11 September 2013

Business trips are

It's been a little while since I've said hello, predictably life has become even more busy than I could ever imagine and I haven't been able to keep up with my favorite people!

I have been reading posts when I have a spare moment, and I'm obviously not the only person who has been busy.  I've been seeing so many inspirational finished projects and Audry has finished her book of patterns (which is even more amazing than I ever could have envisioned).

I'm currently on my way to Boston for a business trip.  It is a stressful time for a trip, I'm having to leave my experiments in the hands of someone else for a few days.  But it does give me some time to check in!

I've been knitting, spinning, and crocheting for at least a few moments every day, it's what keeps me sane after all.

My favorite project to work on is currently my scrap yarn granny blanket, I'm definitely getting better at crochet.

I've been knitting with some soft alpaca handspun.  This is going to be a warm hat for a friend. 

Mostly my life has been consumed with work.  My project is massive and I have a lot of responsibilities, but I'm constantly learning new skills and it is honestly a dream come true.  If you are at all interested in my work, we just had a press conference and reporters descended on the labs.  I was excited to get to show off my new microscope (which has lasers, I'll have you know) to several film crews. '

I hope you are all well, I hope to be around more now that things have slowed down a little bit.

24 June 2013

After work collapse

Surely you've experienced those days when you get home after a long day of work and nothing feels better than collapsing on the couch.

This has been happening a lot to me lately.  It could be because working at the institute surrounded by so many brillant people and the high expectations expected of students there is making me work towards a whole new level of efficiency and training me to be more adaptable.  I have to the realization that I am moving away from simply being a molecular biologist to more of a biomedical engineer.  I've found my dream job.

Of course stage 2 of my recharge time is working with yarn.  If I have the energy, I work on the more complex sweater pattern I wrote about last post.

If I'm more exhausted than usual I succumb to my obsession with knitting my whole stash, which lately has been simple crocheting:

This is destined to become the first of a set of placemats (this is special yarn, I want to put it on display)


This is going to be part of the most comfy kitty bed ever and help me use up even more scraps (I have no idea where they all come from!) 


...because this kitty isn't spoiled enough as it is.  


I have no idea why she gets a gray tummy during the summer, it is probably because she is "part fancy cat" as my mother would say.

21 June 2013



One of my Fiber Goals for 2013 was to knit Skew, but as I finished the first sock I was very disappointed with how it looked.  I just didn't like it, it didn't feel right.  I know that this happens to us all at one point or another, and I felt much better to know that Dina (Five Cats From Crazy) had a similar experience with Skew.

I decided that I liked Charybdis by Fiona Lucas much better, the design was less mysterious to me and it still had spirals.  I definitely like the end product better.

I'm enjoying my new pair of rainbow socks, and guess what?  I actually blocked them!  I must be turning over a new leaf when it comes to finishing technique.


The yarn was one that I had been interested in for a while Crystal Palace Yarns Mini Mochi.  It was nice to knit with, no Noro-like complaints when it comes to this yarn.  

It is single ply, which has just the correct amount of twist keeping it from twisting up on itself, it didn't pull apart either.  Perfection.

I'm quite proud of these, they definitely remind me of the many colorful pairs of socks Andi (My Sister's Knitter) has knit.  Although I'm definitely not as prolific of a knitter as she is!

19 June 2013

Friendly KAL


Recently I have been knitting a pattern along with a dear friend.  I've known Rebecca for many years, we bonded over terrorizing our homeschool group when we were little (we were unstoppable troublemakers).  

We remained close even after I moved away to "somewhere over the rainbow" and she is one of those special friends that even if I don't see her for years, the second I meet up with her again it is like we were never apart.


When she suggested that we knit the Artemisia sweater together, I immediately agreed (she has excellent taste obviously).  I've found the pattern a little bit challenging and so I'm quite a ways behind where she is, but it is a beautiful pattern and I cannot wait to finish it.


I'm knitting it with Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash Solids, one of my absolute favorite yarns, that I picked out during my latest Webs adventure.  It always produces the most comfortable garments.

We have grand plans to each wear our sweaters the next time we see each other.  Hopefully I can finish it by then!

17 June 2013

Olive Handspun


Look!  New handspun!  It has been a little while since I have finished a skein that I really feel proud of, but here is a pretty example.


  • Spun: June 2013
  • Roving: merino/silk blend (Webs)
  • Colors: Shiny olive green with specks of red
  • Spindle: Schacht 3” Hi-Lo drop spindle (2.2 oz.)
  • 3 ply, ~230 yards, ? Ounces, fingering weight

I had some of this fiber left over from my first spin-to-knit project, not enough to do much, but definitely worth spinning.  This is such a nice fiber to spin, it is slick and easy to coax into thin strands.  It is also very soft because of how fine the merino is and the silk content.  

You can also see one of my hairs sticking out in this photo, that frequently happens when I get distracted while spinning.  There is rarely a day when my long hair doesn't get in the way, I dread the inevitable day when one makes it into a lab experiment or a liver organoid starts developing hair follicles.

09 June 2013

I'm joining Lisa (Wicked Artsy) this week for Photographic Sunday: a chance to share an image (or images) from the week with little to no text. 


my haul from the local farmer's market

learning R programming environment and visual notetaking

kitty with extreme crazy eye (pre-attack butt wiggle soon followed)

spinning leftover merino/silk

PicMonkey Collage

enjoying hard cider season

perfect new lab space, includes natural light and allegedly genetically engineered plants (for the record, that is not my messy desk)

04 June 2013

Crochet scrap rug

As you can see, I've finished my crochet scrap rug!  It was a fantastic project for when I wanted to keep busy but didn't want to think about it too much, I seem to have a lot of those kinds of projects lately...

I wasn't completely happy with how it turned out after blocking (yes, I actually blocked this, please be proud of me).  Even after some determined pinning, and repinning after kitty noticed it, it still curls a little at the edges.

But it still does it's intended job as a soft surface to step onto getting out of bed.

This mat was crocheted completely out of scrap DK yarn with fiber types ranging from merino wool to soy/cotton (the mustard yellow).  There is even some yarn I dyed myself, the bright blue and the red/orange/yellow superwash wool.

I honestly have no idea what size hook I used, all I know is that it is the only hook I have, an outcast in my crafting corner.

As predicted, kitty enjoys using this as a sled or as a comfortable place to sit while obsessively watching birds through the window.

29 May 2013

Age of Brass and Steam Shawl

Here's another finished project that has been hanging out waiting to be photographed and documented for several weeks now.

The Age of Brass and Steam Shawl was a quick knit when I needed something simple and relaxing to work on around final exam period. 


The pattern is The Age of Brass and Steam Kerchief by Orange Flower.  It was exactly what I needed at the time, not complicated and soothing.  Now you can tell that I haven't gotten around to blocking this, one of these days I'll get my act together and have a blocking party. 


I dyed the yarn myself sometime last year.  From what I can remember, it is 100% superwash merino dyed using Jacquard.  I'm glad I had just enough for a small shawl!  Too bad it is too warm to get any use out of it for a while.

What do you find yourself knitting/crocheting as a soothing project?

27 May 2013

Long, lazy weekend

Last week was my first week at my new lab and it was utterly exhausting due to the highly impractical orientation process where you have to go through several steps before getting badge access to the building (which means after going to the restroom you are locked out until someone comes by).  I'm hoping to have free reign to the bathroom and beyond sometime tomorrow.

Having a long weekend was definitely appreciated and I had serious plans for this weekend too.  But I ended up doing almost nothing at all, I cannot remember the last time I was this lazy and lax on my goals.

I did manage to do some homework for an online class I've been taking, because I have something highly embarrassing to admit...

I've never taken a formal physics class before.  I've read books about physics, I've met physicists (including Neil Degrasse Tyson, the "sexiest astrophysicist"), but never actually took a class.

A few months ago I came across Coursera, which is a website offering full, free courses from top universities from around the world.  They are really well done too, you have assignments and lectures, and even receive a grade at the end.  It is an amazing resource allowing me to take a physics course from Georgia Tech!

While I was learning the secrets of the universe, kitty stared at me wondering when I'll ever get around to planting an herb garden, and then she ate some bugs.

I have gotten a little bit of knitting done, but I just have too many projects to focus on right now!  You may recall that I've been knitting Skew, but that plan has changed somewhat.  I finished the first sock and absolutely hated it, so I ripped it all out and started with a different pattern Charybdis.

Isn't the yarn so pretty and colorful?

So, that's some of my lazy weekend, what have you been up to?

23 May 2013

Effortless Cardigan

I finished this project about a month ago, but it was during the period of time when I was overwhelmed with work so I'm only now posting about it.  I have worn it often though, it is a great springtime cardigan.


The pattern is Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig.  I was a very quick knit and involved absolutely no seaming due to the top down construction.  I enjoyed the process of knitting it and definitely find it comfortable to wear around the chilly lab.  However, it is difficult to photograph in a way that doesn't look awkward.  I have no complaints about the way that the pattern was written, it was very straightforward.

It is designed to wrap around for ultimate snuggliness too:  


It is knit in Berroco Vintage dk, I decision that I actually regret for this pattern.  It doesn't make for a very substantial fabric with the gauge and also really stretches.  I think that the version shown with the pattern was knit with a yarn that has a lot less of a stretch.  But even with those minor annoyances I still really like how the project turned out!

This was on my list of Fiber Goals for 2013: Effortless Cardigan.  Another goal complete!

Also, I really enjoyed hearing about other strange house mysteries and encounters with fellow knitters/crocheters.  I love meeting other knitters by chance, I feel like we instantly have a connection, where otherwise we probably never would have met.

20 May 2013

Mysteries and a super secret crafter handshake

I'm back in North Carolina ready to get back to work!  I enjoyed my vacation up to New England with my family.  We spent some time working on the new house which had several surprises for us (it is 113 years old).

The night we arrived the floors were littered with dead bugs (I had a carpenter bee in my room) and I woke up the first morning to the sound of my parents trying to catch the resident bat.  Later that week, my brother was in the process of gutting a room when he discovered something that completely puzzled him.  It appeared as if there was a room above that one that was not visible.

My father found evidence of stairs hidden in a wall and then uncovered this in the basement stairwell:

A secret staircase leading to two secret rooms.  There was even a window up there!  We didn't find anything interesting, although I firmly believe that if you are going to go to all the trouble to make a secret room, you should leave something mysterious up there.

In other news, a few weeks ago I saw this jacket in the Ravelry store and just couldn't get over how adorable it was!  Needless to say I needed to have it and justified buying it because of all that Ravelry has done for me.  I'm not sure I would have gone beyond knitting distorted squares without the community and collection of great patterns.


Please ignore the flour on the front, I was baking cookies for a friend and didn't notice it until after I took the photos.  

The front has a cute little bunny snoozing and the back features what I would consider a jamboree of animals.  

I wore it during my recent Webs visit and obviously fit right in.  But I fantasize about moments where I'm casually wandering down the sidewalk when I meet a fellow crafter and we exchange secretive nods before continuing on.

Also, ever since I got my beloved Namaste bag I've definitely noticed that I've had less experiences where the yarn store owner follows me around being openly rude.  I've actually had several experiences like that in the past, I assume the owners think that the only reason a young person would be there is if they wanted to shoplift, needless to say they don't get any of my business. 

Have you had any fun surprises in your life lately?

14 May 2013

Well, how about that?

This time last year I was sadly leaving Massachusetts having graduated from college.  Then a few months ago my parents bought their retirement home 30 minutes away from my college town.  The really funny thing is that I almost decided to go to graduate school at UMASS Amherst, only minutes away!

Massachusetts is a pretty wonderful state and I definitely miss being an easy walk away from Webs.  Getting to come back and visit Northampton was like coming home.  I don't miss the winters here though!

I knew the dangers of going on a yarn spending spree having been deprived of yarn stores for so long, so I limited myself to a few special yarns.

I bought one of my old favorites Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino Superwash, a yarn I have written about before.  I picked out enough dark red merino goodness for a super special knit-a-long with a dear friend I consider my sister.


I've been wanting to try Socks That Rock for a while now, but Webs is the only yarn store I've been to that carries it.  Oh the colors and the texture!


I couldn't resist getting some madelinetosh merino light either because I have a difficult time finding it and everyone is always knitting the most gorgeous projects out of it.


Anyways, as of yesterday the house now has internet (even though the cable company did not seem to want me succeed) and I'll try and get some knitting accomplished when I'm not engaged in one of my family's favorite activities, gutting and then restoring old houses.

09 May 2013

Returning to life - wait, I have a life?

I've successfully survived my second semester of graduate school, although I've never been this busy before.  Needless to say I've missed you all!

I ended up finding funding to continue my studies, I'm very excited to report that I'll be working with a group of researchers that are printing functional human organs.  Pretty much my dream come true!

These last few weeks I've been gradually working on one project, quite possibly the most horrifically ugly project ever.


The story behind it is that one morning I woke up, put my feet on the floor, and decided that I really wanted a soft mat to step onto to start the day right.  Isn't it wonderful that as crafters, we can make just about anything we can imagine?

Knit just didn't seem sturdy enough for floor mat material, especially with the force of destruction that is my kitty around (she will see a kitty-sized sled).  So I decided to attempt crocheting again, and after some initial confusion about moving on to the next row, I got the hang of it.


This is all scrap yarn (where does it all come from?!), but I think I'll have to buy yarn for the edging.

And now I bring you creepy kitty...who suddenly gets interested in something, I have no idea what.


I've begged her to never make that expression again, it is just too disturbing, like she is plotting a truly horrible death for me.

12 April 2013

Twisty socks

With the momentum from having finished one of the items on my goals list, I immediately started on the next project that didn't involve me having to buy yarn (I'm waiting until next month when I'll get to go somewhere super secret).

I've been wanting to knit a pair of Skew socks for a while now because the construction of the pattern fascinates me.  Even better, they are knit toe-up!

Here's what my first sock looks like as of now:

Skew socks

Mmmmm rainbow-y

I bought the yarn while visiting Lisa last summer, which is great because we always end up buying way too much yarn (we help each other justify it because that's what good knitting friends do, right?).

This is Crystal Palace Yarns Mini-Mochi, which I have been wanting to try for a while now.  It certainly has not been a disappointment and looks so neat with the pattern so far.  The color is beyond my photography skills to accurately capture, so here's a photo in a different light just to confuse you.

Skew socks

--> Skew is on my list of fiber goals for 2013

I want to truly thank everyone who commented on my last post with words of support on my life philosophy.  This is first time I have revealed this about myself, outside of my immediate family and humanist/atheist social support group, without being met with some kind of open fear and animosity.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you.  This means so incredibly much to me. 

08 April 2013

Five things about me (because all the cool people are doing it)

I've been tagged by Ness (Bunnies and Bettas) and Tanya (Tanya Today) to tell you all five things about myself.  I don't usually take part in memes like this, but I think it is a fun way of getting to know people better!

1. I was unschooled (not homeschooled, there is a difference!) until high school, when I left home and went 1,260 miles away to Maryland to go to boarding school.  I didn't like it for the reasons all boarders complain about: bad food, having your math teacher living right down the hall to make sure you aren't talking during study hall, having to call your mother to get permission to leave campus, and no boys.  But I received a great education and am so grateful I had the opportunity to go.

2. My favorite thing in the world has to be lavender, I love everything having to do with it.  The scent, the color, how beautiful the plants are, baked goods made of it.  I daydream about having a garden with only lavender.

3. I absolutely love film, getting to go to the little independent theatre down the street is always a highlight of the week.  My favorite directors are: Wes Anderson, David Lynch, Park Chan-Wook, the Coen brothers, Hayao Miyazaki, and Stanley Kubrick.

4. I identify as a secular humanist, I realize this might put some people off, but it is such a huge part of my identity that it is worth mentioning.  I think that most of the controversy is due to lack of understanding, you'll find that in general we are very nice, normal people just like everyone else.

5. I have been vegetarian (ovo-lacto) for almost four years now, after two years of only eating free-range, grass fed meat.  I love veggies and fruit so much that I don't miss meat, except for bacon, but they make "fakon" (fake bacon) which is dangerously good.

I wish I could tag everyone because I really want to know more about all of you (just say that I linked you and write a post anyway?  Please?).  So I just picked the people who came to mind.

1. Lisa (Wicked Artsy)
2. Julie (Julie Rose Sews)
3. Sue (Granny's World)
4. Lou lou (Creatingwithwool)
5. Sava (Sava Stitch)

Now I'll reward you for sticking with me with a photo of "dead kitty":

She looks harmless enough with a cute pose and fluffy belly exposed, but note the tail movement.  It's a trap, the second you walk by she attacks, runs away, and then promptly falls asleep.  I wish I knew what was going on in her head.

05 April 2013

Evergreen sweater

Finally I have finished my self-designed Evergreen sweater!  It has been a rocky road with this project too, considering every time I've mentioned it here it has been with frustration.  But I was looking for a challenge and I got one.


One of the biggest things I struggled with was deciding how I wanted the neckline to look.  Now I wonder why I didn't ask my knitting friends for advice earlier, they all gave me the confidence to keep going with it.  Once I finished the neckline I realized the sleeves were too tiny, but I've been in good company with Audry, somehow it always makes it easier when you know a friend is going through the same mess.


It isn't the most perfect sweater I've ever made, but it is definitely special because I knit it without a pattern (I still cannot believe I get to type this).  This was a huge step for me personally, but I'm not sure if I'll do it again any time soon, I think I prefer following a pattern.  I also wish that I had more of the brown yarn because I would have liked to do more colorwork.


This sweater was knitted in Berroco Ultra Alpaca, one of my all time favorite yarns.  I had been coveting the green colorway for a while and I love it even more knit up.  I also find it hilarious that I finished this alpaca/wool blend knit just in time for spring!  But it snowed here in North Carolina yesterday, so perhaps I'm not too late after all.


Gleefully I get to cross off one of my goals for 2013: Finish Self-Designed Sweater!
Now on to another item on the list...

30 March 2013

Working hard or hardly working?

School obligations have been putting me under a lot of pressure lately, the main problem is that I am having a difficult time finding a lab with enough funding to be able to take me due to government funding cuts (and I'm certainly not the only student in this situation).  The advisor I have currently been training with has a really promising candidate drug for treating a type of leukemia, but due to lack of funding he hasn't been able to do enough experiments for it to move on to the next stage of testing.  It is really sad.

I've found myself stealing little moments to escape in order to withstand the pressure.  For example, recently I made popovers (which turned out really flat --> new recipe), brewed some tea, pulled out my knitting, and watched an episode of Call the Midwife to prepare for the showing of series two this weekend!

Why yes, that is the silly self-designed sweater I've been struggling with for a while.  After receiving some wonderful advice from my fantastic readers, I decided to do a kind of scoopneck style for the neckline.  However, once I was happy with that I realized I really don't like the sleeves, so I frogged them and started over.  Someday I'll finish this darn sweater!

Today I escaped reading scientific articles for a while, walked down to my local independent theatre, and finally got to see the newest film by my favorite director Park Chan-Wook.

I was a little disappointed because it didn't have some of the elements I've always loved in his past films.  But it was gorgeously shot, even more so than his other films.  Also, the Hitchcock references and a scene where the local sheriff tries to pronounce "Il trovatore" were great fun.  It is also much less violent and disturbing than Park's Vengeance Trilogy, although if that kind of thing doesn't bother you I would really recommend seeing his masterpiece Oldboy (but do not read the plot before you see it).

Do you ever take time to forget about all the hecticness in life?

14 March 2013

Goodbye Google Reader

You've probably heard all about it, to the dismay of many Google Reader is going to be shut down this summer.  Reader has always been my preferred way of keeping track of the many blogs I follow.  I don't only use it to follow fiber blogs, but also blogs from family and friends as well as science/skepticism blogs.

I know that a lot of people use Bloglovin, but personally I found it frustrating to use, both to add blogs and to read them.  I tried using it once, but went straight back to Reader.

Where am I moving to for all of my RSS feed needs?

After a some reading, I've decided to go with Feedly.  The first thing I liked about it was that it only takes a few clicks to import your whole Google Reader list, and it keeps the folders you used to organize everything.  I couldn't figure out an easy way to do this kind of migration with Bloglovin (although I'm sure there is probably a way).

It is also browser-based just like Bloglovin and Google Reader, but there are iOS options as well.

I also love the aesthetic of Feedly, it is simple and pretty, just my style!  It actually reminds me a lot of the Mac aesthetic, it is really intuitive and works well.

So, this is my solution for dealing with Google's disappointing decision.  Were you also a devout user of Reader?  What service do you use to keep track of blogs?

11 March 2013

Upcycled yarn surprise!

The other day I was digging through my large craft box and rediscovered some more upcycled yarn that my mother helped me unravel last summer.  Yet another forgotten project to be rediscovered there, maybe I should clean this mystical, bottomless bin out?

Both sweaters were thrifted for under $3 and I remember one being cashmere and the other cotton.  Even better, they are both a blank canvas for more dyeing experiments.  One downside, I cannot get the thrift store smell out of them, it is so sickly sweet, ick.


I'm not really sure what I want to do with the cotton yarn yet, but I decided to ply the cashmere yarn.  It definitely needed to be plied because it was a little weak and prone to snapping.  It looks more attractive and easy to work with than it was before.

There wasn't a sweater's worth of yarn here, I'm thinking that some of the sweater is hiding somewhere in my parent's house.  If I had to estimate yardage, I would say: ~675 yards (an awkward amount to have).


It looks a lot like the cashmere sweater I upcycled last year.  I didn't estimate the cost and savings this time but I can imagine that it was a bargin considering it is a fairly good quality cashmere.  As with most of the yarn I spin or upcycle, I haven't really put much thought into what I'll use it for.

09 March 2013

Sweater troubles

Remember when I decided to design and knit my own sweater?  Yeah, don't worry, I didn't really remember either this project has been tucked away for so long!

This is one of my Goals for 2013: Finish self-designed sweater.  It has been sort of weighing on me for a while because I'm having such a difficult time figuring out how to finish it.

The problem is that I cannot for the life of me figure out what to do about the neckline!  I've knit it and ripped it out again several times because it just looked wrong.

I know that you, my lovely readers are wonderful at providing advice, any suggestions?


I really hope to finish this sweater before it gets too much warmer, but I fear that I may already be too late as it was 60 degrees here today (believe me, I have the sunburns to prove it).  


I love the texture that I've managed to get with this pattern, yet another reason I enjoy working with Ultra Alpaca!

06 March 2013

Purple and cosy, what more could you want?

My latest project for the last few weeks has been this cardigan.  It is a very simple pattern and perfect for  mindless knitting (I've been a little bad lately and have been knitting during class...)

The pattern is Effortless Cardigan by Hannah Fettig, a top-down cardigan with the dreaded edges you have to pick up never ending numbers of stitches for.  So far it has been very enjoyable to knit and I don't really mind that it is all stockinette.  Surprisingly I'm finding knitting back and forth to be a nice change from circular knitting.

I picked out Berroco Vintage dk for this pattern (this was birthday yarn from my mother) when I visited Charleston, South Carolina last November.  I feel that this is a good yarn for the value, which was part of the reason I like it.  But I am a little concerned that it is going to pill like crazy once I start wearing it.  I'm determined to trust in my undying love for Berroco that it will all be alright.

I haven't been knitting anything in purple for a while, which makes it more fun.  So far I am not happy with the torso length and I left those stitches live so I can go back after I finish the sleeves and make it longer.  I frequently curse the fact that I have a long torso and, as my grandmother would say, not a lot of "ba-boom ba-boom" (small chest).

I'm very optimistic about this one!  It will be nice for the spring months!