The Dissertation Socks

Over the past ten or so weeks, I’ve been busting tail to finish up my dissertation. For six of those weeks, Aidan was already in Cincinnati starting his new job, which left me alone in our apartment with nothing but our cats and my writing-related guilt and anxiety. It sucked about as much as you’d imagine. One day when our landlord stopped by to take some pictures of our place, she asked me, “So what do you do to let off steam and relax while you’re doing all this writing? Just drink a lot of beer?” Yes. But also, re-watch all of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and knit socks.

Stack of Handknit Socks

Socks are like my knitting homeplace–they are how I developed so many of my knitting skills early on and they are the thing I come back to when I need an easy, feel-good project. (I have similarly romantic thoughts about Buffy. Season Five is an amazing piece of television, even though I can’t stand Dawn–it’s just beautifully written. And that musical episode in Season 6! Anyway…) I felt myself drawn back to sock knitting when the pressure to finish the diss hit hardest, and then I just kept on knitting tubes and turning heels until the writing was done. All in all, I finished six pairs.

Pair #1: Denim Socks

Denim Ribbed Socks

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: A Nice Ribbed Sock from Glenna C.
  • Yarn: Regia 4-ply Terra in Denim (discontinued)

Pair #2: Blue Yonder Socks

Blue Yonder Tonal Socks

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: Top-down, boring stockinette
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in the Blue Yonder Colorway
  • Notes: I salvaged this yarn from a scarf I made a few years ago but rarely wore. I didn’t really like wearing this bright blue near my face–it suits me better as a cheery pair of socks.

Pair #3: Ringwood Socks

Plum Ringwood Socks

  • Made For: Me
  • Pattern: Gentleman’s Half Hose in Ringwood Pattern from Nancy Bush’s Knitting Vintage Socks
  • Yarn: Dream in Color Smooshy in Lost in Plum
  • Notes: This yarn was also salvaged from a scarf I never wore. I didn’t strictly follow Nancy Bush’s pattern–I really just drew on the 2×2 ribbed cuff and ringwood stitch pattern, but substituted my own cast on numbers and heel and toe shaping.

Pair #4: TMNT Socks

Socks in Stroll Tonal Canopy

  • Made for: Aidan
  • Pattern: Improvised top-down socks in 2×2 ribbing worked over 72 stitches
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Canopy

Pair #5: Spike Socks

Ribbed Socks in Stroll Tonal Train Station

  • Made for: Aidan
  • Pattern: Improvised top-down socks in 2×2 ribbing worked over 72 stitches
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Train Station
  • Notes: I love this yarn! I want to order another skein to make myself a pair of socks with. And maybe a second skein for a scarf or cowl?

Pair #6: Drusilla Socks 

Zigzagular Socks in Stroll Tonal Gypsy

  • Made for: Me
  • Pattern: Zigzagular socks
  • Yarn: Knit Picks Stroll Tonal in Gypsy
  • Notes: It’s nice that this pattern has a few different sizing options, but if you knit these at the recommended pattern gauge it seems like you would end up with sock that has zero ease, which just makes for a baggy sock. My foot circumference is 9″ and I cast on per the instructions for the 9″ size with smaller needles that were giving me 8.5 stitches an inch (pattern gauge is 8 stitches per inch) and it was clear about 4″ in that these were going to be way too wide despite my tighter gauge. I ripped back and cast on again for 68 stitches, which required adjusting the numbers for the rest of the pattern but resulted in a much better fit. I was also pleasantly surprised at how colorfast this yarn was. I was expecting a bowl of pink water when I blocked them, but the yarn didn’t bleed at all.

I’m honestly surprised to say this, but I don’t even feel burnt out on sock knitting at this point. If I had more sock yarn in my stash, I’d probably just keep chugging along. But I’m out of sock yarn and have once again witnessed the final destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, so I’ve switched gears and am now watching Grace and Frankie while I knit up Bristol Ivy’s Winterlong cowl.

Our movers are coming today and it will be almost two weeks before our stuff arrives at our new place. Naturally, I’m bringing about three months’ worth of knitting with me when I drive down with the cats. I’m looking forward to lots of knitting and no writing.

Cincinnati-Bound

In March, I was offered a position as an Assistant Professor at a 2-year college just north of Cincinnati. When I started my job search in October (because academic job searches take forever), my goal was to get a tenure-track job at a small, teaching-focused college in or very near a Midwestern city, and that’s exactly what I ended up with. It’s a great job, and I’m excited for the all of the professor perks like finally having my own office.

I was actually born in southwestern Ohio and lived there until my family moved to Wisconsin when I was ten. Graduate school took me back to southwestern Ohio for two years before we moved to New York, and now we’re headed back to southwestern Ohio once again. It’s starting to feel like the universe is sending me a very pointed message about where I’m supposed to be.

Aidan managed to get a job in Cincinnati pretty quickly, which is great but also means he’s going to be moving down there in less than two weeks. Meanwhile, I’ll be staying behind to finish up the semester and pack our stuff up. Oh, and I have to actually finish my dissertation so that I can graduate. NBD.

So my life right now revolves around writing and moving logistics. It is all equal parts exciting and terrifying. There have been good parts about being in New York, but I am so done with living in Syracuse and even more done with grad school. I think there are good things on the horizon for us in Ohio, but I can’t think too long about all the work I have to do over the next two months in order to get there or I start to feel a little ill.

Anyway, I had been keeping my sewing machine on my desk and would just push it to the side when I needed to work. But I decided to pack all of my sewing stuff away a few weeks ago to clear my workspace and my head. (No regrets–it worked.) I’ve even asked Aidan to take my sewing machine down to Ohio with him when he goes rather than risk it to the not-so-gentle hands of movers. That means that I probably won’t be doing any sewing until July. In my non-writing time, I’ve reverted back to my early grad school knitting habits and have been exclusively knitting socks for the last five weeks. I’ve finished one full pair, have two pairs in progress, and just got another three skeins of sock yarn in the mail today.

At this point in my knitting life, socks require next to no mental exertion on my part, so I’ve basically cut out as many crafty distractions as possible without totally giving it up. I just keep reminding myself that this state of affairs is temporary. Plus, Aidan promised to buy me a serger once I defend my diss. I think that should be enough motivation to keep me limping along. Back to work!