Thursday, December 16, 2010

Feeling festive

We finally decorated the house for Christmas, and I think it looks pretty darn good. Mostly it's last year's decorations but it still looks nice.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Chiristmas shopping, hello, goodbye.

With my big work project off submitted to the great gods of science (i.e. just waiting over here), it seemed like a good time to finally start my Christmas shopping. So I braved the insane cold, to get my shop on. I don't know if it was the weather (it totally was) but the stores were pretty darn empty. In a mere few hours, I both started and finished my shopping. No denying that my list was short, but it feels good to sit back, relax and huddle under more blankets.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Grown up final exams

Although I'm often confused for a high schooler I'm actually a bona fide, college-graduated, grown-up. So the stress of final exams and getting ready for Christmas should be a thing of my past, right? Hardly. I have 3 major deadlines coming up and that mentality of "just have to survive until next Friday" is kicking in.

So if you'll indulge me in a short rant, and forgive the photo-less post, I'll be sure to make it up to you.

- I have a huge experiment going on. It's the kind where in at 7:00 a.m., mouse-wrangling until 10:00 p.m., and working most of those hours in between. And one of my mice was missing an eye and it was gross. Ugh all around.

- My manuscript resubmission is due by next Friday. I don't have all my results (ahem, see above) and I have boatloads of edits left. And I kind of need this to get published.

- I have to give a big presentation to my department on Wednesday. Who has TIME for this?

Ok done. Thanks. So as of next Friday, I'm on cruise control until Christmas. I just have to survive until then.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

My world is so small...

(from here)

...that I got laughably excited about the newly described bacteria that can utilize arsenic? It's called GFAJ-1 for now, and (sadly) I required Wikipedia to find the original article that went live today in the journal Science. Sadder still, I don't have access to the manuscript from home but from what I can tell - biology just sort of changed here people.

Not to be outdone, Nature has a nice story posted today on the same subject wherein they refer to GFAJ-1 as an "oddball" (probably jealous that Science got the exclusive). But basically, it looks as though arsenic might be taking the place of phosphorus in all of the important molecules: DNA, RNA, cell membranes and ATP. This is different from every other known living organism in the universe. Who wouldn't be excited about that?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Giving thanks.

Thanksgiving is all about memories. Memories of my knit corn and turkey leg. Memories of this.

Oh the bounty!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


My lunchtime blogroll is a smattering of knitting, design and wedding blogs. And lately, they've been throwing mucho inspiration my way.

I found a great clothing store called ModCloth (admittedly, I haven't ordered from them, yet) that features about a billion things I want to own. I came to it from BraveBride, where she thought it would make a great place to find bridesmaid dresses. I concur.

One of my newest obsessions is Springpad. It has saved me from my gmail wedding organization chaos. My previous system involved emailing myself a link to something I wanted to remember, and trying to put an adequate label in the subject line. Seriously, that was my "system." Suffice to say Springpad has saved me. I can organize bookmarks in "notebooks" with searchable tags, and photos from the website. For what it's worth, it will also save other useful things, like recipes, calendars, maps, and it will sync with smartphones (not like I have one...) I came to this site from 2000dollarwedding.

Last for now comes from How About Orange; it's a great resource of affordable original art at Thumbtack Press. As my move to a real grown-up house is fast approaching, I'll be needing real art to decorate the (presumed) drab, carpenter-white, rented walls. Feel free to buy me this print called "Fishlamp."

So that's what's been consuming my time... Any other distractions I badly need?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Barely too early for Christmas?

I cleaned the house over the weekend so it would be ready for Christmas decorating next weekend. Which got me thinking.... I'm not too old for Christmas presents. My Christmas picks for today are 100% nerd-approved: books, boots, and a cake stand (for good measure).

1. Books. The 15-book boxed set of Roald Dahl's brilliant children novels. So colorful and full of genius.

2. Duck boots. Bonus points if they're from L.L. Bean. Extra bonus points if they're size 7. I think these duccasins are awesome in classic leather and navy.

3. Cake stand/serving tray. Ok, stay with me- the "geek" of this is that it works as a cake stand, or flipped over as a chip dish, which can also hold the lid to make a punchbowl.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Top 5: Thursday edition

Top five things that are making me happy today:

1. It's finally cold enough weather to wear hats!

2. Springpad: resource for life/wedding organization.

3. My heaty corn bag foot warmer.

4. The show Iconoclasts on the Sundance Channel. Seriously. Brilliant.

5. Limitless web resources covering Prince William and Kate Middleton's engagement.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Every good hat needs a ridiculous scarf

After my self-proclaimed success with Yulie, it only seemed fitting that I have a laughably oversized scarf to go with it. I wanted to pull a color from the many in the hat with the half-hearted goal of a slightly awkward combination.

I settled on a super chunky yarn, Lion Wool-Ease Thick and Quick, which knits up on hilariously large size 19 needles. For the stitch pattern, I wanted something simple, but not plain. I settled on a faux-herringbone pattern. The right side has that cute zig-zaggy look, while the wrong side looks like boring purl bumps.

Hopefully the end ensemble is cozy and cute instead of weird and homeless.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Camera found = Yulie pics

I've been bouncing off the walls since I finished my amazing Yulie beret. And while I'm not complaining, the 60 degree weather that kept me from wearing it is over. So without further delay...

Seriously, how great is this?

This is the right side.

And the "wrong" side.

Yayay Yulie!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wedding knits: no brainer...

I mentioned I was looking for unique but not overpowering ways to incorporate knitting and handmade things into the wedding. And each day I'm lucky enough to get Martha Stewart's wedding craft of the day. So add this to the list! I could knit this up faster than it's taking to write this... Also, I don't plan to have a ring pillow. Nonetheless, thanks Martha.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Holy Yulie, Batman!

(from Grumperina!)

I can't find my camera so I can't adequately share with you the amazingness that is Yulie. But I am SO excited that I just can't wait another second. Really.

Yulie is a near-perfect beret pattern that I came across whilst browsing Grumperina's freebies. Reasons I love this pattern:
1. It requires very little yarn. At less than 1 skein of each color, I could use one of my "special" yarns for the contrasting color (Noro Kureyon, to be exact. As an aside, I dare you to tell me these colors don't make you swoon).
2. It is a lace pattern, so a little more fun to knit than other patterns, but easy enough to memorize.
3. The stripes are knit in a spiral, so to speak. This way there are no jogs in the color and it looks super seamless (well, because it IS seamless).
4. The pattern is amenable to adding more or less slouch.

(from Noro)

I knit this over the weekend. That includes finishing, realizing it was too small (because I can't be bothered to swatch), un-knit the crown, re-knit the plain rounds (see #4 above), and refinishing it. I didn't block, because I was digging the squishy look. And did I mention, I'm in love with it?!?!

I promise, as the camera resurfaces, you can see my sweet hat.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Still too early for Christmas?

What is the epitome of nerdy granola craftiness? I'll tell you. It's buying futures in a sheep.

Yep. I saw this article on community supported fiber today on Design*Sponge and totally wanted in. For an up front fee, you can get a share of local sheep farm's shearing. Who doesn't love this kind of smug philanthropy? WITH YARN!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


As I traveled to lovely NYC last weekend, I anticipated some cool fall weather (btw, I was right). At the last minute, I packed two favorite hats, my Odessa and a slouchy hat.

(this is the first version I knit as a gift, but I like the way L shows of the sweet swirl action)

The Odessa was a pattern published in the now-defunct MagKnits, by the delightful Grumperina. The pattern was well-written and really fun to knit with the traveling stitches. It called for a slightly above-budget Rowan cashmere-wool blend. But it only needs one ball so I gave in and I'm glad. It's soft and lovely. It's thin but warm.

(this is not me either, as far as I know this is the designer, SloMoeKnits)

The slouchy hat was knit on a whim, before I realized slouchy hats would be in style for the following 4 years... This was knit in a more budget-friendly yarn, to the tune of $3.00 and change. I actually think I like it more now than when I first knit it. It's a good go-to.

What I love most: each was knit sometime around 2007. And they still rock. Each is soft/stretchy enough to not pinch my ears with glasses on (am I the only one who has this happen?) And both were knit in neutral enough colors (dark teal, "mushroom") that they go with most anything. Hat win.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bud vase revolution?

Since I'm momentarily obsessed with things I can spray paint... and weddings... Imagine my delight when I saw this wedding on Style Me Pretty. Aside from the gorgeous dahlia and succulent arrangements, I squealed a little when I saw the candlesticks being used as bud vases.

There were plenty of crappy ugly candlesticks at the thrift store last week. Wheels. Turning.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Spray painted vases, part III: painting

Here I am, continuing on my vase adventure. I started with this inspiration, and told you about my shopping here. Now for the fun part: painting! Or is it?

First, every vase got a good washing and drying. I'll admit, this was hard for me because I was super impatient. Next, I had to divide up the vases for which ones I wanted to try first, and whether I wanted to try painting the inside or outside. I decided to try several things. I tried painting the inside, the outside, and base painting with black and then painting with plum.

There's not much else to say, except what you already know: several light coats of paint, well-ventilated garage, rubber gloves...

And the end result? Promising. At first I hated them, but upon living with them a few days, they're growing on me. I figured these would come out different (given the varied paint processes). Part of me likes it. Part of me wants them more uniform. I'm pretty sure priming with black would make these more uniform. However, in low light, it may not matter at all.

In the end, I think these could be a real possibility for a wedding centerpiece cluster thingy... I may try matte black (more like the inspiration), or making the purple more uniform. In the meantime, these are hanging out on a weird shelf in my room and I have to admit, I kind of dig 'em (although I apologize for the exceptionally bad flash). Meh.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's the little things.

Ok, if anyone was wondering what $4.60 worth of happiness looked like, I'll tell you. It looks like a discount alstroemeria bouquet at Giant Eagle. I was bumming about my annual review for school, and not feeling 100% about my DIY vase weekend.

A few flowers changed my disposition entirely. The majority of the bouquet went in my room to cheer me at the beginning and end of crappy days.

But a few select blooms got the snip and were placed in strategic bud vases ($2.99 for 4 from Target earlier this summer. Love.) "Strategic" as in placed in places that normally induce morning I-hate-work frowns: the alarm clock, the bathroom sink, and my dresser drawer.

John and Sherry at YoungHouseLove do a monthly bouquet to freshen things up. I didn't think I was worthy since I live in a glorified frat house... but they're totally cheery! Definitely something worth considering, especially as winter blahs set in.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cuddly fall knits

Admission: yarn sometimes sits in my stash for a long time. Like, years. Some of it is for projects that never materialized (like the totes gorgeous olive yarn I bought to make a Melissa Wehrle cardigan which I will still make!!). Some yarn is just waiting for the right project...

I had two skeins of Cheval Blanc Flamme (don't get excited, the website's in French) that were a kind gift from my B from Paris. I struggled with the nubby texture and variegated color to find the right pattern to make this look cozy and luxe.

Cue cool fall air and my firm belief that cowls are going to be HUGE this winter. You heard it here. Cowls. Huge.

I wanted something cabled, to add bulk and up the cozy factor. I decided on the Tuesday Night Cowl, by I'm Knitting as Fast as I Can. The cables are subtle and scrunch in a pretty way to add texture to the cowl.

It's nearly knit. I just need to decide whether I want to seam it or add some buttons. Probably buttons, because cowl over head + dry winter weather = static city.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Spray painted vases part II: budget and shopping

I've accidentally taken to multi-posting. Think of it as being in the loop to all my works in progress. But seriously, sorry for the Roman numeral overload.

Anyway, as I discussed here, I was inspired by Twig and Thistle's spray painted tablescape. A collection of textured vases + spray paint = cool centerpiece? We'll see.

First I went to Lowe's, since it's the only home improvement store in about 10 miles. I started off wanting dark plum, but based on the cap colors I was scared it might be too red. So I grabbed a standard black and "economy" white. To be as scientific as possible (and also because I didn't have a choice) each paint was in a different finish: flat, satin, and gloss.
Glossy economy white $0.99
Flat deep plum $3.78
Satin black basic $3.12
With tax, Lowe's total: $8.42

Next, off to one of my favorite thrift stores, the Village Discount Outlet. I looked at all of the kitchen and home wares and settled on two large vases, a weird blue vase, and a clay vase with a tree imprint.
Two big vases @ $1.50
Two small vases @ $0.60
With tax, VDO total: $4.49

I was a little disappointed that I didn't find any interesting bud vases, as this was more my original vision. So I made one last stop at Ohio Thrift. Jackpot! With a cart full of vases, a few women stopped to ask if I collected vases. Er, no? I guess it's a reasonable question since I bought 11 things. Mostly bud vases, but also three candy bowls (that's what they look like to me at least)
11 odds and ends $10.43
With tax, Ohio Thrift total: $11.13

I had originally given myself a $20 budget, and 100% freedom to hate it all and throw it away after the fact. I ended up spending $24.04, which is a little bit over my budget. But, if the purple works ok, I'll recoup $4.11 on cost of the black and white if I return them. That would put me at (fanfare) $19.93.

Next up: painting!!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Too early for Christmas?

(image from Pink Lemon Twist, so talented!)

Someone please buy me this pattern from Pink Lemon Twist. The asymmetry is beautiful, and I think keeps it from looking like an old lady lace stole. Although, I kind of like old lady lace...

I briefly considered this as a wedding stole in a deep plum mohair silk blend (hey, a girl can dream). But now I'm surrendering and thinking if I start today, I could finish before I die.

Totes gorgeous.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Destroyed Cowl: Part III

The wind is noticeably out of my sails on this project... first mentioned here. I'm sorry. After I dyed and blocked it, I didn't like it so much.

It's a little scratchy.

And the uneven color, that I normally love, looks kind of sucky to me. I may try overdyeing, and re-blocking. Or chalk it up to an dyeing disaster.

On the upside, I love the pattern, so may make it again with a softer yarn and more dropped stitches for an even more dramatic look.

They can't all be winners...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Weekend mission: spray painted vases

We've toyed around with the idea of doing our own wedding flowers, with the help of our brilliant friend, M. So I've haphazardly looked for centerpiece inspiration from wedding and design blogs. I think I like mismatched bud vases, and while I happen to adore milk glass, it's a little too shabby chic for our affair. So what to do?

Knitted vase cozies like the one I made here? Maybe.

(Photo my own, yo)

But then I came back to this idea seen awhile ago on Style Me Pretty, done by Twig & Thistle. I think these are black, but I like how they appear a deep aubergine. I like that cheapy crappy vases suddenly look chic and unified.

(Photo from Style Me Pretty)

Then, more recently, 100 Layer Cake showed a similar tutorial for spray painting mason jars. The big difference is that these are painted on the inside. What I like about this is that the clear glass makes the color appear shiny, almost lacquered. A very different look, but also pretty. Potential drawback, all of these vases would have to start out clear glass.
(Photo from 100 Layer Cake)

So! The mission for this weekend is to acquire some purple-ish spray paint, hit the goodwill and try painting inside and outside of some vases. At worst, I'm out a few bucks, a few hours, and a few glass vases. At best, I'm one step closer to tablescape heaven.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Destroyed Cowl: Part II

For those interested, the Destroyed Cowl, aka my first fall knit, is just a big rectangle of stockinette stitch. Boring to knit, but good for TV watching. Fairly mindless. But, oh yay for dropping stitches on purpose!!

As always, the Kitchener stitch was way more annoying than expected. It's supposed to make the cowl a continuous loop of knitting. Blocking will even this out some.

But as you can see, I made some mistakes.

Okay, a LOT of mistakes here at the end... Fortunately, I think these won't be noticeable unless someone is studying it.

Next up: dyeing.