Monday, February 25, 2008


Mr. Hanukkah Penguin, I am happy to report that your amputation site is clean and appears to be healing well. You may now resume your hazardous occupation as a dog toy.

Side View

So, I don't know about you guys, but I used to find amputated limbs and the stumps that remained to be slightly disconcerting. No longer! During my ortho rotation - I scrubbed into a partial hand amputation. That was definitely a memorable experience. And I also saw several patients in clinic who had undergone below the knee amputations for non-healing diabetic foot ulcers. And let me tell you, few things are more heartening than a well-healed, happy looking stump on a patient plagued by neuropathy and poor circulation (both contribute to some serious foot ulcers and infection.)

The weather here is still terrible. More snow in the forecast for today. A couple weeks ago, I was leaving the hospital in the car, and I hit a patch of ice when I applied the brakes as I was coming down a small hill, I realized that I was not going to stop. I was only going about 20mph, and I ran into the back of a van that was in front of me. The driver got out, and I thought she was going to yell at me for not being more cautious in such crappy weather. She was so nice. She said she just wanted to make sure that I was ok, and she was not interested in jotting down my insurance information, just in case she developed a neck injury later and wanted to sue me. Raul said the other day, that if you took every Southern Californian, and put them in a car out here right now, they would all be in the ditch (or worse) within minutes. And they would be totally mean about it, too. These Midwesterners....the weather surely does not make life easy, but it really seems like people look out for each other here. It's nice.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

I Made a Bag!

And here she is (!):

Hello. I am a beautiful bag.

Last weekend, my friend, Hilary, and I went to a new local yarn/fabric shop. I bought a skein of luscious Malabrigo yarn, and she bought the Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag pattern. The next day, I accompanied her to another local fabric store to buy interfacing and cording and such. (Side note - how exciting is it that I have so much free time! 4th year of med school is awesome!) And while we were in the store, I suggested we could do a two-person-sew-along, so I could make a bag too. She is a kind soul, and she agreed. I had fabric for both the body of the bag and the lining in my stash (purchased years ago for curtains), and I picked up the other bag ingredients with Hilary's help. I came down with a cold on Friday that prevented me from going into the hospital, but Hilary did not mind my germs, so my sick day turned into a 10 hour long sewing day. We had a serious workshop going - with two sewing machines! Another 6 hours on Saturday and a couple of hours this morning yielded a completed bag!

Here is a close-up of one of the big side projects:

A close-up of one of the end pockets:

Inside of bag with lining:

Happy Me with bag and dog:

Pattern: Amy Butler Weekender Travel Bag
Fabric: Cream/black toile for exterior of bag. Black duck cloth for piping and bottom panels, and cream colored muslin or twill for interior lining.
Comments: I have many.

First, let me say, Hilary is a sport - not only did she agree to help me out with my first major sewing project, but she also put hers on hold to get mind going (and eventually finished.) So, now that my bag is done and I am out of her house, she can finish her own bag in peace.

Second - I think the key to me completing this bag was a Hilary. This process involves many firsts for me - I'd never made piping before. I had never sewed anything from a pattern before. I had never used an antique sewing machine before. Etc. There were many points where the going got tough, and had I been on my own, I would have given up. Hilary was a huge help, and it was really fun to make a project like this with a friend - you can keep each other going when it would be easier to quit than forge ahead.

Thirdly (and let me preface this one by saying, this is mainly for me, so I remember mods I want to make should I get brave and try this bag a second time), I would cut the bias strips for the piping a little wider. I had a hard time getting the edges sewed around the cord in spots - especially at the joins. I might also make the interior bottom panel a tad bit smaller for a better fit. And make sure the Timtex panels fit in the bottom as desired before sewing bottom. And pin lining to zipper before hand-sewing it in (I was lazy and neglected to do this and got wonky areas around the beginning and end of zipper.)

All in all, this was such a fun project. Amy Butler's patterns are great, and the instructions were very clear and easy to follow (even for a novice seamstress). However, this project was definitely a challenging one. I am still becoming comfortable with sewing machines, and each day required that I engage in battle with the machine. Fortunately, I almost always won (though I will only briefly mention the hours I lost fighting with the sewing machine.) Also, Hilary pieced all the exterior bag pieces together, and her comments and my observations suggest that this is really comparable to a wrestling match - not for the faint of heart!

I highly recommend both this pattern and two-person-sew-alongs!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Koolhaas Hat

I bought the Holiday 2007 edition of Interweave Knits back in November or December, I think, and I had plans to make this hat (pattern contained in aforementioned IK) since then. Many a blogging knitter has made this hat in worsted weight Malabrigo, and their praise for this yarn abounded. I had to try it. Unfortunately, at the time, no local yarn shops were selling this yarn, but I was able to find some on a trip out to CA in January.

Also, this hat got moved up on the project list after a conversation with my Grandpa. I had plans to make him a hat for his birthday (last week), but he recently informed me that winter had practically ended in California. Go ahead, rub it in. Winter is certainly not over here (see photo evidence below), so I put his project on hold and made myself this hat instead.

Here is a photo of the hat on my desk:

Here is a picture of me wearing the hat whilst preparing to walk the dog in a slush filled winter wonderland (don't I look happy?):

Pattern: Koolhaas hat by Jared Flood from Holiday 2007 IK
Yarn: Malabrigo worsted weight in color black forest
Needles: Size 6 Denise interchangeable circulars for the ribbing and size 7s for the body of the hat.
Comments: This was such a fun and clever pattern! I really enjoyed knitting it, and the yarn is absolutely luscious. I highly recommend both. I did an extra pattern repeat to make the hat long enough to cover my ears (a necessity in this cold climate!)

A comment on my rotations: I just finished 2 weeks of orthopedic surgery. I saw two knee replacements and one total hip. I have added a total joint replacement to my list of things that I never want to experience (stroke is still at the top.) Though I never want to have one done to me, these surgeries were very impressive to see and involved many power tools and much hammering and sawing of bone. And grunting. And wearing space suits. And med students (me!) holding legs. People, legs are heavy. Fortunately, as a psychiatrist, I really don't think I will have to hold many (any) legs. On Monday, I start 2 week of ophthamology. 10 weeks to go until I am totally done with my rotations (but who's counting?)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Maria's Hat

I was feeling ambitious a few weeks ago and decided to make matching mittens and a hat for a friend's daughter. The mittens did not happen, but the hat did!

Too cute for words:

View from the top:

Pattern: I cast on 80 stitches (I think) did about 8 rows of garter stitch and switched colors for random stripes. I stockinetted up about 6 inches, and then started decreasing for the crown. I finished off the top with a pompom.
Yarn: Cascade 220 in various colorways from my stash
Needles: Size 7 16" circulars
Fun, quick and easy! And it fits! And the pompom was made with a pompom maker - also fun, quick and easy!

Sunday, February 10, 2008


My cousin gave me this chair four years ago. He was going to throw it away. I said that I could take it and recover it. Since that time, it has languished in my kitchen. It was the unfortunate victim of an explosion of a blenderful of Mexican hot chocolate, and it has been the beloved scratching post of my cat, Greta. This chair became very dirty and unkempt, yet I continued to display it in my kitchen. I realized the low to which I had sunk when the darling daughter of a friend was cooking macaroni and cheese with me in my kitchen. I placed this chair in front of the stove for her, so she could watch the bubbling noodles. She asked me if this was the chair the dog sat in because it was very dirty, and dirt and hair and things were sticking to the bottom of her bare feet. She asked if she could have another chair to stand on.

Raul and I talked about buying some new chairs (our other chair is one that my great aunt and I found by the side of the road, and she recovered if for me several years ago, and it is still is good shape.) But we are poor, and I decided that I could recover this chair. We purchased fabric, and today I made this in two hours:

(My humble kitchen, please ignore painters tape in windows, that is for next weekend's todo list.)

So, it was really easy. Some new batting was placed on the seat. I pinned the fabric to the chair, trimmed it, pinned it, wiggled it off and then sewed it. I did not get the stripes to line up exactly, but it's good enough. Raul tacked down the bottom with his nail gun, and I glued on the braid trim to cover the nails. I thought this would take forever - that's why I put off this project for four years. Kind of embarrassing.

BTW - it's still cold here. The high was zero degrees today. And our entire street is covered in ice. We've had the opportunity to get to know several of our neighbors as we have all had to help each other out with a push when our cars invariably get stuck on the ice or in the snow banks. Good times.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Toe Up Ankle Socks

I had the purple/blue/green variegated yarn leftover from a pair of socks I made for my grandma a couple years ago. I really like this yarn, and I seemed to have an ankle sock pair sized amount, and I really like ankle socks - my resources met my desires! I used this project as a template. A solid color green yarn from my stash was used for the heel and toe and ribbed cuff, and the body of the sock was knit in the previously mentioned variegated yarn. I cast on using this method, and I did a short row heel like so. My first attempt at a short row heel was a DISASTER! I was reading the instructions without really thinking about the actual construction and kind of made up my own thing when I came to a bit I did not understand, and well, it did not turn out well. Here is what became of my first heel:

I cut it out and reknit the heel after realizing what a craptastic job I had done.

In other news, yesterday was my birthday. And I spent it in bed with a horrible cold. No worries, I am now convalescing. This one was a doozy. Maybe it was that mutated rhinovirus that's all over the news. Bad rhinovirus.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Entrelac Socks


Raul's self-portrait:

Pattern - Annetrelac Socks from Interweave Knits 2007 Holiday issue
Yarn - Trekking XXL in brown/orange/cream varigated colorway (#163) purchased at Little Knits
Needles - Size 2 Addi Turbo circs (the pattern called for size 1s, but I used the larger needle to get a larger, manfoot-sized sock.)
Comments - The pattern calls for Schaeffer Anne yarn, but I had the Trekking in my stash and it had similar yardage (400+ yards). The entrelac cuff uses a significant amount of yarn, and I was worried about running out of yarn while knitting these socks. As a result, the foot of one of them turned out a little too short. It may stretch with wear, or I could always frog the toe and add some length with the little bit of yarn that I have leftover. I also goofed on the last round of the cuff, and it turned out a little bit wonky - apparently, I left out a row of blocks, though had I read the pattern correctly, I definitely would have run out of yarn. All in all, a fun pattern and an excellent introduction to entrelac! And the yarn was wonderful to work with - very soft, yet sturdy!
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