Monday, January 30, 2006

Two red scarves in two weeks

I finished knitting Red Scarf 1 on Friday evening, then blocked it on Sat. Then, I cast on for a second one. This time I cheated and used bulky yarn and a size 15 needle. I only had two days, you know! This one is made out of Patons Melody (?) yarn--one skein bright red and one skein variegated rainbow colors. I alternated the red and var. yarns at different intervals and I like how it turned out. It's pretty bright--hopefully it doesn't go to some incredibly conservative college guy! On the other hand, maybe he'll decide to wear it anyway and feel so good about, he'll branch out into brighter colored clothes. Just leave me to my delusions, 'kay?

So, I bet you want to see pix of these babies. I haven't uploaded them yet, sorry. Also, I'm hoping to take pix of everyone with their red scarves and SnB tonight, so I'll show them tomorrow.

On Wed., I'm leaving for Arizona for reasons of my health (seasonal affective disorder--must get some sun), so I won't post much. Not that I post much anyway. I guess I just wanted to brag about going to Arizona.

So, what am I knitting now? Well, I've got a sock on the needles as usual. I'm still working on a shawl (which I haven't picked up since starting the red scarf endeavor). I have another fingerless mitt to make for hubby (but it's been so warm in Chicago, his office hasn't been that cold, so he hasn't needed them). I have a red scarf I'm knitting as a holiday project for my Holiday SnB (but I'm a little tired of red scarves for a moment, so I'm not picking that one up for awhile). On Sat., I bought a pattern and yarn for a bonnet, booties and cardigan set for a friend's baby (my first sweater, ever--yikes!), and I bought more sock yarn (not that I needed it). So, I've got plenty of options. So many, in fact, I'm not sure which to choose. So, I'm knitting the sock by default since I don't need a pattern for that and it's portable.

Monday, January 23, 2006


Do me a favor. The next time you are at the Chicago M*useum of S*cience and I*ndustry, go to the chick hatchery in the genetics exhibit and shout, "They're sending the baby chicks to be used as food for the animals at the Lincoln Park Zoo!" Run up to the hatchery, pound on the glass and scream, "They're using them as snake food--help me free the baby chicks!!!"*** Got that? Okay.

You may wonder what prompted this little bit of PETA action. Well, I'm doing a part-time internship on the museum presentation of science through the university and I'm putting together a proposal for a demonstration on chick developmental genetics for Science and Industry (hereafter known as MSI). My original proposal was to use live chick embryos from days 1-4 for the demonstration. How cool would that be, to see live embryos??? The Exploratorium in San Francisco does it and it is the grand-daddy of all interactive science musuems. But, it has come down from on high (within the museum, not On High, on high because I don't think He cares if we look at chick embryos for educational purposes) that live embryos exhibits are not allowed at the museum. They have not even read my proposal but they have quashed it. Grrrrr...... Yes, the those higher-ups are too...

wait for it....

CHICKEN to use live embryos. Hardy-har-har. *snort*

This information came to me yesterday. My proposal is due on Friday. I've been trying to get information from the museum about this for ages. And my team leader wants to see a draft of my proposal tomorrow. And, here I am writing you. Well, I did work on it all day, and I'm just sick of chicken development at the moment. Because it occurred to me that while I took a developmental biology class, I still know very little about it. I'm probably overpreparing as usual, but I've been picking people's brains, using the internet (and for some reason, the connection at the lab is abominably slow today), and two textbooks. I know, this is for lay people, but I'm having a hard time finding the particular information that I am looking for.

What? Knitting? Oh yeah, this is supposed to be a knitting blog.

I have almost 60 inches done on my scarf. The question is, do I stop now (since I was aiming for 60 inches in the first place) and start another one, or do I make this one longer? I don't like my scarves too long, but this seems a little short. And I can't decide about the fringe. And, if I do fringe, do I block the scarf before or after fringing?

And, I didn't make it to Stitch 'n Bitch last night because I was too busy working on my proposal that I left work late and couldn't eat dinner before going to my Curves class and I couldn't eat the food at Borders because I am on the Curves 6 week solution and the food at Borders is so unhealthy, so I had to go home and fix dinner after Curves class and by the time I got done, it was pointless to go out.

Which is why I'm doing my bitching here, of course.

Now go home and eat some chicken, but for Godsake, don't look at the eggs, just in case they're fertilized. No live embryos around here!

***Which they do, btw. Many of them go to happy farms, but they have so many, some of them are shoved off to the zoo.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Red Scarf

Well, the opera on Tuesday really knocked me out. Therefore, I only got one pattern repeat done on the scarf. Here is what it looked like Wed. morning:

This picture is a fairly good representation of the color (if a little fuzzy). Mostly, I've been working on the scarf in the mornings when I sit in front of my light box. It's a good time to knit because I can think about my upcoming day.

This is my first major cable project and I'm really liking it. The pattern has been easy to memorize.

The opera was wonderful but long. Very long. Not as long as some Wagner operas, but when you are used to going to bed at 10pm and the opera doesn't end until 10:45pm, it feels long. I didn't get home until around 11:30!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

B is for.....

At first, I thought that B was going to be for Beth which is what my family calls me and I would just tell you about myself. Then, I thought B might be for Boston University which is where I went to college and met my husband and I would tell you about my college years (ahhh the memories).

But one morning, I looked up from my cereal and realized that:

B is for Books.

In my dining room, I have four 7 foot tall bookcases crammed so full of books I've had to start stacking them on top of each other. These are most of our fiction books and most of the books on these shelves are mine.

And then, there are these:

This is in my living room, and these are most of our non-fiction books, although those are really spread out among various other small bookshelves in the apt. depending on where they might be most useful (old textbooks next to the computer for instance, self-help books in the bedroom....STOP THAT--that's not what I meant! *blushing* it's just that I don't like the rest of the world knowing how neurotic I am so I keep psychology-related books in my bedroom, geez get your mind out of the gutter!).

I know you are still giggling. *stern look*

Anyway, I have loved books ever since I first started reading. Reading became my obsession, and my escape from the world. It didn't matter what was going on in real life, because I had my books. Reading probably saved my sanity in my youngers years (and still does on occasion). Parents fighting? Go read a book. Problems at school? Go read a book. Bad breakup? Go read a book. Reading was and is my cure for everything (that and chocolate, but that's another story). In another life I might have become a librarian. Or a used bookseller. When I was younger, I read obsessively and when I was reading, nothing else could get my attention--I was in a completely different (and more interesting) world. My father was the same way. You could literally stand right next to him and say his name and he would be oblivious. My two younger brothers read in this manner, too, but my younger sister missed out on the crazy, obsessive reading gene. I still become completely absorbed in what I'm reading, but I don't read as much as I used to (which was at least two books a week).

When I first started reading, I liked mysteries. I had stumbled across The Boxcar Children books in my school library and loved them to death. A little later, Trixie Belden became a favorite, and also Nancy Drew (the classic ones, not the new ones). In middle school and junior high I read a lot of teen romance paperbacks--Sweet Valley High and Couples (couldn't find this on Amazon--you should see what you get when you just type Couples into the amazon search engine!)--as well as Beverly Cleary, Cynthia Voigt, Paula Danzinger, Judy Blume, and my all-time favorite, Madeleine L'Engle. By late junior high, I found my true love. Fantasy.

I started reading David Eddings and got hooked. When I started reading, his first series, the Belgariad, was finished, and his second series, the Mallorean had just started. I remember when the last book came out. All of this time, I had been patiently waiting until the books came out in paperback to read them, but with this one, I just had to read it. Right now. So, I bought the hardcover--the first hardcover book I bought--and started reading. It was over Memorial Day weekend, and I had to march in the parade in band, so I brought the book with me and while I was waiting in the band room, with my uniform on, I read the book. There is no way I can ever forget this, because a reporter from the town newspaper was there and took a picture. The caption says I was studying. Right.

Fantasy fiction pretty much dominated my life until about 7 or 8 years ago when I decided to give some of the classics a go. I had tried reading Dickens in high school and hated it, but I thought that maybe my tastes had changed a little bit. But, before I got into Dickens, I decided to make a small foray into Jane Austen territory with Sense and Sensibility. That was it, I was hooked. I read the other five in very short order and bought them all in hardcover (that's how you know I really love a book--I buy it in hardcover). Then, I decided to try Dickens again and I loved A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and Great Expectations. I tried the Bronte sisters. Wuthering Heights made me want to throw myself out the window (I have never read a book with such disagreeable characters--I hated every one of them), but Jane Eyre was lovely and so I also read Villette.

My most recent new area of literature is non-fiction. I enjoy learning and reading about things I did not know about before. I'm particularly interested in epidemiology and read The Hot Zone and The Coming Plague (we're all going to die in a flu pandemic any day now, btw). I also love history and if it's history of science, even better.

I don't just love reading books, I love owning books. I love having an obscene number of books in my house. I almost always buy books instead of going to the library (this is also because I have a leeetle problem returning books on time and run up huge fines). I love the smell of books. Old books smell different from new books--have you ever noticed? I think it may have something to do with the ink. Madeleine L'Engle once commented that books from Britain smelled different that books from the US (at least when she was a child). I read my books more than once. There are some books I've read so many times, I can practically recite them from memory. There are some authors I read specifically when I'm feeling very overwhelmed and frustrated with my lab work. Terry Pratchett comes to mind. He writes delightfully absurd parodies based in a fantasy world. It's perfect for getting my mind moving in a different direction. He's a fairly new find to me, so I haven't even read all of his books yet.

So that's it. B is for books. Or bibliophile. Or bibliomaniac. Your call.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Red Scarf Project

I have joined the Red Scarf Project as mentioned on Norma's blog. It is a charity project centered around sending scarves in Valentine's Day care packages to former foster children who are now in college. Since they need the scarves for Valentine's Day, the due date for collection is Jan. 31! Not a lot of time. Consequently, I have been spending all of my knitting time on a red scarf. I am doing a cabled scarf pattern from my Vogue scarves book. The yarn is Caron One Pound yarn in a very reddish cranberry. Yes, one pound. No dye lot. Don't judge me. It's a sturdy worsted weight soft acrylic yarn and it is knitting up beautifully. I didn't even want to try something that would have to be handwashed. I would love to pamper these kids and send them something made in a luxury fiber, but the fact is that these are college kids, some of them male, and the odds that they will take the time to handwash a scarf are slim to none. I can see the average college male simply throwing it in the washing machine and will have to end up putting it on his teddybear (real men have teddybears!).

I have finished 23 out of 60 inches of the scarf and I'm right on track as far as schedule. I decided if I knit 15 inches each of the weekends in between now and then (counting last weekend, because I got the yarn on Sat.), and 4 inches every weekday, it will be done in time. This is easy to figure out because 4 inches is approximately 2 pattern repeats. Frankly, it's coming out so nice, I'm going to have a hard time giving it away. I'm pretty sure I'll have yarn leftover (gee, you think?), so I could make myself one, but I suspect after knitting 60 inches of this scarf, I'm not going to want to do another 60 inches.

Picture? You want to see a picture? Well I haven't taken one yet.

I know, I know, Bad Blogger, Very Bad Blogger!! *thumps self on the nose*

I'll try to take one tonight and post it tomorrow (or the next day because I need to do B for the ABC-along). However, I won't have much time for taking pictures this evening because I am going to see the Magic Flute! Some friends and I (John didn't want to go) bought tickets way back in the early fall, and finally the time has arrived. I haven't been to the opera in two years, so I'm quite excited. It's really the feast after the famine because I'm going to the opera again on the 31st to see Rigoletto. Roommie is taking me as a Christmas present.

So, actually, I'll have to have my scarf done before the 31st because there's no way I'm going to get to an Einstein's Bagels before the opera on the 31st!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

A is for Astrophysicist

I've decided that it might be nice if other people read my blog so that I'm not just talking to myself here, so to that end I've joined the A-B-C-Along ring. It's pretty straight-forward: every two weeks, I post a photo about something that means something to me. So, without further ado, let me introduce you to my first one:

This is my Astrophysicist, aka my husband (standing next to a space capsule at Kennedy Space Center; I took the picture when we visited there once, he doesn't actually have any professional relationship with the Space Center). There are two general types of responses when I say my husband is an astrophysicist: intimidation, or confusion. Sometimes both. The confused ask, "What's an astrophysicist?" to which I reply, "A rocket scientist," which is completely inaccurate, but at least it's something people have heard of. Inaccurate, because he doesn't build or study rockets. The intimidated, well, there's not much I can do for them. I try to comfort them, I try to let them know that he's not scary, I try to tell them that it's okay, you can just go back to talking about the weather, but alas, they simply back away. They might try and ask me what I do, to which I reply, "I'm a cell biologist," (which is the least scary title I can give myself, technically I'm getting a PhD in molecular genetics and cell biology), and that pretty much clinches the deal. It happened just this past weekend at a New Year's Eve party, actually. But I digress. I'm supposed to be talking about my astrophysicist, not how people react to his profession.

I met John in the dorm lounge at college. He was smart and funny, and helped me with my physics homework. Eventually, he became my physics tutor. For various reasons, we didn't actually "get together" for a couple years. I can honestly say that all of the good things I experience in my life today started then. We were married in the spring of 2000 and I have never been happier. I'm not saying it's all been one big party, there are ups and downs as there are in any relationship, but my life is better for having him in it.

John grew up just outside Boston, but was fortunately spared most of the accent (he pronounces all of his r's, but he has a few funny words: sawr [saw], idear [idea] and arnge [orange] ). He has always wanted to be an astronomer, at least since junior high or so, and he majored in astronomy and physics in college, then got a PhD in astronomy and astrophysics at U of Chicago. He studies cosmic dust. Yes, that's right, dust, you know, like the stuff that collects on your figurines. To do this, he uses a telescope with a special device on it that lets him see infrared light . STOP! DON'T RUN AWAY!!! It's not scary, it's like you see in spy shows on tv or in movies when they have a device that lets them see people because of their body heat and they show up like little red people moving around, that's really infrared light. I don't really understand it all, but basically what it means is that he goes to Hawaii (just left this morning as a matter of fact), way up high on a mountain (where it's very cold--he brings his winter coat when he goes, there's no laying on the beach for him), staring at cosmic dust. Which is pretty zen when you think about it.

He likes to read science fiction and political humor (I got him an Al Franken book for Christmas). He hates George Bush (don't we all), and is a democrat as only a half-Irish [non-practicing] Catholic from Boston can be. He likes to play cards, Trivial Pursuit, and Parchisi. He's tall and skinny and has a really great metabolism, such as I can only dream of. Don't get him started on the Vatican and the Catholic Church (please, really, don't do it). He pretends not to like our kitty but I've seen him petting him when no one was looking. At his most stressed-out, he resembles what I look like at my least. In an effort to get him a hobby, I bought him a toy train once and my mother now buys him train things every Christmas without fail. It's amazing how many books about trains there are out there. Now, if only we could set up the train set again, it would all make more sense....

So that's it. That's my Astrophysicist/husband John.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Stitch 'n Bitch Revival

As I said before, I've hit the knitting blahs. This is probably related to the January blahs I always get due to my seasonal affective disorder. Anyway, last night, I went to our weekly stitch 'n bitch meeting and I feel a little bit revived. I sat and worked on my shawl while chatting and planning our Holiday/Gift Stitch 'n Bitch group that I am starting [in a feeble attempt to get a jump on holiday knitting, I have started this spin-off group that meets once a month at my apt.]. It reminded me how soothing I find knitting and how enjoyable it can be.

Additionally, I straightened out a corner of my bedroom that had my knitting stuff in it and got some WIPs sorted out. Most of them are now in plastic boxes, ready to be picked up. There were some I had completely forgotten about (like a drop-stitch ribbon scarf), and some that were completely knitted but lacked finishing (like a scarf knit from yarn I bought in Paris). I also got a halogen lamp for my bedroom which will make it more enjoyable to knit in there. I spend quite a bit of time in there since my husband watches tv in the living room. I try to moderate my tv watching habits because when I watch too much tv I don't sleep well. And I cleared off the chair that was in that corner so I don't have to sit on the bed to knit.

Finally, today I decided to subscribe to Cast-On, a knitting podcast. I thought it might inspire me to listen to it while knitting.

I still haven't started the second mitt for my husband. I have second mitt syndrome I guess. Speaking of which, someone in my group last night said she knew how to knit two socks at a time on one circular needle. I have got to learn how to do that.

Ive been feeling pretty blah in general lately, and it's been hard getting things done. For instance, I still haven't mailed my friend's birthday (from Nov.) and Christmas gifts. I think about it, then end up putting it off. Procrastination is a really big part of my life right now. I should really do something about that. Maybe tomorrow..... :)