WiP(ish) Wednesday

Current Crafting

This was going to be a regular WiP Wednesday post, but my WiPs aren’t drastically different than two weeks ago (given the intervening FO Friday post).  I have started one new project, a hat.  Abby tells me that it’s customary for men in the village to wear knitted hats to keep the sun off their heads, and she thinks it would be nice if I were to knit some for her local family.

New WiP

Let me repeat that – knit hats.  In equatorial Africa. I have been asked to knit hats for people living in equatorial Africa.  I…  can’t… even…

Anyway, I started this hat.  It’s got a herringbone stripe, which I’ve never worked before.


It doesn’t much look it, but it’s actually a lace stitch – decreases are K2TogTBL, and increases are also a TBL.  The result looks very much like a line of knitting perpendicular to the wales.  The thing is, it’s also helical.

Helical Crafting

It’s worked very much like the Guinan hat was worked (in knit rather than crochet).  In that case I crocheted 1/4 of the way around the hat, held the loop in place with a stitch marker, and picked up the previous loop in the contrasting color.

Guinan Spiral

The principle is the same with the knitting, only no stitch marker is needed.  Just pick up the color and knit to two before the next strand was dropped off, slip some stitches, and pick up the next strand.  It’s rather fun to work such a similar technique in both crafts.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win either PhatFiber giveaway.  I’ve entered two new (non crafting) giveaways.  The Smithsonian has a quize giveaway of a tote full of cool sciencey things (2 September), and Smart Bitches Trashy Books is giving away a Kate Spade bag and a gift card to the bookstore of your choice (26 September)

Random Stuff About My Life

The Post Which Never Was

Back in March I began to write a very long and detailed post about volunteering to be in an NIH study.  It was good, and I was going to finish it and post the whole thing today, but I realized that my memory of the study (which took place in January) is now pretty vague.  So instead of giving you a detailed description, I’m going to have to summarize.

NIH is a cool place to visit
As in oddly scary security screening (although everyone was friendly and polite) giant fishtanks, gorgeous displays, and everyone willing and interested in explaining the science.
They like me there
They appreciate interested and engaged volunteers. I absolutely felt like the favorite volunteer ever!
They like knitting there
There was a lot of waiting around. I figured out how to knit with a tube stuck in me, and a number of people watched. One of the doctors was a knitter, so she kept me thinking about ‘name the famous male knit designers’ instead of the invasive sample she was taking.
There was not fun stuff too
Invasive samples are not fun. Being intubated and having blood taken every few hours is not fun. Fasting and being pumped full of sucrose is not fun. No matter how polite everyone is, and how interested you are in the process, there are going to be not fun parts in human experimentation.

The particular study I was in had to do with the effects of antiinflammatories on metabolic syndrome.  In particular, how antiinflammatory medicine affects the calcium ion channels reaction to insulin in fatty tissue in patients with metabolic syndrome.  I ended up as a healthy control, so they just took one fat biopsy.  Thanks to this study I now know that I don’t have metabolic syndrome, and a little bit more about how my body works.

I may well volunteer for another study, because it was cool.

Looking for Work

Over the past three weeks I’ve put in ten job applications and had four interviews at three different places.  Two phone interviews, one in person interview and one video interview over a phone app.  I’ve got a spreadsheet to track (because I’m that kind of geek).  I have one good interview suit (which I’ve used) and a number of less good but still acceptable options to wear for second interviews.

The three positions I’ve interviewed for are (in chronological order):

  1. Administrative/front office (interview with placement agency)
  2. Regulatory Affairs Assistant
  3. Help Desk

I never thought I’d be interested in any sort of regulatory work, but, honestly, this job would be really exciting.  I wouldn’t be enthused about that commute, though.  Of course, if Steve gets a job near there (and it’s possible) that makes it all come together nicely.

The help desk position is the one which had the video interview.  I’d be providing applications support, and I know that I can handle the job.    It was an odd experience, but it makes sense for this particular company (they produce video content) and it’s only round one.  I hope I make it to round two, because I’d prefer a more interactive interview.

So that’s it, almost.  Except that I do have a literal fridge cleaning recipe.  I made this on Friday, when I realized that there was a cup of home made chicken broth which I had better use up or throw out.  Here’s what I threw together:

Fridge Cleaning Soup Recipe

1 cup homemade broth

1 cob corn

2 baby carrots

2 T quinoa (this is what I used, it was way too much.  2t probably better).

Heat broth over medium heat.  While it’s warming, put the carrot cob in the microwave (husk and all) for one minute. Remove from microwave.  Cut off stem end and squeeze cob out (corn is cooked and cob is shucked all at once).  Cut kernels from cob and discard cob.  Chop up baby carrots.  Add corn, quinoa and carrots to broth and simmer for five minutes.  Remove from stove and eat.

Clean Fridge soup

FO Friday

It’s been about six months since I’ve done an FO post.  I’m going to post the most recent finished objects, and maybe a few highlights.  Not that I don’t love my projects..


Here’s my friend Kay-Megan as Guinan.  She won the costume contest!

I finished Guinan.  The pattern is from Akua Lezli Hope AkuaDesigns, and it’s really fun to crochet.  It’s also a great pattern for variegated yarn (which is always a plus).  I’ll be working this one again.

I also finished the Charming Crawling Eyeball hat. file_medium2

The Abracadabra yarn totally does the right thing in sunlight!

Last but not least, I finally finished the Five sweater.


I’m really happy with how this turned out.  Steve wants to wear it for Anachronism Day at the Renaissance Festival this fall, but I have no idea how we’d come up with the frock coat in time…

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I’ve entered a drawing for Knitter’s Pride Knit Blockers (26 August) and the Expression Fiber Arts $1000 Yarn Giveaway (15 September).

In yesterday’s post I told you that Abby would introduce you to a scholar if you donate to the Michelle Sylvester Scholarship fund. Since she was still in the Peace Corps Regional House when I let her  know I had she was able to reply right away to tell me who my $20 would be sending to school for a year.  Here’s what she had to say:

This is Aminata Sow!

Aminata speaks Pulaar and lives in a compound with 30 other people – including her cousin, Hawa Ba, who is also an MSS recipient this year. Aminata is a great student, she’s very outspoken in class and is an active member of the English Club. In the future, Aminata wants to grow up to be a flight attendant. She likes math, and wants people who live in other countries to know that Senegal is a very peaceful country, that values “solidarity”. Whenever I stop by her village on my bike, Aminata always insists that I come by to see her family and have some tea.

I feel like I know this girl already. (And I asked Abby to tell her “No ngoolu daa”, which the Interwebs tells me is “Hello” in Pulaar) Notice that there’s no age given?  That’s because, apparently, not all Senegalese keep track of things like age.  I don’t think that’s particular to girls, but it may be.

If you’re interested in donating to the scholarship fund, you can use this form.  The directions say “*Under “Please use this box if you want to send a message of encouragement to this project’s volunteer” please enter “MSS Fund” followed by any encouragement you would like to pass along to the Volunteer”.  If you give her you email address and tell her you would like the bio of your scholar, she’d be glad to send you one.  Or if you leave a comment here with contact info I would be glad to send it along.  Just know that she doesn’t get to the Regional House every weekend, so you might wait a little while for your bio (but it will come).

If you’d like to find out ore about what it’s like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal, you can visit Abby’s blog, or her friend Emily’s “slightly more socially conscious” blog.

I received an email from Abby today, about the Gender and Development fund she’s representing.  I want to share part of the email with you:

Anyway, I’m just writing because the gender and development organization that I’m a part of is sponsoring scholarships for 9 girls from my local middle school – girls attendance in schools drops off exponentially after primary school so there is a HUGE gender gap in school attendance. In my village, not a single one of the girls goes to middle school. Schools here aren’t free, so the Peace Corps has a Michelle Sylvester Scholarship fund (she’s an old volunteer who started the program back in the 90s). Each girl gets 10 mille, which is the equivalent of $20 per girl to go to school and get school supplies for one extra year. Our fundraising efforts are REALLY behind this year, and each volunteer only needed to raise $180 ($20 per girl, 9 girls total). I always feel really weird writing fundraising e-mails (especially because, due to how the grant is set up, I have actually no idea who has donated money), but if you wouldn’t mind sending this on to other people who may donate -in your offices or book clubs or whatever, that would be really awesome! And if you’ve already donated, THANK YOU! I love you all so much, and I wish I had a way to thank you more for everything.

*Under “Please use this box if you want to send a message of encouragement to this project’s volunteer” please enter “MSS Fund” followed by any encouragement you would like to pass along to the Volunteer.

Please consider donating.  If you like, leave a message here, and if you attach your email address Abby said she’d send a bio of the girl you’re funding.  I’ve funded one, and will share the bio here if she says it’s ok.


WiP Wednesday

Project bags

I’m still crafting

I was still crafting throughout the long dry spell, and I have had had other things to blog about since I started posting again, so this seemed like a good time to join in Paula’s WiP Wednesday push (as started on the Tangled Mess blog).  Depending on how this goes I might join in FO Fridays as well.

Mont Royal Socks

I always have a pair of socks on my needles.  In particular, it seems that I always have this pair of socks on my needles.  I started them in July of last year, they’re toe up and I haven’t reached the heel turn yet.  I’m generally a slow sock knitter for whatever reason, and this pair is not ‘mindless knitting’, so it’s been a row now and again.

Slow going or not, I do like these.

Mont Royal status

Charming Crawling Eyeball

One of the things I did during my posting hiatus was to join in the Charm City Yarn Crawl.  I didn’t hit six shops (so I didn’t join the drawing), but I did pick up a skein at each shop I visited. It did kind of break my heart not to get more, but reality intervened. Here was my tour:

Clover Hill Yarn Shop: I picked up a skein of Hikoo by Skacel Abracadabra.  This is a photosensitive yarn.  Mine turns pink in sunlight and, as soon as I had it, I had the idea of the theme project for my crawl.

All About Yarn: This is my LYS. I grabbed a skein of Berroco Linus (which is a ribbon yarn) in a color very similar to the Abracadabra when it’s not in sunlight.  The texture is very different.

Lovelyarns: I got a skein of JoJoland Tonic in an amazing blue.

The Knitting Boutique: One skein of Kraemer Yarns Perfection in the sand colorway.

Have you guessed the project?

Captain models crawling eyeball

Captain graciously modeling the (Yarn) Crawling Eyeball Hat

Guinan Hat

Guinan Spiral

This pattern has been one of my Ravelry favorites for a long time, so when my friend Kay asked if I had any suggestions for a Guinan costume it came to mind immediately.  It turns out that Kay didn’t think she had time to finish it before the event, so I told her I’d gladly do the work in exchange for the pattern, so it’s a win-win.  It’s also my 200th Ravelry project.

The construction on this one is interesting.  I used split ring stitch markers to keep four strands of yarn ‘live’ at a time.

I expect to finish it up today

Guinan unassembled


Millers Fire

My one spinning WiP is using the Millers Fire colorway from Alpaca Joy on a mini destiny spindle from Snyders Spindles.

August 8

Blog Contests and Giveaways

I didn’t win the Slipped Stitch Studios giveaway.  PhatFiber is hosting a  number of giveaways for 20 August.  I entered the “shiny briny” giveaway, the “Golden threads breed study” giveaway








About the City

Perhaps I should have posted this last week, while the pictures were still on the news.  I think it just took me a while to process, and to be ready to write about it.  It’s still hard to write about it, but now at least I have some links if you want to help.

IMG_1829The last time I was in Old Ellicott City (Main Street, where the flood was truly devastating) was on July 9.  Dottie had given me my choice of local ghost tours for my birthday.1. It was a really nice evening.

The part of Ellicott City I go to (or drive through) more often is nothing like this.  It’s on US 40 and has an entirely different kind of vibe.  There’s definitely a kitschy sort of charm to it as well.2

Old Town Elliott CIty is (or was, and hopefully will be) something else.  There is definitely a lot of touristy stuff to it.  There’s also a lot of character.  It was initially built in the late 18th century, though I don’t think any of that architecture survived to be threatened by the flood.

Main Street pd

Here’s a photo in the public domain, taken 2 June, 2006

Steve, Dottie and I were all safe at home on the 30th.  Steve had been thinking of going to see our friend Aaron Fuller (who sings with Midnite Run) but the show was cancelled due to the rain. Our friend Dave Pratt (who plays harmonica for the Soul Island Rebels) had a show in Ellicott City that night, but it was on Rte. 40, so higher ground. Our friend Steve Wilson (who podcast listeners might recognize from Prometheus Radio Theatre) was at the Judges Bench that night.  When he realized how bad things were getting he drove his car through a foot or more of water to park it at higher ground.  (The consensus is that he was a very lucky idiot).


How to  donate/volunteer

Here are a few of the funds and resources I have found.  I don’t know all of the individuals behind them, and I don’t know any of the well, but as far as I an tell the individual campaigners are who they say they are.3 The general funds are organizations which have been around for a while. I collected several of these links myself before finding the WJZ-TV list, which also includes fundraisers.

American Red Cross Greater Chesapeake Region
County Executive Alan Kittleman requests that cash donations go through the Red Cross.
Community Action Council of Howard County
Accepting food donations
Ellicott City Partnership
Is accepting donations and coordinating volunteer efforts
Keep Ellicott City Working
A Facebook page designed to recruit people who lost their livelihood during the flood find jobs
Preservation Maryland
A fund to help restore and rebuild the historic structures
All Time Toys
The owner was part of a historic rescue caught on video during the flood. His GoFundMe is already fully funded.
This has been one of my favorite stores for over 20 years. I bought the necklace I wore at my wedding there (or in the now defunct Discoveries shop which was at the Columbia Mall at the time). Dottie had a part time job there while she was in High School. Both girls shopped for prom dresses there. It’s pretty much at the bottom of the street.
I’ve eaten there a couple of times for the girls’ French class school field trips, and once for a special anniversary dinner. It’s amazing cuisine.
Sweet Elizabeth Jane
This has been one of the girls’ favorite stores, and it’s likely that, failing this campaign, it will be gone forever.
This is not one of the stores I frequented, but I have seen it pop up many times on my friends FB pages in the past week. A shop for actual vinyl records.
Cacao Lane
This restaurant has been in EC for as long as I’ve been going there (a lot longer, actually). It’s hard to imagine the city without it.
Phoenix Emporium
One of the many great local bars in the city. Also at the low end of the street.
Bean Hollow
This one doesn’t say ‘verified’, but I got the link from the Bean Hollow Facebook page, so I’m pretty sure about it. This is the coffee shop both girls adopted as an after school hangout. It’s also a place that Steve and I enjoy. It’s quirky without being off putting, and the coffee, tea, pastries and sandwiches have always been delicious.

So that’s it. If you have other donation links or stories, please share them in the comments. I’d love to hear everyone’s stories.

1a) My birthday was in March, but the plan was always to take the tour in the summer. b) I think it probably says something about the area that there are many ghost tours to choose from, especially as tourism is not one of the key industries in the state. (back)


Enchanted Forest

The Enchanted Forest, which deserves a blog post of it’s own.  Photographed by Ron on March 28, 2015, used with by permission with a C BY-NC-ND 2.0 license.


3I’ve added a short comment on each of these, often about my personal relationship to the businesses. Not because I expect that to influence you, particularly, but just to express how this has impacted my personal story. Because that’s what a blog is for.(back)




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