April 2006

I am still busy (tired of hearing that yet?), although some of it has been non-work. Including some spinning, displayed on the plants in my front window:


This is one ply of the red maple bfl and one ply of moonflower wool blend, both from Amy Boogie… I didn’t get a chance to count the yardage, but it’s probably 75-100 of dk-worstedish.

Anyone else getting really, really excited about Maryland? I picked up a sleeping bag pad this afternoon, which is making it seem much more real. Whee! Camping and sheep and wool! (The other day, I woke up with “sheep and wool” running through my head to the tune of Fountains of Wayne’s “Peace and Love”: “sheep and wool, sheep and wool, that’s all I’m thinking of, baby, sheep and wool.” No, it doesn’t rhyme, but I’m excited anyway.)

I come home, exhausted (a little before 8pm). I find the simplest possible thing to eat for dinner, or something at least really close to that. I maybe perk up a little or maybe just feel even guiltier than before about the beyond-lamentable state of my apartment, so I start cleaning things.

And then I give in to the urge I’ve had since morning to bake something. Specifically, a bar cookie version of the carob-peanut butter-banana cookies that I like so much. My thought was that if I made bar cookies it’d be faster than making lots of separate cookies. Uh huh. The spreading of the cookie dough into the pan was certainly faster, but the baking, instead of 7 or 8 minutes, took the better part of an hour. Plus the time it took to let it cool, cut it into 30 (large) rectangles, and discover that they weren’t really finished baking. So here it is, just past two a.m., and I’m still awake. I am going to need soooo much coffee to function tomorrow.

I will leave you with a picture that represents how I’m feeling right now:


1. I presented a poster (of my labwork) for the first time this week. It was stressful, somewhat awkward, and exciting.

2. This has really been my ideal kind of Friday night: some minor socializing (a happy hour for a friend who’s been given permission to write his dissertation), maybe some errands (grocery shopping at Trader Joe’s, including sushi for dinner), and hanging around my apartment with a book, my computer, and Mel. The rain and wet-street traffic noises are excellent bonuses.

3. I slid down a few steps of my staircase on Wednesday morning, on my way to take out the recycling and fetch my laundry. Ow. (Still.)

4. What’s wrong with this picture?


If you answered, “Oh, no! A broken Lantern Moon dpn!” you get a [virtual] silver star. (Or red or green, if you like those better.) My plan is to see if I can sand down that end and refinish it somehow.

If you answered, “Oh, no! The heel was supposed to be black onyx, not amber!” you get a [virtual] gold star. I’ll be ripping back the heel flap as soon as I locate the black onyx yarn. And I was so hoping to finish these soon… Oh. Wait. I know where the black onyx yarn is now. It’s in the cuff of sock two. Hmm…

5. Hey, look! I’m knitting something with my handspun and I’m planning to keep it!


I really wouldn’t call this color “pine”, although I do like it. It’s too close to “seafoam green” to be “pine” to me. I might allow for “blue spruce”, though, if a tree name were desired.

Oh. You wanted to know what it’s going to be? A wristwarmer. I’m thinking I’ll be able to get one wristwarmer out of an ounce of roving, so I’ll use two colors of the corriedale from my Boogie sampler. They should be done just in time for air-conditioning season.

6. Maryland Sheep and Wool is in two weeks! Two weeks from now, I’ll be camped at a state park near the festival! Whee! (I hope I’m not still sore from the steps.)

7. I’ve already basically planned out my Maryland budget. I want a couple more bobbins for Amy, a couple of skeins of Socks that Rock or something similar, in good almost-solids, and some fiber. I need to figure out how much to get for a potential sweater.

8. I’m going to be moving (my apartment, not my blog, and only a few blocks) in June. And I have a medium-sized presentation in the end of June. So if I’m unusually scarce in the next several weeks, figure I’m either working or packing or cleaning.

9. Mel did the whole screen thing again this morning. There was a squirrel on the cables (I don’t know what kind…) that run along/just outside of the back of my building, such that the squirrel was only about six inches away from the highest point Mel could reach. The squirrel, clearly familiar with windows, was pretty nonchalant, if a bit chittery. Mel, on the other hand, was very, very excited and frustrated.

Remember last year, when Mel clung to the screens a lot? I thought he’d outgrown that habit, since he can now reach the middle of the window just by stretching, but apparently not. He does, however, fill a lot more of the window now. (Alas, I have no pictures, because I don’t keep a camera to hand while I sleep.)

I’ve settled on a name for my wheel–her name is Amy. Not for any of the Amys I’ve met, but for the protagonist in a book that was a birthday present when I was two* and which I’ve read numerous times since then: The Ordinary Princess. The seventh princess of Phantasmorania had about a dozen names, beginning with Amethyst, but after the head water fairy gave at her naming the gift of ordinariness, it got shortened to Amy. I’d describe more of the book and why I love it, but I think you should just read it. It’s short, and it’s got lovely illustrations…

It’s certainly not the only factor, but it may have had something to do with my continuing fondness for modern** and feminist fairy tales.

*or maybe three, considering the publication date on Amazon
**in publication date, not setting

An open letter to yarn shop owners and managers:

If I e-mail you saying I plan to return to your store with an item I wish to exchange, and mention in the e-mail that said item was special ordered, the proper time to tell me that it’s store policy not to accept exchanges on special-order items is as soon as you read my e-mail, NOT after I’ve schlepped the yarn (and myself, and, incidentally, my parents) to your store. If you are unable to reply to my e-mail–if, perhaps, you only check the store e-mail every two days or so–then please, please have the decency to politely and respectfully tell me, “Sorry, we can’t accept returns or exchanges on special-ordered merchandise.” Don’t say something like, “Well, okay, we’ll make an exception this once, but you really should know that custom yarn over the internet may not be exactly the color you think it’ll be, and we can’t do this in the future.” Conveying in your attitude that you think I’m an obnoxious idiot to not have realized that special orders were exempt from the returns policy on your website and invoice and to not have thought about the immense hassle I’m putting you through by having you find an entry in your inventory system for my un-bar coded yarn is NOT the way to get me to like your store. Treat me like an intelligent adult, don’t make me feel like an errant child, and I’ll be happy to respect your store policies.


[names withheld because my other experiences at the store in question have been good]

In more positive news, my family seder last night was very nice once everyone arrived and things got started. My one and a half-year-old step-cousin was quite a cutie, and it was fun to have her there, despite all of the running around involved in having a toddler in a completely un-childproofed house.

Any opinions on the new color scheme & title bar? I thought it was time for something springy. (I don’t think I’m done tweaking it yet, so constructive criticism would be welcome.)

Some extra springiness (click for larger version):


I remain quite busy in lab, but I snuck out early on Monday to see Stephanie speak at Loop. It was great fun, being among so many knitters…especially because the crowd included Juno, Anj, Ann, Martha, and Rachel (among others, including those whose names or URLs I’ve forgotten) along with Stephanie. (And it was nice to see Hardangervidda in person.)

So, yes. That was much fun. And I’ve finished knitting the fourth (and very small) Dulaan hat, finished spinning the “pine” corriedale from Amy Boogie, and started spinning the “sunflower” merino. Mmm…silky. Except it feels like woven silk more than like the silk-blend rovings I’ve spun.

There are other things tempting me away from my crash course in molecular biology…it’s starting to really feel like spring. (So far, the work is holding its own–spring isn’t as much of a surprise, and I want to see how the lab things will turn out. And, well, spring will happen on its own, without any effort on my part.)

This is from a week ago last Sunday, when I went for a walk with my neighbors and their dog. That was fun…I took about sixty pictures. I love not-quite-leafed-out trees.


That would be the whirring of my Lendrum, which has gotten a lot of use lately. Wednesday was the spin-in at my local handweavers’ and spinners’ guild, Thursday was Fiber Night…and Friday and yesterday were just spinning for the addictiveness heck of it. (I should mention that, although the carry-bag for my wheel is very useful, and I’m glad to have it, whoever designed it either has the neck and shoulders of a linebacker or never expected anyone to use it for distances longer than house-to-car. I’m going to see if I can convert it to a backpack.)

And to finish this yarn:

sorry about the crappy image quality–my regular camera’s at work, and my real camera would require a few days for film processing, so this was taken with my phone

This is some of the Red Maple BFL from Amy Boogie, which fluffed up after washing to be the bulkiest yarn I’ve ever spun. It’s actually on the heavy side of worsted. June is clearly right about the virtues of sample skeins… For the next bobbin of BFL I spun up, I stopped making an effort to spin thick. Anyway, it’s really soft and fluffy, and would be very, very hard to give up if I liked purple. (As it is, it’ll be a great birthday present for the person for whom I picked the roving.) This is absolutely my favorite kind of color to spin–there’s enough difference for me to enjoy the variation and the different bits plying together, but it’s still a solid enough yarn that it should make nice, wearable garments.

(Oh, yes, and the wiry white things on the right hand side of the picture? Mel’s whiskers.)

I am off this afternoon to do yet more fibercrafting, as I’ll be hanging out with a friend who has a high-functioning sewing machine and the skills to use it (and help me use it). My goal: more skirts with pockets.

Also, a note about the sidebar:

Those among you who 1. are observant and 2. actually show up at my blog instead of reading via bloglines or newsgator may have noticed that I added several links to the “other knitters” list (which had not been updated for about a year, since right after I moved my blog to Typepad). I have tried to keep this list to the blogs which I most frequently want to direct other people to (well, yeah, but for general purpose knitblogging things, like great photography or patterns or something) plus a few people I’ve known for a while who are good friends of mine, because I think they’re really cool. I read a lot more blogs than that; even after some serious pruning, there are 85 feeds in my bloglines. (Of course, some of them I don’t read for a week or so at a time, and some of them I skim. And some of them post so rarely that they hardly count.)

Yesterday was a rather dreary day, threatening or raining and then with thunderstorms in the evening. (I actually like such weather as long as I don’t get soaked on my walk to work, but it was quite a contrast from Sunday’s “come play outside!” sun.) Anyway, the greyness meant that I was almost (pleasantly) blinded when I got home and opened my box of Boogie fiber:


I bought an Almost Solid sampler, plus some extra BFL in Redwood and Red Maple. Soooo pretty. Mel seemed interested, too, but I think his camera pose was to try to convince you that his presence on the dining table is actually approved rather than merely tolerated. (I’ve given up on keeping the dining table cat-free in favor of keeping the board that supports my stereo cat-paw-free.)


Here’s my new wool sorted by subtype. The front left clump (including the azalea, which is hiding behind that blue) are the Wool Blend, behind them is the pile of merino, the front right pile is corriedale, and the large pile in the back is the biffle.

I wish I could show you a bobbin of some freshly-spun biffle, but I couldn’t get it to work. It’s lusciously soft, and I enjoyed drafting some of the Red Maple sample bit…but I had problems. I think it’s a combination of adjusting to having a brake band and having to set up a leader for the first time. (Is there a right way or a best way or a wrong way to set up a leader? The first way I tried was definitely wrong, since it didn’t wind on at all…) I had the hardest time getting take-up without having the wool yanked out of my hands… I did spin a bit of the Azalea onto the bobbin I’d been using before, but I will probably take it back off the bobbin so I can have my skein of blue and teal and black without pink. (Oh, how I hate the way pink and purple find their way into nearly every variegated yarn!)

On a happier note, though, I’ve got a few other new fun acquisitions:

Books & tea

My copy of Knitting Rules came yesterday. I haven’t finished it yet, mostly because I was trying to spin and because I want it to last a few days. Yay, Yarn Harlot! I picked up the copy of Knitting Vintage socks and the bag of lemon-ginger-myrtle tea on Saturday, when Miriam came into town from a visit to the suburbs. I keep forgetting to try the tea–maybe tonight!–but it smells heavenly.

Perhaps you recall that I alluded to a highly squeal-worthy announcement that would have to wait until I had pictures. Well, I’ve got some…


(Well, okay, I’ve got a bunch of pictures, but I’m only posting this one because the rest of them didn’t come out as well.)

It’s my new wheel! I bought a Lendrum from a very nice woman in Oregon. (If you’re looking for a wheel, you should check out the Spinners’ and Weavers’ Housecleaning Pages.) It took me a little while to figure out how to use the Lendrum as opposed to Louie–the brake band was a new complication, and it took the previous owner’s e-mail for me to recognize the built-in orifice hook as such. But it’s a very nice wheel, and I’m happy to have it. (Hey, if I’m not buying a wheel at Maryland, we’ll have room for more fiber…)

The next step, of course, is to name it. I’m not very good at coming up with names, so I’ll send either a skein of my handspun (~100yds of light worsted 2-ply, or something similar) or a batch of cookies to the person who suggests the eventual name of my wheel.