I have pockets!

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Almost done with the body!

Yesterday, I went to an all-day silent meditation retreat (as part of training that I’m doing to become a mindfulness educator at my university) and while I didn’t knit at all during the retreat, I had about 45 minutes each way as the passenger in a car, so I was able to knit nearly all of the bottom hem of my stripey sweater! With a bit more time this afternoon working on the i-cord bindoff on the front hem, I now have the entire body of the sweater off the needles!

Ta-da! The body's off the needles!

It’s a little hard to see in this photo (the lighting was so much better this morning than this afternoon, alas!), but the back hem is a bit longer than the front – I split them, and did an extra stripe repeat on the back before beginning the garter band. Then I bound off with an i-cord in the lighter color, kitchenering the ends of the i-cord together so that it’s one continuous cord. I’m pretty pleased with this!

Now that the body is finished, the next step will be knitting the sleeves. I’m not sure when I’ll get a chance to start that – the pick-up/short-row business is pretty attention-intensive, and I’ve got one more incredibly busy week ahead of me before my schedule shifts back to just “normal” levels of busy (which is still pretty busy). But maybe I’ll try to give it a go tonight. For now, I’ll just delight in my pockets!

Pockets!

Now it’s time to grade some assignments and prep some classes for next week. Much less fun than knitting sleeves!

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on to the pockets!

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Things have been rather intensely busy here the past couple of weeks (we ended up having our furnace die during the polar vortex and were without heat for several days until we could get a new one, and I’ve had a huge extra workload with workshops, etc, along side that!). I’ve been making progress on my stripey sweater, though – a few rows here, a few rows there, sometimes knitting while my students work on in-class exercises and things. And I’ve actually, as of this morning, finished making the pockets on my sweater. So here are a few notes and details to catch us up!

sweater progress!

Last weekend, I tried on the sweater again, to see if I was where I wanted to be before starting the pockets.

sweater progress, side view

I decided that it was looking good, and just one more repeat of the stripe pattern would get me to where I wanted to be.

sweater progress, back view

To make the pockets, I used the same technique as I’ve been using in the babyStripes! sweaters I’ve been making all these years. I knit a flap down from the light blue stripe for each pocket:

knitting the pocket lining

I edged each flap so that there was a purled stitch 1-stitch in from each edge:

Pocket lining in progress
(This will become relevant in just a bit – there’s a method to my madness!)

Then, when the flaps were finished, I rejoined the yarn at the front and did a 2-stitch i-cord cast on to form the top of the front of the pocket:

2 stitch i-cord cast on for pocket front

After I’d done that, I could simply knit around again, just like I’d been doing before, but each round, I joined the front to the pocket flap.

knitting in the pocket as I go

This is where that purled stitch becomes relevant, because I join the front to the pocket flap by picking up one of the legs of that purl stitch (because it’s a knit-stitch on the back side). This probably makes more sense via video – I’m not 100% sure this embed will work; I think it will just show a still image and you’ll have to click through to Flickr to actual see the video, but here’s how I do this:

How I knit pockets on top-down sweaters.
Click through to Flickr to play video

And, since I happened to be finishing the pocket while I was at work this morning, I rigged up my phone and took another awkward video of how I *finish* the pocket (basically just knitting the held stitches at the bottom of the pocket flap together with stitches on the front – or more accurately, because of the garter-stripe pattern I was creating, I purled them together):

How I finish the pockets!
Click through to Flickr to play video

Now, my plan is to split the front and back, because I want a split-hem that is longer in back. I’ll start the garter-stitch hem almost right away below the pocket on the front, but knit one more stripe repeat on the back before starting that hem. And then, it’ll be time to knit the sleeves!!

sweater progress and other updates

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Accidental closeup
Hi! I’m still me, just with different usernames in a few places

It’s funny – as soon as I posted yesterday, about the conversations regarding racism in the knitting community and grappling with the username I’d had since 2002, it seemed really obvious to me that what I wanted and needed to do was change it. So I did. You can now find me on Ravelry and Instagram as “stringsaremything”. I picked that name because strings truly are my thing – seriously, between knitting and crochet and embroidery, and then violin and ukulele, and heck, even language can be thought of in terms of strings (especially if you’re a former computational linguist like me)…there’s a lot of stringtastic goodness in my life!

On Twitter, I had to go with something a little different, because they have a character limit for usernames. So I went with “saiteliebe”, which is basically “string love” in German; “saite”, though, very specifically refers to strings in a musical context, so I lose some of the scope of my string love, but I keep the German-language connection there, so I think it works. It will probably take me awhile to get used to these new usernames; it’s a little sad to let the old one go, because it had been mine for 17 years, but it felt like the right thing to do.

I think that my old username is probably lurking in a bunch of other less-used sites, too, but I’ll deal with those another day. The big one that I’ve left unchanged for now is Flickr, because I cannot for the life of me figure out what happens to my linked photos if I change my username there; on Ravelry, the change was seamless, and links with my old username simply redirect to the same page under the new username, while on Instagram, it was seamless within the app, but links from outside with the old username no longer work. That wasn’t a big deal for me, because I don’t link to stuff from Instagram. But Flickr? The entire lifetime of my blog’s photos are linked from there, so if I break that, I create a nightmare for myself here. So that’s not changing until I figure out how to do it without breaking everything.

Sweater progress - front!

Anyway, along with those updates, I thought I’d share a little update on the stripey sweater that desperately needs a better name. A row here, a row there, while my students do in-class writing and at night before bed, means that I’ve now reached the point on the sweater where I’m going to be adding some light A-line shaping.

Sweater progress - side/back

I’m putting the increases 12 stitches out from either side of that purled stitch “seam”, which I’m hoping will create the look that I want. We’ll find out!

Sweater progress - back

I still need to decide exactly where I want to start the pockets; I know I want the sweater to hit at the hip, and that I’m planning to split it above the bottom hem so that I can make the back a bit longer than the front, and I want the bottom of the pockets to rest right above the bottom hem on the front. I think there are still quite a few more inches to go before I start them, but I’m going to keep trying it on as I go so that I place them exactly where I want. That’s the best thing about knitting from the top down!

So far, I’ve used a little over 1 ball of the darker blue, and significantly less than a ball of the lighter blue. I started out with 4 balls of each color, so I’m thinking I’ll probably end up with some leftovers. I love knitting with this De Rerum Natura Ulysse yarn, so I’m sure I’ll find something to do with the extras if I have them – maybe a Gliondar hat if I’ve got enough?

racism, knitting, and me

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I had a run of several posts in a row, and then bam, radio silence. Which happened to coincide with some very big conversations about racism within the knitting community. It feels like a very conspicuous time to have gone silent, and I’ve seen people reading meaning into others’ silence and please trust me that my silence? It’s been the silence of an overwhelmed professor at the start of a new semester, one who is teaching 4 classes, one of which is a brand new prep, and trying to finish up data coding and analysis before a conference in March, and also doing volunteer work for church and taking an MBSR training and playing in both an orchestra-orchestra and a ukulele orchestra and raising a differently-wired child and dealing with a blizzard. I’ve just been utterly overwhelmed and haven’t had any real chance to knit or to organize my thoughts in any context other than class prep.

Y’all, back when I was in grad school studying cognitive science, and I was struggling to figure out what my path would look like, I imagined that my dream job would be to somehow combine teaching writing with being a cognitive scientist, and my biggest d
Just a few of the things I read while prepping my new “Cognition & Writing” course

But I *have* been reading along when I get a chance, and I’m really heartened to see that these hard but important conversations about bias and white supremacy and diversity and inclusion are happening not just in my crafty community, but also in my church community (we UUs have a lot of work to do in order to truly live up to our values, and it’s work we’re finally really digging into, both in my congregation and UUism at large).

I think it is probably obvious from the way I write here, and the kinds of things I’ve written about, that I’m someone who cares deeply about these issues and who tries to live out my UU values and work to build that beloved community in which all are truly welcome and valued. I’m also someone who thinks a lot better in “long form” (as is probably obvious once you see the length of this post, ha!). So the way these conversations have been taking place at lightning speed on social media, especially the more “ephemeral” forms of social media like Instagram Stories, just really hasn’t worked well for me, and I think these mediums are especially tricky for certain kinds of brains.

For me, Instagram Stories is borderline unusable as a medium – I never post to it, but I do sometimes try to read/watch what others post, and while I’ve learned the trick of clicking and holding to “pause” a story, getting the timing right is VERY challenging for me, especially if I also have to turn sound on (I never could manage video games that require good eye-hand coordination, either!). And once I screw it up, it’s not at all clear how to “get back” to a particular story (especially when there are SO MANY of them!). It demands a level of uninterrupted attention that is nearly impossible for me to produce (especially with a small child who also demands my uninterrupted attention!). I know that some of my particular difficulties with IG Stories are due to the way my brain is wired – I’m not exactly neurotypical. In particular, I have very divergent visual information processing skills and visual attention, and this causes me a lot of problems in terms of interacting with visually-demanding interfaces. For me, what worked so well about the Internet is that it allowed me to process things in my own time, in words, and my responses could be asynchronous…but mediums like IG Stories don’t really allow for that. At all. I honestly can’t think of a worse medium for this kind of discussion, though it does seem to be working for the folks using it? Or is it working *in spite* of the medium?

I’m thinking about the way the medium favors certain kinds of ways of processing information in part because I’ve noticed a dynamic in which some seem to be imputing support for the status quo to those who have been “silent”, and I think that’s a really problematic take given the nature of the medium involved. But what I think is truly unhealthy about this dynamic is that it pushes people into what can end up being very performative engagement: showing up to be seen showing up, to get credit for showing up. That’s not a dynamic that I want to encourage. Yes, I want people to show up and do the work, but they don’t have to show up *on Instagram* to show up *in the world*, and they can and should do the work without any fanfare or expectation of cookies. I’m not saying that everyone who is posting has done so performatively – I don’t think that’s true, and I think there has been so much value in the discussions that have been taking place, and especially given that this is partly a conversation about visibility, it makes sense that there’d be a focus on what’s visible. It would suck if nobody had showed up in those spaces, and some of the work that needs to be done IS online/social media work. But we don’t all need to show up in the same way, and I think white folks like me need to be VERY careful not to conflate “posting on social media” with “showing up and doing the work”, because those are not the same, and we can end up feeding a dynamic of performative, superficial wokeness that doesn’t actually help. And it might in fact hurt, if this ends up leading people to think that once they’ve made their IG post, they’ve done their work, when the work that needs doing is in fact ongoing and deep. And I’m very mindful that a big part of the problem is that people like me are the only folks who *get* to be visible by default, while other people just don’t get heard, and it’s those marginalized voices that I most want to listen to.

Which brings me to one of the positive things that has come out of these conversations: the call to diversify our social media feeds. This is definitely something people should do! I’ve realized as a result of these conversations that I actually haven’t been following very many crafty BIPOC (the number is well above zero, but it’s not exactly high). But the feeds I follow (especially on Facebook and Twitter) in terms of politics and just general life, and the authors I read, are a LOT more racially diverse. That’s really worth interrogating further – why IS it that my crafty/maker world is quite a bit whiter than my larger (social) media world? How did that happen, and what does it mean? I mean, for me, my crafty social media world grew out of the Flickr Self Portrait/365 Project community, and that group was fairly diverse but still a bit disproportionately white, and I’ve just sort of added interesting people or companies to my feed as they catch my attention when others share them…and it looks like that process didn’t lead to any real diversification. Why is that? This is something that the algorithms underneath FB/IG/Twitter/etc can really exacerbate, but that exacerbation only happens because the bias is already there. So interrogate that. If it was inadvertent or incidental, as it was for me: now that you know it exists, what are you going to do about it? The answer needs to include actually seeking out the voices you’re not currently seeing. This is something I had actively done in terms of voices around politics/social justice/etc, but I hadn’t really thought about it in the context of the crafty/maker world in the same way. So that’s something I need to think about and work on. And if part of the problem is that the highly visible part of the crafty community is overwhelmingly white/thin/cis/straight/etc, then we need to pair our individual attempts to diversify our feeds with putting pressure on the companies that have a lot of power over who is visible in the maker-world to diversify themselves. This seems to be happening now, which is great, and needs to continue!

BUT! There’s a very tokenistic way of thinking about this that can end up coming into play, and some of the ways this has been talked about have given me pause. If you find yourself feeling like you just need to go find a few BIPOC crafty folks (or some other marginalized group) and add them to your feed so that you’ve checked that box, think long and hard about whether you’re actually tokenizing those people. Because it’s NOT a box to be checked off, and thinking about it in that way actually reinforces white supremacy, I think, because it’s still very “othering”. This work is really about changing who we mean by “we”, which is much, much deeper. Diversifying your feed is about opening yourself up to perspectives and ideas and lived experiences that are different from your own; it’s about listening to voices that aren’t the ones you’d hear if you didn’t make any effort to seek them out, and valuing those voices. And it’s also about amplifying those voices, bringing them truly into the conversation, so that future generations can simply know that they ARE part of this community, because they see themselves represented in it, at every level. It’s definitely not about checking a box – it’s a values shift. (I really like what Courtney Martin has to say about this in terms of “good optics” vs. real diversity.)

I have a lot more thoughts and questions about the way social media platforms make possible both very positive and negative things. Positive things like bringing people together globally and making it possible for marginalized communities to connect and be heard in unprecedented ways, and negative things like mob pile-ons, trolling, doxxing, wide-scale abuse, and bad actors sowing discord for the sake of maintaining their own power. I worry a lot about how we grapple with the way social media can accelerate and amplify interactions beyond anything our social brains evolved to handle, and how we promote an ethos of compassion and accountability given all of the things, good and bad, that social media makes possible…but I started thinking through these things and before I knew it, I’d written over 4,000 words (I told y’all I think in “long form”!), so I’ll stop here instead, with a question:

My new Ravelry button, with a leaf from M.

I’ve been pondering whether I should change the username I’ve had since the very beginning of my internet life. For those who don’t follow me other places, the username I’m talking about is “zigeunerweisen”, which is the name of a violin piece by Pablo de Sarasate (link is to Itzhak Perlman performing it) that I was learning to play, and loving, back in the early days of being an online person, starting with my Livejournal (ah, remember those days?) back in 2002. I also loved that it was a German word, because German is my second language (I’m not fully fluent in it, though!). The reason I’m thinking about this is that while my intention was and is to reference the violin piece, I know that intention is not necessarily transparent to anyone. A comment on the Ravelry thread about racism in the yarn community mentioned an issue with “gypsy” references in pattern names, and this made me think. See, the “zigeuner” part of my username means “gypsy” in German. I don’t feel that great about having a “gypsy” reference, even auf Deutsch, in my username, because I know that word is used as a slur in English. Is it a slur in German, though? (It looks like the answer is “yes”…maybe?) Navigating these issues in a non-native language adds another layer of complication for me! No one has ever said anything to me about it, but I know better than to think that necessarily means no one has ever been made uncomfortable. I’m interested in what others think about this.

I’m also grappling with the logistics that would be involved if I did decide to change the username I’ve used my entire “Internet life”. My “zigeunerweisen” username is typically my “friends-locked” name on sites where I also have a public account (like IG and Twitter), and on all of those sites, it’s the feed on which I’m most fully “me”…partly *because* it’s friends-locked and I feel safer that way. Well over a decade worth of stuff is under this name at Flickr, and then there’s a decade worth of Twitter and there’s Ravelry and Instagram and…oof, I don’t even know how I’d go about doing this without literally irrevocably breaking everything (especially because I use Flickr embedding for ALL of my photos here on the blog, so if those links break, there’s nothing!). But the fact that changing it would be hard for me isn’t itself a reason not to do it – it’s just a reason why I might need some help making it *actually* happen, if it’s something that I decide needs to happen. I’m all ears, friends!

Top-down knitting fun!

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I’ve made it past the underarm join on my project that needs a better name, and that means I can try it on as I go!

I can't *actually* do much knitting while I wear this, but it's funny to pretend!

Ok, so I can’t actually try it on AND knit it at the very same time (but it’s fun to pretend), but it’s still pretty great to be able to have a little “sanity check” about how the sweater is fitting. I shouldn’t be surprised that it’s fitting perfectly (that’s what all of the math was for, after all!), but it’s quite satisfying to see that the math all worked out. Here’s a more straightforward shot of what it looks like from the front:

A perfectly normal picture of the front of the sweater-in-progress

And from the back/side:

Trying it on as I go - back/side

I’m planning to give the sweater a slight A-line, so that it gradually flares out to the hem, which I’m planning to have hit at the mid-hip (or perhaps a bit higher; I know I want the back to be slightly longer than the front). I planned on just a very small amount of ease at the bust, and there will be more ease lower in the body.

Trying it on as I go - from the back

In one sense, the knitting has become much easier now that I’ve joined the front and back – I don’t have to pay nearly as much attention to increases and whatnot, and there’s no purling! (Well, that’s a lie – I put a single purled stitch in each side “seam” just to give it a little bit of structure, and to have a fairly inconspicuous spot to “hide” the join since I’m knitting stripes in the round.) But it definitely takes a lot longer to make noticeable progress now that I’m knitting the full circumference of my body! Still, stripes have a very addictive quality for me (which might be why I knit them so much, though I also like wearing them). If I’ve just finished a wide stripe, I think, gosh, it wouldn’t take so long to just knit another narrow stripe, and then when I finish that, I think, well, I should at least get myself started on the next wide stripe, and before I know it I’ve knit several stripes.

I’m not sure how much more progress I’ll be able to make before my time for knitting shrinks during the semester, and I don’t want to neglect M’s Octopus cardigan, either…both the Beaverslide yarn and the Ulysse are so delightful to knit with! In any case, for now I’m just delighted that my sweater really is fitting!

Woohoo, it's fitting!


Hooray!

This project needs a better name!

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So, I mentioned in my post about the Asterisk Hat that I was plotting a new sweater for me: a grown-up version of the Red Striped Pocket Pullover that I made for M. I…am really quite bad at naming things (my daughter excepted…she has the best name!) and I’m struggling with what to call this. I keep just writing out really boring, lengthy descriptions: “Top-Down Striped Contrast-Sleeve Pocket Pullover” is just not a name for a pattern! And I mean…I’ve already got a pattern named “Stripes!” and I keep calling the baby version of that one “babyStripes!” and I called M’s kid version “kidStripes”, and her sweater with octopuses around the yoke is just called “Octopus Yoke”, and I’ve just been calling my shawl-collared cardigan in garter rib the “Garter Rib Cardigan”, and the Bohus-style yoked sweaters I’ve made for M and I just get called “Bohus Yoke” and “mini Bohus Yoke” and y’all, I clearly need an intervention if I’m ever going publish any of these designs!

But anyway, with thanks to my husband for helping me measure myself, and thanks to Elizabeth Doherty for her “Top-Down” book, and thanks to my own brain for being able to do math…I’ve made some good progress on my pullover. The nice thing about knitting top-down is that it’s easy to take measurements as you go, and once you join the front and back, you can even try it on as you go. I did a little “sanity check” and pinned out the back piece after I’d started the front, because the way the knit fabric was curling out was making it look comically small for me, but the cross-back measurement is exactly what I wanted it to be, and the armhole depth is just right, too!

Doing a sanity check on my top-down stripey sweater. Looking good!

I’m so delighted with how the stripey fabric is turning out. The two colors of De Rerum Natura Ulysse that I’m using (Ciel and Lagon) look VERY similar on the skein, but work into a nice subtle stripe in the fabric. And the yarn itself is just an utter delight to knit with – so bouncy and wooly, and so soft in a rustic sort of way!

Just knitting

I’m getting close to finishing the front, at which point I’ll join the front and back and start knitting in the round. I’m aiming for a slight A-line fit, with a split garter hem that’s slightly longer in the back, and of course there will be pockets, just like on M’s version.

Head hole!

My time for knitting (and blogging about it) is about to take another nose-dive as we head into Spring Semester. But I’m hopeful that I can keep knitting down my stash, and finish some great sweaters and accessories for me and M (don’t worry about my husband – he knows I’ll knit him anything he asks for, but he runs MUCH warmer than I do, and doesn’t tend to want anything woolen!).

Goodbye, 2018! Hello, 2019!

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2018 was an incredibly busy and challenging year on the life front – new school for M, new house for our family, new job for my husband, and of course still dealing with all of the fallout from the things that lead to all of that! But I also seem to have gotten a bit of my knitting mojo back, and completed quite a few projects! I thought it’d be fun to look back at them. It was funny, putting this together – 2018 was such a blur that while I didn’t exactly forget that I’d knit these things (that’d be hard to do, since I wear most of them regularly!), I had definitely forgotten that the stuff from early in the year was actually knit in 2018!

According to Ravelry, I completed 12 projects in 2018: 5 sweaters for me, 1 sweater for M, 1 sweater for a friend’s baby, 1 hat, and 4 Willow Cowls!

The first project of 2018 was M’s Octopus Yoke pullover, which is so well-loved that it is already receiving a companion in the form of the Octopus Yoke cardigan that I’m currently knitting:

Octopus Yoke with M as model

My next sweater was Winter Traveler, which I modified quite a bit from the original pattern – a smaller gauge, a closer fit, a doubled ribbed neckline, and 1×1 ribbing everywhere ribbing was called for:

All finished: Winter Traveler (the first, since M was so darned cute in mine that I’m knitting a second one for her!)

I also started, but did not finish, a matching one for M, because mine was so cute on her. I kind of burnt out on intarsia making mine, though, so hers has been sitting in a bag, partially knit, for the last several months. Maybe I’ll get back to it soon.

Over the course of the next several months, I knit a series of FOUR Willow cowls, and got up to some silly hijinks with my full set of Willows!

So many Willow Cowls!

(It’s really hard to believe that I knit all of those cowls in the last 1.5 years – they’ve become a consistent part of my cooler-weather wardrobe, and there’s hardly ever a day that goes by where I’m not wearing one!)

My third sweater was Gamaldags, and it has turned out to be a sweater that I wear very often – those bright colors just make me so happy! And they match so much of what I already tend to wear, too.

Gamaldags!

My fourth sweater was Perfin, and while I didn’t enjoy seaming it, I do quite enjoy wearing it! The style is right up my alley, and looks nice and professorial (which, seeing as I *am* a professor, works out quite well). The color also goes nicely with many colors that I already wear a lot.

Perfin!

My next sweater was Tensho, which I cardiganized (and again added a folded rib neckline, because I just love them so much!). I still haven’t put buttons on this one, but I’m calling it finished anyway!

With the mug that inspired me

Along with Tensho, I knit a yoked sweater that was much, much smaller – a non-wool version of babyStripes! for a dear friend’s baby!

babyStripes! plus lingthusiasm onesie

I also knit a hat! Specifically, the Asterisk Hat from the Asterisk/Dot Hat+Cowl kit that I got from Mason-Dixon Knitting. I made a giant pompom for it, which delights me :)

Pompom!

And my final sweater was a bit of a cheat, considering that most of it was knit 2 years ago…my me-sized Elle Melle! I’m really delighted with how it turned out, and quite proud of myself for persevering and figuring out how to put in that zipper.

Hooray for Elle Melle!

That’s a pretty nice set of finished knits for the year! And I didn’t JUST knit, either – I also learned how to embroider and completed a sampler:

Finished Sampler!

And I learned how to play ukulele, too! Not only that, but I joined an orchestra for the first time since M was born, and it has been an absolute joy (though a bit of a schedule-crunch) to be making music with other people again!

Playing a G chord

And I designed and hand-sewed a weighted kitty for my daughter’s sensory needs – she was QUITE delighted with the finished product, and I would be happy to never hand-sew with minky ever again ;)

Happy kiddo with her weighted kitty.

It was a pretty productive year, and I learned a lot of new things, too! For 2019, I hope to continue my efforts to knit down my stash, and on that front, I’ve been both toying with some new designs, and fussing around with my queue on Ravelry, trying to match yarns to existing patterns. And as I mentioned earlier, I really do want to actually get some of my designs out into the world as patterns.

On the non-knitting front, I’m hoping to settle more fully into this wonderful house that we get to call our own – we still need to (lightly) renovate the kitchen, put a new sink in the upstairs bathroom, and just generally finish finding/creating homes for things that are still in boxes since our move last February. Starting in two weeks, I’m going to be teaching a new class on Cognition and Writing, which has been a dream of mine ever since I was a graduate student trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, and later in the year, I’m also going to be training as a Koru mindfulness teacher, which is something I’m pretty excited about, too. We’ve gotten ourselves into a much better place than we were in at the start of 2018, and I’m so grateful for everything. I expect 2019 will be full of its own challenges, but I’m hopeful that I can face them with grace. Happy 2019, everyone!