Week Sixteen: Decisions and Revisions

The calculus train is barrelling along past Reimann Sum station now, and I’m staying in my seat and taking all the notes I can. I’m keeping up with my homework on antiderivatives, summation notation, indefinite integrals, and definite integrals. There will be an exam in two weeks covering this material, and I’m not scared of it. The biggest problems this week have been (a) slipping on the frosty ramp outside the house and bruising my hip, shoulder, hand, and ego; (b) getting almost to school and realizing I was driving the car that didn’t have the commuter window-sticker; and (c) getting so wrapped up in my homework that I lost track of time and was a minute or two late to class. They didn’t all happen on the same day (but two of them did).

The smaller the interval you measure, the closer you get to an accurate estimate of the area under the curve.

Of course, I know me by now, and when things are going well I tend to extrapolate the success to the nth degree. If I solve one computer hardware issue I think I should work as a Genius at the Apple Store. If I write a haiku I wonder how I’ll ever have time to finish my epic metered saga. One good pot of soup, and I’m thinking up graphic treatments for a cookbook series. If I think of an improved mousetrap design, I fret over my inability to purchase enough warehouse space to store all the inventory. That sort of thing. It’s more amusing now that I can catch myself in the act of making ridiculous or disproportionate future plans, and ground myself gently back in reality.

Thoughts like these have started me wondering about my academic future. Enough people have asked me if I were going back to school this fall that I started wondering, too. I went from “no” to “probably not” to “maybe” to “I think I’ll change my major to Pure Mathematics and get a full time job too and edit at night and invent cold fusion” in the space of an afternoon. Well, except for the cold fusion. I’m sure someone else has that all worked out by now.

I caught the thought, then I held it and took a more critical look at it. The physics professors seem distressed at the thought of my being a math major. What are you going to do with a math degree? Well, the same thing I was going to do with a physics degree at age forty-coughcoughcough — learn everything I can about what I’m interested in, while I still can. I’m interested in education but not in teaching, but who knows? With four technically oriented kids, being able to teach math might come in extremely handy. I’m interested in the history of math, the history of science, and the history of language. I don’t have five lifetimes in which to read everything, so I need to choose my reading matter carefully. For that, a structured course seems like a good idea. What’s it all good for? Well, it’s going to help me become more like me. That should be the purpose of education — to help you develop your strengths and shore up your weaknesses. It’s your choice as to whether you apply that towards finding a job or not. Personally, I think that this experience and education will eventually land me in a place where I’m making a living, but I just can’t see all the details from here. Not yet.

The math-and-numbers side of me is now being balanced by my words-and-letters side. I’m not just playing Words With Friends and Scramble any more; I’ve gotten a client who would like me to edit his book manuscript and help him get published. While I’m waiting for him to sign and return his contract, I’ll go ahead and hard-copy edit his first two chapters and keep track of my time so I can figure out my rates for future jobs. I’m also editing a friend’s dissertation for chapter-by-chapter publication in an academic journal. I’m reading fiction and nonfiction. I’m writing every day and blogging every week. And I’m still playing Words With Friends and Scramble. Finding point-scoring combinations among the letter tiles isn’t interfering with my “mathing” any more, so I’m just trying to stay balanced.

Then there’s knitting, that combination of wool, coding, artistic expression, and applied topology. I’m doing finishing (weaving in loose ends) on a huge project, turning a heel on a sock, designing a mathematically and artistically geeky scarf, and knitting a lace-edged narrow shawl that’s a therapeutic exercise.  My friend Bonnie has taught me how to do a Long-Tail cast-on — in fact, this patient woman has taught it to me twice so far — so I have a new tool in that particular toolbox.

As usual, all I need is time. T.S. Eliot assures me that won’t be an issue:

Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
— “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”

Week Eleven: This Thursday Intentionally Left Blank

Did you miss me yesterday? Sorry, I’m transitioning (temporarily) to Friday posts so that I won’t miss a week when I’m on Spring Break in a couple of weeks with the kidlets.

Someone asked me this week, “So, where are you going for Spring Break?” Of course I answered “OHIO!” with a big fistpump. Even when I was in college in Ohio I took my Spring Breaks in Ohio. And it was usually in the middle of March, so even if you felt springlike, there was no getting around the fact that it was NOT a good time to start your own personal cycling season; the temperatures were usually in the range of 40 to 50°F. If I got any riding done when I was home on break, I usually had a sore throat and a cold by the next week. It… wasn’t exactly a vacation at the beach.

Okay, time for progress reports!

Last Sunday I was enjoying the lack of need to go anywhere since the weather was crappy. I sat on the couch and knitted on my Wingspan shawl until I ran out of yarn near the end of the 8th triangle. Lo and behold, the second skein of yarn for it arrived on Monday afternoon. YESSSSS. It is a different dye lot and looks a bit darker to me, but I really don’t mind or care. I get to keep knitting.

In the meantime I have pulled out a pair of socks I started knitting last October or so, on yarn that has been languishing in my stash for years. (How many years? Well, I stopped in at Ruhama’s in Milwaukee [all right, really Whitefish Bay] before I saw “Mean Girls” in the theater. Which came out in 2004. That’s a pretty long time for a skein of fine-looking German sock yarn to make up its mind about what it wants to be. And who would have guessed it would actually want to be socks?) They’re intended for someone whose feet I don’t have immediate access to, so I really hope they’re going to fit. Knitting fitted items to spec is not one of my natural gifts, so while I can knit socks, they usually go to someone whose feet happen to be the right size. Locating people whose feet fit my socks is also a gift.

And…. drum roll…. tomorrow I shall knit the Very Last Piece for the project-which-will-soon-be-unveiled. I cannot tell you how hard it has been this week to only knit one piece per day for this project, with the end so near in sight. There was such a temptation to hole up and crank out the knitting and finish early. I decided to join the resistance and maintain the pace, despite how eager I was to get the whole thing “done.”

In non-knitting news, the kidlets really did a lot of stuff since my last post. Middle Son won a trophy in a spelling bee, Youngest Son earned a ribbon in the same bee and then proceeded to lose his two front teeth over the weekend. Eldest Son went and turned 14, putting a real cramp in my tendency to still think of my inner self as 22. He’s almost taller than I am, and his feet are already bigger than mine (though we can still trade shoes in an emergency). And I went ahead with my valiant weight-loss plan, did two Jillian Michaels workouts in two consecutive days, and completely wrecked myself. I took Thursday off from programmed exercise, and by the end of the day I was able to go both up and down the stairs without screaming involuntarily. I’m calling that a victory and will strive to make progress from there.

Back to knitting news! Due to an unexpectedly favorable alignment of circumstances, I will be able to attend Late Night Knitting tonight for the first time in more than a year. It takes me an hour to drive there (and there might be freezing rain in the early evening), but I can stay until they kick me out at 11pm. Then (sigh) I have to drive homeward for another hour (and there might be snow in the late evening). On Saturday there is a rummage sale/bake sale at my kids’ school (for which I will be baking) from 8 until noon, so I’ll need to be there at least at the beginning of that. Then I think there’s a Pokémon tournament somewhere that needs to be Hung Out At with Eldest Son. Then there will be a Batman movie to watch, Doctor Who to view, and some test knitting for Phase Two of the Ginormous Secret Project. Then…. ah, how I like being busy.

Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 10:13 am  Comments (2)

Week Five: Quantum of Progress

This week I’ve stayed busy, but until a few minutes ago I didn’t think I was getting anything done. Then I looked at what I did today:

• Went to knitting and drank one chai latte. (This list gets more impressive, I swear.)
• Turned the heel on one sock.
• Finished one blanket square.
• Knitted one repeat on a scarf.
• Gave away one of my typewriters.
• Worked on calculus homework for about an hour.
• Read one more chapter of Plato’s Republic.
• Left some cookies on campus for friends.
• Filled up the gas tank.
• Thrift-bought the shirts for tomorrow’s Spirit Day.
• Went to the bus service to look for our lost mittens.

The list really does go on and on. And if you look at the whole week, you’ll see more of the same. Had a new washing machine installed. Had the old washing machine hauled away. Baked a batch of cupcakes. Mixed a batch of frosting. Caught up on “Castle.” Applied for one job. Made a pot of chicken soup. Swapped out the rear axle on my bike. Little things that didn’t take much time to do, when considered in isolation.

In my fantasies, it would be really nice to spend the day doing one thing all day long. Like, read a whole book, reorganize the whole upstairs, give away all the clothes that need to be donated, sew up a complete quilt, write a whole short story, watch a complete trilogy. But I don’t get that kind of time, and I suspect my brain doesn’t work that way. Besides, when I do try to spend a day that way — if I don’t almost immediately get a call from somewhere, saying someone has been hurt, and I must come and get them Right Away — I can no longer see the tree I’ve gotten done through the forest of neglected tasks.

My task is to keep spinning the plates. Not even all of the plates — spinning most of them is fine as long as they are the right plates. Some of the plates deserve to crash or be replaced with new ones. And I need to forgive myself and move on when I think I’ve broken the wrong plate, or am not spinning enough of them.

• Wrote one blog post.
Published in: on January 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm  Comments (1)

Week Four: The sum of the parts

If a pile of unrelated halves could add up to a shorter pile of related wholes, I’d have more progress to report — at least, progress in the Finis! Mission Accomplished! Level Complete! sort of way. But, to paraphrase Buzz Lightyear, “That isn’t my way, is it?”

Well then, let’s see what we do have.

I finished one slipper (half of a pair) and a washcloth.

(no new picture since last week. feel free to use your imagination.)

Here is half of a sock that I cast on for while watching my alma mater play hockey against the team whose TV coverage I can actually receive in my home.

Half a sock is better than…. no, it’s still just half a sock.

Wait…. here’s half of a pair of socks! That’s better, right?

The sock for which I had sufficient yarn.

To tell the truth, I actually showed up at Thursday morning knitting group with this sock just to prove that I had actually knit a sock. We’re a little funny about socks, my group is. If you don’t make socks at all, we’re fine with that. It’s a lifestyle choice we can both understand and respect. If you tried making socks and you suck at making socks, we’re fine with that. Oh, we will tease you about it, but really, we’re fine with that, too. But if you can make socks and nobody ever sees you making socks, well… we seem to have a problem with that. The gang actually chipped in the summer before last and made a birthday present for me out of sock needles, sock yarn, and a sock pattern because I “never make socks.”

This sock had an interesting origin. I discovered somehow that Wisconsin would be playing Miami University last weekend. Now, if you know much about Sports of Any Kind, you should know right away that this is an Unusual Occurrence, as Miami is usually in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) and Wisconsin is in the Big Ten/11/12/13 Conference. However, when it comes to HOCKEY, it’s a little bit different. You play the nearest hockey teams. Sometimes, and more often than you might think necessary, you play teams in Alaska. Now, Miami has recently had a most excellent hockey team and Wisconsin, so far as I knew, wasn’t on the college-hockey-playing map. This year has been an exception; Miami has struggled, while Wisconsin built up an impressive winning streak. Even Miami’s “hockey blog” group predicted that, at best, Miami would win one and lose one over the weekend.

That’s exactly what happened. Wisconsin won the Friday night game as I cast on for this Miami-colored [and coincidentally Wisconsin-colored] sockette made from stash yarn. And Miami broke Wisconsin’s streak by winning the second game on Saturday night, when I was just past the gusset stitches. They were exciting games to watch — although the kidlets still don’t quite understand why I wasn’t rooting for Wisconsin — and I got one sock out of it. Sadly, after weighing the leftover yarn, I’ve concluded that I probably won’t have enough red yarn to make a mate for it. I’ve had plenty of suggestions that I simply reverse the colors in the second sock…. but that isn’t my way, is it?

No, it isn’t.

So I just sent a message to the only person on Ravelry who has a skein of this yarn that they’re willing to sell or trade. Come icing or high-sticking, my little hockey sock will have a mate that well and truly matches.

I haven’t knitted a stitch of the drop-stitch lace scarf, and though I did cast on and knit a couple of rows on the next Gigi slipper, it wasn’t even enough to take a picture of, so that’s all the progress that’s worth reporting on the knitting front.

But on the resolution front? Any news there?

This post takes care of Resolution #1 for the time being. And I made some progress on Resolution #3 by getting my butt down to campus this week and setting myself up for success in calculus. Yesterday I even studied and took extensive notes. I had forgotten quite a bit since I had to suspend my studies, but I finally did find the place in the textbook before which I need not go, and I will re-educate myself from there. I’ll make copies of my notes and start taking on homework problems starting tomorrow. The sooner I get it done, the sooner I’ll be ready for the Most Excellent Job in technical editing.

P.S. I’ve started watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey and should be all caught up by Sunday night. Just so you know.

Published in: on January 24, 2013 at 11:55 pm  Comments (4)

It is with a heavy heart that I pass along the news that some of my most treasured handknits have expired. Yes, I know there are greater losses. But these knitted items were kind of a benchmark for me in a lot of ways.

First off, I didn’t knit them. They were the first handknits I ever received, from the first knitting swap in which I ever participated. It was the summer of 2007 and Harry Potter mania was in mid-swing. One night I’d probably had half a glass of wine too many, clicked on a link, and Bam! I was in a Harry Potter themed knitting swap. We had fake wizarding names and everything.

I remember the timing because it was when I was starting to knit the Ravenclaw-colored socks for my downstream swap partner, my youngest child was admitted to the hospital and being fed some high-calorie meals around the clock in an effort to pack some pounds on him. I was pretty stressed out and struggling with the double-pointed bamboo needles and actual Sock Weight Yarn, but I was making a game effort of it sitting on the hospital bed until the afternoon I pulled too hard on the wrong needle and yanked it out of about 25 stitches. I knew then it was time to quit without really quitting. I called in a favor to my cyber sister Lauren in Scottsdale, frogged the project, and sent her the yarn so she could make socks for my partner. I did make some beaded stitch markers and get other goodies for my downstream partner, but in the end she barely acknowledged receipt of my packages.

My upstream pal, however, was a whole different story. Jules sent me a pair of striped Hufflepuff socks, a drawstring bag with lotion and goodies, and my favorite type of Ritter brand chocolate — dark chocolate with marzipan. You can relive that happy moment here at my One Happy Hufflepuff post from June 21, 2007.

Jules was also the first long-distance knitter I met in person. We got together once at a cool yarn/fiber shop near Springfield, Ohio, that had, among other things, a claw-foot tub FILLED with yarn. It was on that day that I bought my first package of stitch markers, and a hank of yarn I just KNEW I would make into mittens someday (and I eventually did). It was that first meeting when I told Jules she had the hair of a spinner. Do you believe me now, Jules?

We met up again a couple of years later to visit a yarn store in Dublin, Ohio, and get some Jeni’s Ice Cream while I finished Those Noro Socks.

Many things have changed since then. Tommy put on a few pounds and got discharged from the hospital. I learned to knit socks and even more intricate items. I had meetups with other knitters, created a little knitting get-together we like to call Unwind, and started a local knitting group that’s been meeting for almost three years now. I’ve done another Harry Potter related knitting event, and got re-sorted; I’m no longer classified as a hardworking, loyal Hufflepuff but a brainy, clever Ravenclaw who has gone on to knit herself some nice ‘claw-colored items.

When you knit…. people don’t often give you knitted things. But other knitters know this, and the kindest of them make sure that the handknits keep getting parceled out. I cherished those socks, and this winter I was wearing them to bed when I felt especially cold. One morning a couple of weeks ago I took them off to discover that they had given their all.

I’m sorry, Madame Pomfrey / Jules / Crafty Peach. But they were loved.

Published in: on February 1, 2012 at 8:53 am  Comments (2)

Behind schedule

So, based on those poll results, people are more interested in what I’m working on (and putting off) than the projects I actually complete?

Well….. okay. That’s going to work out quite well, actually.

Here’s the WIP list to the best of my recollection. I’ll put in pictures later.

1. Doctor Who Scarf, Season 18, Lion Brand Thick & Quick Chenille. This is well underway, and the only difficulty is that the yarn has been discontinued and the Terracotta and Burgundy colors, which I need several skeins of, each, are tough to find. I have a buttload of Purple in stash.

2. Doctor Who Scarf, Season 12, Caron Simply Soft. I’m making this for a friend and have every color except Brown and Yellow. I just finished the first two stripes. The next two stripes are Brown and Yellow. Time out!

3. Lenten Scarf KAL. This is an interesting project comprised of seven 12-inch squares in a row, making a 7-foot-long scarf. I am halfway through the last square, then need to weave in the ends, block it, and add tassels.

4. Baby blanket. This is the Baby Prayer Blanket pattern, done for a cousin’s baby, due in August. It’s maybe 20 percent done but that may be a generous estimate.

5. Cabled socks. This is the Brigid pattern, and I started this as a January stash knit-down project. Or February. Who’s counting? I am actually at the foot, but suspended work to take on the Lenten KAL with full force. The pattern says to switch to ribbing on the foot instead of continuing the Celtic knot, but I would rather continue the cabling if I could concentrate on the darn thing. Working both socks in parallel.

6. Tilting TARDIS scarf, based on the cowl pattern. This was a KAL timed with the end of the last season of Doctor Who, and we’ve started the new season already. You can imagine the urgency I bring to the project.

7. Cotton blanket: I have knitted 93 of the requisite 225 squares. I have no idea how I’m going to crochet them together. ‘Nuff said?

8. Greenish blue scarf, One-Row Handspun Scarf pattern. Begun on St. Patrick’s day 2010, or maybe 2009. I don’t remember, haven’t touched it in months.

9. A brown hat I’m knitting on the fly for a friend who is also Tommy’s bus driver. Every time she sees me she asks where it is. I last worked on it in December, and now it’s finally spring. Again, urgency.

10. I’m almost ashamed to say I never finished that little Adipose I was making in the summer of 2008? Really? 2008? Good Lord, Tennant was still the Doctor and everything.

There’s probably something else waiting for me to finish it. Are you happy now?

What a couple of weeks!

Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been back home for almost a whole week. It was kind of crazy there for a while, driving to the lower U.P., then “up and over” and down to near-Detroit to stay with a friend on the way to my parents’ house, then a Rav meetup with two previously-met knitting friends, then a meetup in Fort Wayne on the way home.

During the whole trip I only had two knitting projects with me, and I finished one and cranked on the other (despite leaving the lace pattern at home). I felt like such a Knitter.

Here’s the project I finished: Those Noro Socks!

Since then I’ve started and finished a book (“The Wednesday Sisters”) and taken an Aran knitting class at Irish Fest Summer School.

If you’re going to Milwaukee’s Irish Fest on Sunday, leave a comment and I will get back to you — I’d love to meet you there. I will wear my Ravelry button (I’m “chocolatesheep”) so you know who to say Hi to.

More later!

Published in: on August 14, 2009 at 10:02 pm  Comments (2)

Xtra pictures of the SOMA cube

Well, you did guess that starting a post title with X was going to be tricky, didn’t you? I can’t believe I got this far and nobody commented on it. Almost all the ways through my ABCs, and it’s only mid-July. That degree in English Literature is sure coming in handy!

I got the game pieces assembled, but I need to do a lot of sanding before I can call them done. Right now they’re more like portable splinter dispensers.

The seven SOMA pieces

Now, let’s make a cube.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

You can also place the last piece differently and make this pretty configuration.

The Crystal

And here are all four cubes, assembled. Sanding is next.

Four cubes

Whew! I don’t know when I’ll get to do the sanding. We have seen a couple of yucky bugs and it’s time to give serious attention to de-cluttering the house so we can have it sprayed.

Knitwise I haven’t done anything with the lace scarf in a few days. I guess I got tired of being so good at un-knitting it. But I have added two stripes to the current Doctor Who Scarf, and Fringed the second Pinstripe TenScarf on the 11th.

Next to get attention: Casting on for the second Noro sock, or attacking Tyrone. Maybe with scissors.

Published in: on July 14, 2009 at 8:48 am  Comments (1)

Vultures!

I’m getting really tired of this. Poor Farrah Fawcett, can we let her rest in peace?

Quite some time ago I wrote a post that included a head shot of Ms. Fawcett with that famous hair, which all of us “of a certain age” were trying to re-create on our own heads many years ago.

The post has taken on a life of its own, and most of the people who find my blog via search terms have been using phrases like “Farrah Fawcett” but most often “fara faucet” or some even more misspelled variation. Every time poor Farrah’s cancer flared up in the last two years, I’d get a spike of hits. (That post is responsible for 10 percent of the total hits on my blog. I Am Not Making This Up.)

So. I was away around the time of my birthday, and didn’t have access to wifi. When I got back I noticed this tremendous spike of views on and just before my birthday. In fact, June 25 set a new one-day record, topping the day I wrote about the Blue Moon Fiber Arts sock club debacle. Wow, I thought, did people really come by to say Happy Birthday in those kind of numbers?

Nope. Farrah Fawcett died of cancer and my blog must have hopped to the top of the search-engine list.

Sorry folks, nothing to see here. Just one thumbnail headshot of Farrah from the 1970s, a few chocolate bars, and a lot of procrastinated knitting. You vultures can move along.

But you yarnies can stay! I’m making a lace scarf, and finishing socks, and all kinds of exciting things.

Here’s the first clown Noro sock. I haven’t cast on for the second one yet.

Currently I’m working on the lace scarf (the pattern is called “Moon River” but my project is named “Fire River” because of the yarn colorway) and fixing Tyrone and wishing Tyrone were already fixed. I did finish a second Pinstripe TenScarf, but haven’t added any fringe yet. (And holy moley, I got a Rav PM from the pattern designer saying she hadn’t had time to fringe the one she made since it was for a gift, but she liked the fringe I put on mine. Wowzers!)

This one’s a giftknit, and I want to get another one on the needles ASAP for another Whovian friend. Who knows, I may start cranking these out like some people make touques. I’m not naming any names.

Published in: on July 9, 2009 at 10:59 am  Comments (4)

Unclear

Whew. I can’t believe it’s so far into July already. The first session of summer school is almost over, and lots of travel lies ahead this month before the Big Trip back to Ohio in August.

But some things are unclear. The first such thing is what’s up with Tyrone. I really did make a frontal assault at the poor stalled thing last Friday. I wove in all the ends I could, and it’s obvious that I got it on more needles than the one. If I recall correctly (and it’s quite possible that my recollections might be hazy) it’s on two 24-inch circular needles and two dpns. It didn’t seem to alleviate the stitch crowding, and it didn’t make my next step terribly clear. I want to get some thinking time in on it before I press forward. But I think I just need to do “whatever” to accomplish the raglan decreases.

I was never so happy to switch to sock knitting as I was last Friday night at 9pm! So I picked up Those Noro Socks and forged ahead. I’m on the foot now, so it’s no sweat. I worked on it late Friday night, some on the weekend, and even tried it on last night. At which point Mr. Beth said, “That looks like a clown sock” and described to me the hand-knitted sock he was visualizing all this time. It, um, doesn’t look at all like the sock that’s on the needles right now.

I could frog the whole sock if this yarn were the last skein of it in all the world, or I could finish this sock and make its mate. Hey, let’s vote!

No prizes today. Just share your wisdom.

Published in: on July 6, 2009 at 8:38 am  Comments (7)