Monday, April 27, 2009

Fair Pay Day 2009

The Lilly Ledbetter act is a start, but there is still much more work ahead. We will never be able to legislate away all injustice—nor should we. We can’t write a law for all the thoughtless and venal things that people do1. But we can call people on them and ask them to account for their actions.

I will celebrate Equal Pay Day with a story that I hope is less common today.

Let’s go back to 1985, when my honors Freshman Chemistry laboratory professor and teaching assistant (TA) were both female. (This would turn out to be the last time in my entire 8 semesters at Berkeley that I would have a female professor in the sciences.) My TA held office hours at the ungodly hour of 8:00 AM. Usually, I found her working alone in her office during office hours. Occasionally, she sat and knitted while we chatted. I asked her why she held office hours so early; if she held them at a reasonable hour, surely more students would attend.

She laughed. That was precisely why she held them at the earliest allowable hour. “Let me tell you something. They give PhDs out for research, not teaching.”

Hmph! I would never be that jaded. I would be there for my students!

Fast forward to 1990 during my last semester of teaching in grad school. I had made the mistake in 1988 and 1989 of performing my work as TA for all upper division Physical Chemistry classes diligently. The professor (Prof hbar) who taught Quantum Mechanics declared that I was the best Quantum TA he had worked with in 20 years. So long as I was available, I should always be assigned that course.

But the department chair (Prof A), who made the teaching assignments had a different agenda. He believed that Freshman Chemistry was the front lines of teaching and no one should be exempt. The normal teaching load was 2 sections of Freshman Chemistry; 10 hours workload for each section gave a halftime appointment. Prof A said I had to teach Freshman Chemistry. Professor hbar said I had to teach Quantum. They compromised. Prof A assigned me one section of Freshman Chemistry, plus Quantum Chemistry and Thermodynamics for Biochemistry majors for good measure.

He gave me credit for 5 hours for each of the two upper division classes. I was supposed to attend all lectures, hold office hours, write and post homework solutions and sample laboratory reports, hold office hours and grade homework, quizzes and exams for three different classes.

There was no way I could do that in 20 hours. Just attending the lectures for three classes would have taken me 10 hours a week. I appealed to another senior professor (Prof B) for help. Prof B told me to keep track of my hours and then stop after 20 hours each week, returning all uncompleted work to the main professor for each class. He also told me to alert all three professors of my workload. All three decided to maximize my time by skipping their lectures. LOL

I also began to hold office hours at 8:00 AM on Friday mornings so that students wouldn’t bother me while I did my own work2. I had become what I loathed, but my former TA was right. Self preservation came first.

The point of this story is not that I was a great or lousy TA. It’s that equal pay for equal work is a slippery and elusive ideal. People and job responsibilities are rarely exactly equal. Someone has to divvy up the work and decide equivalence and evaluate performance. Those people are fallible humans.

As heavy as my workload that semester was, one of my friends had it even worse. She was given the entire class, all three sections, of Chemistry for nursing majors. Those students need more help than those from any other class, mainly because they lack the foundational Mathematics and Physics required to study Chemistry. To make up for that, they were given extra time in lab and a “problem-solving session” led weekly by the TA. This was easily double the normal teaching assistant workload.

Surprise! This assignment was always given to a woman.

Several women who had borne the brunt of unusually heavy teaching assignments went together to Prof A’s office to seek fairness. He said that he assigned that class to female graduate students because the students were all female in that class.

Why should it matter if they are taught by a woman or a man?

He switched tactics. He said that he gave the more difficult teaching assignments to the better TAs. We received our work assignments because we all had received such high marks for our teaching skill. The women left and appealed to another senior professor (Prof C) who queried him privately.

Prof A told Prof C an entirely different story. He said that he gave the men lighter teaching assignments because they have research to do if they hoped to graduate. Prof C asked about the very high number of women who dropped out of the department with a Masters (instead of a Phd) and told him to spread the pain around.

Prof A said that he couldn’t do that. If he gave the men the same heavy workloads as women, the men would complain.

Umm, what exactly had the women done? Was he even listening?

Fortunately, the other professors held a meeting and relieved Prof A of his job assigning teaching duties. And I continued to hold office hours at 8:00 AM on Friday mornings.


1. Would you want to live in a society with that many lawyers?

2. I rue the day a student from another section walked into my office hours and asked for help. He started to show up EVERY SINGLE Friday at 8:00 AM sharp, sometimes beating me to the office. WTF?

He explained that he had failed Freshman Chemistry the first time around due to partying and was determined not to let that happen again. He was paying a tutor $30/hour and the guy didn’t know as much as I did. Plus, I was “free”. That’s the life of a graduate student. Slave labor.

From End the University as We Know It:
The dirty secret of higher education is that without underpaid graduate students to help in laboratories and with teaching, universities couldn’t conduct research or even instruct their growing undergraduate populations. That’s one of the main reasons we still encourage people to enroll in doctoral programs. It is simply cheaper to provide graduate students with modest stipends and adjuncts with as little as $5,000 a course — with no benefits — than it is to hire full-time professors.

Friday, April 24, 2009

May It Please the Court

OMG, this is the most wonderful picture essay.
Click the picture to read May It Please the Court in it's entirety.
If you like this form of storytelling, I recommend Love, Loss, and What I Wore by Ilene Beckerman.

Pet or National Treasure?

Uwe Reinhardt's Seriously, What Is a Child? is right on target.
An intriguing question to which I have sought the answer ever since coming to these shores is what Americans think of children. Do they view children as the human analogs of pets? Or do they view them, as do most Europeans and Asians, as precious national treasures? Perhaps a mixture of both?
...
We have about 3.3 working-age Americans per elderly American in this country now. According to the Social Security Trustees, that ratio will decline to close to about 2 by the 2030. In light of this trend alone, can anyone doubt that children really are precious? We should give medals to parents who have them, not penalize them financially.
The post is concerned with funding of health care for children, but it is applicable to any of the costs associated with raising children. If society benefits from well-educated taxpayers, then who should shoulder the burden of paying for education? What about health and disability insurance and pensions for parents (mostly mothers) who reduce their market work to take on the extra family work? Do we owe them something, too?

Do read the whole thing. Sadly, the comments have been hijacked by nuts comparing helping parents with Nazi eugenics. Seriously.

I am Ms./Dr. Crankypants this week because a small health matter for Iris turned out to be a very scary matter, due to her own reckless behavior. She doesn't want me to blog about the specifics, but I did my part, dragging the doctor into this century. When consulting with him on the phone about whether I should take her in to his office again, I asked if I could email him a picture of the affected area. (He had to consult with his staff to learn his email address, but he had one.) A minute after I pressed send, he called back saying that it was a very impressive picture. We both looked at the pix in high res on our computer screens and decided that it wasn't necessary to come in again that day. He wants me to email him follow-up pictures of the site though.

Related:
Insufficient Margin

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Greenwashing and Astroturfing

I saw a new low at the grocery store last week. Reynolds has repackaged their aluminum (Al) foil as made from 100% recycled (!) aluminum. And the familiar blue box is now mostly green with a tree growing across the front.

Never mind that all brands of Al foil have been made almost entirely from recycled aluminum since the 1970s. Even worse, they put together a press kit announcing this new/old product and the blogosphere has been astroturfed with their wonderful news.

At least for the last couple of decades, nearly all the aluminum in the US market is recycled. Al is simply too valuable to landfill. An analysis of the environmental impact of the Aluminum industry states
Recycling aluminum saves 95% of the energy used to produce aluminum from bauxite – mainly because it cuts out the energy intensive smelting processes.
In fact, the price of Al depends almost entirely upon the cost of energy.

When I was in high school (decades ago), I read that the entire Al can life cycle from grocery store shelf, soda consumption, recycling and back to the grocery store took place in under six weeks on average.

Whether you can buy the Reynolds or the store brand, you are buying recycled aluminum.

Green

Iris passed her belt test! She will receive a green belt next week at the belt ceremony. This calls for a celebratory dinner.

I know this is two years old, but I love to watch it.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Earth Day 2009 Resolution

I read Weather History Offers Insight Into Global Warming last Fall and the accompanying graphic below.
I immediately thought that it would be great if all of us observers kept a record of what we see. It doesn't have to be elaborate. Even an index card tucked in the recipe box with the dates of the first [fill in the blank] bloom of the year, or the first of last snow, would be a climate record.

I thought about keeping a recipe and gardening notebook and dedicating a few pages in the front for noting benchmark events around Chez Bad Mom. I imagine tables for first crocus, Siberian iris, Japanese iris, jacaranda, hydrangea and Japanese anemone blooms of the year. Of course, the crocus bloom came and went while I was battling infections. But, it is not too late to start a notebook for the rest of the eagerly anticipated events. We can also track the contents of our biweekly CSA produce boxes and what we made with them. Mark has been incredibly creative.

Earth Day falls midweek this year; that's why this is such a short post.
We spent a couple of hours last weekend purging stuff. Many of Iris' broken toys went in the trash. Others were bagged to be sent off to her cousin. I took a bag of surplus from the sewing room to the share table at tonight's South Bay Quilters' Guild meeting. We have bags ready and awaiting the toxic waste roundup and shred event coming up this Saturday. We lost quite a bit of stuff weight and it feels good.

Aside:
The e-waste bag contains a Rowenta iron I bought 15 years ago. When I bought its replacement at Costco last month, I overheard a couple discussing which iron they should buy. They wondered why anyone would buy the $80 Rowenta over the $25 Black and Decker. After all, they have to buy a new one each year. I rest my case.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Wardrobe Refashion in the News

I wanted to like the LAT wardrobe refashion article, Dowdy to Divine. But quotes like this
"This was one of those '80s boxy dresses," Raymond says, flicking through a rolling rack stuffed with matte jersey and silk Jacquard on a recent afternoon at The Way We Wore, her La Brea Avenue vintage boutique. "This was a generic, '60s cocktail dress. And this one," she says with a smirk, "I swear it was a Republican. The scoop neck was horrible. I could maybe see selling it in Texas."
ruined it for me. The accompanying slide show is worthwhile, though.

There were several more eco-recession chic articles, but my favorite was the interview with
Dosa's Christina Kim
.
Kim believes that supporting these artisans, and having regular contact with them in good times and bad, builds long-term, trusting relationships. It also fits within her broader philosophy of encouraging people to consume less but cherish more the things they buy and wear, including the sweat equity and consummate craftsmanship of the people who made them.

For Kim, that means appreciating not only the textures, colors, shapes and patterns of materials but also their histories and identities, the multiple lives they may have led while traveling from a Yoruba cloth market in West Africa, say, or an Indian women's sewing cooperative, to Kim's downtown L.A. retail showroom.

"That's probably the biggest thing you give," she says of her relationships with far-flung collaborators, "that you're not just looking at them as tools, you're looking at them on a human level."

Kim believes that when garments, housewares and other items pass through multiple pairs of hands during their construction, they undergo a "transfer of energy." She regards clothing imperfections not as "flaws" but as personality markers, as distinctive as a mole or a beauty mark.

Similarly, she considers the discipline imposed by working with finite resources to be not an impediment but a spur to imagination and inventiveness. Recycling limits you to "essences," she says.
Read the whole thing and view the slide show. Visit the Wardrobe Refashion Blog.

In between market work, family work and recovering from the never ending parade of infections this winter, I have a few wardrobe refashions to show off. Maybe I will get around to posting that about the same time I show off the rest of my Spring sewing. ;-)

Guess where?

Another clue.
When fire comes, this water cistern may be useful.
The (interstate) 405 traffic over Sepulveda pass is a dead giveaway to locals that we spent the day at the Getty Center.

As you get off the tram leading from the parking structure below to the center above, you may encounter this 'spring'.
We followed the path of the water down for a garden tour.
I can't stop taking pictures of the sedum.
Approaching the pool at the end.
I'd like to make a quilt someday, incorporating those shadows.
I almost didn't think about work at all that day, until I saw these plants. Don't they look like magnetic tapes?
All the rah-rah edible landscaping articles lately omit competition from nature. Mark and I once watched a swarm of locusts (grasshoppers) eat our entire garden in Boulder in a matter of hours. Ever wonder why Utah's license plates have a seagull on them? Read the story; it has to do with locusts.

We did make it into the galleries. But I was mesmerized by this woman's sleeve. If details like this make you giddy, may I suggest you click over to the Pattern Magic image pool on Flickr?
Afterwards, we went over to some friends' house for dinner. The joke among their college friends is that this family bought the house attached to the fruit orchard. I am a sucker for backyard fruit. I came home with a bag of grapefruit. Last weekend, I came home with two bags of oranges.The last time I blogged about the Getty Center, I posted only pictures of the ground cover. It is that interesting.

PS That's unpolished travertine in the first photo, showing it's oceanic origin. I can't recall how many million tons of travertine they imported from Italy (on order of 100 million tons). They used the same quarry that yielded the stone for the Roman coliseum. Of course I had to ask the tour guide how they got it from there to here. They used ships narrow enough to pass through the Panama canal, over 100 ship trips.

Friday, April 17, 2009

You want these

If you have followed the link on the right to Pennamite's blog, you would have seen the upcycled purses she has been refashioning from thrift store finds and images from the Flickr Commons uploads of the Library of Congress.

Before
After
You want one. They would also make a perfect gift for mothers' day. Support my neighbor and independent artist/historian Penny Richards.

Visit her etsy shop.

Amen to that

The problem isn't greed, it's what we've all decided is acceptable.
From Joel Stein in the LAT.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Another Windsday

Bad Dad actually didn't want to walk three blocks home from Rice Things because of the wind!

I lifted the graphic from the California Regional Weather Server at Cal State San Francisco. They have more pictures like this (including movies!) and more weather data for CA than you can shake a mouse at.

More windsdays:
Happy Windsday
Windy Not Windsday

Warmer Climate at Club Penguin

Who knew the antarctic is warming up this fast?

From the Club Penguin Blog:
It's completely different than anything we've done before--it's an igloo with a backyard! There's even fences and outdoor ornaments you can purchase from the new furniture catalog to decorate your new lawn!

I had tons of fun decorating it--but I'd love to hear what you've been doing with the new stuff!


Oh, boy. I have many opinions about Club Penguin. But it will have to wait until I am more coherent.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The mother of all missions

Nothing evokes California for me as much as the El Camino Real bells.
If you attended fourth grade in California, you will remember making a model mission. Or, perhaps, you watched your mom make a mission*. This year, students can choose from a variety of projects, but California stopped requiring the models. My favorite memory of the unit was getting excused from school to spend a whole day with my mom to visit a mission.

Iris selected Mission San Diego because it is the first mission in Alta California. Amazingly, I had never been there. We went on Easter Sunday, so she didn't miss any school.
We were in San Diego anyway for a family reunion weekend. I was sick with a cold, but I went along with the others to minimize my contact to a family member in frail health who could not afford to catch my cold.

It's a functioning church, with services every hour on Easter Sunday. Parking was a mess; we were very glad we took public transit.
Iris and Father Serra.
A doorway.
Take a second look at the light fixtures.
Two happy and tired girls in my handiwork.
Iris in the same 'effefant' shirt, in June 2003.
* Just for the record, my sister and I made every last bit of our missions ourselves.

Aside:
Have you read your child's history textbook recently? I was surprised to read Iris' text and find that it gave even shorter shrift to the horrific treatment of Native Americans than my textbook 30 years ago. My sister-in-law of identical age says that her textbook was similarly vague. She thinks that might be the difference between San Diego and San Francisco school districts. The politics of the two cities is very different. At least my kid is not using Texas' science textbooks.

I went to the publisher's website to view supplemental materials. That did explain the genocide and why the Indians ran away and/or burned down the missions. If you read the book alone, it would have been a mystery.

Who'd a thunk?

Public transit gives a different vantage point than other modes of travel. Who'd a thunk that Costco's roof was plastered with skylights and photovoltaic panels?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The mommy war over breast and bottle

What's up with the articles lately against breast feeding and breast pumps? Don't you just love these media-generated mommy wars?

If Judith Warner found her breast pump so painful, perhaps she should have bought a different one. I have heard many mothers say that breast feeding is painful, but I never heard anyone else complain about painful breast pumps.

I also do not understand why she found pumping so onerous. I didn't, except when I flew cross-country for a conference and had a difficult time finding a place to pump. Otherwise, I didn't have any major problems. After all, desk jockeys like myself and JW should be able to work and pump at the same time.

I agree with Hanna Rosin that women should not be put on the defensive for their choices. She does a credible job explaining the science. The differences are smaller than breast milk advocates claim. (This is a prime example of "correlation does not imply causality".)

In addition, just because breast fed babies have, on average, one fewer bout of diarrhea than bottle fed babies, doesn't mean your baby will have one more/less bout if you chose differently. After all, who has an average baby?

I was breast fed. My mom, a nurse in a developing country at the time, saw the dangers of bottle feeding first hand. My aunt brought me to the hospital during my mom's breaks for feeding. By all accounts, I was a fat and happy baby that slept a lot. Breast milk had a narcotic effect upon me; mom says it never failed to put me to sleep. Iris inherited this trait.

My mother in law, a stay at home mother of three with full time help (her mother), bottle fed all three of her children. She said that doctors discouraged breast feeding in the 1950s and 1960s. Her kids, especially the middle one (Bad Dad), suffered from frequent bouts of diarrhea. No matter how much she boiled and sterilized the bottles, they got sick. All babies did. That was just an accepted fact of life. Her friends' children were no more or less sick than hers.

All of my MIL's grandchildren were breastfed (one for only a short period, 3 for a year or more). She was surprised to observe that none of her grandchildren ever had bouts of infant diarrhea. None.

Susceptibility to diarrhea is influenced by both environmental and genetic factors. We were worried about Iris because Bad Dad certainly has genetic susceptibility. Iris avoided that problem. What made the difference? We can't say for certain but my MIL thinks it was breast feeding. YMMV

Now the new mommy scare is perchlorate (perc) in baby formula. Combine the low, but detectable, levels of perc found in baby formula, add perc from tap water, and babies in some parts of the country can get hazardous amounts of perc in their diet. Though perc was detected in many formulas, ones made from cow's milk had higher levels than those made from soy. (I supplemented my milk with soy formula after the first 6 months because I couldn't keep up with her calorie demands.)

Curiously, no one measured the levels of perc excreted in mothers' milk. I wouldn't be surprised if humans, as well as cows, excreted perc. After all, there are more dry cleaning establishments in residential neighborhoods than on farms. (And, unless you live on or near a place that spills jet and rocket fuel, the perc contamination in your water comes mainly from dry cleaning.)

Don't you just love the headlines that refer to perc as "a chemical found in rocket fuel"? It is also a common solvent and industrial cleaner. Until recently, it was the most common dry cleaning fluid. That's why they tell you to take the plastic cover off your dry cleaning and leave it outside to off-gas. You wouldn't want to breath more of that stuff than you have to. Though it is kind of hard not to breath in whatever is off-gassing from the clothes you are wearing. And does your baby chew on your clothes? I digress.

Did you know that hydrazine is also a chemical found in rocket fuel? And that rocket scientists test if a hydrazine detector is working by putting shitake mushrooms up next to it? Seriously, they buy the mushrooms at the supermarket, put them in a plastic bag in the sun, and then open up the plastic bag right up next to the hydrazine detector. Through trial and error, they discovered that shitake mushrooms give the strongest signal. I know one rocket scientist that refuses to eat mushrooms.

I take the middle road with Andrew Weil. He acknowledges the dangers of hydrazine in mushrooms. But they are also delicious and contain beneficial compounds as well. He points out that hydrazine is a volatile compound and most of it evaporates in cooking. He eats cooked mushrooms. Unless you have one hell of a range hood, it would be best to cook them outside. Call me overprotective, but I wouldn't feed mashed mushrooms to babies, either.

Monday, April 06, 2009

We Heart CSA Day

Iris and I enjoyed CSA day at Tanaka Farms immensely. Unfortunately, Bad Dad had to work that weekend and missed it. He did, however, celebrate 100 hours of astronomy by working 24 hours straight at Mt. Wilson Observatory.

Iris and I arrived an hour late for the 10:00 AM tour due to construction on interstate 405. While we were stuck on the freeway, I gave Iris my cell phone and asked her to dial her nanny. (Iris has decided that M will always be her one and only nanny; everyone else is just a babysitter.) Tanaka Farms is in Irvine. M currently lives on campus in Irvine. Let's meet for lunch!

Irvine is not a small town. I never expected that the farm and M's university shared a freeway exit. We drive this section of road regularly to visit my in-laws in San Diego. I never noticed this exit before. But, that's life in LA. Behind each freeway exit, is a community both distinct and integrated into the life of the larger metro area.

When M met us, she showed us how her college is visible from the Tanaka Farms parking lot. Once a week-on low carb, low carbon night-her dorm cafeteria serves produce from Tanaka Farms. Now that's local!

I couldn't believe the buccolic setting. Is this really only 1 minute away from the 405? The juxtaposition of banana trees and corn stalks tickled my fancy. The bananas we received in last week's box came from another farm. Irvine winter nights are too cold for these trees to bear fruit in large quantities.

Though they do bear some fruit. And who are those lazy guys all over the farm? Don't they ever move?

Iris tried unsuccessfully to befriend one.

The farm was also overrun with ladybugs.

The CSA tour is run separately from the strawberry and birthday party tours. We were given a map of the farm and sent to stations to pick radishes, carrots, cilantro, spinach and strawberries. It was a farm treasure hunt.

At each station, I embarrassed Iris by asking lots of questions. Can you imagine they run this entire farm, the CSA, the farm stand, educational tours and take care of the back office with just ~20 full-time employees and a few part-timers?

They minimize weeding by using drip irrigation and plastic row covers. Weeds only grow if they have water and sunlight. Under this system, they get very fewer weeds.

At first, I thought that was a whole lot of non-recyclable plastic. Then I thought about all the energy they save by not having to pump more water out here and not needing more workers, each commuting by car. We don't see the waste from that petroleum use, though we do see the plastic.

The ladybugs and scarecrows are part of the integrated pest management system, which includes interleaving crops.

Those are the healthiest tomatoes I have seen since I moved from Kansas.

Their Swiss chard has a few insect nibbles, just like mine. Note that not all the people in the background are capable of moving. ;-)

I lingered near the carrots because I enjoyed observing the wind rustle through the carrots with my senses. I could see, hear and smell the carroty goodness.

Then we headed up to the washing, chopping and grilling station at the top of a hill. They provided tofu, oil and spices to mix with our veggies. They also grilled sweet Maui-style onions. I noticed that the discarded onion tops resembled leeks. The young man told me I was welcome to take as many onion tops as I wanted.

After the food break, we headed over to the strawberry patch for dessert. They gave us one large plastic box per person and told us to fill them up. We were so sad that M had to leave the tour before dessert. She had an appointment with a study group for an upcoming exam. Luckily, we picked a small box of strawberries for her at the strawberry maze near the farm entrance before she met us that morning.

The onions are planted there to help repel insects from the strawberries.

They told us to eat as many strawberries as we wanted. So we did. All the parents were telling the kids to eat the darkest red ones, because they were the sweetest and wouldn't transport well. We picked bright red ones to take home. There is a certain joy in eating freshly picked and ripe strawberries, warmed by the sun. The kids had strawberry juice dribbling down their chins. Before long, I heard one child cry out, "My stomach hurts!"

Iris says she knows how a flower becomes a strawberry. You can see the whole process right here.

Iris managed to spill her container. She picked up what she could, and asked me to pick some more to fill it up. She carried mine. It was a windy day and our hats tried to fly away. She put the strawberries on her head to hold the hat on and to carry the strawberries. Container #2 hit the ground and burst open. I bit my tongue and watched her pick them up, slightly worse for the tumble.

After we put our pickings away, we went to the farm stand near the entrance. I bought some onions, garlic and potatoes. Iris bought a box of 6 enormous chocolate-covered strawberries. She gave Mark one, but tried to charge me $2 per strawberry! I asked her why he got a free sample. She said it was because he wasn't there. I had the option to buy them and I refused.

Bye-bye. We will be back next year for CSA day. Actually, Iris says we will be back in the summer for the watermelon tour. We went home to cook potato-leek soup with cilantro. What a great way to cap off the day.

I am not going to dwell on the chocolate-covered strawberries.

Aside:
You can see Iris with the world's greatest nanny here and here. Even though she only worked for us regularly for one academic year, and then only two evenings a week, we owe her so much. I met her when she was 11. She started babysitting Iris (irregularly) when they were 14 yo and 5 months old respectively. Mark and I stopped going out as I became sicker and sicker. M became busy with school.

She called me one day and said, "I heard from my mom that you are very sick. What can I do to help? Tell me what you need and I will do it." She did it all. She took care of Iris, she shopped for groceries, she shlepped Iris to her activities. When Mark traveled on business, she came nearly every night to feed and bathe Iris. (My symptoms are most severe in the evenings.) She gave me the chance to recover my health to a manageable equilibrium.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Wren Wrap-up

Pardon the bad pun.

I was actually too sick earlier this year for sewing and knitting (or going to work). This should explain why I read so many books in 2009. But, I am well enough now to work nearly my regular schedule, knit and upload pictures of knitting.

So here is Wren, looking very spiffy with my linen skirt and an old pale pink t-shirt from Target.
It looks subtly different with the plaid top I made last year.
As others have noted on Ravelry, the neckline of the pattern doesn't really work. Like several successful knitters before me, I changed the 1x1 ribbing to moss stitch. But the wide collar band gets wavy and there is no way to decrease and stay in pattern.
I knit 4 rows of moss stitch before switching to stockinette at the hems. The bottom front center stitches were left unfinished for a subtle curl.
I bought this pin, made from antique buttons, from Merry Wennerberg of The Button Box. She does not have a storefront and sells at shows around southern California; call 949-581-9663 for her show schedule.
If you followed the pattern link at the top, you may notice that my sweater is substantially different than the pattern. I knit long sleeves in the round, increasing from 41 to 65 stitches (spacing incs every 10th row). Then I followed the cap sleeve decrease sequence.

The sweater is wearable, but a prime example of Swatches Lie. When a yarn is called “drapey”, it means that the sweater will droop and stretch. I should have knitted one size down and allowed for downward stretch when I measured for the armhole.

(Why didn't I learn my lesson after the Papyrus Lace Cardigan fiasco?)

Knitters can learn more gory details on Ravelry.