Still Life on a Sunday Afternoon

[Posted on a Monday morning because the Internet here was cranky last night and I only have so much patience—meaning, very little.]

IMG_4116On the screen: Chapter 5 of my dissertation, about child welfare issues during the first years of the People’s Republic of China. Approximately 75% finished.

On the needles: Hitchhiker scarf. Approximately 90% finished. [Update: now 95% finished as of Sunday night, due to Internet issues that meant I chose to knit the evening away rather than spending it on Twitter or reading the New York Times/Go Fug Yourself.]

What do these two things have in common?

They both should have been done long before now.

I started the Hitchhiker back in April and thought I’d knock it out in a couple of weeks. But it turned out to be a really boring knit—endless rows of garter stitch, which only get longer, since you increase the width of the scarf by one stitch every row. And then the summer came, and it was so hot that the idea of sitting with a heap of knitted scarf on my legs held no appeal whatsoever, so I had no problem letting the Hitchhiker hibernate for a few months. I finally picked it up again last week, realized how close I was to finishing it, and decided that it needs to be done before the end of October.

I haven’t spent nearly as long working on the chapter—I really began writing it in earnest sometime in late August—but I also thought that would go far more smoothly and quickly than it has. Some parts have come together really easily; other sections have proven more painful to write. The biggest challenge for me right now is to stop playing around with the sections that are fully drafted and focus instead on the ones that are still mostly in outline form. It’s so much easier to edit what I’ve already written than bear down and write something new, especially when writing something new means spending hours poring over printouts of handwritten documents from the 1950s.

But the month is ending and I am ready to move on to new projects (Christmas knitting and Chapter 4), so it’s time to hunker down, tie up loose ends, and deal with these two.

(In the bowl: vegetable wonton soup, my go-to lunch/dinner now that the weather has turned colder. Often accompanied by a roasted sweet potato from one of the sidewalk vendors selling them all over the city.)

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