Tuesday, October 24, 2006

One present down

Grandma's socks are finished! Yay! Pictures will appear one of these days. I grafted the toe at SnB without a book in front of me. First time I've ever been able to do that. Now I'm swatching for Mom's Jaywalkers.

And now for something completely different.

Today, the Yarn Harlot wrote a post that really spoke to me. She often does, but this one spoke to me on many levels. And while I may not be quite as eloquent as her (which is okay because writing is not my profession), I felt I wanted to add my two cents. Especially since she mostly avoided the issue of women not taking credit for their talents.

I am a scientist. And a woman. This makes me something of a minority, although in the biological sciences, at least at the graduate student level, we are reaching numbers comparable to men. Last year, when the president of Harvard made a not-so-complimentary remark about women in science, the U of C had a panel discussion about women in science. One of the professors had gone to grad school at Harvard and she said that even though she got very good grades and even though she knew she was doing better in her classes than her male peers, when speaking with them she always assumed they were smarter than her. Until that moment, I thought I was the only idiot who felt that way. And it is idiotic that a person who values the truth of data, who knows that to have any credibility you must base your models on what the data is telling you would hold a belief that the data does not support. And yet, I did and so did she.

I have an incredibly hard time accepting compliments. With knitting, if someone comments on a project I will tell them that it was easy regardless of the amount of time I put into making it, how many times I ripped it out, how many new techniques I learned. I imagine that even if I procured a sheep, built a pen for it on top of my apt. building, took care of it every day, mucked out the stall (boy, wouldn't passersby on the sidewalk be surprised when that came hurtling off the building?), sheared the sheep myself, washed, combed, and carded the wool, spun all of it using a drop spindle, plied it, dyed it myself, and knit an wedding ring lace shawl out of it that would fit a giantess when asked I would probably say, "Oh no, it wasn't hard at all." And when asked how long it took to make, I would likely say, "Not very long." Because, after all, I hadn't raised the sheep from infancy, right?

Or why, when upon hearing that I am a graduate student in molecular genetics and cell biology, someone says, "Wow, you must be smart," I hurriedly assure them that this is not the case? Why do I not say, "Well, I've always done well in school and I've worked pretty hard for it"? Or just say, "Thank you"? I would give seven kinds of hell to any one of my friends who did the kinds of things I do everyday. I would encourage them to shout it off the rooftops. I would tell them to be proud and hold their heads up high and for the love of God take credit for your accomplishments. But I never do so myself.

It's a mystery. I have no idea why I do it. I'm sure my former therapist could come up with some reason. But, it doesn't really matter what the reason is. I need to stop doing it. If somebody says, "Your hair looks nice today," I need to stop saying things like, "I didn't even style it this morning." When someone says, "That's a lovely bolero, did you make it?" I need to stop saying things like, "Actually, the stitches aren't as even as I would like them to be." In short, I need to take credit where credit is due. I need to learn to appreciate the things that I do and assign to them the worth they truly have instead of putting them on the Everyone Else in the World versus Me Double Standard Sliding Scale of Accomplishment.

Who's with me?

Monday, October 23, 2006

I am NOT back from Rhinebeck

Because, as we have already established, I did not go.

I did, however, finish my pumpkin socks.

Toe up pattern roughly based on Wendy's with short row toes and heels using Cascade Pima Tencel yarn. I made up the ruffle off the top of my head by increasing every other row by knitting in the front and back of every stitch until I thought it was enough. They're a little loose on the leg. If I had to do them over again, I'd decrease going from the heel to the leg. But, as they are perfectly comfortable (and soft!), I'm leaving them as is. They make me feel like a kid. Most people say they remind them of carrots. I think next time, I'll do a little jack-o-lantern face on them, and maybe a knit 4 purl 1 ribbing to give them that unmistakable pumpkin quality.

Temporary roommate, A, finished the scarf for her mom (perhaps I can get her to model it for a pic) and is coming with me to SnB tonight. Another one bites the dust. We have decided that when we are both finally in the LA area, we will hang out in yarn shops until Julia Roberts comes in. My husband asked what we would do when she did come in, and, since I hadn't actually thought of what we would do next (because, in my mind, seeing Julia Roberts in the flesh, buying yarn, was enough), I said the first thing that came to mind which was, "Have her sign the ball band of some sock yarn." However, I've decided that I would have her knit a stitch in my project instead because, hey, items that have been partially knit by JR have got to be more rare than her signature, right? However, I'll likely be too embarassed to approach her, and won't want to harass a fellow knitter when she's just trying to buy yarn like a normal* person, and will likely say nothing to her and simply post to the blog, "Hey, I saw Julia Roberts in the the yarn store today" and that will be enough for me. A's next project, by the way, is a pair of fingerless mitts for herself because it's too damn cold in her lab and her hands get cold while working on the computer. Given the size of her hands and the rate at which she is knitting, I expect she'll be done with them by the end of the week. The girl is fast!

I am on the toe decreases for Grandma's socks using Cherry Tree Hill sport weight yarn in the Birches colorway (I know this yarn is heavier than fingering weight, but I cannot for the life of me find a link to it online, I suspect it has been discontinued) that are supposed to be a Christmas present, but I just don't know if I can wait that long to give them to her. So, I might send them early. I want to know if they fit properly. If they do, I can knit her more for Christmas or something. I really should get started on the socks I'm making for Mom, now, though. I think she'd be disappointed if Grandma got a pair (or two) and she didn't. Since I am the only knitter in blogland who hasn't made a pair of Jaywalkers, I think I may do that. I'll have to figure out how to modify the pattern, though, because I'm going to be using thicker yarn and I don't think I'll get gauge.....

Labwork? What labwork? Oh, right, I'm trying to graduate. Ugh. I can't seem to get my butt into lab on the weekends. My excuse this past weekend? Head cold. It's a good one, isn't it? I came up with it on the way into campus this morning. In my defense, it is pretty hard to concentrate on labwork when mucus keeps running down the back of your throat and your nose feels like you've rubbed sandpaper across it (and not the fine stuff, either, we're talking the stuff with the serious grit). I take stuff** for it, and it works, but I just feel worn out all the time. Whine, whine, whine. (Norma, if you're reading this, I am not using a neti pot, but I have a nasal rinse thing and I have been trying to use it, but my nose is so stuffed up, it doesn't work quite right.)

DNA scarf--no recent progress. Probably ought to get back to it if I'm planning on knitting one for my thesis committee chairperson, too.

*That is, normal to us, which, in a countrywide poll of a representative sample of Americans may not, in fact be the norm.

**The angel of mercy must've visited me last night because this morning I found some good old sudafed (not the new PE stuff) in the medicine cabinet. I swear it wasn't there over the weekend.

Friday, October 20, 2006

I'm a knitting pusher

It's like a drug pusher, only more dangerous. I try to convince people to knit. My latest victim is my temporary roommate*, A, who is a natural at it. Last night, I cast on about 20 stitches for her, showed her the knit stitch, and within two rows she didn't need me to watch her anymore. Her stitches are becoming more even and she rarely drops a stitch or picks one up. I wish I could say I caught on that easily, but alas 'twas not so.

I am getting close to the end of the pumpkin socks. I should be able to finish them this weekend. Then, I'd better concentrate on holiday gifts. Where has October gone, I ask you?

I am one of the three knitters in North America who will not be at Rhinebeck. After hearing about it last year, I decided I'd try and go this year but then that whole pesky move to California took up so much time and money that it's just not in the cards. I wanted to play blogger bingo and watch people attempt to keep the Yarn Harlot away from the Grafton Fiber booth and eat lamb chops next to the sheep building, but it is not to be, I guess. It's not like I even really know anyone there, but it would've been nice to put faces to names. There were even perfectly acceptable sheep and wool festivals in this area of the country, but I didn't manage to make it to them, either. But, that didn't bother me much. What were they? Did they have a multitude of knit bloggers flying in from all over to attend? Were they set in upstate New York near the end of fall when you'd want to cut out the middleman and just wear the sheep? Had every blog you read been talking about them for days?

So, it is with heavy heart that I stay home this weekend, knitting pumpkin socks and nursing a head cold (why, oh why do we have sinuses? Is it part of God's punishment to Adam and Eve? "Thou shalt have pain in childbirth and every spring and fall thou shalt have a terrible pain in thy forehead and there shall be much wailing and gnashing of teeth and sudafed except that I shall make the unworthy want to buy sudafed to make a terrible chemical from it and it shall be most difficult for the righteous to buy sudafed and therefore thou shall have to satisfy thyself with sudafed PE instead."). At least I now have a knitting buddy living with me.

*A is staying with my and Roommie because her husband also moved to LA in September (it's like an epidemic around here) and she is desperately trying to finish her PhD. Luckily, we still have a futon for her to sleep on.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Liar, liar, pants on fire

I believe I said something about showing you progress on my Trekking socks during my California Migration. See, um, the thing is, well, uh, a bear stole my camera. Right. Yeah. And then, uh, he told me that he'd give it back to me only if I didn't post my progress pix on my blog. I'm sorry. I know ya'll were looking forward to them and everything, but what could I do?

I finished the Trekking socks last week and wore them this weekend and I loooove them. They fit like a dream (my first pair to do so) and are soft and warm and look great. I want more. I'm not sure what I'll do with them when I get to California, but I'm not going to think about that.

In the meantime, I started some Christmas socks for my grandmother in the Birches colorway from Cherry Tree Hill. And I decided I wanted some pumpkin colored socks, so I'm making some for myself. I forget what brand the yarn is, but it's a DK weight cotton/modal blend and knitting up super fast. I decided to use a toe-up pattern, which is slightly confusing because I never know when I should start the short-row heel. At least with a cuff-down version, I can just keep going until I cover my toes.

I am doing okay (just barely) with John gone. There's a lot of things that have piled-up against me at once and I feel like I'm barely keeping my head above water. John's gone. All of my stuff is in California and I'm living in a denuded apartment, using a utility table to eat breakfast at. I'm pretty strongly affected by my environment, so this has shaken me up more than one might expect. And, I'm feeling the stress of getting my thesis research done, and it's not going as fast as I would like which means I may not get out of here in March. And, the days are getting shorter and it's been gray and rainy and my Seasonal Affective Disorder has kicked in. All of this has combined to make me feel anti-social and therefore not up for blogging. But, I will try. I know that being around people (even virtual people) helps me stay sane and not depressed, so I am trying to make an effort to do that.