May 2005

I’ve been continuing to work a lot (amazing how much actual data can motivate me–testing conditions isn’t *nearly* as much fun), but at least I’ve taken a little time every day to play with fiber.

Mel in lap

…Not without some interference, though. The impressive part? The other night, Mel was sitting in my lap (in his usual pose), and the only problem he was causing for my spinning was that he was in the way of my parking my spindle between my ankles. So I stuck it between my leg and his side.

Early in the week, I cleared this off my spindle:

Corriedale yarn

…so I could start spinning this:


And, while the twist was setting last night, I started some more:

more-ange spinning

Mmmm, mohair blend.

So much for going to sleep early. Spinning is addictive. I’ve spent a few hours this evening spinning up the orangey wool-mohair I got from Three Waters Farm, and it’s just so much fun to watch the different colors twine together…


I’ve also discovered that Mel is very fond of the laser pointer. This means that I’ve practiced another form of spinning this evening: twirling the cat as he chases the little red dot.

I’ve been work-busy this week, so I haven’t spun or knitted in days. I’m about to go remedy that, but I thought I’d share a sample of what I have been doing:

untreated growth cone

It’s a growth cone from chick dorsal root ganglion (sensory neuron), grown overnight and then fixed and stained for two modification states of tubulin, a cytoskeletal protein. This image is about 30┬Ám on a side. For those of you who’ve heard my litany of complaints about the confocal, this is why I put up with it.

The weekend started early, when I left work at 3:30 on Friday to meet Anj, Ella, and Tony at the art museum for the Dali show. Out of a slightly paranoid desire to not be late, I arrived half an hour early, so I sat down to knit on my flower-lace shawl. It was an absolutely lovely afternoon, and the paulownias in the courtyard were just beautiful:

The exhibit was quite good–much larger than I’d expected–and I liked more of the paintings than I’d expected to.

The big out-of-my-house event of the rest of the weekend was grocery shopping, which started at Pathmark and continued at Trader Joe’s. Oh, yeah, that’s excitement. (Well, okay, the rhubarb from the farmers’ market is exciting. Yay, baking!)

Fortunately, I did some interesting stuff in my house. I started knitting with my very first yarn:

Knithandspun1 The pink and grey edging is the bit that Amy taught me on; the deeper pink is the first batch of practice roving. I’ve gone back and forth about this, but I think it’s going to be a small pouch.

And I finished spinning and plying the second batch of practice roving:


The current plan for this is a sachet, but time will tell. I’m not thrilled with the way the colors muddied, but that’s what I got for free…

And, well, because I finished the practice roving, I started in on some of the roving that I actually paid for separately. This is colonial top (corriedale) from Carolina Homespun.


It spins up quite differently from the merino; I find it harder to spin a thicker strand. It’s also not nearly as soft, although I’d still describe it as soft, and it’s got a much shorter staple. If it keeps working out this way, maybe it’ll become a lace shawl.

Speaking of lace shawls, I think I’ve decided to use the onyx soft rock for a flower basket shawl, probably with a few extra repeats. We’ll see whether I finish the flower lace shawl first.

I meant to post this last week–a snippet of conversation after the TA happy hour last Friday:

Me: Sorry, guys, I’m just going to go home now.
Other TA 1: You sure you don’t want to come with us?
Me: Yeah, I’m really tired, and I went out last night and the night before…
Other TA 2: Ooh, Naomi’s got a secret life!
Me: Yeah. I go out with knitters. To indie rock shows.

I wasn’t quite ready to go into why I wanted to be alert on Saturday, since the coworkers I told about MDSW seemed a little weirded out by it.

Okay, so it’s less exciting than if I could fly, but still. Looklooklook!

[as always, click to enlarge]

This is two-ply from the reddish purple practice roving. I andean-plied it based mostly on my recollection of what Amy did on Saturday, and using what I was thinking of as the “park and untwist” method. Yay, two-ply! That was way easier than I’d thought it might be!

And, while I was waiting for the twist to set, I started with the other batch of practice roving:

I’m pleased–it’s a lot more even so far than the first batch (*knock on wood*). Practice seems to be actually helping. How astonishing!

While I’m posting, here’s a picture of Mel from the other day (probably Tuesday, when I was home all afternoon, alternating between napping and sneezing and blowing my nose).


He’s being much less cute now, as he’s bouncing around by his food bowl and spilling kibble all over. It’d be okay, except that he doesn’t seem to like to eat the bits that are on the floor.

Eek! It got late all of a sudden, and I have to be at work in a little over eight hours! (Does anyone else ever notice that the days you get in early are the days your boss isn’t around to notice, and the days you come in really late are the days your boss was looking for you in the morning?)

As is my wont, I took no pictures of people. The dearth of other festival pictures is a testament to the overwhelming nature of MDSW–I was totally overstimulated. I’m just glad it didn’t send me so far over the edge that I spent more than I’d budgeted.

Anyway, I rode down with Michelle and Cyn, and we arrived at about 11am. We’d gotten as far as the first pair of booths when we met up with Alisa and Kirsten, with whom we wandered for much of the day.

The tents alone (plus a brief jaunt through one of the sheep barns, where we said hello to Christina) occupied us until lunch. During those two hours, I was the only one of our group to buy fiber. I was trying to be picky, but I couldn’t resist the call of this orange mohair:


On our way to lunch, we ran into Anj, Ella, and Anj’s friend Amy. Our more-than-ample picnic lunch was complemented by spinning lessons from Amy (for me) and Anj (for Alisa), as both Alisa and I had been planning to buy spindles and roving but had no idea what to look for. After lunch, we hurried off to the Bosworth booth, where I bought the spindle I showed you on Sunday.

I couldn’t really expect the practice roving that came with the spindle to last very long, and my LYSes don’t have roving (except maybe a couple of sample packs), so roving was next on my list. I got these two:


A natural-ish-colored Corriedale from Carolina Homespun (conveniently situated across the aisle from the Bosworth stall) and a miscellaneous orangey woolish blob from Three Waters Farm. They had a sample skein spun up, and I fell in love with the color.

We wandered around for a while more without me purchasing more (the timeline of my friends’ purchases is blurry in my memory). I specifically looked at the Spirit-Trail stall and the Morehouse Merino stall, but none of the yarns they had were precisely what I wanted. (Jen at Spirit Trail had a lovely roving, but it was in a larger-commitment unit than I was ready for.) This means that, after I achieve spinning proficiency, I need to learn to dye my own yarn. Everywhere I went, I saw almost-perfect variegated yarns. They had lovely color combinations, and then someone had to add pink or purple or a yellowy green, or make the greys yellowish, or something. I suppose my pickiness was useful in enabling me to stick to my budget. As it was, I spent exactly what I’d allowed myself in cash.

Sometime later, though, Michelle and I found the Blue Moon Fiber Arts people, from whom Michelle got some very bright pink-and-green variegated yarn and I got this, for a shawl for myself:


During the latter part of the afternoon, I met both Claudia and Stephanie, and I’d like to think that I managed to introduce myself without looking like too much of an idiot. edit: It turns out that Stephanie has an aunt named Naomi and Claudia likes the Decemberists.

A few minutes before we left, Michelle and I wandered back into the main barn so she could look for Koigu, and I found this without particularly looking:


I suspect it’ll become another shawl, but the onyx one will have to come first.

Then, after rejoining Cyn, Kirsten, and Alisa, and acquiring our mandatory servings of faire food (soft-serve ice cream), we wandered back out to the car. This time, though, we didn’t use the main gate, so we were much closer to these:

Penguinswe think these are penguins. as with all of them, click for a full-sized image.

And then we came home. (And I got to drive!)

I’m still sick, so no new spinning or knitting to share. Maybe by the end of the week…

I feel like crap today. All of last week’s running around and doing stuff caught up with me last night, and I’m sick. I came home early and napped, but I’m still not coherent enough to blog about the weekend.

To tide you over, here’s a random picture. It’s not all that recent, since I’m working from my new computer, which isn’t fully set up yet. Never mind. Typepad won’t let me upload images right now.

Yesterday, while at Maryland Sheep and Wool, I bought a drop spindle and some roving. I stayed up too late last night and spent way too much time today practicing spinning.

the evidence

A real post, with more pictures, sometime tomorrow.

Monday: Finish immunostaining and start imaging. Go to grad student association meeting and drag Michelle home to meet Mel.

Tuesday: More imaging. Peter Baas seminar on microtubules in axons (mostly transport, some severing)–very exciting. Spend lunch talking about science (rather unusual). Finish imaging. Go home and collapse.

Wednesday: Image processing, all day. Leave early (6:30) to meet Cyn for dinner and the Mountain Goats show. Go home and collapse.

Thursday: Oversleep. Go to work, intending to set up an experiment. Discover that there are no coverslips left. Remedy that situation and read half a paper. Leave really early (3:00) to meet Chloe and Rose (yay, Rose!) for an afternoon of wandering around town. Meet up with Cyn and Amy for the Decemberists show. Go home and collapse.

Friday: Go to work, read a paper and a half. Wash some fish embryos for Ang. Go to a two-hour TA meeting (the last one!). Go to happy hour with some other TAs. Feel much tipsier than normal for the same amount of alcohol. Come home and collapse. Try to play with the kitten.

Some more details:
The Mountain Goats show was great. It was kind of crowded and hard to see, but John Darnielle is a very good songwriter who enunciates really well. The solo cellist who played first was pretty good. (I much preferred the more melodic of the pieces he played, and I could’ve done without the weird-noise bits.) Shearwater, the second act, was pretty typical for an opening band. Not bad, but I couldn’t tell you what any of the lyrics were (enunciate, people!), and not musically exciting. The banjo was a nice touch, and the ivory-billed woodpecker drawn on it was cool (as was the banter about the ivory-billed woodpecker–not what I’d expect to hear at an indie show), but not enough to make me like them.

We stopped by Loop, the new yarn store at 19th and South, yesterday afternoon. They have a lot of nice stuff, including several lines that Rosie’s and Sophie’s don’t carry (Blue Sky Alpaca, Frog Tree, something that’s like Manos but is softer, lots more Lorna’s Laces). I would totally have bought stuff if not for Maryland Sheep and Wool tomorrow. Oh, and I saw Christy at Loop, which was pleasantly random.

The Decemberists show was also great. It seemed less….emotional? than the Mountain Goats show, but it was much dancier. I was dancing a bit, but Cyn and Amy were obviously having a grand time. (Me, I like contra and English dance because someone’s telling me what to do.) Standing on the balcony was a very good move, since there was actually room to dance.

I have the feeling there was something else I was going to say, but I need to gather up my things for MDSW (thereby disturbing Mel, who’s asleep between my ankles and my computer) and crash.

I missed the beginning of the final exam for the class I’ve been TAing because I was at my annual bioethics workshop. I stopped in to take attendance for my section, but I don’t think any of my students saw me, as they were rather busy. Probably in part because of that, I’ve gotten several e-mails today, thanking me for and complimenting me on my TAing. That was really nice.

I haven’t been knitting much lately, as I’ve been coming home and collapsing, but I’ve finished another repeat of the flower-lace shawl. I’ve also been plotting what I want to look for and how much I can spend at MDSW next week. Ooh, I’m getting really excited about that! (Even if it weren’t for the wool, it’s a chance to get out of the city! And Michelle might let me drive some!)

So, who all should I be looking for next Saturday? I’ll be wearing a frog finger puppet in my hair–say hi if you see me.

The weather was grey and rainy, but there was still much pink to be found.

46th & hazel

I saw those trees on my way to meet Jill, who’d generously agreed to help me both trim Mel’s claws and shop for clothes. Neither one was fun, but the shopping, in particular, was much less unpleasant than I’d feared. After several hours of wandering around Center City, I came home with these (including more pink):

new clothes
(several t-shirts, a loudly-patterned hat, and a great orange skirt that matches Jill’s green one)

We also stopped at the AIA (architecture school) bookstore, where I could’ve easily spent hundreds of dollars if I had that much to spend.

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