Sunday, April 13, 2014

Miscellany + Mavericks Review

1) Hubble Space Telescope proposal turned in Friday, plus a big meeting Tuesday. This past week has been nuts. But very science-y.

2) Not so much knitting lately--finishing up a few things here and there. I'll post more in a bit

3) Upgraded my computer to Mavericks, the new Mac OS. So far I am not a fan. There's still a way to do multiple desktops, though it's a bit trickier than before (also hard to make them have the same background image. Seriously?). My main complaint is the changes to Finder, which is the GUI that lets you browse your files. It is customizable, but my favorite thing to do was sort by date (on the Snow Leopard version, your options were Today, Yesterday, Last Week, and maybe Last Month, I don't really recall). Since I'm usually working on so many things at once (I used to have 6 desktops, for pete's sake), Today and Yesterday were essential for finding the latest draft or program. Now instead, one clicks on "All My Files", and indeed everything is listed. Then you can sort by date created or modified. Not a huge problem, just not as convenient.

They also seem to have made Photo Booth completely useless. Instead of holding the pictures in a folder that allows them to be, you know, uploaded, it holds them in the Photo Booth Library, which is... an application that displays them. So no uploading. You can click and drag them to the desktop and they'll become real files though, which is kind of funny and a huge clutter.

ALSO. If you use LaTeX or TeXWorks, be warned! putting Mavericks on my computer changed... something. So TeXWorks was no longer properly referencing the TeX folders, so basically it didn't run any more. I did download TeXShop instead and no problems yet (and it has the benefit of a) color coding your .tex file and b) putting FREAKING LINE NUMBERS on the page so when there's an error you can actually find it, hallelujah).

Now, for the pros of Mavericks...

well, it allowed me to download the proposing tool that submits proposals to StSci, so I guess that's good. And I'm sure it's nice to have the software up to date and not complaining. The new download notifications are less intrusive, appearing in the upper right corner. They seem to be more persistent. There's also this Notifications thing in the upper right corner that... might be useful. I haven't fully explored it yet.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Rainbowy yarn of glee (Knit Picks Felici)

It's been a sort of miserably cold winter (for the south). Now don't get me wrong. I know the north has it worse. I grew up in the midwest, and I grew accustomed to snow from October to April. But after a while I grew disappointed in it, and bitter, and unhappy. Mostly because instead of staying inside I had to trek everywhere in it. Walking half an hour on fresh snow, or old snow, or snow packed down hard enough that it's icy and dangerous, but not remotely even because nobody shoveled it, or snow that sort of melted yesterday afternoon but has refrozen over night and has a hard crust on top of it that you have to stomp through or you'll slip off it, or snow that's hard and crinkly and gray because it's been half destroyed or buried by the disgusting filth left by traffic but it's too cold for it to actually melt so instead it's a field of razor blades--just to get to work or class--that took the love of winter out of me. And always being cold, and my feet always being wet, and having to prepare a half-dozen layers, put them all on, take them off at my destination, store them in a method that won't have them mold or let them stink or drip on something, then transport them between locations (if I was lucky enough to stay in one building for a whole day) so that I don't lose anything, always dropping a hat or scarf and having to go back for it, and then having to shove the sodden, cold, stinky gear back on for another half an hour trek back to the house... that, too, took the love of winter out of me.

and the gray sky and the gray snow banks. And cold so deep it makes your lungs ache, and makes your flesh cold for hours. Cold so deep it sucks the moisture from the air, and your face and your hands and your lips chap and peel and bleed. For months.

These things took the joy of winter out of me. I grew up with it, and I grew out of it, and I moved south. Not too far south (not far enough for fire ants), but far enough that winters are shorter, and spring exists, and the snow and the cold have their teeth removed.

Not this winter, though. This winter has had weeks where I look around and go "wait, didn't I move south?" My car's been snowed in for the past week and this has been one of them.

(although I will say being a knitter I'm now better prepared. Hand knit socks keep your feet warm after you've stepped in an icy puddle and it's soaked in through your boot and saturated your footwear, as long as you have the circulation to provide your own warmth.)

So what do you knit when that old gray misery is huddled round you and it's cold out?

Rainbow socks, of course.


This is Knit Picks Felici in the Rainbow colorway. It is as bright as Starbursts and utterly perfect (except for the purple. there's something off about it. But I don't mind) for knitting in winter. Especially because I have enough for knee-high socks out of it.


By the way, if you're wondering what one spins when it's gray and wintery out, the answer is this:

A bump of 100% merino in the Intrusive colorway from one of my favorite etsy sellers, Spinnerettas Studio. Half my fiber stash is from her shop and I'm eagerly awaiting new exciting colors. The prep and the dye job are always great and she does colors in blends that seem to speak to me.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed

I love tweedy yarns. There's something so very satisfying about their small flecks of colors bursting from the main plies of the yarn. These blobs give a bit of a different texture to the yarn but also to the knitted project, providing depth and dimension.


In my usual fashion, I've collected a bunch of tweedy yarns. Collected isn't really the right word. I've snatched them up gleefully at yarn stores. Spurned their plain cousins. Hoarded them with delight. And I haven't really knitted with any of my darlings yet--because I needed the right project.

The problem is, there's also something sort of utilitarian about tweedy yarns. Sure, they're flecked and delicious. But they're usually on a base of something very straightforward. Like these suckers:


Queensland Collection Rustic Tweed. A DK yarn that I picked up on sale at my LYS because TWEED. On a lovely teal (turquoise?) blue base, but it's pretty straightforward. No variegations. No melded tones of blue shading from one to another like liquid sky.

Anyway, I spent a long time with these in stash. They were beautiful, but they weren't ever quite what I wanted to be knitting. Instead I did things with lace, with colorwork; I made intricately cabled fingerless mitts and knitted plain socks.

This past week, I got sick. Just a cold, but I spent most of yesterday in bed, and I woke up craving simple things. Chicken soup. Orange juice. Tweedy yarn. And not just any pattern. Garter stitch. Something that I could let fall to my lap when I got tired.

Some time in the past year, someone had gifted me Piper's Journey: a simple crescent shawl with a knitted on lace edging. It'd been in my queue for a while (even at the top of my queue for a while) but I didn't quite have the perfect yarn for it and somehow other things always seemed more important. But when the tweedy yarn craving hit, so did the Piper's Journey call. Tweed. Garter stitch.


perfection.

(I only had size 8 needles on hand. So it's a bit looser than the pattern usually looks:
 this image is from ravelry. pergola is the person to whom it belongs. please don't sue).

Friday, January 10, 2014

2014 in yarn: a preview

My knitting plan for this past year has been fairly successful. Planning which deep stash items I was going to use each month and what sort of project I would use it on was very satisfying. Some months it went better than others: January and February, July and September were all fantastic, while other months sucked balls (June and October, I'm looking at you). (December is still up in the air. I want to do some estonian lace but I sent my cashwool to a detangler in Maryland. It should be on its way back buuuut no sign of it yet).

I think what excited me most was finally getting to make some of the products that I really wanted. A shawl for Amanda. Socks that my sisters and I all have the yarn for (they'll catch up some day). A stuffed bunny rabbit that I improvised but that turned out well.

But the other exciting thing is, frankly, making myself use up and get rid of some of this deep stash. I think I've successfully used up or destashed more yarn than I've taken in this year. Well, maybe. But I've definitely used up more than the year before, so this is good!

SO! Knitting Goals for 2014:
exciting! my primary goal is to produce some knitted products that I've really wanted for along time. This means the yarn for it is pretty old too, so I can continue to use up my oldest stash.

January:
I picked up some red and yellow lopi wool (a thick, rough single ply, traditionally used in warm colorwork outdoor sweaters) back when I was in Denmark. Now I've decided at last that I want to make a dragon out of it. There's a (free?) alligator pattern on ravelry, and I'll have to improvise the wings. Haven't decided yet if I will felt it or not. Since I won't be at my yarn for a portion of January, I've chosen an easier project for this month.

February:
The Takoma Cardigan from Knitty several years back was what got me into knitting in the first place. I love it and I want it to be mine and I've always been too intimidated to try it, but this is the year! a short and busy month will make this a tough goal but I'll do some swatching in January and power through it in February. If I stay focused on it, I don't think it will be a problem at all.

March:
For ~ two years now I've had this Shipwreck Shawl on the needles. It's using sea silk and it requires beads. And I love it, I'm sure, but the beaded netting has defeated me. March will be the month that I kick its ass--I am requiring myself to work on the netting for 1 hour a day, every single day. That should make some serious progress on the thing.

April:
I really want to make a shawl for some of my more distant but wonderful friends, and I have a lovely green mohair that'd look great as some leaves. This'll be the month to start it! Maybe something simple, like birch or haruni--very leaf based.

May:
My Maluka from last year got demolished in an untangling incident so I want to take another stab at it. It was a pretty easy project and it looked great with the linen so I look forward to trying it again

June:
My Summer Flies from three years back got lost on a road trip last year. I finally found some yarn to recreate it, so I want to take a stab at it. That took me only a month and I didn't really know what I was doing then, so hopefully it'll be just as fast this year.

July:
I very badly want a color affection shawl. I've picked out the yarns and the order they go in but I haven't managed to start it yet. If I haven't worked my way around to it throughout the year, July is going to be my start date.

August:
The final lace shawl of the year is going to be a Queen Silvia shawl from my lovely red cashwool. I expect it to be fiddly and go on for a while, but my goal is to put a minimum of 40 hours into it throughout the month of August.

September:
This is when job-hunt season really starts up, and I have lots of holiday things to knit as well, so I'm going to keep it simple with a pair of Edwardian Boating Socks in september. I am thinking this might work nicely for my drachenblut wollmeise, or that satsuma colorway in LRB, or even my purple-black Happy Feet.

October:
Also busy. I don't want to count on getting anything done other than job applications, but I'm halfway done with a pair of mittens for a good friend so I suppose I'd best continue working on those and see if I can't finish them for the holidays

November:
Another insanely busy month. I'll work on my Berrocco Peruvia super-fuzzy cowl/cushion/cat bed thing-it's worsted weight and warm and quite soothing. Unless I churn it out earlier in the year.

December:
I'm a huge fan of fingerless mitts and love to make them for myself, even if I don't wear them enough. Anyway, I picked up some rowan felted tweed this past December and would like to finally make the punky stripey mitts I have planned in my head. At the very least I should have time over the holidays to get a bit done.


This is a pretty front-loaded year for finished objects. lace shawls for 6 months of the year. But I have the yarn for 30+ shawls, and I LOVE wearing them, so it is about time I started knitting and finishing them!

Do you have goals for the new year?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

why do I always dream of knitting the things I am not currently working on?

Mostly research. But some knitting, too.

-I need a whole new mitten. in a month. I know that sounds easy but these mittens are HARD. very hard.
-I should make two pairs of fingerless mitts... in 2 weeks. Shoot.
-need to finish that hat but since it's bulky I'm not really worried about it. I know I can finish it in one evening
-the big secret knitting surprise this year is probably going to get pushed off to next year. This... is not really a surprise for me. I've traded it for... um.... stuff for myself. Oops? I guess that's how knitting goes sometimes. I'm not too worried about it--it's not that exciting of a project.

what I want to be working on: a pair of fingerless mitts (for myself of course); a stripey shawl (for myself); and self-striping socks (for myself--never mind the fact that I have two lovely pairs of socks for myself ON THE NEEDLES already...). Oh and I want to spin some fiber. Not even sure what I'm going to spin next but I want to be spinning. While watching Dr. Who. and eating popcorn.

It's possible the short days and the lots-of-work is getting to me.

I am not sure why these two lists don't correspond. The two pairs of fingerless mitts are exciting to me! the hat and mittens for family members is super exciting as well! I can't wait to see how happy everyone is.

most likely I just want a more instantaneous completion. I want to sit down and knit for an hour, or two hours, and have FOs falling from my fingertips (as opposed to WIPs lingering for months). Instant gratification, that's what I crave :)

Okay, a list of things I need to work on that are NOT knitting. I can kitchener the first mitten shut and cast on the second mitten when I get home/before I go to bed tonight, and I undoubtedly will.

1) agq is okay, esp in log-log format. I need to make the plots prettier
a) label axes, figure out units
b) make axes neater format
c) plot and save each one with title of quasar on top
d) overplot all of them on one graph and see if they all form two sequences
e) fit w(theta) to each of them, make sure gamma is ~1.77 or 0.77 or -0.77, whatever it is supposed to be
f) if I can fit them, can I find the Agq that makes the fit the best? if I can do that for each of them, then
g) create histogram of Agq with "dustiness" as x axis
h) figure out which quasars are obscured, unobscured, other type

2) work on agq->bgq program
a) make list of things needed for bgq
b) look up gamma functions

3) read older papers
a) find out what information we are deriving, what it actually gives us
b) read up on correlations, cross correlations, etc
c) see if I can get the connection to galaxy evolution on a broader scale
d) see if I can get the connection to the effect of z/point in history

4) read newer papers that have done something similar
a) find out what sort of diagnostics people are using NOWADAYS to report
b) fit my stuff onto those diagnostics
c) figure out what sorts of conclusions can be of interest

5) write paper
a) do a quick draft/outline
b) work on intro
c) work on methods/data
d) re-read thesis proposal (written version)--pretty good place to start

6) submit first paper
a) fix numbers
b) fix text to numbers
c) get Mark to talk to Jason
d) call margrethe/email her again
e) look up submission guidelines and get submittin'!

7) read jason + ric's paper
a) give comments
b) make it clear shouldn't be an author on this unless I contribute SOMETHING significant to paper changes *sigh* which I won't be able to

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Missing

I spent 5 years as an undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

When I left for grad school, I fled south because I was sick of winter, of overbearing winter that took the heart of the year and left everything else a brief flame. Summer and fall were too precious there. Spring was a week of rain in mid May.

There were things I loved about winter. Standing out in the cold after being in the hot building all night, with the sky filled with orange and purple clouds and the snow coming down softly and hugely. The city noises muffled with pillows of white down. The cold air on my cheeks, the cold air in my throat, the clouds of my breath rising and rising. The silence as the snow fell. The look of christmas lights in the snow.

But for the most part I have not missed Madison. I miss people: friends who changed my life, apartment mates and housemates and roommates who made coming home an unutterable joy and who formed a new family around me like a shield when things were really hard. The professors who garnered my respect and opened my way into the world of knowledge, who never hurt me, who never judged me. Colleagues in classes and people who I was able to find all sorts of happiness with. But not the city, except maybe the walk by the lake in late summer and autumn, the gathering quietness of the water, the way the ducks begin to speak to you while invisible on the shore, the way the wind moved in the leaves.

Today I did miss it, one thing in particular: I remember in my last two years at Madison that I could scarcely walk two blocks on campus without encountering someone known to me, who'd stop and say hello. There was one particular day that I made a quick walk from the physics building to state street and met someone on every block. And they were all different people--Pearl from my first women's studies courses, who was in band and whom I never would have met or known in the normal course of things but who was so friendly and full of joy that we were friends almost instinctively--Peter from my lab, on his way back from lunch--a student I'd tutored in physics two years ago--Mona, who was on my floor my first year in the dorms--a professor I'd had who knew me by name. It was such a warm feeling, a feeling of belonging and owning. That I was part of this place, and this place was part of me. And the blue sky gleamed through the yellow gingko tree, and I didn't ever want to let it go.

Monday, November 4, 2013

stupid sore wrist

I'm going to have to take it easy on the holiday knitting. My wrist is really giving me some troubles. This is why I don't knit stuffed things--they tend to take it out of me pretty bad.