Monday, October 29, 2012

Busy busy busy

I had a grant proposal due last week, which of course meant that I was doing nothing but staring at my computer screen all day only to scrap 30% of the week's labor in the last 10 hours prior to the deadline. It also meant that the only thing I wanted to be doing was not writing grant proposals.

So basically, anything else.

But I was a good girl.  I wrote my grant. I didn't knit. I didn't watch random things I found on the internet in spells of desperation. I worked hard and well. It is worth noting that when you go into developmental biology, no amount of Google safe search will save you from the results you get when looking for the average volume and density of a Zebrafish ejaculant (0.8 µL and 9.96 x 107 sperm/ µL, if you care, which you don't). It is a source of great irony that, for all the money libraries pour into research databases, Google's still your best bet for finding what you are looking for, scholarly or otherwise. For free.

So when the grant was turned in at 2 PM on Friday, the weekend was officially underway, and I went home and vegetated for the better part of several days, only taking breaks to do things like feed my husband and make sure we had clean clothing. Turns out those fall under the category of "not writing grant proposals."  I also pulled the Hoarfrost Moebius out of my drawer for the first time in a couple months.

I have to convince myself to work on this project whenever I look at it. I started out of curiosity months and months ago. I purchased steel wool yarn with my Christmas money because I had wanted to try it. I didn't even think I would like it. I just... wanted to.. Is that weird? Probably. Well, turns out that I don't really like it, but I don't really hate it either. It just feels so pointless. I'm sure someone, somewhere can do amazing stuff with this yarn (Amanda. I'm looking right at you. Right now.), but for me, it's just blah.

I did some quick calculations, and I think I need to get 26" of the 33" total length out of the first cone if I want to have enough yarn to finish (Fun fact, If you've knit half the rows on a triangle shawl, you're only 1/4 done in terms of stitches. Let that sink in). This is another reason I've let it languish in the drawer. I didn't think I had purchased enough yarn. Turns out this thing is really hard to eyeball, though, because son of a gun, somewhere along the line I knit 24" and I still have yarn on the cone.
I think I'll finish it this time around. There's no reason not to do so... other than crippling boredom and the siren song of my yarn drawers... But hey, if I can be a good girl and write a grant, I can be a good girl and finish my moebius.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The other self-striping cowl

I finished the other cowl this weekend. I even crocheted a little scalloped edge (which, let me tell you, is dedication, because crochet and I... well... we have a strained relationship dating back to well before I learned to knit. Let's just say we've never been friends. ever.)

The pattern is an odd combination of the infamous Noro striped scarf , the scarf to which I attribute Jared Flood's rise to (well deserved) fame, and the Carousel socks, which pique my interest in the oddest sort of way.  I suppose you could say that the ten stitch afghan is somehow involved as well... I don't know. Maybe there's enough divergence here for me to say, "Hey! Look at this unique thing that I made!", but I doubt it.

Anyhow, it turned out exactly like I thought it would, which is wonderful considering the "maybe I'll make something" level of planning involved. 2 remnants of Noro Kureyon and a smidgen of Arucania later, I have a cowl.

It's pretty darn adorable and a fair bit lighter than last weeks foray into neck coverings. I wore it around the house all day, which was a little silly, but the whole thing is sort of a little silly so I think that we were probably okay.

There you have it--a rainbow striped cowl, cute little ruffles, and a much more colorful winter on the horizon. I really should make some mittens that fit my hands properly.

Maybe it'll snow this year.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Sometimes simple tasks prove inordinately difficult and, let me tell you, photographing this darn thing was one such task. I took probably 20 blurry pictures before changing light settings, took 20 more blurry pictures, handed the camera to the husband who took 40 or so blurry pictures, and then we gave up as a team.

I think I may need to consider investing in a new camera at some point...

So the mixed-to-poor quality pictures that we managed to scrape together reflect 3 of 4 potential ways to wear the cowl-hat-cowl. There are variations within these themes, allowing for function over form or vice versa, (and now I'm mulling over the different Latin pronunciations for that and wiche wersa is particularly hilarious) but those are more incidental and what with the photography issues, you're never going to see them if you don't meet me in person.

The "light" side cowl

The "light" side hat

The "dark" side hat
The pattern is a sort of amalgamation of Nancy Merchant's (aka the Brioche guru) It take's two and someone else's Bertrand Louis, mostly borrowing shapes from both of them. The finished fabric is roughly a foot wide and a centimeter thick (mix those units!) and warm as the dickens. I'm not 100% sold on the self-striping yarn I used--it's a little "Hey! I'm changing colors now! See! I was a warm color, but now I'm cool! and now black! MAGENTA!" for my usual tastes, but I think it matches my teal coat well enough that I don't care.

I've got a different cowl that's been in time-out for the past couple of weeks that I should start working on again (We got into a tiff. It was best for both of us if we had some alone time). It's also an amalgam of 2 patterns, and uses self striping yarn.

Huh. Weird.

Friday, October 12, 2012

What little knitting I happen to be doing

So, grad school eats up an astonishing amount of time if you're doing it correctly. I'm starting to find a rhythm where I can get things done (aka don't work places that aren't my office, or don't go home until the work is finished), so hopefully I can settle back into some of my hobbies again. There was a good 2 week chunk of time where I stopped knitting because it was making me feel guilty and wasteful.

Fortunately, that didn't last too long.

So I started making a cowl... hat... cowl... It's complicated, but it'll make more sense when it's done. The gist of it is I saw a pattern for a fake-brioche stitch cowl-hat-cowl and thought, huh, I could do that but cooler... and then I wandered over to my yarn drawers. I had a plan. I had lots of yarn. I grabbed some of the left-overs from the grey cropped hoody of insanity, as well as this weird self-striping stuff I acquired a little over a year ago. It's called Calipso and it's very misleading. One moment you think it's got simple, predictable color repeats, and the next you realize just how wrong you were.

I'm about 75% through the cowl-hat-cowl and I think it's turning out lovely. I'm using a (couple of) brioche stitch(es) I learned from a sweet article from Vogue, and as a result, I think the front side and the back side are both equally appealing.

Brioche stitch is nifty that way--every row is worked twice, once with the light color and once with the dark color. The result is this double thick fabric with tons of give and a reversible nature. The down side is that it eats yarn like it's going out of style. The whole piece needs about 4 more cm of knitting and then some finishing, and then it will (hopefully) make a bit more sense. For now, I just ogle and pet it.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

On Inefficient Bureaucracy

I'm back in school, and let me tell you, learning is a truly wonderful thing. Graduate school has the potential to be an even more wonderful experience than undergrad, as you and your fellow students are struggling together towards some Good which forces you to form new bonds, synthesize separate disciplines, and enter a sleep-deprived euphoric state. I love learning.

You know what I don't love?
Bureaucracy. (and spelling bureaucracy)

There have been numerous encounters with the monster lately (oh gosh) but my favorite example is my keys.

This past week, I have had to acquire keys to my office, my two labs, and the building key. It took 4 days. 4. And there are no "off" days in there. No weekends. Just 4 days of running from office to office, hoping that the people you need happen to be in today.

You see, in order to get your keys, you need to fill out an old, copy distorted form, which you get from the stock room.
-Since you need 4 keys, you will need to fill this form out 4 times.
-You can only get the form if the appropriate stock room employee is working when you show up.
-The form tells you that it is to be submitted in room X. Room X is labelled on exactly zero maps. 
-So you blindly search for room X, stumble upon it by sheer accident, and the man at the desk sends you to the bookstore to pay for your keys--you should have known to go there first. 
-You wait in line for 10 minutes until the bookstore cashier sends you to customer service. 
-You wait in line for 20 minutes and pay $25 per key and tromp back to room X. 
-You fill out the exact same form on a better sheet of paper. 4 times.
-The man at the desk staples receipts on to your first form and send you back to the stockroom
-The stockroom says that if you've paid, you can go to the "Access Control Office" and acquire your keys
-You go to Access Control and discover they are only open 9-12, T-Th. It is Monday afternoon.
-The following morning you tromp off to Access Control, only to be told that you need to fill out cards. All 4 of them.
-The stockroom employee must sign these cards, which are identical in content to both the pieces of paper you have already filled out, except for the required signature.
-The stockroom employee is in a safety meeting until forever.
-You catch him running by in a panic and tell him you'll leave them on his desk
-The next day you try to find him.
-Eventually this works, but he tells you that the cards are in your box
-Access control is now closed by the time you discover this.
-The following morning, you sit outside Access Control at 8:50 and twiddle your thumbs until the one employee arrives ten minutes late to his three hour shift.
-He spends 45 minutes making your 4 keys, even with the long line of people who have accumulated behind you because they weren't smart enough to show up early.

And now you have keys. Why so complicated? Well, they need to make sure they get them back at the end of the school year, or so they say. Except no one cares if you return your keys. There are 3 separate offices with paperwork and a return date, and not one of them checks to see if you've returned your keys. I met a graduate who still had lab keys from a year ago. It's like some sick way of bonding you to the darned things because you worked so hard to get them--you can't lose them, they're basically a part of your life story now.

Anyway, I have my keys. And I learned to arc weld thermocouples. Like I said, the learning part is awesome.

It's just the bureaucracy that makes you want to tear your hair out by the roots.