Sunday, November 27, 2011

I'm back!

I have officially finished my PhD in Neuroscience! I can knit again! Unfortunately, I'm not knitting anything interesting...

I am making a basketweave blanket for my nephew... in solid off-white.  This thing never ends. I keep knitting and knitting and knitting and I'm getting nowhere. Hopefully I can reach escape velocity on this thing soon because I have other Christmas gifts to get started. In bright colors, and maybe stripes...

Regardless, I am back in the world of the knitting and will hopefully have a lot of knitted items and patterns back on this site soon!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Immune to caffeine

Is it possible to become immune to caffeine?  I think I have.  But, only 83 more days until I become a PhD!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I want socks too!

So I thought since the twinkle toes socks for Chris' mom went so well that my bad sock karma was over.  I mean, I knit 2 perfect socks that the color change was within 3 stitches.  3 STITCHES!  So I decided to knit myself some socks.  My mom gave me the most beautiful yarn.  Fiber Optics Yarns Kashmir in Weapon Grade (the color isn't listed on the page, I'm not sure why, it's fantastic). Think retina-searing purple.  I cast on the Twist of Fate socks.  I was stoked.  Then I learned how to do an Estonian cast on, and it was BEAUTIFUL.  Then I did it again because the was one place in the cast on where my tension was off and it looked funny.  Then I got to the set up row and made a mistake which I didn't notice until I was to row 2 of the chart.  ROW 2!  So it took a dip in the frog pond.  A repeat of the Estonian cast on, complete with do-over for a tension issue again.  Then I made it to row 3 of the chart before I noticed a mistake and I tinked that sucker clear back to the set up row (again) where I had made the mistake (again).  I proceeded to knit each row of that chart where I had to tink back on every row until I reached row 7.  Then I realized that this might require A) more concentration that I was giving it and B) actually counting each repeat of the chart to make sure I didn't make any mistakes while it was close by and I only had to tink a few stitches.  Some people just don't learn easily.  But, so totally worth it!

Beautiful.  But the color in that picture is wrong.  Remember I said retina-searing purple.  So soft, so purple, SQUEE!

Apparently I am able to easily knit socks for other people, just not myself.  Life is SO not fair....

Saturday, April 30, 2011


Hey everyone!  I finally got myself together and put the pattern for the Space Invaders Scarf online.  You can see it here and download it here.  I am working on a chart to make the scarf less wide, but I decided to stop waiting and go ahead and post it.  ENJOY!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Girlfriend's Review of Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper

I'd like to start with several disclaimers.  These are my opinions of a video game as I see it from my chair while knitting in the vicinity of this game being played. My opinion probably won't match anyone else's in the world, and that's good.  Also, I am not being paid for this opinion.  I am just writing for amusement.  I did not play this game.  This review will contain no mention of 'floaty controls' or 'last-gen graphics'.  It likely will discuss pretty colors and voice acting.

Sherlock Holmes versus Jack the Ripper

I really thoroughly enjoyed this game.  I had my doubts.  Chris and I had multiple discussions about the meanings of 'historical fiction' and its implications for the ending of this game.  I won't tell you what happens, but I will say that it satisfied all parties involved in those discussions.

This game was fun to be around.  I loved the little puzzles within the game.  I LOVED the deduction board and piecing together clues to solve the mysteries.  I have recently read the Sherlock Holmes series for the first time (thank you Kindle app on my phone).  I was endlessly amused at the way the game made subtle reference to many of the things that happened in the short stories and incorporated them into the plot of the game.

I was also really surprised at the way the game handled a pretty gruesome set of murders without an over-abundance of blood-flinging gore (I'm lookin' at you Dragon Age).  It handled references to prostitution without unnecessary nudity (cough Dante's Inferno cough).  It didn't side-step venereal disease or racial hatred.  In all the whole thing was very tastefully done and pretty accurate to both the real-life murders by Jack the Ripper and the literary world of Sherlock Holmes.

This game is entirely girlfriend friendly.  No gore, no boobs and plenty of chances to play along without a controller.  I like being able to chime in with a "Did you try this?" or "What if you do that?". It's easy to follow the story without being in the room every single minute of the game-play.  My only complaint was the voice acting.  Not the best I've heard, but easily overlooked considering the no boobs mentioned above. Turns out I give bonus points for 'no boobs'.  

9.5 out of 10.

Edited to add: This makes it seem like Chris plays a lot of games with an over-abundance of boobs.  This is not exactly true or his fault.  Video game designers seem to think their target audience is hormone-drunk 15 year old boys and maybe they are right, but I doubt it.  Even respectable female characters in a respectable video game will have melons the size of, well, melons. Also, video game designers may not know the exact female anatomy of a real human boob.  I am still fairly young and these games have me questioning both the perkiness of my boobs and the location of my nipples.  I choose to believe that I am anatomically correct and these characters were drawn by lusty 15 year olds.  Don't tell me if I'm wrong, I'd rather not know.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

FOs are like good karma

Right?  Maybe not.

I finished socks for Chris' Mom's MAY!  That's right kids.  I finished a whole month early!  Booyah!

It's Twinkle Toes by Cookie A in Paton's Kroy Sock Stripes (color cyan stripes).  That's right, my KAL socks that were doomed from their 'pastie' beginnings worked out beautifully.  (Note: Wikipedia is generally not useful for determining the singular form of pasties.  It says pastie and pasty [citation needed].  NOT helpful.) Not only are these socks beautiful, but they match.  Completely and totally.  When I cast off, the color change was within 3 stitches on the 2 socks.  I knit 2 whole socks and the color change was within 3 stitches.  That's good karma.

I also finished my Happy Valley Top last seen here.  I still love it.  I'm still going to make a matching headband.  I LOVE this yarn.  I really do.  It made rainbows on my needles and I can't tell you the joy that gave me on every stitch.  The only thing I don't like is that it rolls at the bottom, despite being told that "rolls are in".  I don't like it.  Pictures will come after I block the daylights out of it.

I recently had to give a talk at the NIH in Bethesda, MD (Washington DC area).  I went to Knit + Stitch = Bliss and they were lovely.  They let me smell the yarn fumes and fondle fibers and didn't look at me like I was going to stuff merino in my purse and run (cough cough).  I bought souvenir yarn
Classic Elite Yarns Fresco on sale.  But my true love is this:
Oh Malabrigo... how I love you.  The colorway is 853 abril in Malabrigo Sock merino yarn.  Beautiful.

Then this appeared in my knitting basket:
on closer inspection:
Suspicious....that chart is...
Indeed!  I have lost it.  Look at all those bobbins!!  I designed an argyle sock for Chris.  I decided to knit it toe up in the round.  Look at ALL THOSE BOBBINS!  Insanity. 
The only thing I don't like is this weirdness where the join is:
It's all raised and unhappy.  Suggestions?

Friday, April 1, 2011


I need a good karma-cleanse.  Desperately.  Any good ideas?

I have had a mysterious illness that no amount of blood-letting seems to help.  Don't try to tell me doctors have stopped this archaic practice. My right arm will beg to differ. They just use syringes instead of leeches.

Then I get summoned for jury duty.  AGAIN!  I swore that it had been less than a year since my last summons and dug out the paper and.... it was a year ago in December.  Not even close.

A measly 2 hours later my netbook died.  The screen cracked right before my very eyes.  No amount of explaining could convince Chris that I hadn't dropped, hit or stepped on the netbook.  I am me.  He knows me, he lives with me.  And while electronics frequently self-destruct in my presence, somehow this was something I had done.  He watches me walk into walls and furniture daily.  I had obviously dropped it and didn't want to admit it.  He ordered a replacement screen and when he went to install it, there was a bad wire that had shorted out and fried the screen.  Redemption was bittersweet as we hunted for a new netbook.

I thought I had a perfect karma-cleanse all lined up.  I dug out my Colts scarf and decided to restart it for the 6th time .  This time I had a great pattern, but it was still a bust.  The yarn I'm using sucks.  I hate it.  Instantly my hands dry out.  My fingers actually split open and bled where the yarn was tensioned over my fingers.  I think they spun fiberglass in with the wool.  So even though it looks like this on one side:

and this on the other:

I just can't continue.  Maybe I will tear it out (again) and wash the whole kit and caboodle and try again.  Maybe I will just send it to my Mom and be done with it.  Find a different yarn to knit this awesome pattern with.  Suggestions?

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Glass houses and such

Soooo....maybe I shouldn't poke fun at those still enjoying their Christmas light displays.

The Fiber Closet KAL for Twinkle Toes Socks was posted on December 5th.  I cast it on....last night.  February 11th.

Socks and I have a tumultuous relationship (see here and here).  As of now they look like pasties instead of socks so I think we are ok.

Pierced even, nice!

So, stay tuned.  Socks related hijinks are sure to follow!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

It could be worse!

On the trip from the airport to Palo Alto on Saturday I saw no less than 6 houses that not only still had their Christmas lights still up, but they were still ON!  At least I'm not THAT far behind!!

On that note, maybe now things will calm down and we can get back to our knitterly scheduled programming...

Monday, January 31, 2011

Always make the most from the least!

I attended a retreat at Stanford University this weekend.  This retreat was about my least favorite current project, so I was not excited to go.  One of the presentations was by a Stanford professor that used to work in industry.  He said that he is always asked about the biggest difference between Industry and Academia.  He said that Academia makes the least from the most and Industry makes the most from the least.

At first pass, this seems to be about money and backwards.  Industry definitely has more capital devoted to their projects than Academia.  In Academia you are working with taxpayer dollars (not in every case, but in most cases either state or federal funding) so you are expected to generate the most data with the least money.

However, he explained that in Industry you have one idea that works kinda well.  But you push that one idea as far as it will possibly go.  You use that idea to treat multiple diseases or develop multiple tests.  You make the most from the least.  In Academia you have a great idea and you generate incredible data and you write one paper and then you move on. "You are only as good as your next paper." You make the least (one paper) from the most (great idea).

I really took this message to heart.  I want to make this my new motto.  I want to live my life this way!

Always make the most from the least!

What more can a person want?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Never stop learning

I feel like this past week has been an interesting learning experience.  Last Saturday we helped a friend move.  I learned that helping a friend move totally counts as a workout day.  I am also the kind of person that believes that if said friend lives in a 2nd floor apartment and is moving into a condo which also happens to be on the 2nd floor and neither place has an elevator, it counts as a week's worth of workouts.  I discovered that my head is not harder than the back window of Chris' car.  On a related note, I learned that my head is hard enough to insist that I don't have a concussion - just a nasty headache.  When the headache is directly caused by a very large bump on the back of my head, maybe I shouldn't be trusted on my assessment of my own mental state.

Anyway, moving on.  I found out that you can stave off an impending panic attack with a very large chocolate covered marshmallow Santa.  Also - discount Christmas candy on sale for super cheap is excellent.

I learned that I am only capable of working 6 consecutive 10+ hour days before I start to have panic attacks (see above).

Finally, I learned that sometimes you need to celebrate surviving the week with a bottle of cheap champagne. And that's a good thing!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Confessions of an overweight skinny kid

I've always been a skinny kid.  Now my grad school lifestyle (unhealthy food and absolutely nothing resembling exercise) has caused me to gain ALOT of weight in unfortunate places.  I'm also closing in on the end of my thesis and I need the exercise to help keep me sane.  So I'm trying the resolution thing.  I'm eating healthy and exercising when I can.  I'm using Chris' Kinect to do the Ubisoft Your Shape exercise program. I signed up for their website that helps track the calories you burn.  So far so good.  The Kinect is pretty awesome because all of the games get us up and moving, which at this point is exactly what we need.  The Kinect Sports lets you post videos of you playing the games.  It's fantastically funny to watch the videos.

I figured I would track my progress here, not because it's entertaining but because it might help keep me motivated.  I'm not really weighing myself to track my progress.  I'm a scientist.  I know exactly how long it takes to lose a pound.  It's depressing.  I also know that weight is just a number.  It has a correlation to health at extremes of the scale but not so much in my weight range. So if I'm not weighing myself then I can't get depressed about a number and how little it has changed. I'm hoping it will force me to notice that I have more energy and am sleeping better.  I'm hoping it will make me notice how much less stress I have (haha).  My goal is to be healthy, reduce stress and not let exercise be another source of stress.  If I work a 14 hour day, I don't need to workout.  I need to fall into bed, and that's ok.  If I need a break from work and Disco Dance for 20 minutes, that's ok too.

Today I broke the 200 calorie burned mark on Your Shape.  I've been doing the Zen classes and the personal training so far.  I really am enjoying the workouts.  I like the potential variety you can have in your workout. I like the short sessions so you can do more sessions if you want, but you aren't locked into a 45 minute workout. I wish the program it designs based on your fitness test was a little more varied.  Based on my fitness level and the answers to a few questions, it decided that I wanted to do a toning program.  Which is not wrong.  But I want to do cardio too.  And sculpting.  I want to be well rounded.  And not bored.  So I've been selecting workouts myself and not following my "personal workout" that it designed for me.  I also have some trouble because I'm tall.  I'm 6'2" tall.  When it tells me to lift my arms, they go out of the Kinect viewing area and I don't get credit for lifting my arms.  Whatever, I'm not worried about it.  I'm moving, which is all that matters.

So stay tuned.  It will either be a success or an amusing decent into madness.....