May 2007


This week has been both work-busy and really hot, so I haven’t spun since I rearranged my living room on Saturday.  Although I have been knitting a bit, both on the Tess’s sock and on the Peacock Feather Shawl, they’re not really picture-ready yet.  The roses blooming all over Philly, on the other hand, are well worth my camera time…and a rose is particularly appropriate this week because I’ve been rereading Rose Daughter

There will be knitting pictures soon, though–I promise!

After having had most of them saved to my computer for months, I’m finally getting around to posting the Science Scout badges for which I qualify:


the ‘talking science’ badge: It’s a big part of my life, so I tend to talk about it.  Just not here, so much.


arts and crafts: This one should be obvious.


the ‘confident around an open flame’ badge: Bunsen burners in lab, campfires and fireplaces outside of lab.



the ‘sexing up science’ badge: I used to maintain recombinant-inbred lines of flour beetles.



the ‘has handled human organs’ badge: My first neuroscience class got to hold [thick] slices of [preserved] human brain.



the ‘has done research with no conceivable practical applications’ badge: I like basic science.



the ‘I know what a tadpole looks like’ badge: I should hope so, seeing as I’ve dissected eyes out of them.  And I helped take care of some Xenopus (adults and tadpoles) in college.



the ‘cloner’ badge: Not much, but probably enough for the badge.



the ‘experienced with electric shock’ badges, levels 1-3: nonhuman organism, nonself human, self

I’m probably stretching the Level I definition, since the nonhuman stuff I’ve shocked is dissociated cells, but the other two are from neuroscience classes in which we gave each other [very] mild shocks as part of our somatosensory perception unit.  (If you space the two electrodes in a certain way, and time the shocks right, it’ll feel like the shock is moving continuously between them.)



the ‘I have used a standard telescope’ badge: Lunar eclipses are fun to watch.



the ‘doing science under the influence’ badge: What, you think I actually leave work after drinking champagne at post-defense parties or beer at departmental happy hours?  (Well, yes, of course, just not immediately.)  I also had one advisor who suggested beer as a potential aid to dissection when one’s hands are slightly shaky.



How about the rest of you?

japanese maple

shot out my bedroom window, probably about a month ago

Where I was last night:


That is, I was sitting behind the camera, watching the Rosebuds from the bar, because I am lazy, my knee was bothering me, and my earplugs were losing their effectiveness.  Still, it was a very good show.  The Rosebuds are awesome.  (The first band, the Greyhounds, were okay; the second band, the Bowerbirds, sounded like it was quite good for an opening band but still not extremely exciting.)  The venue, Johnny Brenda’s, was a new one for me; except for the fact that it’s kind of far away, it would be my new favorite–it was clean (including the restroom), lit well enough that one could see that it was clean, there was a good selection of beer, the decor was great, the temperature was adequately regulated….  Next time, I will explore the balcony.  Last night, though, well, part of the reason we sat at the bar so long was so I could drink my beer and my water and still have hands free for knitting.   I started something that I think will become a Dulaan something, but I probably won’t take a picture of it until it’s decided what it wants to be.

And this morning:



Mel likes looking out the window.  I have to agree with him that the best weather is that which is conducive to open windows…at least, when I don’t also want to have a fan pointed at me in a pale echo of an air conditioner. 

Although my camera still insisted that the memory card with 43 pictures on it was unformatted, I was able to borrow a card-reader that had no such problem.  Here, then, are a couple of pictures of stuff I’ve finished lately.


This is a garter-stitch scarf on 8s, knit from the alien yarn that I finished spinning a while ago.  I don’t really know how much it took, except that it’s approximately fingering-weight singles and was probably about two or three ounces.  It’s a loose knit, but there’s a pretty good halo.  This is going to be for my dad, for Fathers’ Day, in part because the hat I knit for his birthday (this yarn, held double and striped on a base of black cascade 220) didn’t turn out as well as I’d thought.  That is, the reason it’s done already is partly guilt; since this yarn perfectly matches a wool jacket of his, it was going to be something for him anyway.


The teensy skein in the back was a tuft of sample fiber from Morro Fleece Works, a composite of grey Targhee and brown alpaca; I really like the Targhee, and I like the alternation between brown and grey, but it’s not incredibly exciting.  On the left is the rest of the Hidden merino, about 130 yards from just under half of the 4oz bundle.  The beautiful, cheery pile on the right is Amy Boogie’s tussah silk in Walking On the Sun, spun more finely than last time and left as singles.  I think I’ll be making an orangey, lacey scarf at some point.

I expect to update you about the freeform blanket later this week, but I don’t have any new pictures of it yet.

My camera crashed yesterday morning. 

That’s such a ridiculous thing to have to say–my "real" camera is something like 40 years old and still works fine despite having somewhat literally crashed (dropped onto the street from 3 or 4 feet), but my 4-year-old digital camera is not happy with me.  I think the camera will work again, once I have time to try to appease it, but I’ve lost a number of pictures, some of which I can’t just re-shoot. 

Anyway, that’s why I don’t have pictures of the spinning and knitting I’ve finished in the last several days.  My blanket has grown, though, and I’ve finished a scarf that I don’t think I ever blogged, and I plied up the rest of the green superwash merino, wound off a couple hundred yards of silk singles, and spun a couple of sample-y bits. 

I hope to have pictures in a few days, but here’s a non-fiber picture just because.


(These colors will probably reappear pretty soon.)

So, I’m knitting this freeform blanket out of various shades of green and the occasional bits of grey.  It started with a pile of six or seven skeins of four different colors of manos and malabrigo and my desire to do something other than hats with them.  I’ve since added bits of a few different batches of my handspun, I’m spinning more small batches for it, and I’ve reassigned a couple of other stashed yarns. 

The blanket so far contains yarn from three different secret pal swaps, which I really like–this whole object, whenever it’s done, will see a lot of use and should, as a whole, last a really long time.  (I can see needing to reknit sections, but the blanket as a blanket should hold up pretty well.  And, hey, it’s freeform, so it’s not like I’m worried about matching dyelots or fading.)  I’ve been thinking, therefore, that it’d be awesome if I could include [additional] yarn, handspun or not, from my friends.  I’m looking for small amounts of pretty much any green except the bright yellowy, pistachio-ish greens, in probably anything except acrylic or cotton.  I would be happy to swap something of similar value, whether yarn or baked goods or mix cds or something else.

Pictures of the growing blanket and (hopefully) a finished stealth project on Monday.

Finally, pictures from MDSW!


pygora kid




I like their idea of the third meal of the day.

Because I spent last night reading Pretty Birds instead of spinning, here’s the knitting meme that’s been going around:  Take this list, and use bold for stuff you’ve done, italics for stuff you plan to do one day, and normal for stuff you’re not planning on doing.  (in the extended entry)

[edit: I have no idea why everything is showing up in bold on bloglines, but it looks right in situ.]


One of the best things about MDSW, as I have said, is/was the opportunity to spend a lot of time with knitting/spinning friends.  The confluence of new fiber and spindle-spinning and hanging out with other spinners led to my actually figuring out (being retaught) how to chain-ply, a skill which had eluded me. 


I seem to have misplaced the yarn that I chain-plied in front of our campfire (all…five yards of it?), but I spun and chain-plied a bit of the osage orange/indigo dyed wool soon after I got home.  This is about twelve yards–not much, but a confirmation that I can chain-ply without Sarah sitting next to me.

(I wasn’t planning on posting this by itself, but I don’t really have anything else fibery to talk about right now.  I’ve been either working late or doing other things (like hanging out with my parents, who’ve been in town) that preclude much knitting or spinning.)

I’ve been having the kind of week that makes my non-scientist friends start swearing when I tell them I’m still at work, so the sheepy pictures are still undeveloped.  Instead, I present these pansies, from the front garden of one of my neighbors.



[Yes, I know, the filenames say ‘tulips’, but I was tired when I saved them.  I know they’re not tulips.]

One of the most fun aspects of the festival this year was that the weather was good for actually wearing shawls.   That meant lots of people asking about my shawls, plus not feeling like I should be wearing something I’d made, because I was.  (It’s certainly nice when nonknitters compliment my knitting, but it’s even nicer to get positive feedback from people who know what they’re talking about.) 

I went to Maryland with a short list of things to look for: small amounts of greenish fiber for the freeform blanket, a niddy-noddy, maybe a heavier spindle, and maybe some incredibly nice yarn or fiber for a sweater.  I think it worked out rather nicely.

Here are pictures of the spinning fiber I bought:


This is merino-mohair from The Fold–three ounces for the blanket.


My only other fiber purchase on Saturday was this (pound of) cormo/kid mohair.  I think it’s going to be at least most of a sweater, possibly with the addition of the chocolatey alpaca blend I bought last year.

On Sunday, with the much-reduced crowds, there was room to comfortably stop at Handspun by Stefania, where I bought these:


This is either coopworth or jacob (I thought it was jacob, but the sales slip says coopworth) dyed with indigo and osage orange.  I bought three ounces, and it’s going into the blanket.


This is corriedale-silk dyed with madder and I think something else; four ounces for something like a lace scarf.  (I used my flowerbasket as a scarf on Sunday, and it was nice enough that I want more things I can use like that.)

We stopped by the cormo booth again, and I picked up this blend of wool from white and black cormo.  I may use some of it for blending and dyeing experiments, or maybe I’ll try to spin sock yarn from it.

Then, on probably our third stop at Spirit Trails, I finally bought something:


This is an ounce of what I think is wool from a merino/shetland/dorset/cheviot cross sheep with 10% angora added in.  (It’s also possible that there’s wool from two or four different sheep.  Either way, it’s really soft and a gorgeous brown.)

The sheep/goat/rabbit/llama/alpaca pictures are still stuck on film, but I’ll share them when I’ve gotten them developed, hopefully later this week.  My purchases other than spinning fiber did not photograph well the other day, so I’ll just tell you about them: one kromski niddy-noddy, one louet sheepy spindle  [pics found via google images], one set of felting needles, and some peace fleece sport in sheplova mushroom, for a sweater.

Oh, my goodness–such a great weekend.  I love Philly, but it’s wonderful to escape now and then. 

I want to be spinning five different things and also knitting and designing and flipping through patterns, all right now.  Except I also know I’m going to crash soon.  (Camping is fun, but sleeping on the ground does not compare to sleeping in a real bed.)

More later.

For now, because I can’t bear to post without a photo, here’s something we saw on the trip down:


(I’m sure it’s not that interesting to anyone familiar with construction equipment, but I thought the mobile concrete-pump truck looked pretty cool.)

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