Archive for May, 2007


I apologize for whining so much about my dissertation lately, because I’m about to do some more now. Waaaah. I’ve been working on the abstract because I need it for my postdoc application, and right now I feel nauseated.

Fact is, I loathe writing abstracts. And I spent three years writing my Intro and coming up with utter crap. The Intro now terrifies me, and the abstract is lot like an intro, only you have to be so much more concise. Ergo, the abstract terrifies me.

And, I don’t think in small tidy pieces, I think in big sweeps. My dissertation covers nearly 90 years of labor politics, community organizing, and urban-regional politics, their divergences and interconnections, and a multitude of local, national, and historical factors that shaped them. This is why I’m a geographer and not an economist or even a sociologist. But a little voice at the back of my head is saying, “Maybe you’ve written five and a half chapters with no idea what you’re ultimately saying.” Scary thought, I don’t think it’s really true, but nagging nonetheless.

Okay, I’m going to try to clear my head by stumbling around in hip hop class at the Y…


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FO: Deja


I’m very pleased with the bohemian look of the Deja pattern by French Girl, ordered from Jimmy Beans Wool.* (No, my left arm isn’t longer than my right; it’s just a weird perspective thing.) It worked up in three evenings, and even then I made some adjustments and backtracked in one part where I got confused by the pattern. If you ever do this one, read each part of the instruction through the end, not just the end of the sentence, or you might miss something important.


Used the new Lion Cotton-Ease instead of the recommended Rowan Cotton Tape (which I think might be discontinued?), with a 6.5mm hook. Cotton-Ease is a much cheaper and, I daresay, a good substitute. This cotton-acrylic blend has nice drape and elasticity. The loose plies mimic the effect of tape yarn rather well–the yarn doesn’t lay as bulky as a cotton yarn of its gauge normally would. Surprisingly light, it drapes gently on the body.


I added a few rows to account for the changed row gauge–a few too many, in fact, given how long it turned out, but I like the look. Readers should note that the one on the model seems to have been worked in a larger size–thus the neckline plunges a bit lower on the diagonal.


This was a surprisingly elegant (as in simple) garment construction. You start with a v-stitch panel, increase for the bust, then separate off with a chain sequence for the armhole opening. You continue to v-stitch across, then do rapid decreases for the neckline. Then you add the trim. I’m tempted to design a full-sleeve crochet cardigan based on this, kind of like a raglan sweater where you knit the body and sleeves from the bottom up and join at the armpit. Learning, learning, learning…

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D-Day May 28

Last Wednesday: “Access denied.” Access to the library’s article databases from my home computer is cut off. Thursday: Update CV for postdoc and policy analyst job apps. Friday: start on the dreaded dissertation abstract. Type type type Chapter 6. Sunday: spend hours in the abandoned, over-chilled department computer lab downloading 97 news articles and 43 academic articles for Chapter 6 while my husband are friends are at a baseball game. Today: Type type type. Write abstract for dissertation. Type type type. Draft a postdoctoral research proposal. Am amazed at myself for writing 5 good pages in 3 hours. Feeling good, I go to a Memorial Day bbq with my partner and then duck out early to go back to my proposal. Check email:

I finally got to Chapter 5. It’s very good, as expected. Just a few tiny edits.

What’s the story with Chapter 6.

How about wrapping it all up and filing!!!!!!!!!

Abruptly signed by my advisor. Whap! That falls into the category of SO NOT HELPFUL!!! How I want to reply:

Do you think I’m taking my own sweet time because I enjoy the ego-crushing experience of being in this department?

All my chapters have been very good because I spend a lot of time on them!!!!

Struggle to recover my confidence as I edit the proposal. Rrrgh.

ETA:  Okay maybe I overreacted?  Sent a polite email back to my advisor explaining that I’m working as fast as I can.  His new response:

OK. Go, girl!

*Sigh*  I can’t wait until I file….

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8 Random Things

Geckogrrl tagged me for the 8 Random Things meme; and a little while ago Hobbyzu tagged me for 7 Random Things. (Wikipedia article on memes here. Fascinating phenomenon.) I’ll do 8 and cover both bases, but my list of potential tag-ees has been tapped out. I’ll see what I can put together next week.

1. I do a kickass Pasta Puttanesca (recipe forthcoming).

2. My favorite TV show is the new Battlestar Galactica on SciFi. I want to do Helo (who should be called Adonis) and want to be Starbuck. (My husband just walked by and said, “I guess I’m not supposed to read this.” Oops.)

3. Since no one in my working class family traveled (aside from the initial migration across the Pacific), I never thought of myself as someone who could travel. Then in 2001 I did a two week, whirlwind tour through Australia and a one month sojourn in Mexico (Oaxaca and the Yucatan). The first instance was traveling to visit a boyfriend, and the second instance was to recover from being with him. Definitely had more fun in Mexico, if you know what I mean. 😉

4. I love dancing. Swing, salsa, samba, Argentine tango (none of these ballroom, though I’ve done that too.) Even dabbled in flamenco, bellydance, and West African. Nowadays I stumble through a weekly hip hop class at the Y.


5. Dog person, I am. Grew up with golden retrievers and hardly ever pass up a chance to pet a dog on the street. So sad that I’ve never found an apartment that would let me keep one. The Bay Area sucks that way.

6. However… a long time ago I had a sort of communion with a stray cat. An Egyptian — small, sleek and gray. It followed me to my room; when I sat on the floor it climbed up onto my chest and touched (his? her?) nose to mine. I tried to adopt it despite my intense allergy to cats, but the stars were aligned against it. A long story, but that was the cat love of my life and there has never been another.

7. I had a growth spurt in the 6th grade that landed me at 5’6″ and growing. Spent years slouching until I discovered the advantages of being a tall chick in my late teens.

8. I read fantasy novels and magical realist literature as escape

There seems to be a pleasure/affection theme running through most of this. It must be hormones or the fact that I had a nice long walk home through a balmy night. 🙂

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I actually finished the body of the bag, but my partner took the camera today so I have to make do with the latest WIP photo:


The edge cable forms the top of the bag which is now about 9.5″ high and 11″ in length. Love the look of cables, hate making them. I accidentally switched from cabling every 8 rows to every 6 rows early on, and had to stick with it.

The pattern includes a short cabled handle, but I want a longer strap and the 6-stitch cable is too big in this superbulky yarn. The I-cord that made with a Clover spool knitter is too thin. I’m working on a mini-cable right now, but if you have suggestions, let me know.

Babette Update:

Preety Crafty asked for an update. In addition to the Lion Woolease and a few balls of Plymouth Encore, I’m still assembling yarn; got some Superwash from Knit Picks. Red Pepper is a nice red, not obnoxious. Coast Gray and the Bare Superwash are going to be dyed.

I tested a couple of squares to work out hook sizes, and realized … the yarn cost is going to skyrocket. Duh, switching from fingering to worsted weight yarn= twice the square footage=much more yardage! Boy, am I glad I’m using mostly Woolease.

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D-Day May 23

Two days late on this dissertation progress report. I’ve already published most of the Chapter 6 material in two articles–about 30 pages that I can use–but it’s taking a lot of work to craft the intro and integrate existing material into a larger narrative. After a couple of weeks of floundering, the intro finally clicked yesterday. Of course, once I start writing up the concrete details things always get much more complicated. That’s the fun part.

The past week has been an emotional roller coaster ride! First I had a terrific conversation with someone at the labor center about crafting a postdoctoral fellowship for me. (Yay!) Then when I consulted with my advisor about it he told me to go for the Post Doc but added that I was smart but not ambitious or driven enough to be an academic. (Total bummer even if there’s a grain of truth.) Two hours later, the research director of the local nonprofit I’ve been talking to told me that they’d finally settled on a job title, Senior Policy Analyst, and enthusiastically invited me to be the sole applicant. (Didn’t even know how to respond emotionally at that point.)

I’ve gotten over my advisor’s comment (he’s a nice guy, really). And it’s wonderful to have options. But as always, I’m torn between asking and studying the big questions and working more immediately towards progressive social change. Few institutions give you the space to do both.

Part of me wants to figure out how to create that space. Part of me thinks, it’s time to dive in head first and do the political work, I’ve had enough time to think about the big questions in grad school and where did it get me. Whatever it is, I want to take it on with a whole heart and be happy. Truth be told, I’m so not ready to make this decision by, like, next week! But life happens and you roll.

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Voila! The perfect summer sweater. This is modified from the Smoky Quartz Tunic Pattern in Interweave Crochet Fall 2006. I already made a longer, cap-sleeved fitted sweater version as the Black Quartz Tunic. Materials: Lion Babysoft, 1 ball cream; 4.5mm crochet hook.


After fussing with different lengths, waistbands, etc. (click here for longer version), I decided to keep it short and sweet. The bottom edge is bordered with a row of linked double crochet–which gathered the bottom edge a bit, but without any puckering. Two rows of single crochet along the inside edges one row along the neckline add stabilization.


Other modifications: For most of the top, I alternated 6dc clusters with 2dc-ch2-2dc shells (click here for stitch detail). That made the increases kind of tricky, but I just faked it. I’m particularly proud of how I handled the armpits in the sleeves. When separating the body from the sleeves (this is a top-down raglan pattern), the original pattern calls for you to add one extra shell stitch (2dc – ch2 – 2dc) at each armpit. That also adds one shell stitch for the sleeves.

To prevent a gaping hole on either side, I added two v-stitches (dc-ch1-dc) on each side of the new shell stitch, 4 v-stitches total . The next row, for each v-stitch pair: 2 dc in first v-stitch, ch1, 2dc in next v-stitch. The row after that: a normal shell in each ch-1 space. It worked perfectly: no bunching, and no gaping holes in the lace pattern either.

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