November 2002 Archives

What a great day! I

What a great day! I spent almost all of it in a class designed to teach different styles of book making called "A Box of Miniature Books". This class was run by Paper Source a wonderful paper arts store with origins in Chicago, but now spread to numerous places.

I took the class with my friend Julie, and in spite of the glue we got all over our hands and the fact that we weren't able to visit a yarn store we've been dying to check out, it was a great time. We had taken a previous course in making photo albums, but this one was even more fun. Unfortunately, while I was shopping afterward, I left my little box of books on the counter, so now I have to go back to Oak Park to pick them up. I left something there when I took the last class, too, so these folks are going to think that I am losing my mind!

Well, I was going to

Well, I was going to make an attempt to upload some pictures tonight, but AT&T broadband is thwarting my best efforts. You'd think it would be easy to establish an FTP connection. I'll try again tomorrow night.

I was hoping to post pictures of the drop spine box that I am trying to make. It's a Paper Source kit that I bought after the class I took on Saturday. So far my personal foray into glue and board and paper is going well and I have the base of the box covered.

One final note: John and I finally picked a date for our annual Holiday Party: December 7th. Anyone in Chicago at the time is welcome to come! It should be quite the big to-do this year since it will be combined with my company holiday party.

It's Election Day! Go Vote!

It's Election Day! Go Vote!

I seem to have gotten

I seem to have gotten the HaloScan comments to work (for the moment). To leave me a message about something I've written, just click the "Comments" link under the message.

It was a great weekend

It was a great weekend for project accomplishment!

I found:

  1. The button I needed to finished my cropped sweater (pictures soon!)
  2. I finished my mom's Christmas Scarf (which I can't post pictures of until after the holidays)
  3. I finished another "unidentifiable" Christmas project

I also got a nice trip into Jefferson Stitches in Naperville, IL with Julie. I wish they had a website, because I would link to it! Suffice it to say that they are a wonderful store with very helpful people and they are totally worth the long trip out to the burbs. I got yarn for two new projects, a felted bag and another project that must go nameless! Then Julie and I spent some time doing our own version of "Stich n' Bitch" at her house. Nothing like knitting with good company!

The nameless project will be worked using Debbie Bliss Baby Casmerino. I've already cast it on because the stuff has such an incredible feel and texture I couldn't wait.

I also invested in a lovely pattern book called Comforts of Home by Erika Knight (published by Fiber Studio Press). This book has all sorts of lovely contemporary home furnishings type patterns, including baskets made out of hardware store string!

Finally, I've decided that I need to spend some time developing better knitting form. I spent sometime last night trying to knit "Continental" the correct way. I already hold my yarn in my left hand (this is the way I learned from my knitting guru Judy) but I never really learned how to use the yarn efficiently. I think I could eventually get the hang of the knit stitch, but perling is going to be tough going!

Kind of a slow day

Kind of a slow day today. I think I found a few cold viruses somewhere and now they don't want to go back where they came from. IG has done a number of things to make my life better. One of them is giving me a connection to our computer system that allows me to work from home. So I nursed my cold at home today while still getting some work accomplished.

After discovering that my Debbie Bliss project was a little bigger than it should have been, I ripped it all out and decided to go and spend some more time really learning how to knit Continental, and develop some good tensioning skills I looked at the English instructions but I just couldn't wrap my brain around them.

So now I've started yet another project so that I can practice knitting without throwing my yarn -- a felted handbag made out of Cascade 220 -- the "Hold-it-All" Handbag from Wool You Order. I figured this would be a good project because it requires a looser tension, and the felting will probably cover up some of my tensioning problems. So far, so good, although I am still having difficulty making the yarn move over my left hand well. I guess this will just take time.

New morning, new look! I

New morning, new look!

I was having a lot of problems with the old template that I was using so I decided to try and switch to a different one. So far, so good. None of my content has changed, just the look and organization. I think this template is a little cleaner than the old one anyway.

I hope to bring the tagboard back tonight!

Some days bring great surprises.

Some days bring great surprises. Today's surprise was so pleasant that I am going to put another link in my knitting links section to Colourway an online knitting shop located in the UK. I placed my order with them on the 8th and my yarn is already here! I've had things take longer to get Chicago to Ann Arbor. Here's the latest addition to my stash! The charcoal colored stuff is for a sweater for my husband. He actually picked it up a skein and went "Ooooh, soft! I could actually wear this against my skin!" This is the first time he's ever raided a yarn purchase, so it must have looked inviting.

I almost have too many things to do tonight! I have all this beautiful Jaeger Natural Fleece from Colourway just begging me to cast it on and get started on a sweater for my husband. I also have several "secret" holiday projects and a handbag calling my name. Not to mention my programming project and the Palm database I am working with so that I can catalog all my needles, yarn, and projects.

For anyone who likes to keep their knitting information on hand in their Palm, check out HanDBase 3.0. Very easy to use and fully relational, too!.

I think I finally figured

I think I finally figured out how to use our digital camera and how to get stuff up on to my webspace at ATT. So here is my first shot at displaying some of my work.

This is my first project using chunky yarn -- Cleckheaton's Gusto 10. It's design #11 from Cleckheaton's book number 905. Not a bad pattern, it was definitely easy to knit, but their yarn estimates were not good at all. I needed one more ball of the contrast color and one less ball of the main color. It is a fun little sweater.

Here's a shot of the full sweater:

And here's a more detailed shot of the button, which I have to include just because I love this button so much.

Well, the Natural Fleece won

Well, the Natural Fleece won the project battle last night (although I did work a little on the remaining project I need to finish before Christmas). I decided that this would be a good project to work out my Continental yarn handling skills, but discovered that it makes my tension much too tight. So I went back to my yarn throwing "technique" (if you can call it a technique), and that made the tension come out perfectly. I guess I will have to try better yarn handling with my Debbie Bliss project where I needed a much tighter gauge than I was generating.

The Natural Fleece is very pleaseant to work with so far. I thought I would end up catching my needle points in it a lot, but it slides well and the fine thread that winds around it doesn't get caught at all. I love "slubby" yarns because they add interesting texture without special stitching.

Since I spent most of

Since I spent most of the evening out on my weekly "date" with my husband, I thought I would spend a little time introducing my knitting history and posting pictures of some of my "in progress" projects.

I started knitting about 7 or 8 years ago when I was in graduate school. A good friend of mine, Judy, who was in the same lab with me showed me how to get started. She inspired me because she was always knitting these lovely and colorful FairIsle sweaters. I was particularly amazed by this incredible Kaffe Fassett sweater that she did.

She patiently taught me the basics -- she's where I picked up my Continental tendencies -- and proceeded to get me hooked on Alice Starmore patterns. (She also gave me some books that I am forever in her debt for, because you just can't get them anymore). I loved the colors of FairIsle, but came to the conclusion that I liked texture more than I liked different colors. Suddenly I wanted to cable everything! My first major sweater accomplishment (probably only my 3rd project) was "Grapevine" from Stillwater. It turned out a little bigger than I expected, but it is the perfect rainy day sweater.

From there, I jumped into another Starmore sweater pattern, this one from In the Hebrides called Malin. This is the back of the sweater (which I started with and am still working on).

I love this sweater, but I can only work about one section of the main pattern before going completely crazy and putting it down again for months. Of course, that didn't stop me from trying to do another big cabled sweater for my husband. This one is called "St. Kilda" and is from the same pattern book. Once again, I have started on the back, and this is what it looks like so far:

It was these two sweaters that sent me in search of simpler projects that I could actually complete in a reasonable amount of time. Judy had always told me that I should try out chunky yarn because I could knit up a sweater with it in no time, but this was the first year that I actually decided to take her advice and try it. It was a great thing to get a sweater accomplished in so short a time -- proof that you should always listen to your knitting guru!

There's nothing quite like wearing

There's nothing quite like wearing one of my creations to work and getting nice comments about it. Today I wore the cropped sweater for the first time. Not only was it lovely and warm, but it got nice comments where-ever I went. One of my management types was pretty surprised to find out that I knit. That's what happens when you're a science geek, though, no one believes you would possibly enjoy dipping into arts and crafts!

Tonight is a computer science sort of night however. Time for me to dig into that masters project again. Hopefully I will have a little time to play with that natural fleece and one of my Christmas projects.

Happy 30th Birthday Little Brother!

Happy 30th Birthday Little Brother!

It's been a pretty quiet day for me today. Kind of grey and cloudy and back to being what I expect November weather in Chicago to be like. Basically the kind of day that makes me want to come home and pick up my knitting. I've spent most of the evening working on the sweater for my husband -- it's called "Deacon" from Jaeger Handknits JB14.

I've heard and read a number of people talking about how English wool feels different and is nicer to work with but I was a little skeptical -- after all sheep are sheep, I figured. But the Natural Fleece does feel very different to me -- warmer and softer and with a touch of lanolin that I haven't felt in a yarn before. Hard to describe. Just very different than the Brown Sheep that I am used to using.

Today I've been hearing "She's

Today I've been hearing "She's Crafty" from the Beastie Boys going on in my head. And it has been a pretty crafty day. I spent some time working on three different knitting projects, I created the "Keyboard Biologist" banner for the BLOG (which was an adventure in using PhotoShop) and I finished the drop spine box kit that I picked up from the Paper Source when I took my little box of books class.

In addition to knitting, I also have been getting into paper-based arts lately. I have always been a nut for neat boxes, too. Something about interesting boxes always gets my attention even if I don't know what I am going to do with them. I started doing some unit origami just to make boxes.

Here's some pictures of my box project:

Snow! Has come to Chicago


Has come to Chicago -- at least for a little while. We saw flurries last night, but didn't think it would be cold enough to stick. But it did! And we even go some accumulation. Nice sunny day today, though, so it probably won't last. It's been a while since I've seen real snow this early in the year though.

Yesterday John and I spent

Yesterday John and I spent a lovely evening with friends of ours from Boston. Sue and I both post-doc'ed in the same lab in Chicago before it moved to Harvard. She's here for a conference so we got a chance to catch up over a lovely dinner at Red Light -- one of our favorite Asian restaurants. "Asian" is really the only way to describe Red Light since it combines Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese and other Asian styles of cooking. It's also one of the few Asian places that we know of that has a tasting menu!

Unlike me, Sue is a PhD sticking it out at the bench -- she's got much better "hands" for molecular biology than I ever did. Sue and Martin are also expecting a baby girl in April! Hmmm.... I feel another knitting project coming on....

Over the weekend I also reached my "weight goal" of 124 lbs! I am so pleased with myself over this whole weight loss thing. It's so nice to feel good about the way I look. I treated myself to a pair of wonderful black leather pants from Banana Republic. Should be fun to wear at our Holiday Party!

I also got a little bit more knitting done on my felted bag. It's going slowly because I am trying to knit with the correct "style". One thing I am finding about holding my yarn "the right way" is that the edges of my fabric seem to be coming out much neater. I am still struggling a little bit with keeping it from getting too tight and with keeping the yarn moving around my pinky, but even that is getting a little easier.

I think this is just what I needed to get better tension on my Debbie Bliss project, but I am going to keep working on the bag for a while before I cast that project back on, just so I can be sure I've gotten the hang of things.

I wish I had something

I wish I had something exciting to report or some great new pictures to post, but it has been a pretty long seven days since I last posted. Work is crazy because I am working on writing a grant that needs to be submitted next Monday, my brother-in-law got married over the weekend, my parents came in for that and are staying through Thanksgiving and John and I are hosting the big Thanksgiving dinner.

Needless to say, my knitting needles (and all my other craft apparati) have been abandoned for a little while. Good thing I only have one more top-secret knitting project to finish before Christmas.