flights and down time. I also managed to finally review my October TBR Challenge book in the last post, and I have two more books to review. One was a library hold that came in when a Booker longlist book was finally published here in the US, and it was excellent: Deborah Levy’s The Man Who Saw Everything. The first half left me with a meh feeling, and then the second half kicked in and it all made sense and was brilliant and insightful and all the other praise words. It’s not long, and it’s well worth your time. I also read Sarah Morgan’s newest, a Christmas novel called A Wedding in December and I liked it immensely. It’s women’s fiction but definitely has romance in it, in fact there are two romance storylines. It has plenty of humor and is set at a resort in Aspen but somehow everyone feels normal. I know the holidays are coming when a new holiday-set romance by Morgan appears.

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Finished Object

Yes indeed, my first knitting FO in I don’t know how long. Ages. I wanted to get back to knitting, and I have a stash of great yarn and half a dozen WIPs (works in progress). This scarf hasn’t been in the pile for that long, and it was mostly done, so it was a good way to get back on the wagon.

When I was in England on holiday last summer I went to a small yarn store and picked up some not-exactly-local yarn. We were in Cambridge and the yarn is from West Yorkshire Spinners. I’d never knitted with Blue Faced Leicester, so I picked up a couple of DK-weight skeins in brown.

Two skeins gave me 450+ yards, so I figured I could make a small-to-medium sized scarf from them. I wanted a pattern that had just enough variation to keep me occupied without requiring me to count and use a ton of stitch markers, and I’d been stockpiling asymmetric styles. After falling down the Ravelry hole for a while, I landed on Groovy, which is a very flexible pattern and can accommodate a lot of yarn weights and sizes.

The pattern is quite simple, with alternating panels of knit and purl. You increase every row and cast off a few stitches every 10 rows. I had less yarn than called for, so I knew I would wind up with a smaller scarf, but I used a slightly larger needle (which I often do to get a fabric with more drape) and wound up with 10 repeats of the pattern.

Behold the unblocked version:

unblocked groovy

That little blob above the scar is the amount of yarn I had left over. Not bad! I liked the ripples a lot, but the ends were too curled in on themselves and I wanted the scarf to be bigger (this is almost handkerchief-scarf sized). So I blocked it with my handy blocking wires, leaving the edge with the castoffs free:

blocked groovy

It’s not as asymmetrical as I thought it would be, but I like it a lot. The wool is softer after being wet-blocked (I used a tiny bit of very gentle shampoo in the water), and I think it will be a great scarf to tuck into the neckline of jackets and heavier sweaters. The color isn’t quite accurate in the photo; it’s a lovely medium brown with a slightly grey tone (it’s undyed BFL).

Now on to the next WIP!