Sunday, February 27, 2011

Some crochet awesomeness

At my lys, along with the three amazing owners (hi ladies!) there is one more amazing employee named Stacey. Along with the cool-factor of being able to work in a yarn store, she's also a pretty amazing designer. She does some knitwear, but her bread and butter is crochet amigurumi, and they're adorable.

I made two penguins over a year ago for my niece and my best friend's baby, but never picked another one up... the free patterns I'd found weren't hugely inspiring, and I wasn't pleased with the finish. Once I saw Stacey's work, though, I was hooked (hooked! get it? har dee har har, I'm here all week). Something about her gauge and crocheting through the back loop makes for a nicer, more uniform fabric. Plus, her designs are super cute... if you crochet, or want to learn, you should check out her site (video tutorials are also a big plus, and the site is so cute). I have four patterns waiting to be started... like I needed more projects :-P

But, that's not the awesomeness of which I speak... she's taking on a new venture, and N. was the guinea pig: custom cuddly crochet!

N. drew a pretty cute monster:

Eyes: check. Ears: check. Purple feet: check. Monster: complete.

Then Stacey did a sketch:
Oh, the cuteness!

And, presto change-o, nothing up her sleeves, (in one afternoon, because she's superwoman) she made his monster into a monster:

(drawing: © N. C.; Monstie sketch and photos © Stacey Trock)

How cool is that?!?! There's more info on her blog, and I'll post a pic of N. when he meets his monster :-)

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Originally uploaded by Dr. Ellen
I was going to title this post, "Hey cake, who's your momma bi#ch?" but figured that wasn't google friendly.

Now to let it set and roll out some fondant.

Notes to self for future attempts: this swiss meringue buttercream recipe only makes 3.5-4 cups, so scale up accordingly. It keeps in the fridge but needs to be rewhipped, and that does deflate it some. Freezing the cakes helps immensely.

Friday, February 25, 2011

The best thing ever. EVER.

I can't speak for the fondant, which will rest until assembly on Sunday, but I just made swiss meringue buttercream (and cooked the egg whites to 160 as recommended), to use on my little cake experiment.

Oh my word.

The final assembly is a marble pound with grand marnier flavouring, and I added pure orange extract to the buttercream. It. Is. So. Good.

I'm waiting for Hubby to come home from the lab to test it on the extra cake piece I have hanging around ;)

Easy-bake Friday...

I didn't knit today (yet) but I did do a whole lot of baking... I've been conscripted to bake a special occasion cake, and today I decided to do a complete test run of one tier. My afternoon consisted of two recipes of cake batter, marbling three separate 2" layers, testing out my bake-even strips, and a new endeavor, even for me:

homemade fondant :-O

The fondant is resting, and the cake will be assembled tomorrow or Sunday... luckily someone in Hubby's lab has a birthday on Monday, so I won't be forced to choose between eating it all myself or throwing it away ;-)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Busy busy

Getting over this cold seems to have brought a burst of fibery activity... I've been thrumming:

3/4oz done!

I finished my dad's hat:

Hideous webcam scary picture

and I started a knitted cable vest for my friend's little one out of some super sale Mission Falls:

Yarn for said vest... and my supah cool shades.

It says it's for a 22" chest, but doesn't have an age on it. I think it'll be big, but hopefully he'll get wear out of it. The back is done, so that leaves the front and the edgings.

And now, since Hubby is at lab, N. is quiet (although not sleeping, drat), I'm going to put on my missed Survivor episode and cast on the front of that vest.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

So tie-tie.

Sleeeeepy. But I'm on campus because I have a PTA meeting in 90 minutes and thought I'd try to get some cleaning up done at lab. I was late getting here, though, so the amount of cleaning I've done is negligible. And this cold is draaaaagggggging, making me want a nap.

I finished a hat for Dad, and it took somewhere around 11 days, with breaks in between. No pics, because I wanted to get it out to him before winter ends, but it's slightly larger than the original, dark brown with a cream stripe. Very warm and toasty for the remaining eastern Canadian winter :-)

And now I have to decide whether I want to break the caffeine-free streak because I'm tired and fuzzy and am done with the day (and it's only 10:18am).

Saturday, February 19, 2011


It's been an interesting day so far... after being sick for a good part of the week, N. is pretty much completely recovered with the exception of a runny nose. The problem is that he remembers what it was like being sick. You spend all your effort making sure they're as comfortable as possible, and once they get better they wonder why you're not expending all your effort making sure they're as comfortable as possible. He spent the morning with a raging case of entitlement, combined with a dash of 'I'mgonnathrowwhateverIcangetmyhandson"itis.

He napped well, although a little late, so now I'm dealing with a tiny little voice on the monitor, at nearly 10pm, barking out, "Momma I need {this}" and "Momma I want {that}". Kids... can't live with 'em, can't sell 'em on Ebay.


I'm still sick as a dog, but at least it's not the coughing kind of sick. Complete ball of pressure instead of a brain, faucet for a nose, aches and pains, etc. I did drag myself out for our walk today because there were two things at the end that I wanted: pizza, and yarn. Hubby and I hadn't gone for pizza in probably over a year, and we skipped our valentines lunch on Monday because I had a migraine (a harbinger of doom), so we decided to go today, and it was delicious. After that, I had some choices to make at my lys: Mission Falls is going out of business (boo!) which means it's on liquidation everywhere (yay!), so I got enough put on hold for me and my mother to pick up when she visits in April. I'm kind of keen to start the project that I have lined up for my share, but since I have enough to work on in the meantime *cough*, I'll try to wait. I still think I'll get some Malabrigo for the Kalmia, but that'll have to come later on.

And now the latest request shouted over the monitor is "Momma! I need a HUG!"... so I should probably oblige. That one can never be refused ;-)

Friday, February 18, 2011

The longest viral incubation period ever.

Hubby had this cold about 6 weeks ago. N. started on it last weekend, and is finally over it. This morning, my head feels like a pumpkin and I want to go back to bed. And I had no inkling of it last night when I turned in. By the time we're through, it'll have been in the house for somewhere around two months. Bleck. I apologize for choppy thoughts, my brain no work so good.

This morning was definitely not the best for self pity, though. To start off, I had a very recalcitrant toddler due to blood sugar issues. He went to bed happily last night, and slept really well (no more cough, hallaylooyerrrrr), but hadn't eaten a lot for supper. When he wakes up hungry, there's a threshold that he hits sometimes - if he's too hungry, then he's too grumpy and cranky to eat, and it spirals out of control. It was an hour long fight just to get him to drink some milk, let alone the rare treat of juice (which would've helped even more). We wrestled him into his duds for the day and barely made the bus.

Top that off with a fire alarm when I was dropping him off at daycare, and he was totally unimpressed. Having a teacher rip you from Momma's arms (with my blessing - he was signed in, and legally they had to take him) made him very sad, but I feel good knowing that they can clear the building in 29 seconds. I just cried when I got to the lab because he was so sad.

Fast forward an hour or so, and I'm here at work pulling oligos for my replacement researcher. After that's done, I'm going to call daycare to check in on him, and then I just might go for a walk. They're calling for 59º today (it's 53º already), and it feels like spring. I'm hoping it'll knock this virus out of my head before it settles any lower.

If N. is good for the day, I might head home... there are a bazillion dishes to be done, and I was bad and started another project last night... I'm obsessed with thrums, so I pulled out more fleece and did some thrumming while Hubby finished a paper. I might just thrum and store, rather than begin the mittens right away, but we'll see.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Dude. Monsieur le Malade is still sleeping, going on near 4 hours now, likely because he barely slept last night. I of course stayed home again today...

But, since I hear him stirring a bit, this will be quick... today is a shoutout to my source of all things good... check out the cookie recipes (I just made the sugar cookies during said 4 hour nap and they're awesome)... plus I won a copy of the spring pattern collection from Knitcircus :-) I'm determined to make myself a hat that doesn't look like ass, and my next step is a beret style, so I'm going to get birthday yarn for Kalmia when the budget allows in the next few weeks or so. Bezzie rocks :-)

Ok... off to administer ibuprofen and pedialyte, methinks.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

home today

Originally uploaded by Dr. Ellen
with a coughing, mildly feverish boy. he didn't sleep much last night, so neither did I, but he's snoozing right now, so I'm hopeful.

Here's the inside of my mittens... I wore them today because it's frigging freezing, and they're warmer than my thinsulate gloves. A tiny bit of white fleece from my stash in the top of the mitten and my fingers are perfectly enveloped.

I'm trying to keep myself from casting on for another pair - I have a partial skein of ultra alpaca that I could use and tonnes of fleece. I just need to finish other things first :-)

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Originally uploaded by Dr. Ellen
I can only flickr post one at a time, so you get the tame shot. We'll turn 'em inside out next time.

Stats (that I can remember)
Thrummed mittens
improvised mitten pattern, learned how to thrum from a kit I bought
Cascade 220 (185yd approx)
Fleece sampler from Rhinebeck, approx 45g.
US3 for cuffs, US6 for mitt
Gusset thumb
Feb 1 - Feb 11
Star decrease at the top and thumb

There isn't enough fleece in the fingertips, so I'm going to take some leftover white from another project and secure it in there. Other than that, they're ever so toasty ;-)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

This photo is completely inconsequential.

Originally uploaded by Dr. Ellen
I'm keeping in touch with Hubby via g-chat in my main account, but blogger is secondary, so I don't want to log out in order to post... which means posting to flickr, hence the random photo.

(actually, it's not that random... it reminds me that yesterday's warm temperatures have resulted in a whole lot of melting, and that the impassable [impossible?] snowdrifts are mostly gone, and I can actually take a stroller up the street).

ahem. moving on.

Yesterday I had a meeting with the new researcher on the project, and I hated every minute of it because she's so nice that I can't hate her. I can't even hold her in mild disdain. She's super. She even made sure to let me know that it's still *my* project and *my* data, and I'm still involved.

That being said, since I'm not on it full time, today I dropped N. off and headed for home to do some cleaning... but not before I dropped in at the lys for a visit :-) I'm halfway through my second thrummed mitten and had to show it off like a proud mama. I suppose I should get some photos, but this laptop is not going to cooperate if I try to dump the camera card.

So, after folding laundry, loading the dishwasher, and taking a shower that wasn't interrupted by requests for cheerios or the sound of toy armageddon, I'm going to settle in to work on those mittens for a few minutes. Hubby is picking N. up, so I can live a life of leisure, at least for this afternoon :-)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Things I promised to do at work...

  1. tidy up the lab books, so that someone besides me can understand how to repeat the experiments if necessary
  2. organize the computer files so that someone besides me can find what they need
  3. write up all the standard protocols I used (See #1)
  4. organize the freezer and sample tubes (See #2)
I have to be honest; I have zero motivation. I'm also supposed to meet with the researcher that's taking over the project (was supposed to be on Friday, then was supposed to be yesterday, but I got sick). I'm just a little bitter that the work I've been doing is being handed to someone who is already working (and being paid) to do other projects. Their lab will run regardless of whether we give them this work.

Eh. I really need to be zen and let it go. No amount of ranting is going to give me my position back.

After a really rough night last night with N., he woke up this morning and wanted to stay home from school to be with me. It made me really happy... until he got peeved with some random thing and upended his cereal bowl with the milk still in it ;-)

Monday, February 7, 2011

A day.

I was sick, most likely food poisoning from the cafeteria.

Then I came home to a very defiant toddler.

Then I talked to my dad, who went to see my grandmother today. She cried for hours because she couldn't find her little boy. Her five year old little boy. Who sat next to her and held her hand and tried to explain to her that he was all grown up. But she still cried, because she couldn't find her little boy.

I cried. I'm still crying.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

More snow? Really?


We now return you to your regularly scheduled day of wintry precipitation.

Friday, February 4, 2011

I'm a bad person.

I skipped out on a potential meeting time today (to talk about the handoff of samples to the new me in the other lab taking over my damn project) for no other reason than I didn't feel like it.

No, that's not exactly true. The other reason I didn't go is because nobody is paying me to be there.

The email came through last minute, and this new tech has a very uncertain schedule, so there was an entire back-and-forth about how all these times might work, including today's, but that she wouldn't know about next weeks until next week.

It was left at a point where they think 3:30 on Monday will work. Except that it won't. The busses are running super late because of the lack of snow removal (don't ask), so I have to be on the first run of the night line to our neighborhood to avoid waiting for 45 minutes and taking a 60 minute ride. That bus pulls out at 4:00, meaning I have to get N. at 3:30 to have enough time to gather mittens, snowpants, lunchbags, etc.

Could I take a later bus? Sure. Am I going to? I don't know yet. I was hoping to keep N. home with me for a couple of days, namely Monday and Friday... but we'll see.

On the knitting front, the Duffer slippers are still waiting to be felted more. They feel great, but are still too big. If they don't felt, I'm going to have to sew them up at some point and MAKE them fit, because they're ever so soft and comfy.

I also worked on my super secret project, which I can only do a little at a time. It's Cascade 220 on US4's, which hurts like hell after about an hour. I'm picking it up on average of once every 2 weeks, and working on other stuff in between.

Although, the evenings lately are mainly reserved for the bedtime fight. I'm desperately hoping this is a phase and will burn out in a week, because it's exhausting ;-)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Thursday randoms

The trees are all covered in 1/2" of ice, and the city is very pretty... so I'm at work, not enjoying the sight of crystal branches, but doing a gel extraction instead.

And not getting paid. ;-)

On a happier note, there are only 75 more days until my mom shows up for a 12-day visit (instead of her usual 8). Also, there's a new faculty member in Hubby's department who might be needing a tech/postdoc in a month or so. Nothing definite, but he at least wanted to keep my info.

I also need to go back to my LYS soon; my father specifically asked for a hat, just like Hubby's, N.'s, and Little Bro's (the Pressed Rib Cap and Muffler pattern). This is historic, because while my father always supports our creative efforts (my mother knits, sews, etc. too, and he's always been very positive about the results), the only thing he's asked me to make for him in the past 15 years is a sandwich ;-) He really loves the hat, and knows that wool is very insulating even when wet, so he wants one for when he shovels snow. He says he doesn't care what color it is, as long as it's dark-ish...

After I agreed to make him one, he proceeded to ask me every day if I'd started it. I think if he keeps bugging me, it's getting a pink stripe.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday in bullets

  • The duffer slippers are still too big. BIG, people. I did one hot wash, and 25 minutes of hand-felting with a (clean, dedicated to the kitchen) plunger in a pail. Still too big.
  • I'm not a fan of this new naptime/bedtime fighting routine that showed up. It always ends up in very contented sleep, but I don't like having to go through a tantrum and a time out to get there.
  • We stayed home today because daycare didn't open until 12 noon, and by that time, what's the point. The icy rain kept us inside all day, probably contributing to those tantrums.
  • Hubby is in lab doing another Y2H experiment, and will likely be home at midnight. Like last night, when he worked on a paper until 1am. So, so tired.
  • I have 3/4 of a thrummed mitten finished, and a new episod eof Top Chef coming along in a half hour :-)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Old man winter.

I'm spending my first day of blissful unemployment at home... watching cartoons and debating whether or not to go out for a walk. I kept N. home today because of this crazy ass weather. They're calling for ice and snow and sleet during the times I could potentially be on a bus taking him back and forth to daycare, and as much as I wanted to go sit in my favourite coffee shop and knit for the morning, I decided to be responsible.

For some reason, the weather forecast has been accurate with the majority of these storms, and the next 48 hours are supposed to be naaaaasty. I don't want to take a chance staying downtown and ending up stuck on a bus, a 45 minute walk from home, with a grumpy, heavy kid on my hands and no one to help carry him when he starts getting tired.

So, we stay home. The museum we like to go to is about a 7 minute walk from here, which I might consider in about a half hour. N. usually needs fresh air to trigger a decent nap, so that's my plan.

On a completely unrelated note, I finished some slippers for myself last night; the pattern popped up in my radar as a free option to the French Press Slippers that were popular a few months ago. I didn't add a strap, and I still need to felt them tonight, but they were really easy, and would work up well in doubled Cascade 220, I'm thinking. I think I've purchased three knitting patterns in my life, and I only buy when I can't find a free option and I'm totally obsessed with the pattern (this doesn't count crochet - I tend to buy more of those because they're better laid out and I'm still a new crocheter). I like a free deal.

Today, I'm not sure if I want to work on Little Bro's scarf, or the other secret project I have going (which is very tight gauge and hurts like hell to work on for extended periods); I might start mittens for myself instead, or I might just do some sewing. I've worked a bit on the tree skirt, and sewed some barrettes for my niece, so I have many options. Or is that the problem - too many options?

Stay warm, Northeast Peeps... it's a doozy out there.