Friday, November 7, 2008

New Heroes

So, I've been a Keith Olbermann junkie throughout the campaign, and still think he's great. He's extremely biased, but I'm cool with that, because he's honest about it, and he backs up every single thing he says with quotes and documentation.

Recently, I've also become a huge fan of Rachel Maddow.
I still like Olbermann, but I now like Rachel's new show even better. it's more fun to watch and some conservatives occasionally come on as guests (even if some of them are mean...bad move David Frum!). Her ongoing disagreements with her friend and fake uncle, Pat Buchanan are endlessly entertaining.

Also, I gotta say, Nate Silver
and his awesomely geeky blog kept me sane during the last month of the campaign. Turns out I was completely right to trust his calming and very positive predictions. Almost all of his election forecasts were correct. You rock, NATE! The geeks will inherit the earth. Now that the election is over, he and some of my other favorite bloggers, are reporting on the transition and I am fascinated by every word.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Let's try this again

This is a short post just to prove to myself that I am capable of blogging again...the election, work, Ravelry, and life in general has sucked me away from my blogging. I will try to post regular short bits and show off my new knitted bits. Speaking of which, here's what I've been up to lately:

Socks for my mom-in-law, Serita for a holiday gift:
She doesn't know about these socks yet, but since she also doesn't know about the blog, I think I can safely post them. These are the common 'Monkey' socks but I shifted the pattern 8 stitches so it would be centered on top and I like it much better. The yarn is STR lightweight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and the colorway is Lunasea.

Socks for me with a cool honeycomb like pattern:
The pattern is called 'Replicating Anemone Rib', but I think it looks so much like a honeycomb pattern, that at some point I want to do more of these socks in a honey color. Mark also loves this pattern, so he will get a pair of socks with this pattern at some point. This is a RSC club exclusive colorway called Tidepooling which I am so in love with.

Socks for my mom for Hannukah:
I used the flame wave pattern, found in 'Favorite Socks', but I altered the pattern to be used for finer yarn. (70 stitches on 2.5mm needles instead 56 stitches on larger needles). So far these are coming out even better than expected. The flame wave pattern looks really good with the variegated yarn:
The yarn is STR lightwight from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and the colorway is Alley Opp.

And finally, I am working on a wrap cardigan that I love:
I am half done with the second sleeve. After that I still have ends to sew in, I-cords ties to make, and given that I have some yarn left over I think I may redo the bottom and add an inch or so. I love this yarn (Berroco Jasper - Verdes Lavras colorway) and the pattern is the neckdown wrap cardigan from Knitting Pure & Simple is a good introduction to making and fitting a sweater.

That's more than enough for now.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Absolutely Addicted to Ravelry

If you are a knitter, or a crocheter (is that what people who crochet call themselves?) or a spinner or a weaver, or anyone who likes to play with yarn in any way, Ravelry is hugely addictive. I have to admit that that is my most recent excuse for being a slacker blogger...(I have so many excuses).

Seriously though, if you take Facebook and Wikipedia and Yarn and mix them together, you get Ravelry. If you bother to read my blog and you like to play with yarn, go there now and sign up...the current waiting time for invite once you sign up is only 3 days...I spend way too much time there these days checking out new patterns ideas and looking at other peoples projects.

Monday, August 11, 2008

not gumdrops, not rocks...

Peacock feathers! That's what this pattern looks like. Here's a closeup of the pattern:
During our drive here (to Holden Beach, NC) on Saturday I drove a little to help out but mostly just knitted and knitted and knitted. I got past the heel and on to the foot before we pulled in.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE this heel! I've never done a garter stitch heel before and am now a huge fan.

Yesterday, I cruised along...finished the foot and started the toe before I decided to put it down and give myself a little break. This pattern has a garter toe which is constructed like the short rows heel and then grafted to the sole stitches under the it.
My plan for today is finish and graft this sock, cast on the second one, make a pie, go for a run and a swim, and actually do some really work from my actual job...hmmm...that's not too ambitious, is it? I wonder which thing might not get done. Mark and I are also scheduled to cook for everyone tonight (we take turns) so as vacation days go, this is a busy one.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

dorky knitting con't

Mark and I are driving to Holden Beach for the annual 'Eisenbies' beach week. I don't really like the beach, but I'm bring plenty of knitting and reading. I just wanted to post a quick 'Ravelympics Dork' update. Here's what I got done on day 1:
The pattern is challenging but fun. I also made my life harder by doing it in the largest size with the smallest needles (80 sts on 2mm needles), but so far I really like how they're turning out. Twelve hours in the car today (UGH!), which means lots and lots of knitting time....good thing I'm bringing plenty of extra projects to the beach with me...wouldn't want to run out of things to knit cuz then I might start twitching and drooling in the corner from withdrawal which might freak Mark's family out a bit.

More updates to come when I can find wifi near the beach (always a challenge!)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

seriously dorky knitting

I will try try try to post regularly...this has been a rough summer so I slacked off. Anyways, tomorrow starts the Olympics which is cool all by itself. It's made even more fun because it brings all the knitting dorks like me out of their little hidey holes to "compete". Ravelry, the online home for all cyber-knitting dorks, has organized the 'Ravelympics' complete with knitting "events" and teams that you can sign up for. You can sign up for as many events as you want. Each event corresponds to a project (or group of projects) that you intend to start during the open ceremony (tomorrow) and finish before the closing ceremony on August 24th.

No big surprise...I'm in the 'SockPut' and hope to start and finish a pair of socks with a new pattern that I've never tried before. You're allowed to swatch ahead of time (and I did) because that's considered training (See what I mean by dorky?). I'm on the 'Blue Moon' team since I am using their yarn and their pattern.

I'm using July's pattern from the sock club I belong to, Blue Moon Fiber Arts Rockin' Sock Club. This club is great (a little pricey, but worth it) but this month they sent me pastel yarn...YUCKY! Instead, I'm knitting the socks with some cool earthy-muted-variegated yarn called 'Metamorphic':
The sock club dyer seemed excited about experimenting with pastels and I respect her creative urges BUT...not only would I never knit with pastels, I think they are a scourge that should be eradicated from the earth...a little harsh, I know, but I'm allowed to express my true feelings in my own darn blog!

The pattern is called 'Gumdrops', but because I'm using a different yarn, I think the the little knitted circles will look more like tumbling rocks than gumdrops. These will be my tumbling rox sox! (Yep, dorkin' out again)
(You can see the pattern done with the pastel yarn here. This pattern makes the yucky yarn look a little better, but I still wouldn't ever knit with it.)

I'll keep posting on my Olympic Knitting progress for anyone who is dorky enough to care.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

unburned out

So I got kinda burned out on blogging cuz I was writing too much and and too long so my knew goal is to post more and less...i.e. more posts, that are shorter and less rambling.

I'm working on 3 pairs of socks at the moment. I'll take pix and post them soon. Other than that, I still have no life here so there is not much to write. Mark and I will probably go see two new movies this weekend. When you have no life and live a small town with a cineplex, you see every summer blockbuster that comes around. This weekend, we probably go see both Wanted and Wall-e. More soon.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

clams wear sweaters, barnacles are well endowed, and lots of other random learnings

Mark and I are up in Carlisle, MA, visiting my brother in law, Chris, my sister-in-law, Sandy, my niece, Natalie and my nephews, Zach and Jon. I flew up to Rhode Island for work last Monday (5/19) and then Mark flew up on Thursday to spend the long weekend with me and his brother and family. We fly home tomorrow after a long fun weekend. Here are some random musings from my trip:

1. Clams wear sweaters. Soft-shelled clams, also known as long neck clams or pisser (pronounced pissah) clams are steamed and then the clam meat must be pulled from the shell. With other clams I have eaten, this is all you have to do before dipping the clams in butter and popping them in your mouth. With these though, you then use your fingernails to carefully peel the dark rubbery nubby casing off of the long neck, much the way you would peel off a turtleneck sweater. This may not seem exciting to you, but after a very full day in which I gave TWO successful presentations (Woohoo!!), and a couple of beers, I was quite giddy over the concept of clam sweaters and peeling them off to eat yummy steamers. The wikipedia link doesn't show or mention the clam sweater, but a local New Englander described it as that and showed me what to do, so I trust her.

2. Barnacles have sex and are well endowed. If you don't believe me, you can watch this hilarious video on YouTube. I have met the guy in the baseball cap who is up for tenure at Northeastern U. this year and I am working with one of his colleagues on some park service research. We had a field visit to discuss sampling rocky intertidal areas and discussed various plants and animals including snails and barnacles which is when the subject of barnacle sex came up. Here's a pic of the type of habitat we spent the morning looking at:
After 3 days of intense all day indoor meetings in Rhode Island, this was a great place to work for the day. I can totally see why Rocky Intertidal researchers like what they do, even if it is hard work. Here's kind of a cool pic of snails predating on barnacles for the ecology nerds:
3. While I was out at this field visit, I got to peek at part of a set for Leonardo Dicaprio's upcoming movie, Ashecliffe which will be filming some scenes there. They built the bottom part of lighthouse,
and will probably use CGI for the rest. No Leo when I was there, which was probably a good thing because the movie people would have made it difficult for us to do our field work, but it coulda been cool to sneak a peek at him too :)

4. Despite all of my travels, I have shown a lot of restraint in the yarn shopping department. Ok, I haven't shown any restraint with respect to online shopping, but I haven't gone into any yarn stores in NYC, or Duluth, or Rhode Island or any of the other places I've been to recently. Yesterday, however, my very cool sister-in-law and I spent the morning out with Natalie. Among other errands, we casually stopped by 'Wild & Wooly' yarn shop in Lexington...where I couldn't resist this HUGE beautiful skein:
We're talking 800 freakin' meters of yarn awesomeness!

5. So far, Mark's sock is cruising along and I love the Misti Alpaca sock yarn:
6. Katherine commented that she wants me to make her socks, but she doesn't want to pick out the yarn herself...sorry Katherine, I'm drawing a line in the sand (or in the fiber?). Mark and I are coming up for Maggie-Fest (which I've been meaning to email you about), and we'll probably come up a few days early (which I really have to email Liz about to ask if we can stay with her). When we do, you and me and Liz and Jess (and whoever else wants to) are going to Mosaic Yarn Shop where you will inhale yarn fumes and look at pretty colors and pick out exactly what you want. You might ask why I'm insisting on this. Well, it's because I really think that at some point you will break down and start playing with yarn like the rest of us, and if inhaling the yarn fumes helps move that process along, then it is worth all of the harassment. As an aside, even Mark has gone into yarn shops with me to pick out the yarn for his socks...if he can do it, so can you :)

7. Last, but certainly not least, I am usually not good about taking pics of family, but my niece Natalie is a complete ham so I have some great pics of her. Here is a great hammy Nat pic:

Sunday, May 18, 2008

No breakfasts here!

I love breakfast, I really do! Also, being a New Yorker, diner food is in my blood...real eggs (any way you want them), home fries, etc...these are necessities. In my mind, and you may disagree, a real diner will serve breakfast food all day in addition to anything else it serves for lunch or dinner. Blacksburg didn't have a lot of real diners, but it did have really great brunches at Gillie's and Boudreaux's. All is good if I can get a poached egg...that's not too much to ask, is it?

Well, as it turns out, when you live in northeastern Mississippi, a poached egg is way too much to ask for. As it turns out, there is no place to get a decent breakfast with poached eggs in Starkville. There was a very fancy restaurant that had a fancy Saturday brunch, but they're closed now. The next town over has a decent farmer's market from May to October, and you would think it would make sense to have a restaurant nearby to capture the market crowd, but you'd be wrong. We did find a breakfast place about 4 miles down the road from the farmer's was ok, and the omelet was decent, but this was not a poached egg kind of place...heck, this wasn't even a place where people order water with lemon. Mark and I requested water with lemon and this is what we got for the lemon:
Sigh! On the bright side, I have now mastered poaching eggs myself so there is that.

On a completely unrelated note, here is a serious bit of weirdness:
In case you can't see what I am talking about through my dirty windshield, here is a close-up:
This sign has been up on the side of the road for a few weeks now pointing across the road towards a semi industrial lot with a series of corrugated metal sheds. What I really can't figure out is if there was a luau there when the sign first when up and they forgot to take the sign down, or if it was originally pointed the opposite way towards a house, or if 'luau' just means something really different here. I dunno. I pass this sign about 4-5 times a week and I always look around trying to figure out where the heck the luau is. If I ever solve this mystery, I will let you know.

And finally, I have finished my first 'Toe-up Spiraling Coriolis' socks and I am a now a big fan of both toe-up knitting and this particular pattern.
Speaking of which, I have had two requests for socks since my last blog post. After thinking about it, I am willing to make socks for anybody I know who will buy the yarn, IF you don't mind waiting until I get other stuff in my knitting cue done.

As for yarn, one of my favorite sources that has a bazillion color options is Blue Moon Fiber Arts. If your feet are Women's size 11 (Men's size 9) or smaller, I will only need 1 skein. If they're bigger than that, I will need 2 skeins (Sorry Rob). Order the 'Socks That Rock Mediumweight' yarn. Do not order the lightweight yarn which also is nice but finer so it takes longer to knit with.

If all of this hasn't caused you to lose interest yet, let me know in a blog comment, and I'll email you my mailing address and a diagram showing the foot measurements I need. (Rob and Katherine, if you really want socks, I'll email you both after Memorial Day when I return from my trip).

If you want socks from me and would rather pick out sock yarn at a local yarn shop (which is always good to do), be sure to get something appropriate for needles that are 2.75mm to 3.00mm in size (US Size 2) and ask the shop dealer about getting enough yarn for your foot size.

Alright, I'm off to Rhode Island and Massachusetts for few days of work and some play time with Mark.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Gardening, knitting and presentation writing (Ugh!)

Mark, my awesome husband, built us these beautiful raised beds on the side of our house which we have now filled with plants...tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, chives and parsley....mmm, mmm, good.

We're probably going to build one more bed and fill that one too once we get back from our trip to New England for work and play next week.

In addition to all of the potential veggies, I have started planting flowers in the beds we have around our two front trees. Of all the flowers I've put in so far, the ones called 'Buggleweed' are my favorite because 1) their name sounds Harry Potter-ish, 2) they are a perrenial ground cover plant that will eventually choke out weeds in the bed (I really appreciate these characteristics in a plant), and 3) their flowers are small and purplish and really cool looking. I think I'm going back to get some more of this. (Update: I have since bought 3 more buggleweeds and a bunch of other perrenials for our various beds)

Mark also worked on this bed near the house today which then I filled with Daylillies. Yay, pretty colors and a long growing season.
(Ignore the area surrounding the daylily bed...that still needs work.)

Other than that, I'm chugging away on this second sock. I should be done be tomorrow.
When those are done, I'll be working on a pair for Mark that I started the toe of already to make sure I have knitting to do during my upcoming trip.
I've also started a pair of slipper socks for my mom.
After that and my May sock club delivery, I might knit something that isn't worn on feet so that I don't burn out on socks...but there are just sooo many different fun patterns to try...

Lastly, I am giving two presentations at a network review meeting for the park service. I have drafts of both done, but the problem with powerpoint is that you can just keep fiddling and fiddling and fiddling with the slides and never be done. I leave next Monday for a week in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Mark is flying up to meet me on Thursday so we can spend the weekend with his older brother's family.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Duluth ( a little delayed)

Surprisingly cool, both figuratively and literally. I've been missing the cold weather while living down here in Mississippi. I really missed the snow and have been feeling that parts of the country/world that don't get any snow at all (beyond the occasional dusting) are deprived.

Duluth was a nippy 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and cooler at night which really felt great and the city itself is beautiful. It's right on Lake Superior and takes full advantage of that with a great 'Lake Walk' path that goes a few miles in either direction from the great hotel (Fitger's Inn) we were being put up in.

Lake Walk looking in one direction from outside our hotel. We walked down this path to get to our dinner restaurant the first night.
Lake Walk looking in the other direction

The workshop I was invited to really did spoil us a bit with fantastic restaurants every night, a much nicer hotel than I usually get to stay in, and all of us were given lake view rooms. These pics we're taken from my hotel room cuz I scored the corner east facing room and had to be up early every morning for the workshop.

The first day I got this weird 2-sun effect because of the glass reflection
The second morning, I was able to get this
cool, huh?

I was too tired to knit during the whole trip, except on the planes, but I have to say spending 3 days in a workshop discussing methods for detecting ecological thresholds with a group of ecologists and quantitative people like myself was a really good time. Yep, I know just saying that makes me a nerd, but after months of telecommuting, sharing ideas in person is such a nice change. Some of the discussions have really inspired some new ideas for my if I can just keep my motivation up. ;-}

The EPA lab where we were meeting was also right on the lake and I got some neat pics from there as well:
Overall, I loved Duluth. If you have a chance to visit, definitely go. I think the residents don't want too many people to move there and overpopulate the area, but they're very friendly to visitors.

PS While I was away, Mark's 12 year old Saturn broke and he had to jerry rig a repair until he could get a part he needed. He was driving around with it looking like this inside:
If you look closely below the displaced stick shift, you can see the zip-tie he used to keep the shifter functional until the part arrived. It's fixed now, but we are definitely in the market for a new car.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Leavin' on a jet plane...yet again

I'm leaving for a workshop in Duluth, MN tomorrow morning. I have to drive to Memphis (2.5 hours) to catch my first flight...AND I have lots of reading still to do so I can't knit the whole travel day like I usually do...sigh. Hopefully the workshop on Ecological Thresholds will be interesting and, more importantly, I'll be able to contribute and not seem like an idiot. I guess we'll see :)

If there is anything interesting all to take a picture of, I'll let you know.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

New Obsession feeding an old one

I've been addicted to sock knitting for awhile...pretty much since I started my first one about a year ago....yep, I know it is neither cost effective nor efficient to knit socks but here are some of the classic reasons why sock knitting is so absolutely wonderful:

1. Everyone, no matter where they live, can use socks. My current climate makes sweaters, mittens, warm hats, and scarves completely unnecessary, except for maybe 1-2 weeks of the sad. Socks, however, are useful here in all but the warmest 2-3 months.

2. Sock knitting is the most portable type of project. Many other knitter/bloggers have mentioned this and it is sooo true. A sweater or a blanket just can't be hauled around all the time, especially if, like me, you fly a lot for work and every square inch of your luggage must be used wisely. I can bring one sock project on a work trip and be assured that I will not run out of knitting fun despite delayed planes, long flights, long layovers, nights alone in weird hotels, etc.

3. An infinite number of incredibly cool patterns that make knitting a new pair never dull. If you have any doubts, a 5 minute search on the internet will verify this. I would design more of my own sock patterns, but there are already so many out there that I want to try

4. Socks make a great gift IF you know the size to make them. This is easy if you live with or near the recipient, but if you want to to make socks for someone far away it can be trickier. I spent the past weekend measuring everyone's feet so that at some point, long after they have forgotten my weird request, they will get a pair of socks and be surprised.

5. Sock yarn...there are so many absolutely beautiful hand painted sock yarns out there...really amazing colors and fibers...this is the reason for my new addiction...see below

6. Compared to knitting a sweater, knitting a pair of socks is pretty affordable which means I can buy more sock yarn...its a wonderfully vicious circle.

I could go on and on and on, but I'm not saying anything that many others haven't already said. Instead, here are a couple of pairs I've finished lately:
Not my color, but the stripes, which came from how the yarn was painted, are cool. Here is a closeup:

These socks are DEFINITELY my color...yay GREEN!
Both the color pattern and the stitch pattern made me happy too, and these suckers are cozy warm. Here's the closeup:

and here is the the pair I'm working on very first full-size toe-up sock. So far, I like it because you can tailor the fitting much more carefully. Try to avoid being blinded by my bright white skin. I tried to cut most of it out of the pic.
I finished one other pair too, but my pix got deleted and this pair has already been sent to its new owner, Sandy, my sister in law up in Massachusetts. I only have this one pic she sent me:
One of the dilemmas of sock knitting are the leftover scraps of yarn which in some cases can be quite substantial. The scraps are never enough to knit a whole other pair, but some times, they can be as much as this:
Sigh...what to do...what to do...Thank goodness for another crazy knitter who has provided a kickass solution...the sock yarn scrap blanket AKA the 'Shelly' Blanket. I discovered this blanket and the tutorial for it last week because it was mentioned by YarnHarlot. Shelly, AKA the Heathen Housewife, has a great blog of her own and graciously described every detail of blanket construction there. If you just want to see the blanket in all of it's amazing glory, here it is (scroll down for pics of the astonishing finished blanket). Shelly's blanket took about 2 years to make because she requested others sock scrap donations and was literally inundated. I am hoping to do mine, at least mostly, with scraps from my own projects and possibly from people I know. I'd like to feel somewhat connected to all of the scraps somehow, which may be very unrealistic. I'm cool with it taking 10 years, but at some point I may ask for yarn donations, but not at the moment. Here's what I have done so far:
It's really more of a blanket larvae, but it has so much potential and makes me so excited to think about all of the scraps and how cool they will look in the blanket. Yay yarn scraps!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

So worth writing about!

So I decided to take an extended blogging break because I had a lot of crappy stuff to deal with this spring that just wasn't blog stufff...blah...blah...blah...ok, now you're all caught up.

For the past week or two, I've been thinking that I really wanted to start writing again which I thought was a good sign after the rough time I've had this Spring, but I wasn't sure what I felt like writing about.

Then I came home to Syracuse for Passover, and on the way home from the airport, my mom took small detour to show me this:
WOW! This gas station is less than 2 miles from our house and has been an abandoned eyesore for decades.

This incredibly cool MFA student at Syracuse Univeristy, Jennifer Marsh, decided to create this installation as part of her graduate work. Here is Jennifer who I happened to catch when she was doing some work on her piece:
She covered every square inch of the building, the pumps out front, and the sign. I only wish I had known before now because I would have made a square, but she plans to do more pieces like this as a statement against oil consumption...Go Jennifer! Here is the URL if you want to know more about her project.

I took more pix like this
and this
and this.
I was really impressed with the pump,
and the sign out front,
particularly this panel,
and last but not least, my favorite panel (the lower one with the guy guzzling oil straight from the pump).
It feels good to be blogging again. Tomorrow I'll tell ya what kinda crazy knitting I've been up to. Yay fiber! Yay knitting!