30 November 2012

New skill - Granny Squares

I've mentioned in the past that I have been frequently frustrated with my inability to learn how to crochet.  I was able to do basic cast ons and stitches (lovely crocheters, please don't be offended if I use the wrong terminology, I'm in uncharted territory here!), but never could do anything beyond that.

For some reason my mental yardstick for being able to crochet at a basic level has always been the granny square.  Over the Thanksgiving break I needed something new to work on, so I sorted through my yarn scraps and pulled up one tutorial after another until I figured it out.

Needless to say, I found it addictive, especially because I was able to use up scraps (many of you know that this is my thing).  Oh how fun it is!  Now, I'm aware the the color combinations are not the most attractive, but I don't really care because they are both square and crochet!

Now I'm not super accomplished like Robin, she isn't restricted to squares, in fact, she can make just about any shape!  Her experiments are so pretty and creative that they are works of art.

I'm also enjoying learning this new needle craft at the same time as my friend Sue.  She definitely is a few steps ahead of me though having learned multiple stitches and good technique.

I would eventually like to make a colorful scrap blanket because I've always wanted to have a granny square blanket.  Although it is definitely not going to be as organized as Heather's, she's got the power of Excel on her side!

It was such a joy to finally tackle this challenge and now I've been able to bring that energy to my many WIPs that are waiting to be finished.  I think that I will always be a knitter, but I definitely enjoy the process of crochet and appreciate all that is possible with it.

27 November 2012

What I've been up to lately

I drove down to Charleston, South Carolina to meet up with my family for Thanksgiving.  It was nice and warm during our time there and so we were able to get out and see a lot of the city.  It wouldn't be a family vacation without several trips to different old churches and graveyards (it is just our thing for some reason).  We also ate at several of those amazing, cute little hole-in-the-wall restaurants that are scattered around the city.

Visiting local yarn stores:
While I was in Charleston I finally got to visit a LYS for the first time in months.  I probably looked strange running around stroking all of the yarn excitedly.  Knit was very friendly (my siblings loved playing with the adorable little dogs) and had an amazing selection of Madelinetosh, it was a wonder I didn't walk out of there with more yarn than I did.  I ended up leaving with a sweater's worth of Berroco Vintage as a birthday present from my mother.

Watching Moonrise Kingdom:
I recently rewatched this movie by one of my favorite directors, Wes Anderson.  Each of his films are so meticulously made and aesthetically gorgeous, but this one may be one of my all-time favorites along with The Life Aquatic and The Royal Tenenbaums.

Listening to Radiolab podcast:
I've been working away in lab as always while trying to keep up with coursework and writing that journal article.  If you have any interest at all in the area of science that my article is on (perhaps more for my family members who want to know), you should check out this new RadioLab episode.  They explain epigenetics in a very understandable way and make it interesting for people who aren't science nerds like me.

I've also been knitting away in my spare moments.  I should have a finished project to show you soon, as well as my latest crafting success!

Thank you as always for all of your encouragement and friendship!

10 November 2012

Facing the hard truth

Thank you so much to those of you which left feedback on my infinity scarf, you all are just so wonderful and helpful.  Is there anything a group of knitters can't solve?

So, I finished up the wacky infinity scarf and tried it on to get a better idea of how much I might like it.

The answer is, not so much.  I know that a lot of you really liked the color combination, but I highly suspect that is because the green appeared gray on some monitors.  But no judgement here if you liked the mix, everyone has their own distinct aesthetic.  The color is more of an army green, a gray would have gone nicely when paired with the yellow though.

And so, I faced the hard truth and frogged my poor scarf.  But I'm still glad I knitted it, it was a fun little project and I loved working with the wool/cotton blend.  I'm definitely looking forward to knitting it up into something else (each color separately of course).

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!  I especially hope that everyone up on the East Coast is staying warm after the snow.

07 November 2012

Knitting Progress Report

Some of you had the most amazing Trader Joe's suggestions, most of which I've never tried.  Needless to say, my shopping list is a bit longer than usual this week.

So, where to start with my huge pile of in-progress knitting projects...

Here is the latest progress on the draft blocker.  I'm almost to the length I need and I'll still have some scraps left over for another project.  Good thing Nancy keeps on posting amazing scrap project inspiration.

These socks really should have been finished by now, but I've had to rip back several times to fix some unfortunate mistakes.  I know that they won't be as long as the knee socks shown in the book example because I only have one skein of yarn, but I've decided to make them as long as possible.

This scarf is a little bit out of character for me.  I started it a few weeks ago when I was really stressed and needed a quick project with a comforting yarn.  This Cascade cotton/wool blend was gifted to me by some wonderful family friends and it fit the bill.  Now if only the colors went together in combination with the pattern.  I'm strongly considering ripping it out, but what do you think (honestly)?

I've also resumed slow progress on the BFF cowl I'm knitting along with Ashley (by the way, have you seen her beautiful desk space yet?  So creative!).  This project serves as yet another reminder that I'm just so lucky to have such wonderful knitters from all over the world that I get to connect with every day.

Also, a random question: why can kitties be so relaxed one minute and then completely spazz out and look like a wild panther beast the next?  It may not be obvious from the photo, but one of her little fangs is sticking out making her extra goofy-looking.

Now I'm going to return to my busy week as a student while contemplating Ness' tempting plan to build a comforting nest of yarn, I hope you all have a great rest of the week!

03 November 2012

Life flies by

It has been a while since I've posted here, I'll admit it.  But life has been pretty crazy, because apparently being a PhD student is challenging.

A lot has been going on though:

--> I'm excited to announce that I am currently writing my first scientific article!  It has always been a major goal, I just didn't think that it would be happening this early in my career.

--> I've been spending a lot of time with this enormous textbook (~1300 pages):

As a graduate student I didn't think that I would have textbooks anymore, that I would be learning from the literature rather than books that are obsolete the moment they are printed.  Nevertheless, I've been learning a lot and am constantly amazed that we don't all just fall apart with all of the amazingly complex systems of things happening in our cells!  That's not even taking into account the fact that we are more bacterial than human.

--> I've been baking because it makes the perfect study break.  My most recent experiment was crock pot chocolate lava cake, it was pretty darn good but not very photogenic as you can probably imagine.

--> A little bit of knitting has been going on in the form of this hot mess:

It has been getting cooler here in North Carolina and my back door is really drafty!  I've discovered that just because my apartment is a "green building" doesn't mean that it is efficient.  I don't like turning on the heating system unless I really have to, so I'm making a draft blocker using scrap yarn.  

--> The most exciting development in my life has been that there is now a Trader Joe's five minutes away from me rather than an hour and a half away in Charlotte.  My family came for a visit last weekend and we actually dared to go the day after opening.  The entire parking lot was packed and police officers were present just in case a fight broke out over the black licorice scotty dogs.  I'm not sure how we made it out alive.

Here is my latest haul of deliciousness, but they are also my go-to place for oats, nuts, cheese, frozen berries because it is all so much less expensive there.  Needless to say, if you haven't been to one, you have no idea what you are missing.

That's all for now, I'll try and check in more often in the future!