Sunday, September 21, 2008

Christmas approacheth

Okay, you guys know it's only a few months until Christmas, right? A few months seems like a long time, but it's really not. I know because I make the same mistake every year and put off starting Christmas presents until way too late because I keep thinking that there's plenty of time. What I forget is that time passes quickly (what's up with that? I swear it's passing more quickly now that I'm older).

So, I give you....

One sock for my husband:

The pattern is Whitby from Nancy Bush's Knitting on the Road (sorry, I'm not feeling up to putting in the links today. Maybe I'll add them later). I'm working on the leg of the second sock. These are knitting up pretty fast. I usually knit socks on size 1 or 0 needles, and these were on size 3. I feel like I'm flying through them! It helps that my husband's feet are only slightly larger than mine so it's not like I need to make a humongous pair of socks.

I've also been working on some sewing projects. I've made some coasters from Amy Karol's Bend the Rules Sewing book.

These are for John's grandmother who used to be a French teacher:

These are for my grandmother:

I went to Loopy yarn store today and got these:

On the left is Euroflax with which I'll be making a pair of handtowels for my mother-in-law, a la Mason-Dixon Knitting (the first book). I've never worked with linen before--should be interesting. On the right are two balls of Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock which are destined to be a pair of socks for my mother who has enjoyed the socks I've given her the last couple of years.

Not shown: a set of coasters for my step-grandmother. They are next on my list of sewing projects.

Finally, I give you my cat's new favorite sleeping spot:

I knew there was a reason I was keeping a box of yarn lying around the apartment.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Little Purple Shrug

I started this shrug from Lace Style earlier in the month and finished it today. I'm going to wear it to a wedding I'm going to in Sept. Here are a few pix of the completed shrug. In the photos, I'm wearing the dress I'll be wearing to the wedding.


Pattern: Little Lace Shrug from Lace Style
Yarn: Tapestry by Rowan
Colorway: Highland (SH179)
Fiber: 70% wool, 30% soy

It was pretty fun to knit although the lace pattern did start to get boring after awhile. Still, it was easy and turned out well and that's what I really needed right now in a knitting project (who doesn't need a project that turns out well?!)

In other news, I'm having an okay Labor Day weekend even though I've been into lab a couple times now. I think I'm going to take a half day off tomorrow (yeah, I'm wild like that). The yeast are behaving in one experiment and totally misbehaving in another. Oh well.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Dusting off the blog

Well, I've been silent for awhile now and while I'm getting lots of work done in lab, I miss the blogging community a lot. So, I'm dusting off the blog and sweeping the cobwebs out of the corners. I'm not going crazy with it, though. My current goal is one post a week. If I can manage that then I'll feel like I'm doing okay.

So, what have I been up to? Lab. That's pretty much it. Oh, every once in awhile I do necessary things like laundry and washing dishes, but mostly, I'm just in lab. It's enough to drive anyone crazy. So far, I'm holding on to my sanity by the skin of my teeth, but I am still holding on to it! Last weekend (Aug 16 and 17) I was in Iowa for my nephew's first birthday. I cannot believe it's been a year already. I still remember the seemingly endless waiting for the phone call from my mom to tell me my sister had gone to the hospital. Where does all the time go? Well, we celebrated his birthday with a cookout at a park and then the next day went to the Iowa State Fair and saw all manner of farm animals (and even petted a few--hey, does anyone out there know why they shave llamas to look like poodles?) and prize-winning dahlias and ears of corn. I ate a footlong corn dog, a funnel cake, some ice cream, a honey stick, a hard-boiled egg on a stick (given away for free at some booth), a real lemonade, and a strawberry smoothie. Yum! We saw the butter cow (life-sized cow carved out of butter) and the butter Shawn Johnson (she's from Iowa) and an ice-sculpture carving demonstration. And contrary to normal state fair weather it was actually pleasant out and we didn't go home hot and sweaty and on the verge of a heat stroke. I wish John could have been with me. I think it would be fun to drag his city boy ass all over the state fair and make him look at 1200 pound pigs.

Speaking of John, right now, I'm sitting on my balcony in California. I came here just as soon as I got back from Iowa. I needed a break from lab in the worst way (I believe I told my advisor, "I need a break or I'm going to shoot someone.") so I decided to take a total of 10 days and go to Iowa and then California. I'm hoping it's my last big break before the final push to get everything done in lab. We'll see how it goes. My labwork has been giving me fits and I've spent the last three months troubleshooting an experiment that used to work before the Powers That Be took away one of my resources and turned the space into an office. I'd like to find the bureaucrat who thought that was a good idea and tell him a thing or two.

So, I've spent the last several days in California knitting and shopping and going to craft stores and swimming the pool at the apartment complex. Can't wait until I get to do this full-time!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Still alive

Just not blogging. Or reading blogs (I'm so far behind in my blog-reading, I may just skip all of the back posts. Maybe.). Or knitting. So, not much to talk about on my knitting blog--that's for sure. But, I thought I'd better check in so that people don't think I've been eaten by a giant mutant yeast or spilled a bottle of acid on myself and ended up dissolved in the drain by the safety shower in lab or anything else untoward. I had a spot of depression, but thanks to some new meds, that cleared right up except that now I can't make my legs sit still.

I really am barely doing any knitting at all. I've made a few plain, square washcloths--knit on the bias with a yarn-over border--you know, the classic. That's been about all I can handle lately. I'm feeling a little brain-dead from the lab stuff. I'm spending a lot of time in lab (it's 9:30pm on a Friday and I'm still in lab--that tell you anything?).

Also, I'm crocheting a granny square afghan for the couch in the conference room because it's chilly in there when I take a nap.

That's it. That's my life for the moment. Boring as hell. Don't worry, I'll let you know if something exciting ever happens.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tilted Duster Progress Report

I've been working on the Tilted Duster from Fall 2007 Interweave Knits. By "working on" I mean knitting for 10 minutes here and there. With some relaxation time in California, I was able to complete the back:

I tried to get a photo of it that showed what it was sitting in front of but, I wasn't able to get both the knitting and the fireplace in the same photo (it does get a little bit chilly in the evenings and my husband is a delicate flower, so we turn on the gas fireplace in the evenings). I pinned it out because otherwise, it looked like a big magenta lump. I took some measurements and so far, I seem to be on track for fit. Stay tuned.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Dear Mother Nature,

Please make it stop snowing in Chicago so I can get on a plane to take me to see my husband tonight. Thanks.




I'm heading for California this evening (hopefully). Last night, the undergrad in the lab pronounced me "lucky." To which I said:

"Yes, I'm incredibly lucky that my husband lives in California while I live in Chicago."

He hadn't really considered it like that before. Still, it's better than my husband living in Nova Scotia while I live in Chicago, I suppose.

I've gotten so used to these trips, they barely phase me anymore. I haven't even packed yet because I know I can do so in about 15 to 20 minutes. It helps that I don't have to pack toiletries.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Words fail me

From an article about a toy rental company:

Pope also keeps a close eye on the merchandise, yanking toys that are broken or more than "gently worn" and donating them to needy families nominated by her customers.

"If it has a little scratch on it, we're not going to take it out of the program," she said. But, "we're not going to ever send anybody anything that they're going to feel like is junk."

But apparently it's okay to give "needy" families broken toys. They have to take what they can get after all. I mean, it's practically a waste to give poor people something that's fully functional. Especially poor children. Might as well start them out crap since that's all they're likely to get in their lives anyway. Wouldn't want to raise their hopes and expectations or anything like that.

Okay, maybe words don't fail me.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

I finally succumbed

I'm now on Ravelry. My name is E-beth (Elisabeth was taken and it was too late at night when I signed up for me to be more creative). I've managed to put up my two works in progress and entered a few of my books and some of my needles. Nothing listed in the stash or queue, though. And I've joined one group--Scientific Knitters.

I can see how this site could become extremely addictive, so I'm going to try to restrict the amount of time I spend on it. We'll see how well that works!

Friday, February 08, 2008

Mittens Accomplished

I finished the mittens for R:


Pattern: Flap-top Mittens, designed by Kim Hamlin, found in Handknit Holidays by Melanie Falick.

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Bulk in Blue Flannel, and Manos del Uruguay #103

Needles: Bamboo dpns size 6 and 7

Total project time: 15 hours and 30 min.

Modifications: There was no way I was going to get gauge with the yarns I had chosen, so I knit a nice gauge swatch, then calculated the number of stitches I would need based on that. Since this is the first time I have ever manipulated a pattern that way, it took me awhile to do the calculations and some test knitting when I got to the flap part. This is reflected in the total project time (as is the fact that I had to rip them out a couple of times!). Also, I put a couple of decreases in the fingerless mitten part that goes under the flap so it would fit more snugly. Otherwise, I knit them more or less according to the pattern.

Next time: Well, I would probably use different yarn. The Manos and the Lamb's Pride, while supposedly knitting up at the same number of stitches per inch did not behave in the same way. Mostly, I think this is because the Manos is a "thick and thin" yarn and that made the fabric it created a bit more loose than the Lamb's Pride which was dense. At the gauge I knit the Lamb's Pride, I got a fairly stiff fabric. While this produced a very warm and more wind-proof fabric, it made it somewhat challenging to incorporate the flap in a way that looked nice. As it is, I'm still not particularly pleased with the way the flap is attached. The pattern calls for double-wrapping your stitches then, on the next round, setting aside every other stitch onto a stitch holder. Those are then live stitches that you use to start the flap. But, those stitches ended up looking very loose compared to everything else. If I make flap top mittens again, I'll have to work on finding a different way to make a flap.

I really do like the Lamb's Pride, though. This is the first time I've worked with it and it's a very nice yarn to work with. It feels good while knitting it and it gives really great stitch definition (which can be good and bad depending on how even your stitches are!). I grossly overestimated how much yarn I would neeed for the project and I have an entire skein of the Lamb's Pride left just begging for me to make something for myself. I really liked the Manos, too. The colors are wonderful and I think that used alone or coupled with a more complementary yarn, it would be great for any sort of warm, winter project. I've got quite a bit of that leftover, too. I haven't decided what I'll do with it yet. I'd love to make a hat for my nephew with it, but it's not machine washable and I really don't like giving babies things that have to be handwashed.

R loved the mittens and put them on right away. I was a little worried they would be drafty where the flap edge meets the rest of the mitten, but she says not.

So, now Christmas is finally over!

Just in time for Lent.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More knitting time?

Everytime I start to get sick, I think, "No problem, just more knitting time!" Apparently, even though I have been sick many times in the last 5 or 6 years since I learned to knit, I have forgotten that being sick does not mean extra knitting time. Being sick means sleeping all day and all night and spending what little time I am awake blowing my nose and taking completely ineffective cold medicine.

All of this to say, I'm sick. :(

I really hate being sick. I'm not sure that many people actually enjoy it, I suppose, but I would just like to state for the record that it is not my idea of a good time. In addition to feeling like crap, I'm missing perfectly good days of work in lab--just when I finally, finally got an experiment to work right. And, on top of that, it finally got really cold in Chicago and I may have missed my only chance to go ice skating this winter.

Yes, I would like a little cheese with my whine. Pass the Brie.

In knitting news, I am still working on the mittens. These are the mittens with the flaps from Handknit Holidays and I just need to knit the flap for the second mitten. Let's not discuss the fact that it'll probably be spring by the time I finish them. At least she'll have them for next winter.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Mittens? What mittens?

So, unless I get really inspired, the mittens will not be done today (which is the last day of Christmas. And since it is--I kid you not--50 degrees here in Chicago today, I sincerely doubt I will be really inspired to knit warm, wool mittens.

The weather has been really screwed up here this winter. Actually, it's been pretty screwed up the last couple of winters. It's rarely below freezing, and sometimes it warms up to the absurd temperature of 50 degrees. We have gotten some snow and there was an ice storm, but those things are anomalies. Mostly, it's been pretty reasonable. You'd think I'd be happy about that's creepy. It's not supposed to be mild. It's supposed to be ridiculously cold. This is Chicago, for cryin' out loud! The past couple of winters, I haven't even been able to go ice skating because there haven't been enough days below freezing. WTF?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

1 out of 3 Christmas knitting goals attained

Well, I finished the socks I was making my mother for Christmas. I barely even started the ones I was going to make for my grandmother. I don't know what I was smoking when I thought that I would get those done. I have no idea when/if I'll ever get those done. Finally, I'm still working on a pair of mittens for a friend. Technically, according to the Catholic church, it is still the Christmas season (the days leading up to Christmas are Advent and the Christmas season starts on Christmas day and ends 12 days later on the Epiphany). It is marginally possible I'll finish the mittens by the Epiphany (this Sunday) but I rather doubt it.

I really didn't do much to celebrate Christmas this year. Very little decorating. No baking. No cards. No tree. Just labwork. Always, everyday, labwork. So next Christmas (when I will NOT be in grad school, God willing), I am going to go all out on the Christmas stuff. I'm going to fill dozens of tins with homemade cookies--sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies and spritz and those ones with the Hersey's kisses in the centers. I'm going to send Christmas cards to everyone I have ever met in my life. I am going to have two Christmas trees. I'm going to cover every window and the balcony with lights. I'm going to wrap presents in the most elaborate way possible with fabric wired ribbon and who knows what else. In short, I am going to whoop it up bigtime. Martha Stewart will look at my apartment and say, "Whoa." She will wonder how I find the time to do everything.

That's my plan, anyway.