Monday, September 17, 2007

sweater weather

Labor Day came and went. I spent it, as I mentioned earlier, camping......and hiking.That was the first indication that fall was on its way. It was also, I think, the first time in many, many months that I pulled on a sweatshirt at night. Mostly because I was outside, but still.

The next indication came when the temperatures started to drop. Yesterday boasted a brilliantly blue sky, sun sparkling down on the still-green leaves...and a high of 62 in Pittsburgh. Now that is what I like to hear. Because it can only mean one thing...The Starry Night sweater has made an appearance! It is almost autumn!! The autumnal equinox is Sunday...are you ready? It's...sweater weather!

To celebrate (? er...actually, just because I am), I've begun work on two sweaters. In a sudden convergence of yarn and magazine, I picked out two sweaters from the Spring 2007 Interweave Knits. For some reason, they are both raglans. The first is the Green Tea Raglan, which I'm making with Frog Tree Merino.The snake-like thing is the "belt" that goes around the waist. Technically, I made this in Frog Tree Alpaca, because it just so happened that I had half a ball of some of exactly the same color of that, and it managed to get thrown in with the merino, and I realized it but decided I might as well use it up to make the belt. I also decided to call this the Coral Tea Sweater since mine's not green.

The other sweater is the Cable Down Raglan, which I am making in Lion Brand Fisherman's Wool. Ages ago I began making an Aran sweater in this. That went through various iterations of disaster (gauge change...messed up parts...) until I finally decided that even if I ever did manage to make the crazy cabled thing, I'd never want to wear it because I don't like the way it is made to fit (and I have no inclination to alter it to fit the way I want). So now the wool is becoming a different cabled beast. I am sort of thinking this yarn is cursed in my hands, because no sooner had I gotten through the first repeat of the cable pattern, complete with very lovely shaping, when...I realized that there was an error in the pattern (because the next instructions made NO SENSE at all). Okay, so not a big deal, I just had to set down this until I had time to find the correction online (because of course Interweave decided in that issue that they'd no longer print the corrections in the magazines - and I do have the issue that said there needed to be a change in the pattern - and they are only available online). I set it aside and went to work on some socks I'm making with yarn I got in Vienna last year.I used the Round Toe from Charlene Schurch's More Sensational Knitted Socks and am doing a ribbing-ish pattern I made up.

I'm also making progress (slowly) on the Brioche Bodice from another Interweave. I have about 5ish more rows of unshaped knitting to do before I can start tackling double decreases, but at least it's brioche stitch and not ultra-boring stockinette. Although...brioche isn't that much more exciting.And finally I found the corrections for the Cable sweater. And that was when I really decided that there's something up with me+this-yarn. Not only were the original instructions for the next step I need to take with the thing incorrect...but so were the instructions for all I'd done up to this point. ! Gasp! Sigh! Grrrr...! It's a minor change, but I know it will make the garment look much better. ...But it also means I have to rip it all out and start over. Bleh...

I guess I won't be wearing that one anytime soon. Thankfully I have many other sweaters in stock in preparation for sweater weather!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

musings on age

Labor Day weekend had me thinking about "me" as a 26-year old. I spent the majority of the weekend tent camping with some other women around my age who are residents at a hospital. In many senses, we are so young! It's sort of amazing for me to think that they're doctors, I almost have my doctorate, and we're not 30 yet! We (assuming we survive) have a long, long life ahead of us! Wow! We've come so far in such a short amount of time. A camping neighbor visited us and exclaimed about how neat it is to see young people like us spending time in the great outdoors.

After the camping trip, I spent a little over 24 hours in a nearby college town. As I meandered around the campus, I was struck by how young everyone seemed. And when I thought about it, the freshmen starting their university studies really are likely 7 to 9 years younger than I, and that's a significant age difference. No wonder they looked young!

I volunteer as a librarian at my church on Sundays, and it turns out that I'm in the children's library. The most profound thing that I have learned in that position is that while children are children, they are still people. Sometimes I (and others I have observed) tend to treat children like pets. As if they can't understand language or facial expressions (which, incidentally, I believe pets actually do have some capacity for). As if they can't comprehend complex emotions and ideas -- and as if they don't have their own complex emotions and ideas. Working with the kids in the library has taught me that this is entirely untrue, and that really...children are just small adults. The major difference between most children and most adults appears to be that children don't know better than to suppress their inner selves; adults have learned that to be "polite" or "socially acceptable" they must act according to specific rules, even if that is not how they really are inside. Not that this is totally a bad thing, but the point is that children are much more genuine than adults.

Seeing children as people instead of children (or pets...) reminds me that the college freshmen I saw this weekend are also people and not college freshmen. And that the teenagers at the next-door campsite who found it desirable to eat dinner away from their parents by sitting in the middle of the paved street are also people and not teenagers. Plunking these individuals into categories diminishes who they really are and limits who and what others will allow them to be. There is value and worth in the thoughts and feelings that all of these people have, even if they're not as "advanced" as matured adult-thoughts and adult-feelings. come full circle and apply this to myself... During my visit to the college town, I attended a conference centered around bioenergy (yes, like my beloved microbial fuel cell). In a conversation with two professors I met, I expressed the framework of my increasingly-more-lucid future dreams (which, yes, you may have noticed have not actually been spelled out on this blog; it's sort of like "if I write won't come true"...). The two professors, who have many years of experience and expertise in the fields of which I spoke, both met me with " you have any idea what you're talking about?" looks. At least that's how I felt. I am increasingly aware that I try very hard to say the things that make people happy with me, but sometimes the ways they respond that make me think I have not impressed them do not in fact necessarily mean I have failed at presenting myself to them in a favorable light; I still feel that way, but I don't think it's always how they feel about me. Not that it should matter so much what others think of me.

Anyway - I felt like my thoughts and feelings were obviously not very "mature adult-thoughts and adult-feelings." Immediately the scale that weights the "goodness" or "badness" of a day began tipping far towards the BAD side. Then another professor, the one in charge of a program I'm interested in (and thus the one I'm most interested in impressing...), spoke with me and further discouraged my idea and encouraged me to try a different approach. To be fair, the approach this professor suggested is the more traditional one and in some senses would be easier. But just because it's easier and is the way everyone else does it doesn't mean it's better. Right? But then you throw into the mix-of-thoughts the fact that this professor and the other two have all been working successfully in their respective fields for a long time and know what they're talking about...and maybe I should listen to them. How do I know if my way won't work, though? But if it doesn't, all those folks who gave me the "you're crazy" looks will just shake their heads and say "I told you so" and remind me of my silliness to even try.

...Once my brain hits this point, the scale tips to the COMPLETELY AWFUL, WASTE OF TIME DAY mark, and I'm sorry I ever came to this conference and want to just move to Switzerland and pursue research on something totally unrelated so I can get away from all possible thoughts and associations with these people who must think I'm a complete idiot for even envisioning the future that I spoke of...

It reminds me of when I wanted to be the place kicker on the high school football team but after practicing and training through the summer, right before the season started the football coach basically told me I couldn't. But that's another story.

So, I suppose what I should learn and do from all of this is take these peoples' suggestions for what they're worth, give myself some credit (after all, I'm 26 and nearly have my PhD in microbiology and molecular virology - I must have some idea of what is going on, right!), and remember that I'm a person, too, regardless of my age and experience, and my thoughts and feelings do have value. I am a person and not a 26-year-old microbiologist. That is far, far too limiting of a definition.