Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sock Show Thursday: Natty Navy

I've been dealing with a pinched nerve this week that has meant a whole lot of strangeness when it comes to knitting. Everything appears to be healing and fine, yes I have a doctor's appointment tomorrow, yes I've already ruled out heart attack symptoms that show up in women but not men.  And I've been able to knit, I've just been incredibly whiny while doing so. The Philosopher has had to listen to a lot of complaints about my arm not feeling right.

Right now there are three pair of socks on the needles and you've seen absolutely none of them. Sorry about that.  Close your eyes and imagine the leg of a black 2x2 rib sock, just about ready for the heel turn, on size 1.5 (2.5mm) needles. That's the first pair. The second pair is out of Berroco Sox that I picked up at the now-closed Knitter's Niche.

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I'm working that up on size 0 (2.0) needles. It's also nearing a heel turn.  Neither of those have gotten much play because they are at that heel turn stage and while I can turn heels like a pro in public, I'd rather do it at a point where I don't have to pay attention.

That means this week has been all about some navy socks. Navy appears to be in this summer? I'm not really sure how I feel about that. I know navy is a neutral but inevitably I have a harder time pairing blue pants than I do black or brown with shoes/blouses/etc.

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These are being knit up on some Crystal Palace size 0 (2.0mm) needles. I had another meeting after this photo was taken and so I've just begun the heel flap of the first sock after completing a six inch cuff.



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These are being knit up out of Louet Gems, which has been marinating in the stash for a good long while. This yarn was, as I best recall, supposed to be gloves or mittens or some such. But as I've hit the point of wanting to clear out some stash and using up yarn that I like but isn't extra-super-hooray, socks it is. They're mindless, they're progressing relatively quickly, and they make excellent gifts to those who appreciate the time/hours/and 20K stitches.

Adventures in horticulture continue. The spider plant finally is actually starting to look like a plant rather than a rather sketchy collection of dying leaves and non-dying ones.

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I notice now that it's listing a bit towards the window so I'll have to remember to rotate regularly. It could use a little more soil, so I'll have to bring in baggie of potting soil or something. My coworkers won't find that weird will they?

But there's other plant news. Last fall the Incredibly-Patient-Mother had brought me a set of three pots that all had interesting little plants in them. Gypsy thought they were delicious.  I had noticed that one pot, which had held a small tree, was valiantly trying to regenerate and I brought it to work.  It promptly died and was sitting unnoticed in a corner of my cube for a couple of weeks.  Then I noticed this:

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I've watered it and put it back in the window to see if it comes back.

Finally--who wants a clipping off of my Wandering Jew? This plant is going to take over the entire building if I'm not careful.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Off-topic: Open Access Research

I don't write a lot about my library job of here, I'd much rather tell you about my spider plant (which is looking quite healthy now, thanks) or the endless rounds of 2x2 rib socks that are falling off the needles (I started two more pair over the weekend).

One of the major challenges for academic libraries, with much broader impact for the public and world, is that the vast majority of research gets locked away in paywalled journals. Even when the research is federally funded, the researchers are expected, usually required, to sign away all rights to their articles to publishers--corporations or societies--that then charge academic libraries really large amounts of money to provide access to the research. We regularly have to explain to faculty and students that no, we can't purchase everything, and no, we don't own the journal that you published in so you can't even see your own work. One of the major goals of librarianship is to help people access information, so you can imagine how this grates.

For myself, I decided that I didn't like this model for scholarly communication. Closed access was really irritating when I was a public librarian and regularly felt shut out of conversations because I didn't have the budget of a research university behind me. The idea of paying $30/article that I wanted to to view was ludicrous.

So I put up an Open Access plan for myself. I blog every week about trying to get tenure while holding to that plan every week over at Hedgehog Librarian.

And now, a very smart group of people have started a White House petition, asking the Obama Administration to require that federally funded research be made available via the internet to the public who paid for it.

It needs 25K signatures in the next 30 days. Obviously, more signatures than that would be fantastic.

If you'd like more a quick two minute video that explains more of what this is about, please check out this one created by the satirical Twitter account @FakeElsevier. There's music but not any other audio, so you can watch without headphones.

If you have questions, please let me know, I'm always happy to talk about why I'm doing this and some of the frustrations I've come up against.

And if you agree that this research should be available, please go and sign.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled socks, spider plants, and cat photos.

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Told you it was looking much better.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Bring on Summer

Summer has a different rhythm. School will soon be out for many, if it isn't already. There are graduations every weekend for a while. People seem a little more relaxed in the summer. While there's plenty to do, the long days give you hope that everything can get done and you can still enjoy the day, rather than feeling like there's nothing on either end of work but darkness and wanting to sleep. Restaurants and pubs have patios open and eating outside becomes a familiar part of the routine. Grilling is foregone conclusion, with recipes moving away from crockpots and hot stews to sweet corn and burgers.

Today my calendar didn't have anything on it. Oh sure, there are a thousand things to do, not the least of which is tackle this disaster of an apartment that waits hopefully for me to come home and spend a couple of hours eradicating the cat fur. I have a piece to copy edit that I would like to get back to the writer before tomorrow morning and there's some wardrobe flipping that finally needs to be done. I am hoping that after May 20 I can safely put the heavy wool sweaters into storage until the fall.

But that all feels very far away at the moment. I slept in late and then wandered down to my favorite manicure shop to have the hands and feet pampered. The massage chairs there are phenomenal and exactly what I needed, having woken up feeling like my lower back was completely compressed. I'm trying to grow my nails back out, having chewed them off during some of the stress of early spring, and that means manicures. I discovered in New York that if I spent money on my hands, I wouldn't chew my nails. If I can get my nails to a reasonable length, I can stop, at least for a while, but there's something psychological about not chewing the paid-for-manicure. I added a pedicure so that I could start wearing more open shoes--though probably not in the 50 degree temperatures at work.

And I sat for an extra drying cycle, reading my book, a old murder mystery. The murder is interestingly done, with killer early determined (by the reader) but motive slowly revealed. It was written in the mid-70s and you can imagine the political incorrectness of it, mostly gender assumptions. I'd been seeking out something of the mindless television type though and this filled the need well. Now, I think I need to tackle the bookcase full of texts that I need to read once and pass on to others and old issues of National Geographic that I need to read through and then leave on the "take one/leave one" bookshelf at work.


For now though, I think I'll wander over to the pie shop to see what today's selections are. Then it's back to the things that are mocking me about needing to be done...

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sock Show Thursday: When Last We Left Our Intrepid Hedgehog

When we last left our intrepid heroine, she was facing down ENDLESS obligation knitting. It was a good obligation and mostly her own fault that she's past deadline and wasn't done. That went to the post office on Tuesday evening and hopefully will never have to be thought of again.  If I get a finished object image, I'll post that but otherwise, know that it was way too much fussing with gauge and ended with me knitting worsted weight on size 2 needles--which only works for about an hour before my hands start cramping badly.

As I write this evening, Pye is curled up on the log cabin afghan that I made in La Crosse, which still needs it's ends woven in and a border. It's her favorite place to sleep, she's purring up a storm, all by herself. I catch her licking the afghan occasionally, apparently she has a special affinity for the flavor of sheep. She's recuperating from her spaying. I was happy to get her as a kitten but there need be no more kittens in the world from my two ladies. Gypsy had one litter before I adopted her and Pye was the last litter of a female who my friend's mom was trying to catch and spay in order to end a colony.

Obligation knitting done and Philosopher required to sit down, I could finally get around to the toes on all of the various and sundry socks I've been working on for him.  One sock wasn't as far along as I thought, another needed a few rows ripped out.  Anyway, all of the socks are done, off the needles and are only awaiting one final fitting--just in case.

First up are the Green Ray socks.  I knit most of these at Computers in Libraries in March, though Ravelry has a January start date. Ouch.

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Needle: 1.5 (2.5 mm)
Stitch Count: 56
Yarn: Ewetopia Fiber Shop Merino Sportweight
Purchased: WI Sheep and Wool 2011

When I realized I had other places to go and needed more on the go knitting (that'd be around Easter), I started on the Philothree socks. Note that the Philosopher could only remember that I was knitting him a pair of green socks. He didn't realize that I was knitting him two pair of green socks until a couple days ago when I made him sit for all of the toes. Suffice to say, he's pleased and looking forward to wearing them in the fall/winter.

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Needle: 2 (2.75 mm)
Stitch Count: 52
Yarn: Lamb's Pride Superwash Sportweight
Purchased: Yarnation, 2010

Lamb's Pride (according to Ravelry) is 100% Wool. It's definitely not merino, it's tougher than that. It still knits up into very squishy socks though and I will be interested in seeing how it wears. I think it may pill less than the Ewetopia Fiber.

The socks that I started at Dark Lord Day have gotten a few scant rounds knit on them, though they've been hauled hither and yon. Now that all other socks are done but for end weaving and toe verification, I'm hoping to make some faster progress--though on size 0 needles it's still going to be a while.

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Oh--one other modification to my usual pattern with these.  Normally, I start the toe of the sock at the base or thereabouts of the recipient's big toe and proceed thusly. Philosopher has longer toes, so this doesn't work with my row gauge. With these, I knit most of the way through his toes, then did a few rows of decrease (not every other--every row) and then a three needle bind off. I still need to teach myself to kitchner but this seemed perfectly adequate as a bind off.





There wasn't a lot of yarn left, but there's some for repairs if needed.

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And of course, I had help taking pictures

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Oh, the spider plant now officially has two babies and 6 new leaves. A new photo of it soon!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Plant Rescue

One of the joys of feline ownership is, of course, that they'll chew on the plants and you can't have anything that's poisonous to them in the house.

This wasn't a huge problem when I got Gypsy. I was living in La Crosse and had close to twenty plants. There were jokes about the mammal:plant ratio. To give you an idea, I refer you to the following evidence:

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(there were two more shelves to that structure behind Gypsy)

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(There were two more bookcases with plants on them to the right--this is actually supposed to be a picture of the cat under blanket)

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(I had a really healthy boston fern than had to be left behind at the last minute. I was sad. The Incredibly Patient Mother has promised me a new one--I'd grown that one from a frond she'd given me before. Fortunately the parent plant is ENORMOUS)

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(The apartment faced south. My philodendron plants were huge. I have a nine inch span.)

I moved with a couple of plants, most of which did not survive the transition to the fairly dark cave I live in right now--Chez Hedgehog being a garden apartment. And Gypsy, with a far smaller amount of snacking options, started actually doing damage to the plants.

I finally brought to work the last plant that I had at home.

Plant Rescue..Week 0

This sad little spider plant has a story. I was given it's parent plant by the aunt of a good friend in New York. The Lobster and I were at Aunt Liz's for a holiday, Thanksgiving maybe or Easter. She gave me one of her spider plants to take home. It moved with me from New York to Chicago and then to La Crosse, sprouting countless babies, many of which I planted and shared.  The parent plant was finally starting to look a little rough and the root ball was huge.  Faced with needing to downsize quite a lot, I opted to include it in the huge batch of plants that I gave to a young man who had just moved up to La Crosse and was facing the winter ahead with some trepidation--I'd posted them for free on Craiglist. He took at least a half dozen of my plants, a couple other people had come by and picked up free plants as well.

I kept this spider plant deliberately, one of the healthiest and more mature of the babies. As you can see, Gypsy had turned it into lunch/dinner/in between meals snacks.

It came to work about a week and a half ago and went up in the West facing window of my cube. And here's how it looks after a week:

Plant Rescue..Week 1

So far I see two new leaves (one on the left and one on the stem) and in general it looks a whole lot perkier. Amazing how sunlight and lack of felines can help.

And now that I've written you a nice long blog post about my spider plant, we'll see if any of you come back soon for actual yarn content.

Oh--one more picture--if you weren't sure that yes, I can actually grow plants here, the IPM brought me a wandering jew frond (a clipping off of AudioGirl's Wandering Jew, which has since died and gone to plant heaven). Here's how it's looking:

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Strange Places I Knit

There is knitting to show you. In theory. Part of the problem is that I'm on a deadline for a gift I can't show you and so that's taking what few minutes of knitting time I regularly have. And since it isn't Thursday, I'll spare you the socks. I did knit at Dark Lord Day 2012 in Munster IN last weekend.  For those of you raising an eyebrow, it's a beer festival. 3 Floyds makes a Russian Imperial Stout that is considered a pinnacle of brews and they only sell it in bottles one day a year. As such, it's extremely hard to purchase.

The process involved
1) Buying tickets at exactly noon on St. Patrick's Day. Noon CST even though I was in Baltimore on lousy hotel wireless. I credit my Wollmeise shopping skills for the fact that I managed to get two tickets. The better part of 6000 tickets (they reserved some for sale at the brewery) sold out in 4 minutes.

2) A dozen of us loaded up in a van and drove down early that morning. This meant I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday.

3) Upon arriving we found reasonably priced parking near the event--which meant we could go back and forth to the van and drop off and retrieve things all day.

4) We queued from 8:30-10:45 just to get into the festival. They were supposed to open the grounds at 10 a.m. but it was at least 10:30.  We got in, there was some beer buying to soothe our already wind parched throats, and then we queued to actually buy the Dark Lord Beer that we'd come for. Limit was 4 bottles per person, plus they had special (read $$$$) bottles of other beers that were scratch off ticket and win opportunity to purchase. I did not win, neither did the Philosopher, but others in our crew did.

5) One buys tickets in one of three groups: A (10-12), B (1-3), C (5-7).  We had people in all three groups, so we were there for the day.  This meant a lot of hanging out and waiting and much trying of the various craft brews they were selling, both 3 Floyds and a lot of guest pubs who had sent or sold 3 Floyds a keg or three.  Interesting things I had included: Intelligentser (Coffee Stout), PipeWorks Hyper Dog (Coffee Stout--notice a trend?), Stone Brewing Company Smoked Porter Vanilla Bean, and a Cucumber Beer right at the end of the day whose name I can't remember. Also, Zombiehead from 3 Floyds tasted much better, imo, there at the brewery than it did in a bottle but it's still a reasonable if hoppy beer.

6) I was designated driver so while I tasted a number of beers, it was little sips. In theory this meant a lot of knitting time but it was in the mid 40s and there was a high wind. I got about three inches done on a sock. I'll try to get you a picture tomorrow.

We stayed over with our fearless leaders' mom's house. She is also Pyewacket's first human--and had Pye's mother, uncle and sister in her cat clan. The next day we drove back with a lot of beer in the van. My four pack of Dark Lord (AudioGirl has been promised one as this year's birthday gift--the others will be saved for something...) is residing in my office/"2nd bedroom" as that's the most temperature stable room at Chez Hedgehog.

I think only three people asked about my knitting who weren't part of our crew. I could tell at least one knitter though--the guy with her was dragging her along admonishing her not to stop just because I was knitting.  Pity, that, we probably would have had a fun chat.

72 Hours-- Ish

We have reached the period of the calendar year where I am deeply in denial of deadlines, full on avoidance, and procrastination. Th...