I know, I know, I don’t keep up the blog nearly so well as I used to. I blame this ridiculous plan to go back to school. And really, I need someone to stop me from well-intentioned ideas such as “oh, I’ll take this class, and this class, for real classes… and then I’ll take this other class too, just for fun!” Because, as it turns out, three classes is a lot for a half-time student/full-time worker, especially since they all add up to 11 credit hours: 1 hour short of full-time status. I had the best of intentions, but I do believe I am also kind of an idiot. (Not to mention I find it so incredibly difficult to care at all about one of the classes, my writing class, which I only took (rather than placing out of) to get reminded about things like formatting and bibliographical standards and stuff like that… not so I could write weekly diary entries (ahem: “reflections”) about what I have recently learned about writing and why it is important to punctuate. I ALREADY KNOW ABOUT SEMICOLONS, YO. Dear god, make the hippie-dippy I-am-a-writer crap stop! I do not like this class at all, even a little bit, and yet, I still have to do the work, which is basically rubbing salt into the wound every time I have to take seriously something ridiculous. Seriously wish I would have just bought an MLA reference book and taken the placement exam!)


I am enjoying my other two classes, at least. One of them — Creators and Creativity (in which we are studying the nature of creativity and creators who have produced creative works — yes, we use the C word a lot) — I am enjoying actually a whole lot more than I thought I would, especially given the amount of reading there is. In fact I am blaming it for my own recent unstoppable torrent of inspiration, which I will discuss more in a few paragraphs….

My third class, Spanish 101, is a little bizarre due to being entirely online, which makes it sort of like taking Foreign Languages Taught For Slackers, By Slackers (except that it’s the only semester class, so it’s 16 weeks worth of material compressed into an 8 week summer term; unlike the two DePaul classes which are on the quarter system and so have 10 weeks of material in a 10-week term, this one is a little busy). But I am finding it pretty easy and enjoying it. I am grateful to have found out at last where Spanish put all the subject pronouns (answer: in a box full of unloved parts of speech shoved under the bed). And it’s an easy A, so hey, no complaints there (except for the bit where it probably won’t be worth any transfer credit because I’ve already basically filled out all my Humanities requirements and electives credits – alas).

Spanish class will be over in two weeks though, and that’s good — it’ll be a relief to have the time back. Also it’ll be nice to have less work to do as the DePaul quarter comes to a close, since I will have multiple term papers to be writing by then and won’t really want to spend hours in front of the computer practicing my Spanish pronunciation (which has improved dramatically, but that is like saying your mathematical abilities skyrocketed once you showed up to Kindergarten).

To celebrate the end of Spanish class (as though I have cleverly planned this, ha!), my weekend of 25-26 July will be spent over at Loopy, for Camp Pluckyfluff. (Do not laugh at the name! Spinning yarn is serious business!) Kim will be in town visiting just beforehand, too, stopping by before jaunting off to Knitting Camp for that same weekend. The scheduling is coincidental, yet pretty damn convenient, I have to say — as is the location at Loopy extremely convenient, since Kim will have my car in Wisconsin and I was a little bit concerned about how I was going to get my wheel out to camp, until they announced the location a couple weeks ago and it turned out to be, you know, across State street and half a block up from my house. So that was … well, pretty much as convenient as humanly possible.

And next weekend, before Spinning Camp, I have tickets to two Sox games… but I don’t see how I can possibly fit both in. (If one was an evening game, maybe, but they’re both afternoon games, which pretty much interrupts all my study/writing/home time and will be a massive break in concentration, so I just can’t see how I could do it.) No tengo el tiempo para béisbol porque tengo la tarea de mis tres clases, one might say. Not to mention that I want to drive up to Crystal Lake for a couple hours to visit the annual Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair for at least a couple hours (not counting the couple of hours of driving it’s going to take to get out there to the boonies and back). It’s not so much that I need new fiber… it’s that I want new fiber. Y’all know. That said.. it’s a long trip and it would sadden me to skip it but I might have to, if I run low on time…sigh.

Now back to what I previously promised: a bit about my own spate of creativity. I have been thinking for a while that what I want to do to earn some experiential arts credit towards my DeGree […ha. I totally typed that by accident, combining DePaul and degree…but I love it and I think I’ll keep it.] is to do something about knitting or spinning, maybe doing something like spinning up a laceweight yarn and knitting it into a lace shawl or something. I was not entirely sanguine about that idea, chiefly because I’m not honestly all that confident in my ability to spin sturdy laceweight, and a lace shawl is an awful lot of work to go to if you don’t think the yarn can actually stand up to it. But then I thought about designing a shawl myself instead, which I’ve never done, but which would certainly require a lot of research and planning and, y’know, being artistic and stuff. So I was noodling for a while on concepts, what sort of design theme would be in such a shawl. And the other day, maybe Wednesday, I had a little minor epiphany: a Chicago shawl, of course. (a) I love Chicago. (b) We have tons of history and cool things that could go into a design. (c) Chicago rules. (d) Also this lets me use the clever little name that Hubbit came up with: SHAWLCAGO. I mean. Dudes, how can I lose? So I pondered a few ideas and finally came up with a sketch, which will no doubt go through many iterations between now and $(faraway future point when I will have successfully designed a shawl), but is at least a starting point. And it will be awesome!

Shawlcago sketch

There are, let’s see — 6? elements in there that reference specific Chicago things. Also the border, which is not on the sketch, references a seventh. Feel free to hazard guesses about what they are in the comments … at least two of them are completely flipping obvious!

The only (ha) problem with this rather ambitious plan is that I have never actually designed a lace pattern before, or a stole, much less both of them at the same time. So I decided that it would be wise to work on a practice project first to sort of get my footing. I chose another subject, a large motif that I plan to put central in the shawl, surrounded by a simple lacy pattern for background. And I also plan to make it a triangle shawl, which will force me to learn how to do shaping and increases and borders and all kinds of mean nasty ugly things. I have chosen a stitch for the background and already managed to get messed up by decreasing too much (and having no idea where the stitches went because the yarnovers totally match up with the k2togs, so, wtf dude?) on my initial test swatch before I even got two full repeats in, so I declare this little experiment a success! (Um. Well. You have to admit at least I get credit for knowing I would need to practice a whole lot, rather than thinking “oh, how hard could it really be.”) That shawl’s theme is sort of a lark, though, so I’m keeping it super sekrit until (a) I figure out how the hell to design a shawl, (b) I figure out how the hell to publish a lace chart without just hand-writing it on graph paper and scanning it in, and (c) I actually have something more to show off than a sketch.

In the world of non-imaginary (so far!) knitting, though, I have gotten a fair amount accomplished this year (at least, given how much time I actually have to knit, I think it’s a lot). I have knit one Baudelaire sock, finished my (started in 2006 and mostly ignored since then) bouclé wrap, started a Swallowtail shawl, and all these other nifty things that I actually have recent photos of:

Mosaic of knitting projects for 2009

But now … I have spent a good hour or so composing this particular opus, and that is time I probably should have spent on la aforementioned tarea. ‘Cos I pretty much have “the entire rest of today” worth of homework to do, and I am just putting it off, which is simultaneously an elemental part of my nature (“school? but why? it is sunny out!”) and also not actually going to help me graduate, even a little bit, not even if I explain to the dean that it was really nice and sunny out today and that is why I couldn’t be arsed.