Saturday, March 29, 2008

The early morning the world crashed down*


So my hands are still shaking right now. You see, I went to sleep early last night, maybe about midnight. I'd hardly slept at all then night before, though I got a decent amount for a test night. All in all, including the nap I had earlier that afternoon, perhaps four hours or so. Exhausted, Kris told me I had to get ready for bed because I was falling asleep on the phone. And we all know that I sleep like a rock. A tornado came close by my house one day and I didn't even stir from a nap. Pretty much the world has got to be falling apart for me to jump out of bed.

At exactly 6:10 on this Saturday morning, what sounded like the world crashing down erupted in my room. However, instead of the world, it was my closet.

You see, the closet shelf they put up was always rickety, so I didn't put anything to precious or valuable up there. Well, not true, I had books and notes and wool and pain medications. So I didn't put anything breakable up there. At 6:10, I was treated to the moment at which that shelf decided to give up the ghost, tore away from the wall, dumped everything on it across the room, and crashed down.

I'm pretty ready for the apocalypse now, because I know exactly the sound it's going to make when it happens. I'm still shaking just a bit. I poured myself a glass of wine to calm myself down and see if I can get a bit more sleep.

Grumble grumble grumble stupid closet.


*Have you seen "The Day the World Stopped?" Great movie. Love the robot. And women screaming.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Tuzi, the rabbit paper monster


Do you remember a certain monster that frequented your parent's house over Christmas? He's back, better than ever, and finally found some eyes. It's Tuzi, and he's celebrating Easter, the best day for bunnies all over the planet! Tuzi is mandarin for rabbit, as he is a rabbit paper monster. Just look at those deltoids. He's so strong.

So I really should have taken pictures of Tuzi while he was being made, as he's even more complicated than he looks. He's made out of 3 strands of singles from Harrisville Shetland wool except his eyes, which are extra sock yarn.

He makes friends very, very easy, especially with gray squirrels.

After knitting up the body and head with his 3 ears, I picked up stitches for his arms, which later were divided into i-cord for 5 fingers on each hand. His feet are made from long 5 st i-cord tubes which were folded into the shape of his clawed feet.

But his real purpose and love in life is helping a brother out and holding your books and papers while you study or type on the computer. Once knit up, Tuzi's entire body was wired with telephone wires, which are coated in plastic. All three ears and each of his fingers and arms are completely and pretty solidly wired to a core in his body. His feet were also wired as well, but this isn't connected. (If you look in some of the pictures you can see a bit of the wires sticking out in the fingers and toes. It's hard to conceal that.) Note that Tuzi is not leaning against the printer. After putting in all the wires and stuffing him with fiber-fil, I weighted him in the bottom with a lot of beans.

The result of all this is that Tuzi really does a good job of holding about whatever book or papers you need him to. His toes bend up and around to make a shelf for the book to sit on, and his arms and fingers hold the pages open for you as well as provide a place for the book to lean on. If it's a tall book and the arms aren't enough, the ears easily flip down to hold pages back as well.

Kris's roommate is frightened of him. Do you think he needs a little nose and mouth? Put Hazel up to the computer and have him look and get his opinion.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

NMR makes me strangely happy


I got to teach my baby o-chem students today how to analyze NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, for those of you who do not know such things). I've secretly been looking forward to this all semester. They came with no previous knowledge, no time spent in lecture on the topic, and I actually got to do some real teaching on the subject. I did a bit of lecturing, then we took a field trip to the NMR facilities next door, and then they had the rest of the lab period to work on a set of NMR problems. I'm not even sure why this was so exciting for me, but it was. Exciting and also satisfying. I'm looking forward to Thursday's NMR experience.

Cables! And mock cables! It's too bad the flash on my camera washed out the details. At least the sock creature is photogenic.

I've got to work on my fitting skills, because this hat/glove set and these leg warmers do not appear to fit this poor sock creature.

I should also work on mailing these out to their intended recipients. They've been sitting around my apartment gathering dust while the weather is getting busy warming up and approaching spring. Pretty soon they won't be needed.

I hope your break was relaxing. My favorite part was not having to drive into school every day.


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

St. Patty's Day


Well, St. Patrick's Day was interesting. Not entirely lucky--not that you believe in luck. I did wear green, although secretly I wished that I had celebrated in the way that my friend Tasha frequently did--with a button that said "Proud to be German."

The morning started with this rascal vomiting several times in the apartment. James was still asleep, so yes, it was me that cleaned up his mess. Not that I was thanked for it. He gave me a snarl when I tried to keep him from eating his own vomit. Dogs are so uncouth.

Well, things escalated, and his little bouts of vomit turned into bloody stool. So we took the beast to the vet. Thankfully, there was nothing particularly wrong with him. Just a new environment and an incredibly sensitive stomach.

But really, who does that? Who poops blood for no reason? Look at those eyes. Look at those eyes! You just know he's up to something suspicious.

Doglet, I'm on to you.

I hope your St. Patty's Day was less messy than mine.


Sinister evil fowl. . . or friendly easter peep?


Oh happy spring! Oh happy spring break!

The snails were out exploring the typical Arizona landscape--rocks and more rocks.

And a little bit of cacti.

When they found a small but satisfying piece of luscious glorious green grass to frolic in. Yay!

Meanwhile, a knitted bird was eying them from her perch up above. Was she a friend or a foe?

. . .

Sinister evil fowl. . . or friendly Easter peep?

We may never know.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

an inquiry into the nature of entertainment


It seems to me that there is a narrow category of activities deemed as ‘entertaining’ to which the populace adheres. Yet it is unclear to me yet what is on this list or why it persists. I told someone once with great enthusiasm that I had spent my Friday evening dying yarn, and the response I got was a funny look. Which I don’t entirely understand. Isn’t one of the greatest excitements to create? What a feeling of accomplishment to end with a tangible piece of craftsmanship—or better yet, a piece of artwork.

I should be studying for this test in organometallics, though I admit that my interest in the subject is close to zero. I’m afraid that no amount of motivation is going to get me to understand the random fiddling of metals and their ligands. I dream of yarn instead of equations and chemicals. It seems that more and more my weekends are being reduced from days into hours while I catch up on grading and assignments and reading papers. I suspect that you are even more in this position than I am. The smidgen of knitting that I have been able to work on lately has been stolen from class time.

So what would I do if I didn’t have exams? Or class? What will I do next week during spring break? (I was asked this question today) If I told the questioner that I was planning several knitting projects, would I receive another blank stare? And why?

In truth, there are many things I would love to do besides knitting but will most likely avoid doing. Having to drive three hours a day has turned me into a sort of hermit, avoiding all invitations to venture out. I had tickets to the Czech symphony in the city, but it was a Sunday performance. When it got to be the time to leave, I could in no way bear the thought of sitting in my car for that length of time when I had no real obligation to be anywhere but home. I did not go.

But that is somewhat off-track. Knitting can be a beautiful craft. I don’t know if you’ve been in a position like this, where you have been surprised by the way another person perceives you. I suspect you have. Perhaps in the minds of some it is still equated with pregnant women and grandmothers. But stigmas can change. For now, I will dream of yarn. And in the morning I will pick up my needles and proudly knit. And it will be good.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Hackle Action

Happy Birthday to me! I am twenty-three. I like wool and knitting, and wish I had more yarn free!

I've been super busy, but am still playing catch-up with things I've been working on lately. Did I tell you I got the wheel? Exciting! But we'll save that for another day, because while I'm still behind on keeping you updated on my goings on, I've got some more fun to share with you.

What if I said 8 oz of wool? What if I said 8 oz of Blue Faced Leicester. What if I said my dad and I made a blending hackle?

Okay, most likely if I said these things, you'd say, "I have no idea what you're talking about," because you're not quite into the spinning thing like I am yet. Sometime soon I will suck you in.

Well, we can all get together on the wool part. Blue Faced Leicester is a breed of sheep that is supposed to be very soft with a nice luster and a longer staple (length of each fiber) than merino. I bought some because I would like to attempt to spin some Noro-like yarn with long color repeats for entrelac. For this, I needed multi-colored wool, and I think batts would give me the best approximation of a Noro yarn. However...I don't have the money to purchase batts. Batts are expensive! Which makes sense, because they involve work, but I am a poor, poor medical student who just bought a wheel and doesn't have money for these things.

So I told my father we needed to make a hackle. He said, "What the heck is a hackle?" I said, "look at this website!" That guy looks like he makes really nice hackles. I was just aiming for something that works. You might look at the hackle and say, "That looks really dangerous." It looks even more so in person. Especially ours. But first let's have some pictures of the wool. Because we can all get together on the wool.

I dyed it seven different colors, a little over an ounce each. These were then bagged and ready to go for hackle action.

Oh my, here's our hackle. And me in my hat, because my parents like to keep the house cold. They say you can always wear more warm clothes in the winter...I disagree. You can only wear so much until you can't move anymore and the sleeves catch on your hackle while you're trying to work. The hackle was made by drilling a bunch of hole in a board in a zig-zag pattern, sanding the board, and then putting the nails in. We found the longest nails we could that were about 3.5" long, washed them, and stuck them in a 3/4" thick oak board. Then another oak board was glued on the bottom for strength. Then the entire thing was sanded once again.

I'm practicing here with some green wool that I dyed and wasn't fond of the color. You can see the nails are a bit wonky and non-parallel because we didn't have a drill press. However, it still worked fine.

About one ounce of each was saved to be the main color, and the leftovers were added to the mixing color pile. I then placed (there's a term for that, but I don't remember what it is) the main color all along the length of the hackle, then some of the mixing colors, then some more of the main, then some more of the mixing, so that when I pulled the diz (something you find around your house with a hole in it) across, there was a bit of color mixing going on.

Very colorful. It kind of reminds me of a monster on Sesame Street, but I don't know which one. Maybe if we stuck a bunch of them in a mixer, this is what it would be.

And finally, the best of them all, Hackle Action!

I'm grabbing a bit of the wool from the top to the bottom into the diz (random ring) and pulling it through to make, um, let's call it roving. More like wool blobs, but you should surely be able to tell by now that I have absolutely no clue what I'm doing.

You might say, "Well, the wool on the hackle looks more blended in the second picture." That's because it is. I put both batches through two times, for an initial blending and then a second to make it look better. Yup. Not a clue what I'm doing.

The final pic is merely of the leftover wool that didn't get pulled into roving and was too nubbly to do anything with. Mmmm, look at that crimp. And yes, of course I spun it up into a nubbly bit of yarn. We can't go around wasting wool resources.

Did I forget to take pictures of the finished product...maybe. I'm just trying to increase the suspense for you to see them on another day! Wish me luck on my tests this coming week.


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

What is wrong with me!


What the heck is wrong with me? I took my temperature yesterday for something I'm in...95.4 F. (That was the second time...the first was 94.9 F.)

Here's something to distract you from the fact that my body can't maintain homeostasis. (Thyroid check?)

This is a really boring spring scarf. Recycled sweater yarn of 40% wool, 20% angora, 10% cashmere, and 30% viscose. The color is lovelier in person...a nice new spring grass green. Basically, this scarf=stockinette forever=reminding me that I dislike non in-the-round stockinette because I have to purl.

But in the end we're going to shibori it up, and that should be fun, no?

It is 62 degrees in my room right now and earlier my roommates had the doors open. (Note if my roommates ever read this: I hate the cold. Please don't further exchange our already cold air with the 32 F air outside. I don't care if you're a decent temperature upstairs and are trying to just air the place out. When you let out your decent air, you then steal my not-even-decent air from downstairs. Heat rises. Stop being crazy at my expense.)

Also, I just put that picture at the top on because of the cool neuron picture on the computer in the background. (Shown actual size!)

I hate cold.