Monday, March 31, 2008

Misery and Suffering

I have poison ivy - on my face, around my eye. Also on my wrists, neck, stomach, back of knees, and thighs. You would think I had been rolling around in the stuff.

No - I just forgot one of the cardinal rules of fieldwork - take a shower not a bath when you return from the field. Poison ivy rashes are caused by plant oils, which, while in a bath, float around on top of the water. The oils on the water can thus come into contact with any part of your body.

See on Thursday, for my plant biology lab, we were collecting twigs to ID. It did not sem like field work as we did not leave campus. I didn't even cross my mind that evening as I prepared my bath, that I may have come into contact with poison ivy.

The students in my freshman biology class are hoping that my eye swells shut so that I cannot write their exam for Friday. I am touched by their concern (I think they were in part joking). Alas, I can see out only one eye, so no reprieve for them.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Burr Oaks Woods

I had planned to post this earlier, but the week got away from me. During Spring Break, Thursday was a terrific day - temperatures in the low 70's, with lots of sunshine (I am really glad we did, it has been cold and gray since then). We took a trip out to Burr Oaks Woods, a conservation area that is actually located fairly close to us. I was looking for signs of spring. I am so ready for green, and flowers, and growing things. But, spring has been slow in coming this year. About the only green we saw was moss growing on the stones, but there was some green.

Monday, March 24, 2008

My Spring Break

Today is the last official day of my spring break. Sigh, but I am really glad to have today to get ready for the coming week instead of having to teach today. And since I did not accomplish as much work as I had hoped, I really need the extra day.

So what did I do over spring break?

I made a hat. Le Slouch - a nice orange floppy beret. I have been wanting to have a floppy beret for a long time. Needless to say, I have been wearing it all week.

Due to my fickle knitting nature - this WIP

becameIn order to become the Aleita Shell from the Spring 2008 Interweave Knits. I am close to being done with the new vest and hope to have pictures soon. I wasn't happy with how I knitted the cable on the first vest, and I really, really like the Aleita Shell.

Reading - I did a lot of reading this weekend - while knitting, through basketball games, until late at night. The books I read over the break are highlighted with an asterisks over in my book list. I really love reading.

Building - A really crude compost pile, from fallen branches and an extra gate we had in our garage. Once this was finished, we were able to rake up most of the leaves in the yard.

Enjoyed the weather - we had a couple of fantastic days weatherwise in KC. We took one afternoon and visited Burr Oaks Conservation Area. I will post a photojournal of that hike soon.

Other fun spring break activities - Dinner with friends, party last Sunday celebrating the fact that there was no school on Monday, watching the NCAA basketball tourny (my bracket is a mess after the first two rounds), eating ice-cream, and playing with the cat.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Countdown to Spring Break

One class down. I still have two classes (one I am lecturing in, one I am giving an exam), 1 faculty meeting, and 2 student research presentations to go. Then - relief and joy can set in. I have never looked forward to spring break so much. We aren't going anywhere. I don't have any major plans. But I do have lots of minor plans

1. Get at least three lectures ahead in each of my classes.
2. Learn how to do flow cytometry - a cool technique that we actually do have the equipment for here.
3. Sleep
4. Plan for my garden
5. Clean out the garage, and finish unpacking.
6. Read at least one novel - maybe even two.
7. Watch Basketball
8. Listen to Spring Training games on the radio
9. Knit
One project I hope to finish are these socks that I started back in January. For my birthday (back in Nov.) my husband gave me these two wonderful skeins of Claudia Handpaints Yarn. I started making some colorwork socks, based off a chart in Anna Zilboorg's sock book. But other than that chart, I don't have a pattern I am working from. I hope that I can figure out what I did so far on the first one so the second one will match.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Stocking Cap

Also from Charlene Schurch's "Hats On!". A long stocking striped stocking cap that I made for my husband. It was fun project - I was able to use up a lot of scrap yarn.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Toque Number 3

From Anna Zilboorg's "45 Fine and Fanciful Hats to Knit"

There are a lot more hats I would like to knit from this book - interesting shapes like berets, cones, stars, onion domes, Egyptian Hats, Pentagons, and stacked hats. But it is a library book, and I had to return it. Maybe after I finish some of the projects I have started now, I will request it again.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Giving in to temptation

This weekend has been filled with school work. I still have to get together one lecture for tomorrow, but the class isn't until 11:15 - I will have a couple of hours tomorrow to work on it. So I am giving in to knitting temptation. As I have been working, I have been taking little internet breaks to check out knitting blogs and Ravelry. And I really, really want to knit. So - it is time to put on a Mystery Science Theater, pull out my knitting basket and get to work. I will probably be working on this:

Fair-Isle Hat from Charlene Schurch's "Hats On!".
Have a great evening!

WIP: Unamed Socks

Earlier I had posted a picture of my frothy leaf socks in progress. Well, those socks are no more. I liked the way they were turning out, but in my current knitting reality, in which I have less time and feel more brain-dead in the time I do have, it was too much to keep track of. So after messing the pattern up several times, I stopped, reevaluated, and changed my plan. I used the same yarn to knit up Gentleman's Fancy Sock from Nancy Bush's Knitting Vintage Socks. Much better - this pattern I can pick up and knit on without much thinking. I have finished the first sock, using yarn left-over from socks I made for my Mom a couple of years ago. I have started the second sock, but haven't worked on it much lately. I think later today I will get back to it.

But I still have a problem - What to call it? I am not very good at naming things. Any suggestions? The picture below is fairly true to color.

My ideas so for -
Forest Floor Socks
Dappled Forest Socks
Pile of leaves

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Fana Cap

Despite the lack of posting in the last month, I have been knitting. I have finished three hats and one sock. I have started another hat and another pair of socks. I am spreading out the updates, so that I will at least have something to post each day. In addition to having been on a hat knitting binge, I have also been doing a lot of stranded color-work.

Fana Cap
From Hats On! by Charlene Schurch
Paternayan Yarn

My thoughts on this hat - I still need to block it - but the band curls up a bit. Blocking may help, but I am not holding my breath. The yarn I bought at a yarn shop in Parkville MO called Florilegium. They had a whole wall of Paternayan yarn in about 200 colors. I was mesmerized by all of the colors, and had a hard time picking two. At the time, I knew I wanted to do a colorwork hat with two colors, even though I did not have a pattern picked out. In retrospect, I think the yarn is a bit too itchy for a hat. And the hat is a bit tight on my head, it has a tendency to creep upwards and off of my head.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Spring Fever

It has been colder and grayer than normal as winter winds down here in KC. I am so ready for spring - warmer days, sunnier skies, and the return of green and flowers. I hope that plants start emerging and blooming soon, my plant biology students are supposed to make a small plant collection. I am getting worried that spring won't come in time. Until then, I found some pictures I took last May. Hope spring comes soon.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

What I learned today

Translocon - a complex of membrane-bound proteins that function in inserting other membrane bound proteins into the membrane. What I want to know - how do the translocons get into the membrane?

Thanks to everyone who commented on my post yesterday. It is motivation for me to post more often.

I have now been at school for 13 hours today. It is time to go home and write my plant biology lab for tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Wow - I can't believe that over a month has passed since I have last posted. Time flies and all.

In honor of my good friend - Sparkling Squirrel, I have entitled my post "Luck". For the last several years, SS has been exploring different themes each year - past themes have included: pink, sparkling, rodents. This year, it is luck. She has several interesting posts about luck on her blog. And it got me thinking about luck.

I have had some bad luck (but thankfully, not in any major way). Most of this bad luck has expressed itself in my plant biology lab. First - measuring pigment light absorption using a table-top spectrometer. It turns out that acetone (the chemical which we used to extract our pigments) will melt plastic cuvettes. Second - failed seed germination experiment in my plant biology lab. We were attempting to germinate the seeds in petri dishes on moist filter paper. The problem - mold. We are going to set up the experiment again after Spring Break. In hopes of not repeating the mold problem, we will rinse the seeds in a very dilute bleach solution.
Hmmmm - maybe the issue here isn't luck, so much as lack of preparation on my part. As Edna Mode says - "Luck favors the prepared"

In addition to dealing with failed experiments, I have been doing some knitting. In fact, I have somehow managed to knit three hats since I last updated. Though in the last few weeks, my knitting time has been almost non-existent. In fact, I do believe that it is the least amount of time I have spent knitting since I began knitting 7 years ago. But I know these things go in cycles and I will have more time to knit in the future.

Well, it's off to bed for me. Hope you have a good night.