Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Dumb Botany Joke

First, I have the coolest neighborhood. It is a mix of large Victorian houses, more modest family homes, a mansion with a purple atrium brought over from England, and a few small duplexes, like ours. This is definitely not a neighborhood with a neighborhood association that tells you what colors you can paint your house and what type of trees to plant. The following picture was taken this fall while walking around our neighborhood. I have it as one of my photos that comes up for my screen saver.

Second, privet is a type of shrub (Ligustrum sp., family Oleaceae). I don't have any personal experience with this plant, but I know that it is often used to create hedges.

Third, when I am sleepy I can be a little strange. And last night I fell asleep on the couch (seems to be my modus operandi during the winter) with my computer on the coffee table. At some point I half awoke and saw the following picture on the screen saver.

And all I could think of was
"Privet eyes are watching you"
"They're watching you, watching you"
Then I went to bed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Moon Marbles

This weekend my husband's cousin came to visit this weekend. And we had a great time, including eating at Gate's BBQ (which was so good), watching MST3K, a visit to the KU Natural History Museum, general goofing around, and a trip to the BEST toy-store in the world - Moon Marbles. If you are ever in the Kansas City area, this is a must see. The outside of the building is not much to look at, a run-down gray building next to the railroad tracks. But inside, it is a toy wonderland, filled with reproductions of cool vintage toys, an impressive yo-yo wall, and really cool games. Oh yeah, they also have marbles; a wall full of marbles in every color combination imaginable. And in the back, a display case of hand-made marbles, set out like a jeweler's display. Such care is not surprising as the handmade marbles range in price from $20 - $1600. In addition (yes there is more), on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, they have marble making demonstrations. Unfortunately, I did not have the foresight to bring the camera.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Dull Reading

Book meme that has been going around (and the first meme on this blog).

Grab the closest book
Turn to page 123
Go down 5 sentences.
Type out the next 3.

I usually think the outcome of these things are interesting, but not is this case.

"(For instance, notice that the curves in Figures 4.2-4.5 look identical.) But normal curves with different values of mu and sigma will not look identical if they are all plotted to the same scale, as illustrated by Figure 4.7. The location of the normal curve along the y-axis is governed by mu since the curve is centered a y = mu; the width of the curve is governed by sigma."

My only defense is that I am preparing a biostatistics lecture.

Hope you are able to read something more interesting this weekend.

Parade of the Hats - The third and final installment

All of the hats in the hat parade were made with leftover yarn using different slip-stitch patterns from various Barbara Walker books (except the striped hats). I am a big fan of slip-stitch color work - the results look so great for how easy they are to do (you only work one color per row).

This one is probably my favorite. I love the colors. It was given to a friend.

Destined for Mongolia
This hat was the first one (of this series) that I completed.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Parade of Hats Part 2

The following two hats are destined for the Dulaan Project, though I do worry that they will be warm enough. They are both fairly lightweight, the top one is alpaca and nylon and the bottom one is an acrylic wool blend. I go back and forth, I should send them - would a light-weigh hat be better than no hat? But then again, it takes a lot of effort to get the hats to Mongolia and the valuable space and resources would be better used on warmer items. Maybe I will send them to my nephews instead. The live in Arkansas where heavy hats are not normally needed. Hmm, why didn't I think of that before?

Parade of Hats Part One

These were made for a crafts fair, that was a huge flop. The upside, most of my family recieved a handknit hat.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Knitting from the Past - 2

The socks are knitted from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. The pattern is called something like "Half-hose for Men". From the pictures in the book, it was one of my least favorite patterns. But, I was away from home with the book, one set of knitting needles, and one skein of yarn. The gauge given for the pattern matched up perfectly with the gauge I got. So, I decided to give it a try. I am really glad I did, the socks are wonderful. The stitch gives a nice thick and squishy texture to the socks. It is a really simple pattern that could work well with hand-painted sock yarn. These were a present for my step-dad.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Reliving old knitting projects

I started teaching today and now reality has hit me. Therefore I have nothing creative to write today, and it is likely that I won't have a lot of time through the week. I have decided instead to share with you some of my past knitting projects, one each day.

This scarf I knit with some of my own handspun. It is knit in an eyelet pattern from one of the Barbara Walker Treasuries. The wool, if I remember correctly, is a combination of naturally colored Cotswold and Coopworth that came from samples I received when I attended SOAR in 2005. It is not the softest scarf, but is warm when it is cold outside. The scarf is destined for Mongolia.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Plant of the Week: Toad Lily

I have a new vision for the the plant of the week. Instead of the detailed entry about the biology, etc, of the plant of the week, I am going write about why a particular plant is special to me.
The plant this week is the Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta), in the Lily family (Liliaceae). This plant is not native to the United States, but is sold as a garden plant. The picture below was taken at the Missouri Botanical Gardens.

The toad lily was one of the first plants I bought to grow in the flowerbed of our house in Springfield. I loved the spottiness of the flower, and the beautiful arrangement of the flowers on the stem. It actually bloomed once before we moved. The people who live there now have taken out that flowerbed, which makes me sad.
Have a great day.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Here is a picture from about 4:45 this morning. I took it with a long exposure using my tri-pod. Most of the snow has now fallen off of the trees and the road is clear.

I went back out at 7 am to take some more pictures in the daylight (though it is very cloudy and the light is flat and grey). I was rewarded by having hawk almost flying into my head. I first saw it flying very low down the middle of the street. It went into a neighbor's tree. As I was walking down to where it landed, it took flight again (which is when it nearly ran into me) and was able to shoot this picture. It is blurry, but the hawk is on left-hand side, approximately in the middle of the picture.

Later I caught a picture of it in the tree behind our garage.

It was really cool.
Oh, and pictures of my scarf. It needs blocking, which will have to wait until the weather is nice, as it is about 10 feet long and I don't have a large enough space inside the house. The closeup shows the tweedy-ness of the yarn,

Pattern - Scarf on page 80 of Victorian Lace Today
Yarn - Rowan Summer Tweed (70% Silk, 30% cotton), about two skeins
Modifications - Because I used yarn thicker than called for, I knit the scarf on size 11 needles, and worked fewer repeats of the patterns.

Before Dawn on a Snowy Day

This weekend, the snow came. Yesterday and last night we got about 3 inches of snow, nice sticky snow that covered the branches of trees and bushes. Outside is a winter wonderland. I woke up really early this morning because it was so light outside. I have a few pictures, but will take more once the some comes up and I will share them all.

I have also finished two knitting projects: The Blue-Ribbon Wrap (seen below)

and the green-lace scarf from Victorian Lace Today, of which I don't yet have a picture as I did not finish it until last night.

Book Report

I also finished listening to an audiobook on Friday night: "Jane Austen and the Genius of the Place" by Stephanie Barron, read by, get this, Kate Reading. This book is the fourth in a series of fictional murder mysteries "solved" by Jane Austen (or in this case, experienced by). The premise is that these books are based off of diaries and letters found in Jane Austen's belongings. The book definitely gave you a sense of place and time, and are written much in the style of Jane Austen's books. There is focus on witty conversation, the social structure of the time, and on clothes and style. Jane does some "sleuthing" (digging through some ashes to find burnt letters), but most of her information comes from her brothers (one of whom is the justice) as they ask her to help them think about who the murderer could be. However, this particular book became rather tedious. The characters go round and round about "who done it" and yet never come close to the real answer. There are a lot of suspects and they just keep piling up throughout the book. And in the end, the pay-off was not worth the tedium. So, as a mystery, it was not one of the best I have read, but it was good as a character study of the main characters. It just was not very suspenseful. A few months ago I had read a later book in the series "Jane Austen and his Lordship's Legacy", which I enjoyed much more and remember being more suspenseful. I would read others in the series if I happened across them in the library.

Friday, January 19, 2007


I try to walk to work each day, which is not always accomplished when weather is bad or I have a lot of stuff to carry. Today I did, despite icy sidewalks. Here are a few of the things I saw.

Sled Tracks

Chunks of Ice

A Horse

A small ice grotto

Evidence of an industrious squirrel

Blue light on the snow, refracted through a car window

Ice Crystals on a Sycamore Leaf

Snow Tracks

Cattails against a frozen pond

Colorful Leaves on White Snow

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Redbud Update

Not suprisingly, there have not been any visible changes in the redbud over the last two weeks.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The mysteries of a secret room

While knitting over the past week I have finished listening to two audiobooks, both written for young adults: The Spiderwick Chronicles (Books 1 and 2) by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, read by Mark Hamill and The Magician's Nephew, by C.S. Lewis, read by Kenneth Branagh. The Magican's Nephew is a prequel, if you will, to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Both books have many of the elements that I really like: kids who are somehow without a complete family(in the case of Spiderwick, living with their recently divorced mother, in the case of The Magician's Nephew, his mother is sick and father is away), a spooky house with secret doors or rooms, and a discovery that opens up new worlds for the children (my dream house still includes a secret passage or room filled with wonderful things that the children in my life can find). So the basic premise of the books is not new, but they were both enjoyable to listen to. The reading of both was excellent. I find that the reading of the audiobook can make or break the experience. I really do not like multi-cast books or a lot of music (i.e. at the beginning or the end of a chapter); I find it too distracting. But these two were done very well, and I recommend these books - both the written and audio versions.

Picture from Yesterday
This makes me ridiculously happy - we (my husband and I) spent a couple of hours clearing the sleet off of our sidewalk, not a insubstantial task given we live on a corner lot. This is something that was important for me to do. For the last few years I have been walking to campus more often than I drive. In the winter I really appreciate the people who have taken the time to clear even a narrow path out of the snow. Many people walk by where we live now, and I really wanted to make sure to have a least a partial path through the sleet. It is part of my so-called "New Year's Resolutions" - which basically is to be the person in real life that I want to be.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Winter Weather

Winter has hit us here in Lawrence, Kansas. After three days of sleet, the ground is covered with little ice pellets. Though the snow has not yet materialized, we are very lucky. My in-laws in Springfield, Missouri have been without power since Friday night and it looks like it will be the middle of the week until they get power back. In fact about 70,000 people are without power in Springfield. Luckily, they have been able to find a hotel room and are at least warm. St. Louis has also been hit with freezing rain, and over 100,000 people there are without power. I am sure that our friends that live there don't have power. If so, this will be the THIRD time this year they have been without power for an extended period of time. So I hope they are safe. My parents in Tulsa have also been iced in, as is my grandmother in Miami, OK. It is strange, this is the second time this winter that family to the south of us has has worse winter weather than we have.

Throughout this wintry day, I have been knitting a lot. I love when I reach the point of a lace pattern when I can read the knitting, so that the stitches I encounter on the needles tell me what I need to do next. I have reached that point on my shell socks from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. This is my entry for the KAL's January Challenge. Not the best picture, but you can really see the lace pattern.
I also made progress on the Blue-ribbon Wrap.
I while I did not work on my vest this weekend, I did work on two new projects. A hat for the Dulaan Project made of "leftovers" And a scarf based of off a pattern from the book. Knitting Victorian Lace Today by Jane Sowerby. I am using Rowan Summer Tweed, which is a silk/cotton blend. Since the yarn is thicker than that called for in the book, I am knitting it on larger needles (size 11) and with fewer repeats than the book calls for. I am pleased with how it is coming out and how fast the knitting is going.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Sleet and snow

After snow flurries and sleeting all day, this is what our winter precipitation amounts to:

Though now it sounds as if it is kicking back in a little harder (the sleet that is). Snow is much prettier to watch falling out of the sky, but sleet makes a cool ping-y sound as it comes down, even though you can't see it. I did get a nice picture of the sleet, however, using the flash on my camera. This picture will be part of my project 365 photos. I have decided not to show each picture on this blog, but you can see them on my flickr site. The link is in the side bar.