Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Babies, babies Everywhere

And not a one for me.

It feels like everywhere I look these days, someone's having a baby. My husband's cousin, my friend from college, Alison from the blue blog, and now my sister.

Yes, my sister.

The unmarried 20 year old with no health insurance. That would be the one.

I have talked about babies before and my desire to have one, but lately, the issue has become so painful, it's practically intolerable. It's been on the back burner for awhile now, quietly simmering and rising up every so often as a deep pang in my ovaries everytime I saw a newborn baby or a pregnant woman (figuratively speaking, I don't actually get pangs in the ovaries). Now, when I see a newborn baby or a pregnant woman, I want to weep. I think my sister's pregnancy has pushed me over the edge and now the desire to have a baby is at a rolling boil (never let it be said I can't mix metaphors). It touches everything I do. "I may as well have a glass of wine, it's not like I'm pregnant." "Maybe I shouldn't get rid of these fat pants, they might be good for when I'm pregnant." I looked at some knitting books for baby patterns on Saturday and it put me in such a funk not even going out with my friends could raise my spirits. And this happens every time I look at a baby pattern book. Which I've been doing quite a bit lately because I want to make something for my sister's baby. But, I can't quite bring myself to buy a book because in my dreams I envisioned myself buying said books when I got pregnant. Not when somebody else got pregnant.

I'm not sure where this all came from exactly. It's definitely been a progression. When I was in college, when everyone I knew was romanticizing pregnancy and how wonderful it would be, I was adamant I did not want to have children. Ever. When John and I got married seven years ago, both of us said, "Well, if you really want to have children, I'm not opposed to it." Then, I turned 30. Suddenly, I had this epiphany. My eggs were old! They were 30 years old! Would you eat a 30 year old egg? They are going bad. They are just asking for meiotic non-disjunction. And I realized, hey, if I want to have children I should probably do that fairly soon (like in the next few years). Especially if I wanted more than one child. And just in case there are problems. And I'd really like to have them out of college before I hit retirement age. And all that. I mean, sure, women in their 40s have children all the time but medically speaking, the earlier you can start, the better (within reason, of course).

So, the tension has been slowly rising. When we got our apt. in California, I thought of it in terms of how long we could live there after having a child. I thought about school systems. When John and I eat, I correct his table manners so that our children don't have a bad example sitting next to them.

I don't understand what has happened to me. I've become someone I used to look down upon. A woman who seems to be just gagging for a child. A woman who is obsessed with having a baby. A woman who is wondering if it would be crazy to go by a basal thermometer to see if I can pinpoint when I ovulate (the answer to that is yes, it would be crazy).

So why, oh why am I not trying to get pregnant? Well, there is the small matter of living half a country away from my husband at the moment. But, we could try to time things a little differently. We could, you know, stop using birth control. But we're not doing that. Because I need to get my PhD. I need to finish my program. I need to have my degree. And then I can get pregnant. At least, that's been the plan.

Only, lately, I've been thinking, "You know, is it really inconceivable (haha) to be pregnant and finish my PhD at the same time?" It's not like any of the stuff I do in the lab is actually harmful, so I don't have that to worry about. And would I really get pregnant the first time I tried? I mean, I only see my husband for three days out of every month. The odds of them being the exact right three days are pretty low (unless I buy that thermometer and start taking my temperature and seeing if I can define a good ovulation window, but to have good data for that [let's remember I'm a scientist], I'd have to do it for several months and even then I might not be able to predict an ovulation window accurately enough to buy a plane ticket at least two weeks in advance and anyway I'm hoping to be out of here in several months).

Basically, I'm beyond caring.

I don't care if I've finished my PhD, I don't care if it might get complicated, I don't care that my husband is hundreds of miles away, I don't care. I just want a baby.

I don't know where I'm going with this. I don't know why I'm posting this. I just need to talk about it or explode, and while talking to my therapist is great, it's not enough. And I think, there must be people out there who feel the same way, and maybe one of them will read this post, and they'll say, "Hey, I feel that way too," and I won't feel like some sad, pathetic fool of a woman who is being dominated by hormonal urges. That's all.

So that would be Knitalong Wednesdays, then?

I meant to knit the Cabin Cove socks yesterday, really I did, but I utterly and completely forgot. So, I knit a few rounds on them this morning while I was sitting in front of my light box. I'm knitting both at the same time, toe-up. I started them toe-up because I was a little bit worried about running after yarn. And everytime I sit down to knit on them and look at those little balls of yarn, I'm a little more worried that I will run out of yarn. Especially when I think about how huge the first pair of socks was that I knit for him. So, my current plan is to do an afterthought heel. I've never done one before, but I'm thinking it can't be too hard. My reasoning is this: if I run out of yarn before finishing, I can make the heel and the cuff in a different color of yarn and it will look like I meant to do it that way.

I am contemplating buying more Cabin Cove yarn--one of the lace cakes. I have a wedding I'm going to where I'm going to wear this dress:

Me and John on our anniversary last year

(Please do not lecture me about wearing black to weddings, I don't have the money to buy another dress right now). I want to make one of the simplest patterns in Victorian Lace Today (a center panel of faggoting with a simple knit-on border--don't look at me like that, it's what they call the stitch!) to wear with the dress to the wedding. I'm thinking of buying either Pink Fire or Just Pink. I was originally going to go for the knitpicks alpaca and silk blend laceweight in a fushia, but then Dave updated his site and I like Dave: he seems nice, he has a pretty kitty, he shows pictures of Boston on his blog, and I'm doing this here knitalong, so why not? But, I'm hung up on which yarn to get. I just fired off an email to Dave asking his opinion (because I'm sure he has nothing better to do than give me fashion advice, yeah right), mostly because I'm always concerned about the appearance of the yarn color on my screen. I'm leaning heavily toward the Just Pink today (yesterday it was the Pink Fire, tomorrow I'll probably be back to Pink Fire). If I wait too long, it'll be sold out, I'm sure, and then I'll be up a crick without a paddle (crick = creek in midwest-speak). So, dimmi!* What do you think?

*That's Italian for "Tell me." My Italian professor used to say it all the time in class and I've been thinking about it a lot lately. We have a new post-doc from Greece and her accent sounds very much like Southern Italian and she's always saying, "Tellll me." Makes me long to visit Italy again.

Friday, February 16, 2007


...Dr. A, PhD

From left to right: Me, A (temporary roommie), Roommie, M

We all started the same year, bonding almost at once and A is the first to defend her thesis. I'm so proud of her I could burst! We've all been through so much together these past seven years and I just don't know how I'm going to live without them. Fortunately, A has a job at UCLA and so won't be too far away! Roommie and M are going to be getting a lot of phone calls in the future.

To jog your memory, A is the one I taught to knit while she was staying with me and in two months she made 6 scarves, a pig, a penguin, and a duck. Before her defense, she sat down and wove in the ends on a scarf for her mother (which she then handed to her, turns out she didn't quite finish it in time for Christmas). Yep, she's a knitter.

By the way

I forgot to say the talk went well. I asked my advisor about it later. In knitting terms, the stranding on the inside was just the right tension, my seams were perfect, and the fit was good. Hooray! I am especially pleased by this because I want to be a professor and therefore I need to have good presentation skills.

In (real) knitting news, I have a few updates:

Baby Kimono from Mason-Dixon knitting:
Done in worsted weight, this is a quick knit! It's knit flat, then seamed up the sides and arms. The pattern calls for Sugar 'n Cream cotton, but I wanted something a little softer. So, I picked up some Peter Pan Velvet Touch which is a synthetic novelty yarn that is soft and fuzzy in a girly-girl colorway of purple, pink, and yellow. It's like it's screaming to be a baby garment. And it meets my standard criteria for baby knitting: machine washable. Because babies, they are messy and parents, they are tired. So, I have the back, one sleeve and most of one side of the front done. And I started on Monday. Okay, so this may not seem very quick to you, but trust me, it is for me, especially these days. Hopefully I'll have it done by the end of the weekend and then I'll just need some ribbons so that it can be tied closed and I can ship it off.

Grandma socks:
I started these socks from Regia Bamboo as my seminar knitting. I've got a cuff and part of the leg for one plain stockinette sock.

Cabin Cove socks:
I still have two toes and the beginnings of two feet. I haven't gotten any further because I need to pay attention to the pattern and I haven't had any time for that kind of knitting. I have faced the music and realized that my roommate is not getting these socks until next Christmas. But that's okay because that means I'm early for next year's Christmas knitting. I've decided though, to make Tuesday knitalong day. So every Tuesday, I'll knit on the Cabin Cove socks. Yeah. We'll see how long that lasts!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

She's alive!

Perhaps I should rename the blog, e-beth MIA.

You know how it goes. Lots going on. Deadlines. The need for sleep. Snowstorms. General mayhem.

Yesterday, I gave a talk about my research to people in my program (students and faculty). There's always something a little scary about this. While it's fun to share your research, at the end of the talk, people ask you questions and point out flaws in your thinking. Put another way, it's like showing someone the fair isle sweater you knit knowing that they're going to want to look at the stranding on the inside. And the seams. And, they're going to want to know what the pattern was, who the designer was, what weight, brand, color and fiber your yarn was, when did you do the steeks and how long did it take you and if you didn't do steeks, they're going to want to know why.

So, I spent all day Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday working on this 20 minute talk. On Monday, I had a practice talk for my lab and got constructive critcism (it really is constructive, even if they do hate your slides and think that you aren't explaining things well enough). Then, I had to redo my talk. And practice, practice, practice. I looked over old data and papers from before my time and talked with my advisor about my data and freaked out about the questions people were going to ask, and got down on my knees and prayed that a certain annoying, rude faculty member would not be there (she wasn't-yay!). God help me when I get to my thesis defense.

I would love to share my presentation with all of you, but I haven't figured out how to add a file to the blog. I think I might not be able to because I have the free version of Blogger.

Needless to say, the knitting, it has been languishing. However, I did get two books:

Mason-Dixon Knitting
Victorian Lace Today

These are two very different books (I can't read one right after the other because it gives my brain whiplash), but I love them both. Mason-Dixon Knitting is a tower of practicality. I cast on for the baby kimono (for my husband's cousin's baby which should be arriving any day now), and the ball-band washcloth, and I desperately want to make the linen hand towels, and a log-cabin afghan, and I bought some cotton yarn for the baby bibs and burp cloths (for a different family member which is a matter for a different post--Imbrium, remember who I was saying I should make something for and I kept browsing books and looking at yarn and in the end I just couldn't bring myself to commit to anything? That's who they're for). Oh, and the spiral rug, I want to make one of those, too. And the nightgown and robe. And I love the technical hints they have with the patterns. It's like borrowing a pattern from a friend and having them tell you how to do the hard bits.

Reading Victorian Lace Today is a completely different experience. If Mason-Dixon Knitting is like meeting a friend at a coffee shop, Victorian Lace Today is like going for high tea at the Ritz. The photography is stunning and gives the book a "coffee table" quality. History is my second favorite subject (science is first, of course), so I am thrilled to read the introductions to each of the chapters and the historical notes with the patterns. Being new to lace knitting, I appreciate the notes with the patterns and I am looking forward to the day when I feel brave enough to design my own pattern and can use the information in the back of the book. I long to own just about every shawl and scarf in the book and even if I never, ever buy another lace book, this one will keep me busy for years and years to come. I can't wait to start something from the book. My brother is getting married this summer, so I have the perfect excuse to knit something delicate and beautiful from this book.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007



When I was in college, one of my roommates did not like to cry in front of other people. So, even though we were the best of friends, if she was feeling really sad, she would not cry. This made for some awkward moments if we were talking about whatever it was that was upsetting her. So, to ease the tension, I would suddenly belt out at the top of my lungs, "DON'T CRY OUT LOOUUUUD!" At which point we would start giggling and the tension would be released. Having done that regularly for an entire semester and at various times since college, whenever I feel sad, that is the first thing that comes to mind.

John left for California yesterday afternoon. All in all, I think I handled it pretty well. After I dropped him off at the airport, went to Michaels and bought a sketch pad and some crayons and some wool/soy yarn from Patons that I've been wanted to try (only 2 skeins). Then, I went to the grocery store and bought a baguette and some goat cheese (mmmmmm.....goat cheese!) and some of that spreadable cheese with port wine in it and a few pears and red seedless grapes and a bottle of reisling and a small box of Lindt truffles and went home and took a nap and when I got up, I ate my cheese and fruit and had a glass (a mug actually because all of my wine glasses are in California) of reisling and watched Law and Order Criminal Intent and then SVU right after that and ate four of the truffles. Yes, I comforted myself by buying things and eating things but I bought a small number of inexpensive things and ate relatively healthy things (well, except for maybe the truffles and I only had four of them and there were 12 in the box). Not bad really. It could've been much, much worse.

On the knitting front, I remade Calorimetry so that it is a little shorter and fits more snugly on my head. I am wrapping the old Calorimetry around my neck inside my coat(it fits with about 3 inches to spare on each side) and tucking the ends to help keep my neck warm so I can use my scarf on the outside to cover my mouth because it is well below zero here these days (Celsius and Fahrenheit!). I finished the baby socks and need to send them to my friend. I finished the toes on my Cabin Cove socks (toe-up) and started the pattern but decided that I didn't like how it looked in this yarn (really needs a very light color to do the twisted stitches justice), so I switched to a different pattern in the book and had to revise it for the number of stitches I am using. Since I finished the baby socks, I was without a pair of mindless socks to knit in seminars and on the bus and so forth, so I started a pair for my grandmother out of Regia bamboo. You can never have too many socks on the needles.

So, today I am back in lab and life is back to "normal" and all in all I'm coping better than I did after the last time John visited so, yay me!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

The kindness of bloggers

A while back, Norma asked people to write about what motivated them to knit for the Red Scarf Project. For me, it was because I never received care packages when I was in college, so I know how hard it can be when everyone else is getting them (especially freshman year). When I posted this comment, Norma, being the dear, sweet person that she is, asked me for my snail mail address. A little while later, I received this in the mail:

Item 1: Impossible floating jam. Tasty enough to blow up your kitchen over. Seriously. If I had to blow up my own kitchen to get more of this jam, I would.

Items 2 and 3: Sugar and Cream cotton yarn with which to make Mason-Dixon's infamous, addictive washcloth

Item 4: Chocolate from Norma's sister's shop. The best damn chocolate this side of the Atlantic. Go, buy some.

Item 5: Notecard, image of Blue Moon yarns on front, photography by Cara Davis

Item 6: A Rhinebeck Bingo button (it's sooo cool I get a souvenir of the world-renowned Rhinebeck Festival when I didn't even get a chance to go!)

It's funny, this blogging community that we have. Norma wouldn't know me if she passed me on the street, and yet, here she sent me this lovely package and I probably communicate more with her than I do with most of my own family (which is pretty sad, really, since by "communicate" I mean "leave comments on her blog"). And I have read many, many accounts of bloggers who are in need in some way, and other bloggers have come to their rescue. And even when I have a terrible day and I feel just awful and I have had a bad experience and I write about it here, I get words of encouragement from people I "don't know" in the conventional sense. And I truly care about the people I have met in the blogosphere.

What is it about this "place" that makes us all so caring, so honest, so giving? Is it just that knitters and crocheters in general are those kind of people? You have only to look at the Yarn Harlot's Knitter's Without Borders drive to know that knitters are incredibly generous with whatever resources they have. How is it that in this world where people are so often cruel to each other that there is this little oasis of comfort and beauty of the human spirit? And why can't we see more of such goodness and kindness on the news instead of the senseless violence that predominates? Maybe the answer is to take away everyone's guns and hand them knitting needles and a ball of yarn.