Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Oscar Party!

This is a few days late, as I've been very busy. I had to give a lecture to about 50 undergrads today, on "Western Blotting and Microarray Technology," so I've spent the last few days getting ready for that. Giving two class lectures is one of our graduate school requirements, so I'm one down, one to go. It went really well, I had the students laughing and I only caught one of them snoozing away, so I consider it a success.

On Sunday I threw a little party for the Oscars, which was also a success despite some early concerns that no one but Anne-Marie was going to show up! However, by the end we had quite a group for a place the size of mine:Alex, Rosalind, Anne-Marie (who I think was the most serious about actually seeing/hearing the Oscars), Kristen, and Joel's head. Note new lamp, behind the sofa.Kristen, Vivian, and Deidre (on the floor). Plus Joel's head (again). Of course I was also there, and Dave as well, but he was hiding in the den when the camera came out. Note actual knitting activity! I wasn't knitting, because I was too busy eating. There was a lot of food...

I need to share some of that food with you, for humor. I decided to make baklava, which I had heard was difficult due to the inherent nature of phyllo dough. However, because I am naive ambitious, I figured I'd have a go. I only lost a couple sheets of dough, which was fine because you really don't need the whole package, and all was good. I greased the cookie sheet as instructed, and stuck it in the oven. It cooked much faster than anticipated, which was okay since I was keeping a quite watchful eye on it. I should've taken a photo of the whole pan because it was really pretty when it came out of the oven and got its honey glaze. Here's a lovely plateful:

Now, I know these look a little sloppy, but it was honestly the best I could do. THIS is what I was working with:I honestly don't know what happened here. I greased the pan. It was downright slippery when I started. I think the honey glaze was SO sticky that it coated the pan and seeped into the layers of dough, such that when I tried to remove the pieces they fell apart and stuck to the pan and the fork, and the spatula that I also tried. It was a mess. I lost probably half the baklava to crumbles. However, they are damn tasty crumbles. I hid them at the party but they were dipped into as it got late, and Rembrandt, Dave, and I made short work of them whilst playing Trivial Pursuit Monday. I will definitely try making this again - it was really easy and if I could find a way to dig it out of the pan all would be good. Any suggestions?

Oh, I have to admit I hadn't knit a stitch for days until last night, when I attacked my cabled vest with gusto. Obviously this is not mine, but this is what I'm making:It's almost done. I'm thinking this weekend at the latest if I get anywhere with it tonight. I was able to try it on and it should fit, although it's very bulky yarn so it may not be the most flattering garment. We'll see. Sorry there haven't been photos. I've tried, but it's light blue yarn and it keeps getting washed out in the bad apartment lighting...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The reality of graduate school

This is what it's really like to be a graduate student...
A Story in Photos
First you get on one of these:
And you do a bit of this:
And you talk some science whilst infusing humor (and unpublished results!):
Sometimes a mess is made:The world is explained:Awards are distributed:And then we all go home again:If you're curious, last weekend was our microbiology student retreat at Friday Harbor Labs, up in the San Juan Islands. We go there every year, but this is the first year we've been behind a truckful of sheep and lambs in the ferry line!

I did a lot of knitting but have no photos to show for it. Maybe soon...Sadly I also have no photos of our grape-flinging naval battle, which involved four rowboats of three people each, and some very incompetent rowing and throwing...

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Anybody want a scarf?

Because I've got three new ones! One was finished yesterday, one last week, and one last month, but they're all getting piled into one post because, well, I don't know. I'm pretty sure I already mentioned that I had finally finished my So-Called Scarf a few weeks back, but I hadn't taken any photos because the weather was dreary and I wanted them to be good. Well, it was sunny on Saturday, but you wouldn't know it from the photos, so the weather thing was a pretty poor excuse. Here she is:

Project Stats: So-Called Scarf

Yarn: 2 skeins (exactly) of Manos, colorway long-since forgotten

Pattern: Here

Needles: Size 11 Clover bamboo

Time to completion: 8.10.06 -1.30.07

Impressions: This scarf was a killer. I'm a pretty tight knitter and the stitch pattern + needle size I chose really hurt my hands, such that I couldn't knit very much of this at a time. I actually worked on it fairly consistently since I started it, but it still took forever. A larger needle size would have been a good move but by the time I worked that out I was too invested in what I had done to rip it all out. I'm also a bit unhappy about the patterning seen in the second skein (on the right, note zig-zags). I've never seen Manos do this, but this is the first scarf I've made with it, so maybe it's not atypical. It's not that the pattern isn't cool, because it is, but it bugs me that it doesn't match the first half of the scarf. That said, it's soft, and I love the purples, and I'm quite happy with this one! Here's a close-up of the stitch pattern, sorry it's a bit blurry...

I also made this lovely creation, in recycled sari silk:
This project was a bit of a debacle from the get-go. I got this yarn on Ebay sometime last year, for next to nothing. It came with a horrible chemical smell which thankfully goes away with some time in fresh air. I was warned that the skeins would "have some variability," and they weren't lying. When I first got the yarn I aired some out and wound it into balls, and then it sat until Super Bowl Sunday, when I decided I needed a simple project to take to a party with me. Out came the sari silk, and two sets of needles (13s and 15s) and off I went. Well, the first skein was really thick. I started on the 13s, and that wasn't going to work, so I moved to the 15s, my largest needles, making a 2x2 ribbed scarf. I soon realized that ribbing was really a waste of time because the yarn was so variable in thickness that the ribbing was totally lost, so I switched to garter stitch. Then I decided that 15s really weren't big enough, so I bought some size 17s, and that was the trick. Sadly it doesn't end there. I finished that thick skein, and the scarf was looking great. The next skein, well, let's just say that it wasn't thick. At all. So as soon as I started knitting with it the scarf pulled in and became very loose and open, which was actually the effect I had been going for all along. However, it looked ridiculous with the first skein, so after finding a third skein that matched the second in width, I performed surgery on the scarf. I knit up both thin skeins, and then, in a moment of brilliance, decided to undo the join of the first/second skeins, pick up the stitches from the second skein, and knit a bit in the other direction with the end of the third skein (are you still with me here?) to make sure it wasn't going to unravel. This worked quite well. The finished scarf got a good soaking (it bled A LOT) and airing and is all ready to wear! I like it, it's very bright and cheerful!

Last, and certainly least, I finally finished this debacle:

Oh the eyelash! Oh the yarn with flags sticking out! The humanity! Honestly I'm embarrassed to even be posting this creation. And to admit that I think it's kind of pretty, in a "man, that's a lot of fuzzy" kind of way...
Project Stats: Fuzzy spring scarf
Yarn: Frou Frou (Adriafil) and Eyelash (Trendsetter)
Pattern: Ha, don't need no stinking pattern! It's garter stitch, if you must know. I think I might have started it before I knew how to purl!
Needles: Bamboo size 9s, and maybe 10.5s (see below)
Time to knit: Almost two years (I think it was in style when I started)
Impressions: Hehe. So, as mentioned, it took me a long time to knit this, mostly because it was something I left at work to knit at lunch, and if there was ANYTHING else to knit I avoided it like the plague. When I started it, fluffy eyelash scarves were very much in style, and I was a new knitter. Those are my excuses and I'm sticking to them. That said it's actually a very pretty colored scarf, although I doubt I'll ever wear it. Maybe I'll gift it someday, we'll see. As to to needle comment above...I'm not sure how this happened, but at one point I was knitting this with one size 9 needle and one size 10.5. I didn't notice for quite awhile, so there is a bit of a bulge in the middle somewhere, not that you'd notice with that much fluffiness! I think I was working on something else and the needles just got mixed up. No real harm done, right?

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Happy Blogoversary!!!

Can you believe it's been a year since I started this blog? I have to say that I can, but I figure that is the accepted question to pose...My first post was actually just a "testing, does this work" type thing, but that counts, since you have to start somewhere. So, here we are, a year later, and I just want to thank everyone (all five of you) for reading, and I hope I brighten your days at least occasionally!
I actually intended to have some sort of grand post on this monumentous occasion, but, well, not so much. In fact, I'm not even going to talk about knitting. What I am going to show you is the awesome birthday card I made for my grandmother last night. Here is a full view:

If you take a closer look it's even more impressive:Isn't that neat? It's very three-dimensional, and all the paper strips are folded, cut, and attached individually from the back to creat the iris effect. The beads are an added cool thing that I didn't even know about when I got the kit. Kit, you say? Yes. I am NOT this creative on my own, believe me. I got the kit from (hold the laughter) HSN. The Home Shopping Network. Hello, my name is Emily and I watch HSN. And QVC. But I can stop at any time. And I'm not embarrassed. Well, maybe just a bit. In my defense, I hardly ever buy anything. This was the second thing (the first was a scrapbooking kit, back when I was finding time to do that instead of knitting like it was going out of style), so that's not bad. I really only watch when I have insomnia, which I wholeheartedly recommend (shopping networks as treatment, not insomnia itself. Insomnia sucks.). The reason I like them is the constant volume. Most TV shows have commercials, and they're often louder than the programming itself, leading to the unfortunate situation of it being 3:00am, and you're just about to finally fall asleep, when some bombastic commercial for Enzyte comes on and jerks you awake. If you're not familiar with Enzyte, please don't bother looking it up, it's better to remain ignorant. Anyway, I ordered this kit around Labor Day (Sadly, I think it was early evening, and I was on my way somewhere, and the tv just happened to be on HSN and I decided then and there that I HAD to have this kit, it being the coolest thing I'd seen in weeks. You should have heard the gushing I did about it when Dave got home.), but this is the first time I've used it. Frankly I was a bit intimidated by it, because it's really quite complicated (well, lots of pieces). On TV it looked very quick and easy, but that card took me over an hour to make (although I will admit it was pretty easy, just fiddly). I hope my grandmother likes it - much lke the Embossed Leaves socks, it was a bit difficult to part with, but I'm sure it will be appreciated!

In my defense, my maternal grandmother also watches QVC and HSN. Therefore, it must be genetic and I shouldn't be embarrassed for watching shopping channels at 27. Right?!? Please?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

A new hat...

Man, am I cranking out the knitting this year!!! This is the fifth FO of 2007, and it's only early February! I'm sure you're wondering what the others were, since you've only seen the Embossed Leaves socks and the woven scarf. I've also made these clogs for my mother's birthday, which were a great success.

This was my fourth (!) pair of felted clogs and I have to say that I'm about done with them although I'd really like to have some of my own...These were knit with Plymouth Galway, in the ever-excitingly-named colors 718 and 92. I got the yarn whilst home at Christmas (my last yarn purchase before the Great Fast of '07) and had to smuggle it home a) so my mother wouldn't see it, and b) so she wouldn't yell at me for acquiring more yarn.

I also finished a pesky little scarf I've been working on FOREVER, but I'll wait another day to show that off, since I have a slew of hat photos. Dave had some fun with this one...

First there's the lovely "from the side close-up for detail" shot:

Then many more followed, and finally the "please no more" shot:

My hair is getting really long...but I digress.

Project Stats: Rio hat

Yarn: Rio de la Plata Lana del Artista, color LA 89 (also a very inventive color name - how do they do it?). Purchased at Weaving Works sometime last year.

Pattern: I made it up, based on Kim's Hats pattern from Last-Minute Knitted Gifts.

Needles: Size 9, circular and DPNs.

Time to knit: Not long. Hours rather than days, especially if I'd have gotten it right the first time...

Impressions: Hehe. This is the hat I started, and finished at Madrona, only to discover that I had been a bit overzealous and knit about two inches too far before starting the crown decreases. So, last Saturday I dug into the suitcase of courage and ripped it out, which was much less traumatic than expected. This is some grabby yarn - the stitches just stood there and waited to be picked up, like tiny woolen hitchhikers. I really enjoyed working with this yarn, and I love my hat, so I kind of wish I could go buy more and make another, but I will behave myself. Now, you all know how I feel about Manos, but I have to say that this stuff is at least as nice and significantly softer. Not as soft as Malabrigo, but probably right in the middle. And no pooling. Great stuff. I had quite a bit left over, but probably not enough to do anything useful with. We'll see.

I'm at the toe decreases on my first Step sock, and I've stalled a bit to consider my options. Progress photos soon, I promise, and a finished So-Called Scarf!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Project Spectrum 2.0

Today marks the first day of Project Spectrum 2.0, again being organized by the ever lovely and ambitious Lolly. Last year, we had one, sometimes two colors per month to focus on, which was a bit difficult for us slower knitters (or, perhaps more accurately, us multi-tasking knitters). The big change for this year is that each set of colors will consist of three colors and last for two months. I think this will greatly increase my chances of actually using the intended colors, having more to choose from, and increase the odds of my finishing something in the "allotted" time. My first PS project is these socks, which I had conveniently started on Saturday, without even thinking about how nicely they would fit into the February/March colors of blue, grey, and white. The yarn is Austermann Step, which is a wool/nylon blend also containing aloe vera and jojoba oil. I have to say that this yarn is VERY nice to knit with, and I'm really enjoying the simple stockinette pattern, which I'm making up as I go. I'm about to knit the heel flap, so I've been procrastinating a bit while I figure out how wide I want to make it and if I want to do anything fancy. Generally I make fairly complicated socks, so, as I said, I'm really enjoying these.
Now that it's February 1st, I thought I should check in and see how I'm doing with my New Year's Resolutions, just to remind myself of them and keep on task. So, here goes:

Resolution 1: @ss off the couch - I started off pretty well with this one, TV-watching-wise, but I think I've slipped. I have been running a lot though, and riding my bike to work, and lifting weights a bit, so I think I'm succeeding here. I even mastered the elliptical machine yesterday. Forwards and backwards. This may sound silly but I've never been very well-coordinated on that thing...

Resolution 2: Enough with the yarn - Well, I bought yarn at Madrona, as you know, but that was planned, so I'm doing well here as well. To my mother, you should play nice or you won't get any more handknit socks...

Resolution 3: Do something epic - Well, I haven't DONE anything epic, nor do I have any concrete plans to do so. However, epic implies, well, epic, so when I think of it and get some planning going, I'll let you know. Two out of three ain't bad...

I have been playing in the snow, even if I haven't climbed anything "tall and snowy." Here's some lovely photos from my snowshoeing trip last Sunday:

For the curious, these were taken at the top of the Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center.