January 2006 Archives
I have quite a bit of teaching experience. A couple of semesters of composition, a long period of literacy work, and a couple of years of teaching non-technical people computer programming basics. It's true that teaching gets easier with practise, but I am here to tell you that nothing, absolutely nothing, is as good at teaching you how to be a good teacher as being a student with teaching experience.
It's really simple. You get to see somebody else make all the mistakes. You get to compare their style to yours and notice things you never noticed before. Just like the realization when you first stand up in front of the classroom: Oh my god, the teacher really can see and hear everything that happens in here. But in reverse.
So I decided to start keeping track of some of the mistakes I see my teachers make, and some notes for myself on being a better teacher. Bear in mind, this is not a criticism of my professors. All my teachers are great, the state certainly doesn't pay them very well, they have to try to cram lots of material into the typical ten-week quarter system, and the outdated equipment and materials available are embarrassing when you consider that this is the world's fifth largest economy running this place. But they are mostly not teachers by vocation: most of my teachers are engineers or architects or construction managers or what have you, first and foremost, and they give up no small number of billable hours to come give us the latest, greatest, and most relevant information. So there's a lot they can learn about teaching.
I'm on row 93 of the shawl, at 196 stitches across. It gets to 300 stitches across at row 146, before the fishtails start, so I have a way to go. I just started the third ball of yarn. The second ball of yarn is the big landmark for me; that's when I feel like I've made real progress. Now that the rows are so large, the shawl is growing much more slowly, but I'm OK with that.
I had one KWAI (knitting while ability impaired) incident last weekend, when I tried to knit when I was too tired to keep my eyes open and ended up putting the yarn overs at random all over a row in my sleep. Then I didn't notice it until I'd purled, then knit another row and held it up to look at it (the next day). What a pain to rip it out and redo. That will teach me not to fall asleep with needles in hand.
The yarn is interesting to work with: not as neat and tidy as other yarns I've worked with. Every now and then there's a slubby bit, and the occasional odd fiber. But it was a good value, and it is wonderfully soft all knit up. I love the floppiness of the loose knit; I usually tend to be overly tight in my knitting, choosing large yarn on small needles and making a nice firm fabric. I should try more stuff on oversized needles.
I didn't scan these two drawings last week before turning them in, because I didn't totally finish the shading until right before class. I really dislike drawing in pencil, but I'll tolerate it. In a week or so, we're supposed to transition to conte crayon, which I dislike even more. I hate messy drawing materials. I'd rather go to pen or marker.
I'm on row 54 of the shawl, at 116 stitches per row, so progress is slowing down (the shawl is worked from the neck down). Here's a photo of it at 45 rows, before I spent some time knitting between law and housing classes this evening.
The pattern is coming together nicely. And I like how the large needles lead to a looser knit. Stockinette knit tightly can look too perfect and machine-made; knit loosely like this, it looks lacy and gets a nice drape.
I'm up to row 31 on the Flower Petal Shawl (no images because I don't have that kind of time right now) and the needles are being more tolerable. For one thing, as the shawl grows, it weighs down the springy bit of the circular that kept boinging around and causing chaos -- this is a 40-inch circular, so there is a lot of extra needle.
Also, I discovered that the needles work very well if you are covered in a fine layer of spray glue after working in the studio for a few hours. The glue has since rubbed off, so I will have to re-apply it tomorrow. Maybe other people have stickier fingers than I do and naturally have more grip on their needles.
I can only knit a couple of rows at a time before being called off to class or having to glue something to something else, so I'm enjoying the pattern, which is simple and kind of mindless (though with the occasional abbreviation I've never seen before: k0? Knit no stitches? Do I honestly need to be told that? I guess so, if I assume that I knit one after every yarn over). I generally don't care for overly fussy things, which means easy knitting, but while puttering around today I found a couple more lace shawls that are quite nice and slightly more complicated than stockinette with a few yarn overs. Maybe I will try one of those during a vacation. Lord knows what I will do with several lace shawls, but I'm sure they will find good homes, if not with me.
Oh, and the yarn? Wonderful. I am definitely not allergic to alpaca like I am to wool, which makes me very happy.
I bought myself a pair of Addi Turbos for my birthday. Everybody tells me they are the best needles they have ever used, they love them, they make knitting so easy.
I hate them. They are slippery. They seem to drop stitches of them own volition. Yes, they are warmer than the usual metal needles, but whatever. I hate them so much that I'm considering sending them back and buying a couple of pairs of bamboo needles just because they don't seem to want to slide out of my hands all the time. I cannot sympathize with people who love that feeling at all. Though it does explain why so many of my knitting friends complain about always dropping stitches. Hey, if you used less slippery needles, that might be less of a problem, you know?
Of course, in the mean time I have started knitting a shawl on them, so I am sort of stuck if I don't buy a set of needles right now to replace them.
I've got my school schedule all worked out now: 19 credits, which sounds like a lot but is actually a pretty workable load. Almost all my classes are Tuesday and Thursday, which sounds great until I tell you that they start at 7 in the morning and go until 9 at night. I get some decent breaks in there, but still.
My studio is doing a neat project this quarter: years ago the College of Architecture and Environmental Design put together a proposal for a Renewable Energy/Sustainable Design Research Center, but what with our budget being slashed into tiny pieces and the students even having to vote ourselves a special fee to ensure that there were enough classes that current students could graduate, it's been shelved. So we're going to use the proposal and the proposed site (on campus) and design it. This will allow me to develop an idea I have for modular plumbing (so you can easily switch out, say, experimental toilet designs). We got a glimpse of the program today, and we are starting our first exercise in the process.
Last night before bed I finished this crocheted square. I don't know why the author calls it "Pineapple Granny 12” Pillow-ghan Square", apart from the obvious parts of that (it's crocheted, it works out to roughly 12" across, and the pattern is the classic pineapple), but mine is not to question.
It was fun to make, a pattern that doesn't call for too much thinking, so I could listen to radio shows while crocheting it. I think I will make more, and make a blanket.
I had this small skein of Magic Ball hanging around the apartment, and I wanted a new hat. It wasn't really enough for a good winter hat, but it was enough for a kind of fun little hat. So I made a pill box.
It's exactly not something I could see Jackie O wearing. Hence the nickname.
The yarn was a bit of a bear to work with. "Magic Ball" is a series of knotted-together fun yarns, so it was sort of like trying out a sampler. I liked how ribbon crocheted into a really stiff fabric. Fancy fur was just unmanageable. And if you ever hear me suggest that crocheting something out of mohair boucle might be a good idea, just hit me. My consolation is that at least mohair fuzz hides a lot of sins, because this mohair has plenty to hide. At one point I was just sort of stabbing at it and hoping the resulting knot looked reasonably crocheted.
I had given up on my fern project in despair, then this morning I opened the container and what did I see but the mossy green growth of developing prothalli! I've had prothalli death already, so I'm not too hopeful, but this is more mossy than previous events, so maybe this is The One.
I decided I hate the crochet piece I've been working on, so I've dumped it. I made the same square three times over, basically, what with all the restarting and so forth, and it never got as fun as the sheep. Maybe it's too complex for me, or maybe I just find all those chains and treble crochets boring. At any rate, it was giving me a headache to work on it or think about it, so I am raveling it and making something else, I guess. Not sure what. Maybe a different afghan. I'll have to look through my book of squares and see what appeals to me.
On the other hand, dropping the afghan frees me up for another project. I've seen a couple of people making shawls lately, of the knitted from the back of the neck type, and I decided that sounded fun. The only challenge was finding a pattern I didn't find too boring, but also something not so challenging that I could not work on it while
in a dazed stupour school is in session. I finally found the Flower Petal Shawl at Elann.com, which has a very simple pattern and a fancy, pretty edge.
So last night I ordered some yarn for it (eggplant, #1800) and needles (because the pattern calls for 40" #9 circulars and I don't have that length, though I do have the right size). Strike while the iron is hot, as they say, or at least get started on massive unrelated projects while the homework is light.
We came back from vacation to see that the plants I've had growing in the back window are really taking off. My sword fern, which is technically an invasive species (but a pretty one and easy to get rid of) is trying to grow out of the sides of the pot.
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