a new project

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Dissertation-wise, I’m in that weird place where I can’t do anything more until I get feedback, so while I’m not “done”, I can’t actually DO anything right now. Perfect time to cast on for a new project, right?

a new project...

This probably looks familiar, seeing as it’s the third of these I’ve knit. But this one actually isn’t for M. Oh, I still have plans to knit her a bigger one (4T-ish size, probably), and to knit myself a cardiganized Stripes! to match, but this one is actually the smallest babyStripes! I’ve knit. My dear friend K, who took such good care of me and M in those early months as the closest thing to an alloparent we had, is expecting her first baby, and like us, they’re not finding out the sex ahead of time. I told her that if there was anything she’d seen me knit for M that she’d like for her own baby, to just tell me, and she said she loved babyStripes!, so her kiddo is DEFINITELY getting a babyStripes!!

The bonus, for me, is that I’m getting a chance to run through my pattern and test-knit it in the smallest size. If I knit M a bigger one, I’ll have knit 4 different sizes of my own pattern. I hope to publish it later this summer, after I’ve defended the dissertation. Another kinda-sorta bonus is that I think I’ll finally install a zipper on this one. I keep not doing it, but if I’m making this as a gift for someone who is not my own kid, I don’t want to cut corners! I’d like to try the Tech Knitter’s no-sew zipper process; maybe I can figure out how to incorporate that into the applied i-cord edge at the front?

vikkel braid!

I knit the vikkel braid last night. I love it! I actually find vikkel braids easier to do via purling (that is, on the WS), which sets you up to start each stripe on the RS, so that’s what I did (I actually did it the opposite way on the other two babyStripes! I’ve knit, but I suspect most knitters would prefer starting stripes on the RS and also avoiding 3 rows in a row of purling when the garter ridges show up in the yoke). But that means that the braid at the neckline will have to be done from the RS if I want to avoid breaking the yarn. I think it’s good to be able to do them from either side of the work (and I’ve only ever seen directions for creating them from the RS, in Nancy Bush’s Folk Knitting of Estonia book), so I’m including directions for executing braids from both the RS and the WS in the pattern, along with some helpful hints.

It’s amazing how quickly little baby sweaters go, especially knit at 5sts/inch!

still writing…

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Just checking in. My most recent page count:

may 20 page count: 192 (and a finished draft of Ch. 4!)

Inching ever closer to 200. I’m kinda wordy :)

I now have finished drafts of the first 4 Chapters. Hope to have a draft of Chapter 5 by the end of the week, but I’ve got to work out some data/stats issues before I can do that. If I can do that, I’ll definitely hit my goal of a completed full draft (all 6 chapters) by the end of May. I know I can write Chapter 6 (the conclusions and future directions chapter) in less than a week.

Then, I have until June 16th to do whatever revisions my committee asks me to do before officially submitting my dissertation. Then I defend on July 10th. That should be plenty of time to put together a good talk. I’m not super worried about that; you can’t put together over 60 presentations (between the two lecture-based classes I taught this year and the workshops I gave for the writing program) in a year without developing some confidence in your ability to put together and deliver a talk. But ask me again when I’m actually putting it together :)

I actually *am* still knitting, just a little bit (on the Mitered Crosses Blanket):

Square number six #WIPSunday

But really, I’m pretty single-mindedly focused on the dissertation for now. I’ll be a more interesting person again in August. I hope.

square number four

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square number four

Still loving my Mitered Crosses Blanket. Can’t get over how pretty the squares are, and how much fun they are to knit.

Each square is coming out at a little over 1 foot, and I think they’ll each be closer to 13″ once I wash/block them. I’m aiming for a 3×4 square blanket, so that’ll be around 39″x52″ – that’s a pretty good size for a lap blanket, right?

my other WIP.

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Right now, I’m working on a slightly-less-photogenic project: my dissertation! I’m supposed to defend this summer (on July 10th, in fact), which means I need to have my dissertation finished by the second week of June. I’m actually aiming to finish it by the end of May. Over the course of the last couple of years, I’d managed to write about 90 pages, all in scattered bits and pieces across several chapters, so that’s where I started, the day after my last day of classes for the semester:

May 1 dissertation page count: just noting where I'm starting as I make the final push toward the finish line.

I’ve been taking self-portraits with my “page count” card each time it changes (which has been pretty much every weekday morning, except for when I’ve had to spend the day dealing with grading related stuff). My most recent page count, exactly a week after I started this process, is 137:

May 9 page count: 137

This includes a finished Chapter 1! My goal for this coming Wednesday (I’m supposed to send updates to my advisor every Wednesday) is to finish Chapter 2 as well (it’s actually pretty close). Then Chapters 3&4 next Wednesday, and Chapters 5&6 the Wednesday after that, and then I’ll be done!! (Chapters 5&6 might actually take a little longer, though – that’s where the largest amount of new writing remains to be done).

It will be so good to rid myself of this massive thing that’s been weighing over me, riddling me with self-doubt and stress for the last two years. Finishing it is a struggle – every day while writing, I feel stupid, like all of my ideas are stupid, like nothing in this thing is worthwhile…and objectively, that can’t be true (or else my advisor wouldn’t be letting me finish it), but oh, the Ph.D is such a psychological wringer.

Wish me luck?

mother’s day, 2014

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So happy to be her mama.

I’m so happy to be this kid’s mama, even if she was the world’s biggest grumplebutt for most of the day. We’ve got something of a Mother’s Day photo tradition going at this point, of “happy mama, grumpy/confused kiddo” pictures:

my first mother's day
2012

Mother's Day.
2013

me and my grumplebug
2014

On this, my third Mother’s Day as a mother, I’m feeling much more settled in myself than last year. (Honestly, besides therapy, the biggest help is that M sleeps most of the night most nights these days – I don’t think I can overstate how negative an impact chronic sleep deprivation has, and I urge you, dear readers, never to make light of it, if new parents mention it being hard for them. It isn’t funny, and it isn’t about them being whiny or weak.) I’m finally starting to acquire that trust in myself that I wish I’d had as a new mother, the confidence that I’m doing right by my kid, and if other folks do differently and judge me, that’s on them, and I just don’t care. I’m less afraid than I used to be. Not that I’m fearless (after all, I still have an anxiety disorder!), but being a mother has made me become…more assuredly ME.

Madrigal Alice Harrison Watts, 7lbs 6.8oz, born 10:26am. We are in love!

Thank you, dear Madrigal, for making me a mama. I won’t say I’ve loved every minute of it, because I haven’t, but I sure do love YOU.

my kid is adorable.

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Alternate title for this post: It’s my knitting blog, and I can post cute pictures of my kid if I want to!

showing off her tongue

We went to the playground on Sunday in hopes of getting “nice” photos of M – we didn’t so much succeed at that, but she’s still awfully cute, and she was wearing babyStripes! the second, so it’s totally relevant to post the pictures here. And y’all, she’s so cute. Especially when she sticks her tongue out!

happy M

I was really hoping to get a photo of her smiling on the swings, but she decided to put on her serious face instead:

on the swings

This is the closest we got to an actual smile:

on the swings

But no matter what, she’s just adorable, and she looks great in babyStripes! (Which I swear I’ll be publishing the pattern for this summer, probably in August!)

at the playground

Doesn’t everyone need cute toddler pictures to get through Wednesday? I thought so.

future lopi affection.

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Along with all of those OTHER things I’m planning (and some I’ve not yet mentioned…I might have a wee bit of a planning problem!), I’m planning to make myself a Lopi Affection cardigan. Y’all know how I love yoked cardigans. And garter stitch. And stripes. So…yeah. How could I not knit myself one of these? And I was even able to pick up the yarn for it on sale (via Craftsy) using my birthday money:

future lopi affection

Well, I already had the bright green skein of Cascade Pastaza Handpaints in my stash, but the Lett-Lopi is new to me. I’ve never knit with Lopi before, but I think I’m gonna love it! The main color is “Glacier Blue”, which is pretty much my favorite color ever, and there’s a skein of “White” for one of the contrast colors.

future lopi affection

I’m planning to use the Pastaza as the second contrast colors, though if it doesn’t work out, gauge/etc-wise, I can always pick up a single skein of “Grass Green” Lett-Lopi (Craftsy doesn’t sell that color, though). I’m a little nervous that it won’t work not just because it’s a little heavier, but also because the “handpaint” nature of it might look a little busy. We’ll see.

such pretty yarn bands.

Aren’t the ball-bands pretty?

I’m in a funny place right now, knitting-wise. I still have lots of ideas for patterns and designs and I’d love to get them published (at least via self-publishing), but at the same time, there are quite a few patterns from other people that I want to knit (like, say, Lopi Affection), and I kind of miss the old days where I didn’t feel the need for every single thing I made to be a made-up-by-me sample/test-knit for some pattern I was working up – that ends up being stressful sometimes, especially since motherhood has basically scrambled my brains and made what used to be easy design math into something I screw up constantly now. It’s just become this weird pressure I put on myself somehow, that I have to keep “being a designer”, and maybe it’s ok to just be a “knitter who designs things occasionally”, which is all I ever wanted to be in the first place.

I don’t know if I can really have it both ways, because there just aren’t enough hours in the day, but if I’m not going to be making a living out of knitwear design (and if I’m working full time at other things, which I am), it doesn’t make sense to put so much pressure on myself to always be knitting original things, if there’s other stuff out there that tickles my fancy. But then again – I ended up knitting original things for myself because that’s just kind of how I roll, and I do have tons and tons of ideas that I’d love to put out there. But I feel like things move so fast in the knit design world (especially the self-publishing side of it) – folks have new patterns out every other week it seems like, and obviously I can’t do that, so where would I fit? I’m obviously not a “REAL” designer, but I don’t need to be. I need to remember that I don’t need to be.