Monday, January 29, 2007

You would think...

...that I would be a swirling fury of studying, what with the beginning of the semester and all. But my heart's just not in it. Not that too much has been expected of me so far. I love being in the lab, I love doing research -- I just hate the classes. Can I skip strait to quals and do my dissertation research, please? I really didn't ever think I'd be burned out on school in the classic sense, but boyo am I. This semester is going to be a trial, I fear. I know I have to take the classes in order to do the research. I know all the things I'm supposed to know about how this process works. I don't need plucky platitudes -- I know them all. But when one professor assigns eight (8) articles for one class, and you know he's not going to actually cover them all, or ask any questions, and pretty much tell you what he wants you to know about them, the motivation to actually read the freakin' mountain o' papers gets pretty low. So I crochet. It's just my way.

Oh, look! A snowflake!

Okay, I guess I'll go print the articles at least.

Oh, and I'm starting my new rotation today! Wohoo! (see? I'm totally excited about some aspects of this program!!)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bag o' bags

My New Friend Veronica wants to learn to crochet. Yay! She also said the other day that she wanted a grocery bag holder. "What a great first project!" I thought. Alas, I don't have a copy of the only bag holder pattern I've found that isn't mesh (who wants to see the bags? I thought that was the point of making something to put them in!), shaped like food/barnyard animals, or otherwise annoying to me in some way. That pattern may not be exactly what's needed in this case anyhow. How do I remedy this situation? Design my own galdarned bag holder, that's what! This is intended as a first project for a beginning crocheter, but as I've never designed strictly for beginners, I'm unsure that's strictly the category. I do think it's simple and straightforward, with just enough variety to hold interest without being frustrating. That's a pretty good goal, dontcha think?

I see a lot of potential for cool color combinations. For this one I used yarn from my stash, so you gets what you gets. Oh, and V -- if you don't like this one, never fear! I'll design something else. It's pretty fun!

So, without further ado...

Front Post Stripes Grocery Bag Holder

View pattern as a PDF file.

--Main Color (MC): 2.5 to 3 oz. worsted weight yarn (about half a
skein of Red Heart Super Saver)
--Contrasting Color (CC): Approximately 20 yards worsted weight yarn.
--Size G crochet hook
--Tapestry needle

--Not important


Rnd 1: With MC, ch 44, join with sl st in first st, being very careful that chain is not twisted. Do not turn. Ch 3 (this counts as first dc now and throughout), dc in each ch around, join with sl st to first dc. (44 dc)

Rnd 2 (eyelet row): Ch 4 (counts as first ch-1 sp), sk next dc, * dc in next dc, ch 1, sk next dc * around, join with sl st to third ch of beg ch 4. (22 ch-1 sps)

Rnd 3: Ch 3, dc in next ch-1 sp, * dc in next dc, dc in next ch-1 sp * around, join with sl st to first dc. (44 dc)

Rnd 4: Ch 3, dc in next dc and each dc around, join with sl st to first dc.

Rnds 5-8: Repeat rnd 5.

Rnd 9: Switch to CC (do not cut MC, rather leave it behind work and pick it up again at beginning of next rnd), ch 3, FPdtr in dc below next dc, sk next dc, * dc in next dc, FPdtr in dc below next dc, sk next dc * around, join with sl st to fist dc.

Rnd 10: Switch to MC, ch 3, dc in next FPdtr, * dc in
next dc, dc in next FPdtr * around, join with sl st to first dc.

Rnds 11-24: Rpt rnds 4-10 twice more.

Rnds 25-28: Rpt rnd 4.

Rnd 29: Rpt rnd 2.

Rnd 30: Rpt rnd 3. Fasten off. Weave in ends.


Row 1: Using MC, join with sl st to 11th dc, ch 50, st st in 33rd dc, making sure chain is not twisted.

Row 2: Turn, sc in each ch to end, join with sl st in 11th dc. Fasten off. Weave in ends.

Drawstrings (make 2):

Ch 100, fasten off. Make sure both ends are securely knotted. Beg in 11th ch-1 sp of top eyelet row, use tapestry needle to weave drawstring through eyelet. Cut yarn ends to approx 1 in. Draw up and tie in a bow. Rpt for bottom eyelet row. You will probably want the top drawstring fairly loose and the bottom one tighter.

Fill with plastic grocery bags and hang. Stick a fork in you, you're done!

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Saturday Sky

7:30 a.m.

Not much to say today -- must go into the lab and try to finish up work for this rotation. It always piles on at the end. Tonight I'm going to a $2 movie (Employee of the Month) with New Friend Veronica. I hope to have time to say more tomorrow. Hope your weekend is peachy!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Finishing up, moving on

It's my last week at my second lab rotation. This one has been a little weird. I like the work (I won't bore you with a description), but it turns out that if I want to continue with it permanently, I would actually be working in the lab in which I did my first rotation. And that, kids, ain't gonna happen. So if I can get my Western blot to turn out (the last two have been dismal failures), I'm done with this one. Then I move on to my third, at the lab of a woman I already admire greatly. I'm really hoping it works out well. So my life is pretty boring right now -- work, study, sleep, knit a couple of rows before bed but no real progress.

But I have taken the time to surf while waiting for timers to go off, etc. and I present you with more innernets fun!

  • Everything I Need To Know I Learned From Iron Maiden -- Heavy metal history class. Hilarious.
  • Finally! The terrible void in representational jewelry has been filled (Ha! Pun!) by a company called Luna Parc. Yes, kids, you too can now own lovingly crafted enema bag pins and earrings! Life is now complete.
  • Who knew that the most painful thing from the eighties was a Microsoft promo video?? This is the most freakish thing I've ever seen. It's 12 minutes long, and the first 5 minutes or so are boring, but then, according to the metadata, "the production is taken over by crack-smoking monkeys."
  • You know those annoying porcelain figurines of French ladies in powdered wigs and huge gowns looking coquettish? An artist named Shary Boyle has a fabulous new take on them. I'm not sure how they would look on my end table, but I love the concept.
  • I'm a big fan of the folks over at Make: magazine. Now they're delving into my end of the pool and I think it's hilarious. How to isolate amniotic stem cells from a placenta -- the home version. I read the protocol -- it's real. Now everyone can do it!

Now it's back to work. I hope this Western works. Cross you fingers for me, would you?

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Monday, January 22, 2007

And a snowflake, too!

This morning, instead of doing a few more rows on the Column of Leaves scarf, I whipped up a snowflake. Stiffened it while I was in class, and voila!

Oh, and one more thing --

HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAR LAR! (I only found out about it yesterday and I don't have your email)

Leaves in my apartment

The semester has begun with a vengeance, and I don't feel witty or talkative. I knit and shopped on Saturday and studied on Sunday. Well, okay, I knit a little on Sunday, too. I didn't do laundry, I didn't carry the Christmas decorations up to the storage room, I didn't clear off the table. At one point, I sang along with my ABBA Gold album. Good night, but I'm boring. Throw in a cat, and I'm one of those ladies.

::waves:: Hi, cat-owning, ABBA-loving, living-on-their-own women whom I love!!! Kisses!

So, anyway. Since I've completely abandoned all hope of getting back to any UFOs any time soon, I started an entirely new project this weekend. I found this pattern via Julie's blog and I instantly fell in love with it. It's pretty and quite different from anything I've attempted previously. Here's my start on the Columns of Leaves scarf:

I've got a long way to go, obviously, but I'm having a blast with it so far. In fact, I've got time for a couple rows before I have to head to the lab... Ta!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Yay for the beret! (maybe)

It's a bright, sunny day here in Beer Town, but it's still really cold. You'll be needing your parka and and your sunglasses, kids.

I just finished the Last Minute Purled Beret with some of the pretty Linie 195 I got at my LYS with Christmas money.

I think it turned out quite nice. Even the finishing wasn't that bad, though I'd feared it would be. I have one burning question about the finished product, though...

Is this more a large-ish jaunty beret...

or more a small-ish Guinan hat??

I'll let you all decide.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I know it's happened to you.

An envelope comes in the mail -- perhaps you're familiar with the organization that it's from, perhaps not -- you open it, and there is a plea for a contribution to said organization. Charitable, most likely. Not only do they want you to donate because they are a good organization, because they represent a good cause, but they want you donate because they have sent you something. Return address labels, most likely. They want you to pay for the return address labels with your charitable donation. They want you to donate out of guilt because they gave you a gift.

True, all the experts (and by experts I mean random people who talk about such things on TV and radio -- they could be oil tycoons and/or auto mechanics with no relation to such organizations or the legal profession, who knows?) say that you are, in actual fact, obligated in no way to donate just because they have sent you something. They are under no obligation to send you something in the first place and you are in no way obligated to reciprocate. But you feel a twinge of guilt every time you use those labels you didn't pay for, am I right?

Now, really, this is no huge controversy. But it sticks in my craw, regardless. I don't like the idea of being guilted into donating to any cause, even ones I deem eminently worthy. So I have a little mental blacklist. Call it spite. Call it Sus being contrary (No, I'm not!). When an organization sends me address labels, or Christmas cards, or a keychain, or anything, I will spend my donation money elsewhere. Just on principle. Like I said, call it what you will.

Also, ordinarily, these return address labels bear the logo of the organization which sent them. So, really, if you use them, you are advertising the organization to your friends, family, debtors and utilities whenever you use them. They get a benefit! They paid for advertising and you, like a good little bird, are pooping their mulberry seeds all around your abode (what a stellar metaphor! Screw science, I'm going into the metaphor writing business!). Because of this, they're also usually ugly. Or make you seem like you are way into them, since you have their logo printed right on your return address labels and all. Sometimes, I'll just write my return address out longhand rather than use the labels, they are that galdarned ugly.

But yesterday, I received an envelope from St. Jude's Children's Hospital. It had in it not one, but two sheets of return address labels. They were lovely. One sheet's labels contained a monogram with an elegant silver box around it. The other's labels held pictures created by the patients at St. Judes along with stickers that said things like "Thinking of You" and "Happy Anniversay". All quite charming. I was certainly charmed. I can't really explain why I was so charmed. They ask for $10.

I remember television ads for St. Jude's done by Danny Thomas. I've always had fairly warm and fuzzy feelings about St. Jude's. But would I have thought of St. Jude's when I was thinking of a place to send a donation? No. I think of the American Cancer Society and Alzheimer's research. But I think St. Jude's is definitely worth $10.

After all, they sent me such adorable return address labels.

Monday, January 15, 2007

End of break

My snowflake today is in the Voodoo stage:

Snowflake #16 of 99 Snowflakes from Leisure Arts

Classes officially begin tomorrow, but I don't have any until Wednesday. On the one hand, I think I may be ready to start a new semester and see if I can't alter my expectations so that I enjoy the process more. On the other hand, I dont' feel rejuvenated by my break and I'm not ready for the franticness of the semester. I will still have my creative time, it will just be less spontaneous and more limited. I'm still trying to keep an open mind, but I'm trying to be a little more practical about it, too. I don't have to love every aspect of graduate school. I just have to love one or two. I just have to love my research. I have to love learning. I don't have to love all my classes. I am allowed to think some aspects of classwork are as crappy as I did in undergrad without feeling ungrateful for the opportunity to be here. I can dread required classes that are outside my field of interest. Otherwise, perhaps that would be my field of interest. I'm letting myself just get through the last couple of weeks of this useless rotation without going above and beyond. This puts a lot of pressure on my next rotation, but I have faith. I really, really do.

I just reread that last paragraph and parts of it don't even make sense to me. Don't feel bad if you got lost. But I'm leaving it because it's so much cheaper than therapy. Even though, technically, I could get that for free through the school. But I would have to walk to the offices and it's cold. So I guess it's just warmer than therapy. Whatever works.

I'm going to put away at least part of the Christmas decorations now. Are anyone else's sinuses completely and utterly pissed off these days? Oy vey.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

The All-Seeing Tissue Box Cover

I have delayed the removal of Christmas from my apartment. My tree is so sweet as it sheds its fairy light, my sleigh bells greet me each time I come home and open my door, my gingerbread house tissue box cover makes me smile through my sneezes. And I am loathe to let it go. But, as a reasonable human (who doesn't want to dust her Christmas tree ornaments), I know I must move on into the new year. But I simply can't bear the idea of removing so many festive things and replacing them with nothing, so I made myself a deal. I would create something new and festive in a non-holiday specific way and would only take down Christmas when it was done. Well, it's done and now I can put away the Holidays with a lighter heart.

Mad, mad props go out to Lady Linoleum at Monster Crochet whose creations have been my main inspiration for this project. After the intense love I discovered for the gingerbread house tissue box cover, I knew that the thing I could bear the least was a nekkid tissue box. So I decided to create a new tissue box cover that I could truly be proud of -- nay, I wanted a tissue box cover that my husband would be proud of. There's a tall order fer ya. But I think I've succeeded. He'll see it here the same as y'all, so I don't know for sure yet (maybe he'll leave a comment and let me know!) but I have faith in my knowledge of his taste.

So here it is, the All-Seeing Tissue Box Cover:

Yes, there are eyes on all sides, so you can't ever escape the gaze of your tissue:

I hope LL isn't horrified at this usage of her "look". I do truly love it so.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Good movie

Helen Mirren is scary good as The Queen. If you get the chance, go see it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Welcome to the world, George Thomas Groumoutis! He was born at 9:46 pm on Monday, January 8th and weighed 8 lb., 7 oz. Baby and Mama are in fine health.

So this makes me Weird Old Great-Aunt Sus for the fourth time. Does that mean I get to be four times as weird? I think it does. I think y'all don't get any say.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Snowflakes, cactii and kitties

I made a snowflake! I made a snowflake! I've been soooo bad about sticking with the Snowflake Monday commitment. But I gave away all my snowflakes over the holidays (as one should, I suppose), so I guess I have incentive to start it up again.

Design #15 from the Leisure Arts leaflet 99 Snowflakes

I finally finished Spike, the forgotten amigurumi. After trying several things, I settled on a spartan, representative, slightly industrial look for our dear Spike. A few prickles here and there made of paper clip wire and just a touch of scrub at the base. I'm actually quite pleased. It would have been really easy to overdo it.

On a completely unrelated note, I caved in to the MySpace craze. I'm not proud. I am kind of having fun with it, though. Why I find this that much different from the blogging craze, I don't know.

Saturday I bought something so fabulous, so exciting, so wonderful that I can't begin to do it justice with mere words:

Oh yeah, baby. Clearance at Target. Last one. And do you suppose that the mere external cuteness explosion would be enough to make this small appliance the epitome of kitchen wonderment? Why no! This toaster doesn't just look cute, it does cute! How, you ask?

Yeah. That's what I thought.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Fry me up some fish, Freddie!

I have to go into the lab this morning, so I was actually able to photograph a pretty dawn for once. I like this one.

Hegarty's had a Christmas party last month and I won a free fish fry coupon. Fish fries are a Milwaukee institution that I was not aware of before I moved here. I've always been a fan of fish and chips (especially in the Pacific Northwest where they always use halibut) and I come from a place where fish on Friday is still a necessary and expected menu item, and I've certainly bought tickets to the occasional Boy Scout fundraising fish fry. But they've taken it to the next level here in Beer Town. Every Friday there are fish fries. Some restaurants just add a great big order of fish and chips to the menu as a special, but many places have all-you-can-eat, family-style fish extravaganzas. Restaurants, breweries, parish halls, VFW's -- they're everywhere. And I love them. Well, okay, I've only been to two places. But they both rocked. It's not just the fish (cod or perch, most places), Milwaukee also embraces the waffle fry as its chip of choice. They are also everywhere whenever you order fries. And fish fries always come with a slice of rye bread. I do not know the origin of this fish/rye tradition, but it is apparently pervasive. Perhaps I'll research and get back to you.

So, anyway, I've been dreaming of redeeming this lovely coupon all week and last night was finally the night! I remembered to take a pic of the adorable sign out front that first beckoned me in all those months ago:

I remembered to grap a quick snap of an unsuspecting Greg, my friend/bartender:

New Friend (we started calling each other that and have decided we'll probably continue until we make newer friends) Veronica struck a pose for my lens:

But I was so hungry and had been waiting so impatiently all day, that I forgot to take a picture of the beautiful, delectable fish! But it was wonderful. In a hot, fried cod with malt vinegar and really good tartar sauce kind of way. And waffle fries. Don't forget the waffle fries.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A game-y, clash-y, storm-y feast

I'm re-reading my favorite books on the planet. They are the kind of books you just want to crawl right inside of, the kind that, once you start reading them, you don't ever, ever want it to end. The kind that have already been made into the best movies in the history of the world -- in your mind.

For me, these books are the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin. So far there are four books in the series and it's unclear how many there will ultimately be. I just finished reading the first book, A Game of Thrones, and have begun the second, A Clash of Kings. Then I'll get to move on to the best one so far, A Storm of Swords, and wrap it up with A Feast for Crows. Then probably repeat until the next one, A Dance with Dragons, comes out, whenever that will be.

Here's the thing -- I hate fantasy novels. Actually, I just hate fantasy. Which is a complete riot when you consider what a Star Wars dork I am (and there's really no way you can truly understand what a Star Wars dork I am) which is totally fantasy. People classify it as science fiction because there are spaceships, but it's fantasy. Space fantasy, yes, but trust me, there's no science. Pure fantasy.

And I love Arthurian legend. Well, I used to love Arthurian legend, and I guess I still do in principle, it's just the reality has gotten old. Once you know the basic stories, every retelling is the same except they've tweaked this here or that there. It's a lot like reggae. I swear all reggae songs are the same song but with "Mon!" shouted here instead of there. I like it in principle and I'm very happy it exists, but I don't want to actually listen to it.

Oh look! I've digressed! So, yes, fantasy. It often involves elves and trolls and ::shudder:: talking animals*. I could never stomach Narnia, I don't care a fig for Lord of the Rings. I was once offered cash money to read The Silmarillion. I refused. My sister loves the Shannara series. I'd rather read Danielle Steel (and I don't want to read Danielle Steel, I assure you).

So, yes, the point of all this! A Song of Ice and Fire is almost-not-really-totally-yet-completely fantasy. But it's so darned good. The story isn't white and bright and pretty and spun glass and fairy wings. There are no unicorns. There's a lot of mud, a lot of blood, quite a good amount of sex, an array of human depravity, a great big huge ol' batch of politics and intrigue, and a bit of magic. All the characters have good points and bad. The chapters are told from different characters' points of view so you get inside lots of people's heads. And this may be the best part -- you really never know what's going to happen next because Martin isn't in love with his characters. Anyone could die at any time. Dont' you get sick of, "Well, this person is clearly the protagonist and will have a happy ending, we're just reading to see how s/he gets to the happy ending." I get really sick of that.

I can't review a book to save my life. Read this instead. I certainly can't recommend these books strongly enough. Try 'em.

So classes for the spring semester don't start until Jan. 16. Until then I work in the lab for several hours a day and the rest of my time is my own. So I'm reading and reading and reading. And knitting and crocheting. And reading. I'm so happy. Wouldn't you like to read with me?

*that said, I completely approve of talking animals in the context of stories such as Animal Farm and Watership Down. It's just not the same at all.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


On Sunday, my LYS, Kro-sha, had a massive sale. Now, did I need yarn? No. Do I already have three large Rubbermaid totes full of yarn and thread? Yes. Did my mother-in-law give me some cash for Christmas? Yes.

I think the rest is completely self-explanatory.


The Loft merino is so wonderful to work with. I've already completed the project that I purchased it for -- Calorimetry from the latest issue of Knitty. I made it more narrow than the original pattern because I wanted to wear it more on my forehead. It was my first experience with short rows -- they're really easy and I'm already thinking of a tons of new applications for this particular skill. 'Cause I'm obviously going to become the world's premier handwork designer. Or something. I'll shut up now. Here's pics:

I love that I had the perfect lonely little button that matches nicely. The most amazing thing is that it's just almost too wide for my ginormous forehead. I wasn't aware that was possible.

Okay, yes. I realize that this is a frighteningly similar item to the cabled headband I made previously. But, while that one is lovely and still totally useful, it had two things going against it. One, it is acrylic and simply isn't as warm as this wool one will be. Two, it has a design flaw. The cabled headband is the same width all the way around. That means it tends to push my hair up in the back, making a little weird bump. Then, when I take it off, sometimes my hair kind of stays that way. Life threatening? No. Worth trying a different design if I was going to make a wool one anyway? Definitely. The Calorimetry, as you can see, tapers in the back where it buttons. So far this seems to be superior. I'll be sure to keep you posted as I wear it more. I know you'll be a-titter with anxiety.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

I've been gone for awhile and, I must admit, the momentum to blog has been lost. It's like there are just too many things I might say, that it's just so much easier to say none of them. So I'm not even going to attempt to run down the list of parties, gatherings, and other holiday festivities in which I've partaken. Suffice it to say that I traveled to Missouri for the holidays and had a wonderful time. I loved seeing everyone but mostly, of course, my boy. It was terribly hard to leave.