Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I had my PhD thesis defense on Monday afternoon. Both the presentation and the closed-door defense went very well, so I'm happy to report that I passed!

It's definitely a big weight off of my shoulders! I think the best thing (besides enjoying a little champagne and a lot of sleep in the last couple days) is the promise of more crafting time in the future. I have a strange desire to break out my sewing machine and make a 'PhD quilt' to mark the occasion.

In the meantime, I'm trying to get used to a new work routine and a new title in front of my name. 'Dr. Briney' still seems weird to me.

I'm definitely looking forward to things being back to normal next week and getting back to blogging about knitting!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Batty for Batts

This is a good week for putting pretty things up on my blog and pretending that I don't have a looming PhD defense. And while we're in this alternate reality, we're also going to pretend that all of the pretty colors and pretty fibers I'm about to show are not part of an overly large spinning stash. Agreed? Okay, onto the lovelies!

All of these batts come from the Etsy shop Hobbledehoy, which is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. This shop was the fiber source for 'Gryffindor' in my recent Hogwarts spinning project. I loved spinning that yarn so much that I've since bought four more batt sets, three of which are shown above (without their partners). The fourth set I spun into fingering-weight singles on my favorite drop spindle.

There is something very special about spinning up these lightly textured batts on a drop spindle; the slower act of spindling gives time for true tactile enjoyment. While I would be happy to spin up the other batts into similar singles, I suspect that this fiber would also be lovely core spun. Still, I am thoroughly enjoying spinning up and, having recently finished a hat from my Gryffindor singles, knitting up singles from these batts.

The hat in question is from a Hobbledehoy batt set in the Sunstone colorway and was knit into the pattern Ripley by Ysolda Teague. Need I tell you that knitting a Ysolda pattern from my own handspun is possibly the best thing ever? It's definitely right up there with curling up with a book and mug of tea on a crisp autumn day. And this particular hat definitely invokes the feeling of autumn and its falling leaves.

So now that I've waxed poetic about colorful batts, the joy of spindling, and the genius of Ysolda, it's probably time to pull my head out of the clouds and get back to reality. Or at least preparing for my PhD defense. I would love if you all could send positive thoughts my way next Monday at 1:30PM CST!

Friday, October 15, 2010

203 Pages

That's the final page count on my PhD thesis which I will be defending 10 days from now, at 1:30PM CST on October 25th.

I just got my examiner's copies back from the printer today and all that's left to do is make my defense presentation. This month has been a whirlwind, but the end is definitely in sight!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Two Crochet Books For Knitters

I don't consider myself a crocheter, though I do know how to crochet. It's something that I do when I find a pattern I like, need to reinforce an edge, or want to use up leftover yarn. While I enjoy the act of crocheting, I always approach it from the viewpoint of being a knitter. In this context, I've found it very helpful to have a few crochet reference books on hand and there are two in particular that I cannot do without.

The first is Stitch 'N Bitch Crochet: The Happy Hooker, which offers very clear diagrams on how to crochet in addition to 40 modern crochet patterns. The how-to section at the front of the book is particularly nice, covering everything from crocheting in the round and stitch patterns to making extras like buttonholes and pom-poms. I always reach for this book when I start a crochet project to double check that I'm doing things correctly.

The second book I recommend is Crochet Adorned, which centers around using crochet motifs to embellish everyday items. I like this book because it has a bunch of small projects, meaning that instead of worrying about screwing up, I just try things for the fun of it. The patterns themselves include earrings and pins, dress/coat/shirt trims, and a beautiful starched lace bowl. Plus, the book has a nice stitch dictionary in the back that includes different trim ideas, flower motifs, and granny triangles and hexagons.

Perhaps the flexibility of the motifs is why I like Crochet Adorned so much. For example, I made elbow patches for an old sweater using a motif that was originally intended for a table mat. Overall, the book really encourages me to explore different uses for crochet that, as a knitter, I would not have otherwise realized were possible.

I hope my book recommendations encourage my fellow knitters to take another look at crochet!