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!

04 March 2013

Blue raspberry BFL

I'm amazed at how quickly I spun this fiber, it was just so soft and comforting to spin.  I bought it last summer while visiting Lisa because I loved the feel of it.

100% Bluefaced Leicester wool
2 ply, ~217 yards, 4.0 oz.
DK weight
Fiber from Wicked Stitch in Wamego, Kansas

I really enjoyed working with this fiber, it was well processed and smooth.  I wasn't really picturing any particular end product for this fiber, I was just enjoying the process.

After I plyed it and admired my handiwork for a little while, I had some fun dyeing it!  The only dyes I have on hand here are egg dyes, so I used four tablets to get a nice bright color.

It did turn out rather bright as you can see.  It definitely reminds me of those blue raspberry dum-dum pops.  I like how it turned out, I don't think I could imagine how it would turn out in the end.

01 March 2013

Spinning and new fiber

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A little over a year ago I spun yarn for a warm pair of socks for my mother.  I had some fiber left over that I had sitting in my "someday I'll get to this" craft box.

I needed something to start spinning this week, so I dug out the softest fiber I could find.


I'd say that a merino/tussah silk blend is pretty darn soft.  I'm spinning it as thin as I can with the ultimate plan of making it a lovely 3-ply yarn fit for a cowl.  I'm just in love with this color of green too, it is uncommon.

Speaking of lovely greens, want to see what came to me from Finland yesterday?


This gorgeousness is Polworth from indie dyer Lanitium ex Machina.  When I found this in my mailbox I was surprised to say the least.  First thing I did was text Lisa, my emergency fiber contact, because I had no idea where it came from.  Turns out she was the mystery fiber faerie!  I had a pretty crappy week last week and she went above and beyond to cheer me up.  Thanks again, Lisa!

I hope everyone has a wonderful fiber-filled weekend!