Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Since I'm at an institution of higher learning, I don't have the opportunity to savor amusing typos or blatant ignorance to the extent that I once did. Periodically, though, such gems still cross my path.

For instance, take the faculty member who encouraged me to retrieve some information from prospective students that could be, in turn, useful for the 'Admonitions' committee. I then pictured said committee chastising students about their responses: "No, that is not really what you want to do! What were you thinking to suggest that's your aim?! We would have admitted you, but we're still reeling from your ill-conceived answers."

Or another example emerged once Exam 2 grades for an upper-level science class were entered and uploaded last week. Soon after scores were posted online, one student wrote the professor, asking if he could give her the average of her two exams. He did not deign to reply.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Faith in Socks

My second pair of socks is completed. I had very little yarn left (last time around, I started a second skein for the second sock, but rumor had it that potentially one skein could afford two socks). Towards the end, each row heightened my anxiety; what if it ran out before I was done? I did have another skein on hand, but didn't want to mess with matching up the stripes, especially since I was planning on giving the spare skein to a coworker interested in the colors.

I deviated from the pattern when it was time to bind off. The original method called for a zigzag bindoff; when attempted on my first pair of socks, I had a slightly raised row. Naturally, this obvious discrepancy was unfortunate, as it showed on the top of the toe. My boss made the same pair of socks; one sock had this same problem, the other didn't. I'm not sure how we stumbled into this, but I wasn't fond of the result.

An alternate bind off method suggested was the kitchener stitch (also known as grafting). You still line the stitches up on two needles, but instead of knitting, you use a tapestry needle to finish. I found a site that clearly showed the process. When all was said and done, without me pointing out the location, no one would be able to find out where I finished.

Tomorrow, I break in the new socks. I love them and their predictable stripes. It's the one consolation that the weather is turning cool again.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My First Pair of Knitted Socks

I finished my first pair of socks. I had been given the pattern for them from the parent of a student last spring. I had joked with a seventh grader that now that I was learning about making socks, soon his mother and I would be best friends (she was an avid knitter and all her son knew that she made was 'socks'). On the serious side, I did confess I might contact her for a tried-and-true pattern. He rolled his eyes, sighed, and was shamed with the thought of his English teacher and his mother becoming close friends. Nevertheless, within a day, without my initiation, she had emailed me two patterns, for his mock embarrassment wasn't enough to keep him silent about our exchange.

My thoughts, now that I'm done? I love Magic Stripes yarn. It's great to be surprised as to what color is coming up next. And I end up with colorful socks without having to switch strands every few rows and being stuck carrying colors up the side or having to weave in numerous loose ends. However, this particular color scheme isn't my favorite. I like order and balance, and these stripes varied. I could never predict how long any color strand would last. It leaves me with visions of the Wizard of Oz and I worry that I will slip these socks on, only to have a house plummet down on my head.

I've already finished a sock in another style, and it is delightful. Truly it's hard to be patient until both pairs are done. But I will wow you with my newest pair of socks next week if all goes well. And until then, I will still enjoy these socks and delight in their warmth. Even with crazy colors and a pattern calling for a weird bind off, I am still tickled that they are mine and they are done.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Wherein I Enjoy A Well-Earned Break, Complete with Planes, Friends, and Yarn

Each year my department brings in PhD students for interviews before final decisions are made. I spearhead much of the planning, and our weekend was recently held. On the day our prospective students were to depart, I began receiving calls at 3 AM with students worried about return travel arrangements. Midwest winters and sudden ice storms give an authentic picture to what weather is like, and I fielded many calls when numerous planes were canceled. After such a busy season at work, I took my first mini-vacation of the year. While I survived our recruitment events and received positive feedback for the time, it was pleasant to take a few days off.

So today Eric and I returned from a short jaunt to the Twin Cities to reconnect with old friends. It's a small wonder we made it out of Chicago Thursday, as most flights were canceled due to the weather (again, typical for a Midwest winter). We ended up getting on an earlier flight after two other attempts were canceled. Apparently one can be listed as 'mishandled' on a standby list, thus given more priority.

The weekend was a relaxing time to laugh with friends and meet one baby born since our departure. As seen in the picture, I made Sheldon the Turtle, Jr. for the event. Sheldon II was given to our hosts, and their seven-month-old baby duly christened the turtle with her drool. My original Sheldon will remain at my desk at work and has become a welcome fixture. However, Sheldon does have a penchant for chocolate and abandoned coffee cups, but fortunately he moves relatively slowly so a savvy professor can fend off his misguided attempts for nourishment.

Another couple is expecting twin boys any day now, which led to a pair of crocheted blankets for their arrival. I had recently learned this stitch and enjoyed the way it developed.

The time traveling also allowed me to finish my first knit pair of socks. I will include a photo once I take one, as I am quite proud of the undertaking. Another pair is already on the needles.