Saturday, June 30, 2007

All's well

Earlier this afternoon, in a slight panic, I wrote:

Call me annoyed. I just tried to "upgrade" my Blogger template... because (foolishly!) I thought their new "customize" feature would allow me to play around more. Hah. If you looked at my blog between 2:30 and 3:06 pm on Saturday, June 30th, it might have looked odd, and this is why.

I might be switching blog providers (or whatever they're called). Or messing with my template. I'd like to have normal margins and so on, but Blogger doesn't want to give those to me unless I'm hemmed in by their templates.

If things look weird, now you'll know why.

I think everything is better. I'm not jumping ship... for now. I seem to have figured out the new system to my satisfaction, and I have a somewhat rearranged layout!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Perfectionism and the Embossed Leaves Socks

For the past, oh, six weeks or so, I've been working on a particular dissertation topic. You see, I thought I had found my "love in the archives". Everything was going along so well - except for a nagging doubt that the sources I was looking at really didn't specifically answer the questions I was interested in. But maybe it would be OK, I thought, so I trudged along, digging in archives, hoping, writing.

The process, in fact, looked something like my progress on my Embossed Leaves socks: everything was going along really well until it seemed I would run out of yarn, a problem that fast became a reality: I didn't have enough yarn.

Not enough yarn!
Pay no attention to the library-pale toes...

I faced several choices: knit the toe of this sock in a different color (which wouldn't have looked good), try to buy more yarn and probably fail, given the number of colors Koigu has, try to swap for yarn that might not quite match, and finally, unknit the first sock and give both socks a bit of toe in the right color and a bit of toe in a different color.

Coffeeboy repeatedly, these past few weeks, has likened my perfectionist difficulties with my dissertation topic to my perfectionism in knitting - and in this case, the two coincided in time, as well. Last night I decided I needed to change my dissertation topic as well as undo the first sock and reknit it. Besides, I'd messed up on the pattern.

Ready to unravel
All ready to unravel!

It wasn't so bad, after all. I got all the stitches back on the needle of the first sock and prepared to finish the toes. For the dissertation, I realized I didn't need to go back to the drawing board, either. I haven't finished the proposal yet, and the topic I've been focusing on for the last few weeks is very, very close to what I'd ultimately like it to be, so I just need to sort out what works of that topic from what doesn't. Some of it might even fit as a chapter in the reworked topic.

At the toes
Ready to reknit!

With that good base to work from, I redid the socks. I also opened a new Word document and started to write things down. Suddenly, just like fixing the socks - and with a little help from my friends - really figuring out the topic seemed as possible as getting going again on these socks.

Embossed Leaves socks
(The color here is pretty true.)

Maybe reworking the socks even quite literally helped me regain my confidence regarding the dissertation. I'm not sure. I do know, though, that by the end of the evening I had a pair of finished socks, ones I am quite happy with! I just hope their recipient is as happy!

Pattern: Embossed Leaves socks, now in Interweave Knit's book of 25 Favorite Socks from their magazine
Yarn: Koigu KPPPM, obviously from a color and dye lot I've long since forgotten
Needles: size 1 bamboo DPNs
Time: 6/3 t0 6/26

Embossed Leaves detail
Leaf pattern detail

Thoughts: I really enjoyed knitting this pattern. While I didn't quite memorize it, it was quite easy to follow and worked well for TV and group knitting once I got the hang of it. I'd definitely like to knit it again with a full-length sock! As it was, I had only one skein of this Koigu and decided to use it for anklets. Since the yarn was green and blue and brown, a leafy pattern seemed appropriate.

Up next on the needles: MONKEY SOCKS! I'm actually jumping on a popular sock bandwagon at the same time as, well, virtually everyone else on the internet, it seems. And I promise you, I have some very pretty yarn for it as well, yarn I've been saving for something special:

Yarn in the color "Autum Moon" from Woolbearers

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Have you ever done this?

It's really hot out today - they say it will get up to 95 degrees. So I dressed apprpriately: light skirt, tank top. What I didn't dress for is sitting in a freezing-cold, air-conditioned library. And I forgot to bring anything to keep me warm.

Except, that is, an in-progress rectangular feather-and-fan shawl that conveniently is long enough to cover my shoulders down to about my elbows. This means I'm sitting here with a half-finished shawl on, circular needle dangling somewhere by my left side, yarn running down to my backpack on the ground. It keeps me warm - but I have to say, I've never worn an in-progress garment in public (for anything other than in-progress pictures) before - have you?

Monday, June 25, 2007

Bloglines question

Those of you on bloglines, has this blog been loading really, really old posts lately? Any ideas why? 'Cause I sure don't know! Thanks!

Maybe bloglines ate my yarn. I have about a yard left and we've just reached the first row of the toe. Uh-oh!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Not so lazy days

I had such high hopes of showing you in-progress pictures of the bathroom remodel. But when you're brushing your teeth at the kitchen sink, and thinking of how many extra trips you took to Home Depot and Lowe's, and that weekend-long project stretches into a week because it takes time for paint to dry, the excitement of "in-progress" kind of fades away. But there you go: our upstairs bathroom, before and after!

Bathroom - before
Before: notice how nothing matches?

Bathroom - after
After: notice now things actually match now? Wow!

We put the finishing touches on about a week ago, hanging the barely-dry mirror and cabinet doors, just in time for a visitor (my parent who actually owns the place) to see the finished bathroom. That's why we're redoing it right before we move out: because we have a small stake in it selling well. Unfortunately, though, we're going to have to rent it for a while until the market picks back up. We now have the oddities of a "for sale/rent" sign out front, as well as a lockbox. Weird - and a sign that this is real, we really are moving!

There's been progress on the knitting front as well. It's now the Summer of Socks knitalong - and since the rules say socks have to start after June 21st, and I have two pairs in progress, it'll be a while. But, I'm making progress on the two other socks I had going. See?

One sock done Too little yarn!
Embossed Leaves

What, you think that little discrepancy of 3 grams is going to be a problem? Especially since the done sock weighs more than the remaining amount of yarn - and I don't have any more than that? Yeah, so do I. I'm about 1/3 into the second anklet and am really hoping to get most of the way into the toe. Then I'll either troll the net looking for some similar yarn, or I'll just knit it with some plain blue or green sock yarn. I do know it's Koigu... I don't have the ballband, so I haven't a clue what I'd be looking for specifically. Shoot. At least the Embossed Leaves sock pattern is tons of fun!

Friday, June 08, 2007

We have winners!

Thanks so much to everyone who played along in my blog contest! We have some winners! Danielle will be taking home some Shadow in Sunset, and Jeanne will find herself with some tweedy blue-green!

And thanks, all of you, for your sock suggestions! I was truly amazed, at first, at the number of "monkey!" requests that came rolling in, and (though they are certainly on my list) was nonetheless pleased to see things start to diversify. I'll have no end of possibilities for the Summer of Socks!

My research trip was good, if inconclusive. It was especially nice to see so many friends, and to make a spontaneous, if out of the way, trip to my college town for dinner at my favorite restaurant. I really actually meant to go to WEBS while still sort of in the area, but I also wanted to visit my "old stomping grounds," as the waiter in the restaurant said. The timing made it such that I couldn't do both, and instead of stocking up on yarn, I stocked up on popovers with apple butter, salad with almonds and poppy-seed dressing, and seafood bisque for dinner, with many years' worth of happy memories to keep me company. I'm usually uncomfortable having dinner alone in a restaurant, but in this case I was so happy to be there, the first time in years, that I really saw all my old friends, my family, my professors, at all the tables in the room, and strangely enough, the memories really did keep me from feeling alone.

In terms of research, it ended on a happy note, as I "had" to go to that shrine of learning and books, the Boston Athaeneum! Wow, was that a lot of fun! However, it was a bit inconclusive, for several reasons. One, I wasn't quite as focused as I've been on previous trips, so it seemed less immediately helpful. Two, I think that the topic I'm interested in might not quite be the best one to address the broader questions I'm interested in, so the question becomes: to switch topics, or to switch questions. Either are possible at this point. I need to mull things over for a bit... perhaps while redoing the upstairs bathroom. This has been on our "to-do" list for over a year, and finally we're both caught up enough with school to permit another venture into the wild world of tiling, painting, and plumbing!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Off to Boston!

This week I'm headed off to Boston for a semi-spontaneous research-and-visit trip. I need to see if there are enough sources to pursue a particular possible dissertation topic, and Harvard (not to mention Boston more generally) is one logical place to start looking in detail. It's off to the big university I go! While I'm there, I'll also be visiting old friends and favorite yarn stores, so it should be a nice trip.

Contest update: less than 12 hours to go! But we're well over the magic number of 15, so two prizes will be drawn! Enter your comment on this post by midnight tonight for a chance to win a prize! I'll be able to inform the winners and post sometime during my trip, but it might not be immediate, especially if the archives kind of suck me in. I'll be in touch with the winners over the next few days to get your addresses, and will put the prizes in the mail after I return.

I'm really excited about this trip. It's been a while since I did anything archival (reading for generals kind of got in the way of that) and I'm really looking forward to it. I'm especially curious since I really don't know exactly what I'll find. I'm hoping to find enough sources to be able to say "yes, I have a topic!" which would just be very exciting.

Of course, I'm also bringing knitting - two socks, to be specific! They are neither of them ones recommended in the contest post (though many of those are ones I do want to knit!):

1/2 Gentleman's fancy sock.JPG

The Gentleman's Fancy Sock by Nancy Bush, in Knitting Vintage Socks, for a certain Professor Coffeeboy


Embossed leaves begins.JPG

The Embossed Leaf Sock, from Interweave's collection Favorite Socks (and from the, what, 2005 edition of Interweave Knits, right before I started subscribing?). These will be ankle-length as I only had one skein of the, yes, pretty soft blue-and-green Koigu. Yum. They're going to a very lucky recipient at some later date this year...

For now, though, it's time to hit the road! See everyone in good old New England! (Or something like that.)