Archive for June, 2014


My begonia shawl is done, in all its frilly wonder.  I managed to finish it just in time to get points in this round of Nerd Wars.

In case you don’t recall, this was the yarn I got from Bohemia Fibers, custom dyed to match the colors of the Mystic Mountain portion of the Carina Nebula.


OK, it lacks the orchid tones, but the green/orange thing works well, and I like the way the pattern swirls.  Not too busy after all, but we’ll see how much I actually wear it now that it’s done.

I’ll be knitting the Maryland Flag socks for a while.  I had to rip out the toes (started with too few stitches for his feet) and have finished the increases (he has long toes!) I’ll be doing circular stockinette for a while, the aim is to wait until I’ve at least reached the heel turn before I start a second WIP, but if I get really bored I might start something before then.

Blog Contests

Didn’t win the $25 of Quince and Co from Design Diary, and there’s no word yet about the sweaters worth of watershed from the Harrisville Design blog.   No new contests this time.

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In case you haven’t heard, the National Zoo will be closing the Invertebrate Exhibit tomorrow.  It’s almost certainly a ‘done deal’, although you can sign the petition at Change.org to express your concerns (I did).

What the News Has Been Saying

The announcement was made Tuesday (though someone said Monday).  Animals will be found other homes, either in other parts of the zoo (such as the rainforest exhibit) or at other institutions. No animals will be harmed.  The five animal keepers who are employed at the house will be assigned to other parts of the zoo (which is understaffed).  There will eventually (probably) be a biodiversity exhibit and many of these exhibits will be restored then.


I get that the hall needed to be revamped, and that the $5 million cost of renovation will instead go to making other exhibits more humane.  I get that there are hard choices that had to be made, and that I would probably be distressed by any choices that they made.  I just really, really wanted to take one last trip there to say “Goodbye”, which I did on Thursday (18 June).


So I Went to Say Goodbye

As always, the exhibit was full of visitors and FONZ volunteers.  Many of the visitors, like us, had come for one last goodbye.  Some seemed unaware that the exhibit was closing, which is not surprising, as there had been a total and complete news blackout about it up until the announcement.  I can understand that.  The Zoo, and the Smithsonian, must have anticipated that people would be irate, would attempt to organize and protest, and I’m sure they just wanted to avoid an uproar.  The decision can’t have been easy, and anything they chose to cut would have been controversial.  I’m sure they just wanted to be able to concentrate on what would be best for the animals.


While I was there I spoke to several of the volunteers, and I learned something which, rather than allowing me a sense of closure and acceptance, really changed the focus of my discontent.

What the News Has Not Been Saying

The story the volunteers told was not touched upon in the news coverage.  The thing is, the staff, and the volunteers, were told about the closure just barely before the news media.  They were told on Monday that the exhibit would be closed on Sunday.   Certainly, there had been rumors, and speculation, for months.  There was no training session for new volunteers when one would normally have been expected.  The giant octopus, who had lived for an exceptionally long time after she laid eggs, was not replaced once she passed.  There were plenty of signs and hints, but no official word.


The Smithsonian press release (linked above) does say that permanent employees will be reassigned.  There is mention of what happens to researchers or volunteers. I, personally, find this unconscionable and undefendable behavior from some of the few institutions which have maintained my trust for years.

comb jelliesIt’s very hard for me to find myself being this critical of the Smithsonian.  It’s even harder for my Mother, who has been a Smithsonian supporter for as long as I can remember, she’s already decided not to renew her  FONZ membership, and is considering letting her Smithsonian Associate membership expire as well.

Obviously, this is an emotional issue for me, and I’m probably rambling. I feel betrayed.  I trust that the zoo is honestly trying to do the best it can for the animals it cares for, but I cannot say that I trust that they are making the same effort for the individual humans they employ, or who help out of the goodness of their heart.  It just seems to me that they were so afraid of the public outcry which closing any exhibit would bring, they rushed to make it a fait accompli, and betrayed their own people in the process.

I want to see the Smithsonian treating it’s people better, even if it means they take a public relations hit in doing so.  I think they made the calculation that by rushing this through so fast, the population as a whole would just blink and move on without really seeing it.



I’m afraid they’re right.

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I’ve got a start on the Maryland State Flag socks.  It really took me longer than I expected to get them started.  I dithered back and forth before deciding on the Turkish cast on rather than Judy’s Magic version, and I chose the Knit Better Socks version of asymmetric toes.  Then I was worried about knitting inside out from the beginning (and just continuing to do so when I get to the stranded portion of the legs).  Long and short of it, I have a start, but haven’t even completed the toe increases yet.

My goal is to have the heel turn done by the middle of July, then finish the socks by the end of August.  Nerd Wars determined the pacing, but it seems about right.

socks in progress

Shown here with the white toe inverted, and the black toe as it is being knit…

Of course, while I was dithering about  exactly how to work the socks I kept gong with the Begonia shawl.  I’m on row 84 (out of 91), and although I’m definitely on the ‘long row’ portion of the shawl it doesn’t feel like a terrible slog.   The border is busy, but I don’t think the variegation is ugly here.

Begonia Shawl.

I’m really surprised at how much yarn is left over.

Blog Contests

I won the grand prize in the  Inner Child Crochet 9 year celebration giveaway, 9 free patterns!  So far I’ve downloaded the Sweet Little Horse, the Azalea hat, the Shooting Starf, and the Scarlet Macaw Hand Puppet.  I have five more patterns to choose!  Waffling between several of the wonderful options.

Didn’t win the stitch dictionary from Miso Crafty or Sweatshop of Love,  or the gradient kit from Mountain Colors Yarn.

I entered the Harrisville Design Blog’s contest to win a sweater’s worth of WATERshed yarn.

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Well, I’ve submitted my dissertation proposal to Nerd Wars.  I knit a gauge swatch, which was interesting because I’ve never done the ‘knitting inside out’ trick for stranding before.


I’m going to have to watch it, because I pulled the stitches a bit tight, and there’s a bit of bunching with the color changes.  Not as much as with the Tea Cozy I made back in 2011 (where it was very much deliberate):


I really want to avoid it completely…

In any case, I’m working on the Begonia Carina shawl while waiting for approval.  I really ought to measure my husband’s feet and begin charting in the meantime, but I’m just feeling too lame to do it right now.

Blog Contests and Giveaways

There’s currently a multi blog giveaway for the Up Down All Around Stitch Dictionary, plus three skeins of yummy yarn.  I’ve entered that one at Miso Crafty Knits (4 June) and at Sweatshop of Love (6 June).  There’s also a lovely giveaway for a gradient kit from Mountain Colors (6 June) and a free pattern and $25 of Quince and Co Yarn from Design Diary (15 June).  Check them out.


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Projects Old and New

Carina Begonia

ImageI’m coming along nicely with the Carina Begonia shawl.  I’ve even got a spreadsheet set up which tracks how many stitches per segment, stitches per row, cumulative stitches knit and percent of shawl completed. Since I didn’t bother including border stitches (6.5/row) it’s a close approximation.

So, even though I’ve finished row 75 out of 91, which is 82% of the row count, I’ve knit about 25,000 stitches out of 39,000, which is only 64%.  I expect my speed to slow down a bit, both because of the ‘boy this row is getting long’ effect, and because I’ll be starting a second WIP soon.

Vexing Socks

It’s about time to start my gauge swatch for my Nerd Wars dissertation.   I will be making a pair of socks based on the ImageMaryland State Flag for my husband, the amateur vexillologist, in other words, he’s a flag geek.  The Maryland flag is absolutely beautiful, but it fails the ‘can your average fourth grader draw this flag’ test in a big way, and I’m pretty sure I’m never going to get these charted, not to mention knit, if I don’t have some kind of time constraint on them, which the dissertation format automatically gives me.

It also requires me to swatch, which I’m lazy and almost never do, but I know it’s a good habit to get into, especially for a project which is likely to be challenging.

Blog contests and yarn giveaways

I didn’t win the Expression Fiber Arts Luxury Yarn Giveaway or the Happy Hoppers Angora Giveaway. No news on the Sweaterbabe Giveaway or the Tails and Snouts Giveaway.  Newly entered to win a Knitters Pride Symphonie Cubics Deluxe interchangeable needle set (30 June), the Diamond Yarn Jazzy June giveaway (6 June)  and the Inner Child Crochet 9th Anniversary pattern giveaway (11 June).

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