Wednesday, December 2, 2009

November socks, and more Jane Austen

I continued my Jane Austen reading marathon, beginning Pride and Prejudice when I finished Persuasion. Mansfield Park is up next, but will have to wait a few weeks, until exams, design reports, etc. are graded and final grades have been submitted.

I am currently reading The Congress Dances by Susan Mary Alsop---a book about the Congress of Vienna and the events leading up to it. It is research (yet more research!) for A Diplomatic Alliance.

I finished my November socks, which I call my "Holiday Socks," exactly two weeks after I started them. The pattern is Wendy Johnson's Slip Stitch Heel Basic Socks, from her book Socks from the Toe Up. Although not very visible in the photograph, there is gold thread running through the yarn, which gives the socks a bit of glitter. Perfect for the holidays!

Currently, I am knitting another pair of socks (for myself), a pair for my oldest niece (for Christmas), and a sweater for my oldest grand-niece. Over Thanksgiving, my grand-niece, who is six, asked, while I was re-measuring her, if the sweater (which she has not seen) could be a tunic. I hope that extra six inches or so doesn't prevent me from finishing the sweater by Christmas. I'd also like to knit a pair of socks for my younger sister for Christmas, but I don't know if I will be able to squeeze in another project. Time will tell.

Of course, if all my students get perfect grades on their final exams, I'll zip through grading and have more time to knit. (I'm not holding my breath on that one.)


Thursday, November 12, 2009

October November & more Jane Austen

Work has been rather hectic the past few weeks. The last week in October and the first week in November, all mechanical engineering students consulted with their academic advisor about which courses to take next semester, then registered for those courses. This week, it has been my duty to determine how to come up with an additional section of Thermodynamics I and of Mechanical Measurements Lab, and to decide which courses will not be offered. Since I'm still short one faculty member, two courses have to go so that those two extra sections can be added.

The courses on the chopping block are those that are not required for any Mechanical Engineering major, nor for any engineering minor, that have the fewest students registered. No matter what I decide, someone is going to be unhappy. (More likely, several someones.) Fortunately, my colleagues have readily agreed to the changes I've proposed.

There has been no progress on A Diplomatic Alliance these past two weeks; I have not written a word, but I've been pondering an important plot point. I did, however, complete the final two pairs of October socks. The first pair completed (on November 1st), which was the second pair started, was the socks for the Boy Child (a.k.a. Mr. Bigfoot)---Wendy Johnson's Mock Cable socks. It is difficult to see the cables in the dark blue yarn, but they are there.

The final pair completed, which was the first pair I started, was Ms. Johnson's Peace Socks. These are for my mom. They are rather funny-looking because the skein was smaller than I thought---by about 20 yards. Finding leftover yarn of the same weight which would not clash with the colors in the original yarn was a challenge, but I'm rather pleased with the result. I didn't finish these until November 7th, so I suppose they can't really be considered October socks, even though most of the knitting was done in October.

I'm pleased that I was able to complete three pairs in a month---or, to be precise, a month plus a week---despite everything else that was going on. That's a first for me!

Since my last post, I have re-read Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and I'm currently re-reading Persuasion. Jane Austen's books never fail to please.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Life's Little Surprises

Yesterday, at the Freshmen Honors Luncheon (a lunch for freshmen in the Honors Program), at the close of a very strange week, I had the delightful surprise of discovering that I was sitting between two Jane Austen fans. I had chosen a seat at a table with three young ladies, one of whom I knew was an engineering student. In the course of the luncheon, one of the other women at the table (the assistant VP for programs and planning, the assistant VP for assessment, and the Honors Program Director) suggested that I should tell the students about my books. I gave my usual short explanation: "I write comedy of manners novels set in England in the early nineteenth century, similar to Jane Austen's books."

The two young ladies on either side of me, both of whom were engineering students---one a mechanical engineering student interested in biomedical engineering and the other in civil engineering---immediately replied, almost in unison, "Oh, I love Jane Austen!" If that wasn't amazing enough, one of them then told me, "We watch Pride and Prejudice in the dorm almost every Friday night." The dorm in question is the Honors Dorm, in which all freshmen in the Honors Program, 90-plus percent of the sophomores, and more than half of the juniors and seniors in the program reside.

Flabbergasted, but not (quite) beyond speech, I immediately inquired, "Which version? The A&E one or the new one?" "The one with Keira Knightley," Rachel, the young lady on my right, replied. When I confessed that I had not seen that movie yet, she said, "Dr. ----, you will have to come and watch it with us some night!" I told the girls that if they invited me the next time they planned to watch the movie, I'd come.

We had a lovely discussion of our favorite Jane Austen books. Rachel and Samantha share the same favorite Jane Austen novel: Pride and Prejudice. My favorite, depending on the day you ask, is either Sense and Sensibility or Persuasion. I told them the book group at my local bookstore had just read Emma.

When the Honors Program Director suggested that I tell the students about the Honors Seminar I taught last spring (the Honors Seminar in which none of the five students, one of whom was an English major, had ever read a book by Jane Austen), and I gave a three-sentence summary, both Rachel and Samantha exclaimed, "I'd love to take a class like that!", and asked when I would teach it again. Apparently, I will be teaching it again in the Spring of 2011. : )

What is your favorite Jane Austen novel?


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Progress...or the lack thereof

Writing of A Diplomatic Alliance (a.k.a. Mission in Rome): None to speak of.

Grading: The pile never seems to get smaller, especially since I keep assigning homework in all my classes. Plus, I gave a test this week.

Knitting: Peace Socks #2 (the first pair I've completed) are done. These socks, which are one of Wendy Johnson's designs, were a fun knit. A quick knit, too, since they are made with sport-weight yarn. They are made with Noro Silk Garden Sock yarn, in color S264. This was the first time I'd used this yarn, and it probably won't be the last. : )

The Boy Child's socks are progressing, but slowly. I'm about two-thirds finished with the foot. Again this month, I'm finding that socks with plain feet are not as interesting as socks with patterned feet. And the larger diameter and longer length do not help.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

September socks

I finished my September socks, which were Wendy Johnson's Feather and Fan Socks, last night. I thought that the foot, being plain stockinette stitch, would knit faster than the past few sock feet have, but they did not seem to---because I found the plain foot boring! (Or maybe because classes had started and I had less knitting time.)

Here they are, in all their colorful splendor. The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the Mountain Creek colorway.

Here's a close-up view of the pattern, in which, unfortunately, the colors are rather "washed out."

These socks are for my mom---who now has two pairs of colorful hand-knit socks (see my post for Saturday, 18 July to view her other pair of socks) and who may have the snazziest socks of any 75-year-old woman in northern Indiana. : )

I like both pairs of socks for next month's KAL, and I'm trying to decide which one to knit first. One pair, Ms. Johnson's Mock Cable Socks, will be for the Boy Child; one pair, Ms. Johnson's Peace Socks, either for me or for my youngest sister (for Christmas). The Boy Child's feet are not enormous, but they definitely are not small. Baby Sister's feet are an inch longer than mine, and mine are far from dainty. (In this sock knitting marathon, every pair of socks I have knit so far has been for feet 9-11 inches in length.)

At the moment, I'm inclined to knit the Peace Socks first. I still have to find yarn and needles that will give me gauge. But I have a wad of papers to grade tonight, so sock swatching may have to wait until tomorrow.

How many holiday presents have you made? I've completed one, and am about halfway through another.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Georgian Wrangle #1

When I was preparing for the Honors Seminar I taught last spring, Jane Austen's England, in order to properly set the stage for students unfamiliar with the time period, I did a lot of research on King George III's reign prior to 1790. In the course of that research, I learned about the long-standing dispute that is the subject of this post.

King George III did not like Charles James Fox. Fox was the third son of Henry Fox, 1st Baron Holland, and his wife, Lady Caroline Lennox, daughter of the 2nd Duke of Richmond. Fox's father exerted little control over him and encouraged him to be extravagant and dissolute. Fox lost vast sums gambling, and in 1774 Lord Holland paid his son's gambling debts at a cost of £140,000. (Almost 20 years later, political friends paid off Fox's debts and gave him a comfortable income, and Fox subsequently gave up both racing and gambling.) Fox was Falstaffian in character, and none too clean in appearance. He was openly a rake, and was rumored to be having an affair with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

In 1768, he became MP for Midhurst, a family pocket borough. He was only 20 years old and, therefore, was under the legal age to sit in Parliament. (MPs could not take their seats until they were 21.) Fox soon attracted attention through his ability and the quality of his speeches. In 1770, he was appointed a junior Lord of the Admiralty, but resigned in 1772 to oppose the legislation that became the Royal Marriages Act (which was enacted later that year). In December 1773, he became a junior Lord of the Treasury, but the king---who considered Fox a vicious, intemperate man and an evil influence on the Prince of Wales (not that Prinny needed help choosing vices), as well as disliking him for opposing the Royal Marriages Act---dismissed Fox in February 1774.

In 1780, Fox became MP for Westminster, which he represented for the rest of his life.

Fox served as Foreign Secretary in Lord Rockingham's second ministry (March 1782-July 1783) and in the Duke of Portland's first ministry (April-December 1783), which was known as the Fox-North Coalition. The king tried for five weeks to avoid appointing what he called "the most unprincipled coalition the annals of this or any other nation can equal," but he had to give in, and the Fox-North coalition took office on 02 April 1783. The king refused to give the ministers any marks of royal confidence, but the ministry was able to maintain the support of the independent country gentlemen in the House of Commons. Fox did not help his precarious position at court by proposing to give his dear friend, the Prince of Wales, an income of £100,000 a year---a proposal that made Fox even more unpopular with the king.

The Fox-North coalition was brought down by the proposed India Bill. On 17 December 1783, the House of Lords rejected the bill after the king made it known that he would consider anyone who voted for it as an enemy. The coalition was dismissed next day, and William Pitt accepted an invitation to form a government. Fox alienated many of his supporters by attacking Pitt at every opportunity, and they showed their discontent by changing sides. In March 1784, Pitt called a general election. After the results were announced, the opposition found itself with only about 145 members in the new House of Commons. Those who lost their seats became known as "Fox's Martyrs."

Fox's attacks on Pitt's proposed commercial concessions to Ireland in 1785 and on a commercial treaty made with France in 1787 damaged his reputation. He made a further error of judgment in 1788-89, when the king was temporarily insane, by supporting the claim of the Prince of Wales to the regency as a right, whereas Pitt maintained that Parliament alone had the right and competence to appoint a regent. This was a total role reversal for both men, since Fox, as a Whig, supported parliamentary supremacy, and Pitt, as a Tory, was in favor of royal prerogative. (I presume that Fox believed the king was permanently insane and Pitt believed the monarch was temporarily so, and that these beliefs account for their seemingly uncharacteristic attitudes.)

Fox welcomed the outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789, and he continued to praise it even after Revolutionary France declared war on Great Britain in 1793. His support of the French Revolution brought his friendship with Edmund Burke to a dramatic and very public end, and a large part of the opposition went over to the government in 1794. The minority of 50 to 60 MPs who continued to support Fox became one of the weakest oppositions ever known in England, and about 1797, many of them ceased to attend Parliament.

Fox approved of the Peace of Amiens, which was signed in 1802, but spoke of the "shameful surrender of all our conquests" to Napoleon. He was critical of Henry Addington's ministry (March 1801-May 1804) for its failure either to maintain the peace or to put the country into an adequate state of defense to meet the threat of invasion after the resumption of the war in 1803. Addington's government resigned a few days later, and Pitt returned to office.

Pitt wanted to form a broad-based coalition, but was unable to persuade George III to accept Fox as Foreign Secretary. When Lord Grenville became prime minister after Pitt's death (in January 1806), the king accepted Fox's appointment as Foreign Secretary. By this time, Fox's health was failing. He made his last speech in Parliament on 19 June 1806. One of the last things he did was pledge to abolish the slave trade. Fox died in London on 13 September 1806. He was buried in Westminster Abbey by the side of his political archenemy, William Pitt.

(The portrait of King George III was painted by Sir William Beechey in 1799 or 1800. The painting of Fox was done by Karl Anton Hickel in 1794. The caricature of the Prince of Wales, which is titled "A Voluptuary Under the Horrors of Digestion," was by James Gillray and was published on 02 July 1792. Of all the excellent caricaturists of the Georgian and Regency eras, Gillray is my favorite, and this particular work is, in my opinion, one of his best.)


Friday, September 11, 2009

Gauge is not a constant

I can't say I've ever given the subject of gauge much thought before. I knit a swatch to determine the correct needle size to use to get the gauge stated in a pattern, but knitting the swatch hasn't ever led me to contemplate the subject of gauge.

Last month, however, when I started my second pair of socks, I (for the first time ever) did not knit a gauge swatch because I had used the same yarn, in a different colorway, for the pair of socks I made in June. (See "June, Glorious June," my post for Tuesday, 30 June 2009, to view that pair of socks.) Imagine my surprise when the same yarn and same needle (a US1) gave me ten stitches per inch, instead of the eight stitches per inch it had produced in June. (Can you spell s-t-r-e-s-s?) I ripped out the toes, started again with a needle a half size larger, and got nine stitches per inch. After ripping out the toes again, I changed to a needle a full size larger than the first one, and finally got the desired eight stitches per inch. By then, when it was too late to finish the socks that month, I'd begun contemplating the subject of gauge.

What I realized was that, between early June and mid-August, there had been a lot of changes in my life and my work, and I was under a lot more stress than I had been two months earlier.

But the "Eureka!" moment didn't come until about a week ago. This month, I'm knitting a pair of socks with the same yarn I used for the pair I made last month for my friend, Kathy. (See "Summer's End," my post for Wednesday, 19 August 2009, to see Kathy's socks in all their glory.) The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, which I bought at The Loopy Ewe.
The Loopy Ewe
Kathy's socks are the Rainbow colorway; this month's socks, which are for my mom, are the Mountain Creek colorway. This month's socks are Wendy Johnson's Feather and Fan socks.

I'd been contemplating gauge, enough to realize that all the changes in my life and work had occurred before I started Kathy's socks. Once again, for the second (and final!) time in my life, I did not knit a gauge swatch. (You'd think I would have learnt my lesson, but....) The very same US1 needle that had given me eight stitches per inch for this yarn in early August gave me, you guessed it, ten stitches per inch in early September. After two more sessions of ripping out the toes until I'd hit a needle that gave me gauge (a US2 again), I realized that Professor O had not yet resigned when I started Kathy's socks. And I finally learnt not to assume that the same needle and yarn I used a few weeks ago will give me the same gauge today.

But the downside of that lesson is that now I'm afraid to work on any project I started more than a few weeks ago, for fear that my now much tighter gauge will ruin it.

I guess that means I should start something new. : )


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer's End

Technically, summer does not end until the autumnal equinox, which is more than a month away. But for me, as a child and as an adult, the first day of school has always signaled the end of summer. At my university, today was that day. Classes don't start until Tuesday (25 August), but faculty had to be back on campus today, for the first of three "in-service" days.

My professorial colleagues and I, as well as the staff, spent the day listening to a lot of people talk about things that, to me, were not very interesting. The President's "State of the University" talk was informative---and short. It was, in fact, the shortest speech of the day---about 15 minutes. The talk about student retention was also interesting and informative. But does the average professor, or the average maintenance man or groundskeeper, need to listen to an hour-long talk about what the university is doing to market itself? My opinion---and that of one of my colleagues, who was sitting next to me, and of the maintenance men and groundskeepers in the row behind us---was that we did not.

In my opinion, a large chunk of the information presented today was not relevant to a professor. All we care about is that there are students to teach, preferably better, brighter students than in last year's freshman class. (And there will be---the university's enrollment is higher than it has been in 40 years.) Oh, and we'd like to be well-paid for our work.

As a department chair, I'd also like to have a full complement of faculty, instead of starting the year one professor short. But that situation isn't going to change between now and Tuesday, so I just have to grit my teeth and bear it. Two of my colleagues and I will be teaching an extra class.

The bad news of the day was that there was no mention today of the faculty salary increases the president talked about in his address last year. There's money alloted for building dorms and athletic facilities, money for renovations to older buildings, and money for lab equipment, but salaries were not mentioned.

The good news is that I finished another pair of socks, this one for my knitting buddy, Kathy. The pattern is Wendy Johnson's Seaweed Socks; the yarn was from Kathy's stash (which is orders of magnitude larger than mine). Kathy had vowed that 2009 was going to be her "Year of the Sock", and she has yet to knit a pair, so I made these to inspire her. Hopefully, she will knit a least one pair of socks before year's end.

Ever hopeful, I am attempting to knit two pair of socks this month. After several false starts, I gave up on the yarn I'd planned to use because I could not get the correct gauge, even with US2 needles. (I was getting 9 stitches per inch instead of 8.) Instead of a lovely, hand-painted blue-green-purple yarn, I'm using a solid blue. Having used this kind of yarn for the June socks, I know I can get gauge with a US1 needle. So I cast them on tonight. We will see if I can carve out enough time the rest of this week and next to knit a pair of socks.


Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chaos Controlled

The chaos of this past week is under control. Barely, perhaps, but it no longer has the upper hand. Professor O is gone (leaving his office full of...stuff and looking like it was struck by a tornado). No white knight has ridden over the horizon, ready to teach Professor O's classes. The teaching schedule has been reshuffled once again---for the third time in less than two months---and all the courses that are supposed to be taught this semester will be taught, except for one graduate class. Of course, to ensure that all those courses are taught, three professors (one of whom is me) will be teaching an extra class, but the students won't suffer due to Professor O's last-minute resignation.

Now, if only peace (and sanity) will prevail.

James Gillray's famous caricature on the Peace of Amiens, entitled "The first Kiss this Ten Years!---or---the meeting of Britannia & Citizen Fran├žois", published 01 January 1803. The French officer's hat and sword lay on the carpet. Britannia's shield and trident rest on the wall behind her chair. Above them are portraits of George III and Napoleon, facing each other. They almost appear to be shaking hands, but with very bad grace.

The French officer says, "Madame, permittez me to pay my profound esteem to your engaging person!---& to seal on your divine Lips my everlasting attachment!!!" Britannia says, "Monsieur, you are truly a well-bred Gentleman!---&, tho' you make me blush, yet, you Kiss so delicately, that I cannot refuse you, tho' I was sure you would Deceive me again!!!"

The Peace of Amiens lasted only a few months after this caricature was published. A few months of peace sounds divine. A few years sounds better.


Friday, August 14, 2009

Bad things come in threes

If you have ever wondered whether this is true or an old wives' tale, I can confirm that it is true. Bad things do, indeed, comes in threes. I thought the three things I was dealing with were (1) hiring a new professor to replace Professor R, who left in December and whose replacement was fired halfway through spring semester, (2) hiring a new faculty member to replace Professor Q, the former department chair, and (3) hiring a visiting professor to substitute for Professor P, who is taking a year's leave of absence.


Once all three positions were filled (Monday, August 3rd), I spent most of last week juggling the teaching schedule, getting the new faculty assigned courses in their areas of expertise, and trying to arrange classes so that Professor O, the only person other than the now-departed Professor Q who has taught a particular course, could teach that class. Pulling that off involved changing the time the course was taught, which meant I had to look at the class schedule of each student in the class to find a time that would fit every student's schedule. But I did it. And Friday I submitted the revised teaching schedule for Mechanical Engineering to the registrar's office.

On Monday (August 10th) Professor O resigned, effective immediately.

Professor O, who has been at the university for 18 years, is going to the same school where Professor Q will be teaching. This institution, which is in a large Southern state, made Professor O an offer "impossible to turn down." (Presumably Professor Q received the same sort of offer.)

Is loyalty, like chivalry, dead? Why do some people not feel obligated to honor their commitments?

Chaos reigned for a day or two. While I'm not back at square one, I am indisputably short a faculty member...and classes start on August 26th. I have a headache of epic proportions, and I can feel the grey hairs sprouting. Rapidly.

But this morning, I saw this cute little chipmunk just outside the engineering building, and he put a smile on my face.

And today, finally, I had an uninterrupted hour to complete my move into the chair's office---a week and a day after I moved my books in there.


Friday, August 7, 2009

"Some days you feel like a chair...

...other days you feel like a stool." So spaketh one of my colleagues, chair of one of the largest departments in the School of Arts and Sciences.

I'm not sure whether, in his quote, "stool" is intended to mean "a less elegant form of seating" or if the intended meaning was "an essential, multi-purpose piece of furniture." Already I have had days when I felt like a prop holding open doors (or opportunities), and also days when it feels like I am the glue holding the department together. Although people who are not in academia may not be able to relate to that, I think everyone will understand what I mean when I say that I am supposed to be on vacation this week and have spent three days at the University. But...on the first of those three days, I filled my third faculty position for the coming year, so I count that day well spent.

So far, the two worst things about being chair are: (1) trying to match faculty members and courses for the fall semester (a headache I am still trying to resolve) and (2) faculty colleagues (and/or their spouses), who know that my original plans for the summer included writing the middle half of my current WIP, coming up to me at social events and asking, "How is your summer going?" or "How is the writing going?"

There is no easy answer to the first question, except to say that my summer has been very different than I expected. In early May, I had no idea that my father was going to require open heart surgery or that my department chair was going to resign and that the dean would choose me as the new chair. Those two key events have shaped my summer in ways that I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams. They have also, inevitably, affected my writing, or rather, the time I have to write.

For the first three weeks of the summer my writing was going very well. With two years of research behind me, I was writing a chapter a week, sometimes a bit more. But that progress came to a screeching halt when, within four days, my department chair announced his resignation and my dad underwent open heart surgery. The fact that, six weeks later, my dad still requires in-patient care and rehabilitation therapy has effected the course of my days. The fact that I was named the new chair has determined what I do with my time between 8am and 5pm. At 5 o'clock, I drive the 50 miles from work down to see my mom and have dinner with her, then I go to see my dad. After visiting him, I drive the 30 miles back home, rarely arriving before 9pm.

Next week I will be on vacation (I hope!), and writing is one of my big goals. I hope to write at least one more chapter. Until then, I will share with you two caricatures I found in my research. The first (at right) is Parisienne, the second (below) is British, but both mock the fashions of 1810.

The French caricaturist is unknown, but the caricature is titled "Les Modernes Incroyables"; the British caricaturist is Henry Humphrey, who was better known as a print seller (he and his relatives published the caricatures of James Gillray and George Cruikshank, among others), but he also engraved and published a number of caricatures. This caricature, titled "Les Invisibles," brings to mind a number of caricatures in which Gillray satirized the fashionable. It also, undoubtedly, served as a model---or at least an inspiration---for some of George Cruikshank's later works, such as "Monstrosities of 1818" (or 1821, 1822, or whatever year).


Saturday, August 1, 2009

Is it really almost August???

One day I turned around, and it was the middle of July. The next time I caught my breath and turned around, it was the last day of the month.

July has been an eventful month. Dad finally got out of Cardiac ICU, then out of the hospital...but only as far as a nursing home/rehab facility. He is doing better, but still has a ways to go. I am still driving the Great Circle Route every weekday: from Auburn to Angola, to work; then from Angola down to southwestern Fort Wayne, to see Dad and check on Mom, with whom I nearly always have dinner and spend a couple hours; then back to Auburn. It's a 108-mile loop, and some days it seems twice that long.

I have spent a lot more days at the university than usual this summer. First of all, because I taught in a two-week science camp, the ExxonMobil Bernard Harris Summer Science Camp; secondly, because the new department chair (me!) is doing her best to hire good new faculty members to replace those who have left the university or will be on leave next year. (Two down, one to go.) The third reason for my extra time at the university this summer is because, as the new department chair, I am expected to show prospective students around any day they (and their parents) want to stop by---and so far this summer, no two have chosen to stop by on the same day.

My big accomplishments the last half of this month, apart from the science camp, hiring a new faculty member, and a (slightly) cleaner office---which must move next door next week---is another pair of socks. These socks, like all the others I have knit this summer, are by designer Wendy Johnson ( They are called Nanner Socks. (This pair is not from Wendy's new book.) I made these for my sister, although she doesn't know that she is getting them for Christmas.

I should have some time off these next two weeks. Hopefully, I can use it to unpack the boxes in my study at home---which have been piled there since we moved in last winter.


Saturday, July 18, 2009

Where did that title come from???

If you are wondering how I came up with the title of this blog, it refers to the many government and parliamentary squabbles, as well as some interesting personal squabbles, during the late Georgian and Regency eras. (Not to mention the fact that the first title I thought of was already being used.)

I had the pleasure of teaching an Honors Seminar spring semester about England during the time Jane Austen was writing her novels (1795-1817), and in my research for the course, I learnt about a number of wrangles of which I had not previously been aware. (More about the course and my research at another time.) Also, I love to knit, and I occasionally my knitting becomes a "wrangle," which invariably leads to ripping out a portion of recently knit stitches to correct the mistake. Usually the error is mine, but occasionally it is due to an incorrect pattern.

Speaking of knitting...Here's a picture of this month's socks---On-Hold Socks, from Wendy Johnson's book, Socks from the Toe Up---which I made for my mother. I finished the socks earlier today, and gave them to my mom tonight. They may end up in the "I'm saving it for a special occasion" drawer, but once she passed 70, she seems to be less inclined to save things for special occasions. I may not know for certain if the socks end up in the ISIFASO drawer, but if she wears them, I'm sure to notice. My dad is still recuperating and rehabilitating after his heart surgery, so I go down to see both of them every night, and Mom and I have dinner together.

I spent two days this past week---and will spend three days next week---teaching classes at a summer science camp for rising 6th, 7th, and 8th graders. It's been more than a decade since my son was that age, and I'd forgotten what motormouths kids that age can be! My ears are still ringing from their non-stop chatter Friday afternoon, but I'm looking forward to working with them on their final project next week.


Tuesday, June 30, 2009

June, glorious June!

Alas, June is nearly at an end. (Where did it go???) It has been a difficult month in many ways, despite the fact that it is summer, with no classes to teach. My dad has been in the hospital twice, the second time for open heart surgery, but he is recovering, slowly but surely. My department chair announced that he was leaving at the end of July. The dean chose me as the new department chair. (Yikes!)

My big accomplishments for the month were not (regrettably) many pages of the current WIP, but two knitted garments, mostly worked in Heart Pavillion at Lutheran Hospital. The first, a Baby Surprise Jacket, is for my oldest niece's best friend's new baby.

The second knitted "garment" is a pair of socks for me. These are called Lacy Ribs Socks, and they are from Wendy Johnson's book, Socks from the Toe Up. The socks came out really well, and the lacy ribs combined with the varigated colors in the yarn proved to be a good choice. (I was not at all sure about that when I started them.)

I have another pair of socks from the book picked out to knit in July. The July socks, Ms. Johnson's On-Hold Socks, will be knit for my mom---as soon as I find a combination of needles and yarn that will give me the correct gauge.