Thursday, August 30, 2007

Draped lace shell pattern

I wasn't going to write up the pattern for this, but a couple of people have asked for it. (Hey, I look for an ego boost wherever I can get it. Plus, I have all kinds of time while waiting for those damned prospective employers to get back to me!)

It's available here and it's on the sidebar over there to the left.

I've pieced it together from memory and my sparse notes taken while knitting, so please let me know if there's a mistake in it.

Friday, August 24, 2007


Well, this yarn most emphatically did not want to be a halter top. It wanted to be this:

Draped lace shell
Yarn: Be Sweet 100% Bamboo, from Loop; just a smidge more than 3 balls
Needles: 4.0 mm Addi Turbos, used as straights
Pattern: my own

Notes: I love this lace pattern. I got it from my Reader's Digest book of needlework, which calls it horseshoes lace, but I've seen it in lots of other stitch dictionaries. It's easily memorised and executed and goes really quickly once you get into it. The yarn is beautifully soft and feels great against the skin- although in these pictures I'm wearing a nude-coloured camisole underneath (a must for every wardrobe).
I increased stitches to the top front after binding off for the armscye so that I could get a little bit of that draped neck effect. I'd prefer a bit more of it, actually, but that would have required really drastic numbers of increases.
I swatched and calculated how many repeats I'd need for all the different widths and lengths, etc, and then I rounded everything down to some random number of stitches that "seemed right" given that I knew this yarn grew and grew and then grew some more after blocking. This top fits perfectly. Too perfectly. I think I would have preferred a bit more ease and drape. It could probably be blocked to be slightly bigger, if I cared enough.

Because I knew of its growth tendencies, I made this in two pieces, so I'd have the stability of seams to keep it in check.

I love looking at the side seams. I'm fascinated by the way the increases and decreases work themselves so seamlessly (ha!) into the lace pattern.

What I'd do differently: fewer armhole decreases (my upper arm looks absolutely massive in that first picture!); a bit more ease in the finished dimensions; more drapiness on the neckline; wider shoulder spacing.

Heck, this was such a quick and easy knit, and so flattering a shape on me, I may just make another one.

I just thought of something! This would be an absolutely gorgeous lace pattern for a dress! You'd just continue knitting down, shaping as you go. Of course, with this yarn's tendency to grow, you'd end up with quite a saggy ass after a bit of wearing. So maybe more thinking is required for that one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I've noticed that some foods make the back of my throat/mouth itch. These include:


and probably some others I can't think of at the moment. Is there some compound common to all these fruits that would cause such a reaction? The itchiness sticks around for a few minutes after I eat the fruits, and is only mildly annoying. I love the foods listed and so the itchiness doesn't stop me eating them, but I do wonder what the deal is. Doctors? Dieticians? Nutritionists? Nurses? Anyone?

Monday, August 20, 2007


There's been progress on the bamboo lace shell. I've got the back done and most of the front, but have run out of yarn (the story of my life). I've ordered more (haha, The Limey has had it up to here about my having to order "just one more ball" of yarn for many of my recent projects) and am waiting for it. Meanwhile, I blocked the back.

Isn't it pretty? I love the way the lace pattern makes a scalloped edge, giving it the perfect little detail without my having to do anything at all.

It was fairly easy to increase and decrease within the pattern. I kept a 2-stitch selvedge for seaming.

I also replaced all the stair step decreases with short rows, so the underarm bind-offs are a nice smooth line:

And the back neck as well- no weird stretched stair steps from every-other-row-bind-offs:

This means that all the edges which will show are already finished. Once the front and back are knitted, all I'll have to do is a couple of straight seams. I won't have to do any crochet finishing to tidy up the edges.

Awesome. Can't wait to get that last ball of yarn. (They had one ball left in my dyelot. Whew.)

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Either way

Well, I thought the interview went well. But I've also thought other interviews went well, so I think we've learned that I'm fairly useless at judging them. They were well impressed with my PhD supervisor, and so was impressed that I'd done my work with him. (He is very well known and respected in his field. It's a small field, mind. I'm lucky that the Chief Scientific Officer at this company also happens to do some work in this small field.)

Honestly, though, I have all the technical and scientific skills they're asking for. I don't have any programming and technical software design skills, which, although not a requirement for the job, is something they'd like. They would be lucky indeed to find all that in one person, though. I know of only one such person: The Limey. During general conversation at lunch, they asked what my husband did, so I told them. And they said, Huh, you know, we're looking for more than one person...They told me to encourage him to apply if he felt like it, but then the conversation went around to having a husband and wife working at the same small place, and how that may or may not be a good idea.

At any rate, there has been another development. During my PhD, I did a one-term exchange and went to work with a professor in Manchester. He has since moved to London. I guess he was impressed enough with me during the short time I was there, because he'd heard that I've been looking for a job, and has offered me a post-doc in his lab. Now, although a post-doc isn't my first choice during this job hunt, I have begun to look at them. This one would be good because it's at a well-known and well-respected university (always useful to keep in mind for future job hunts), and I already know, like, and know I can work with the people in the group.

The Southampton job is a better career step for me, and if I'm offered it, I'll definitely take it. If not, however, The Limey and I decided it would be best that I take the London post-doc.

So. Either way, we'll be moving to England in the next month to month and a half.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Huh! What'd you know?!

I have an interview in Southampton on Wednesday, so, as I always do before I travel, I googled "yarn shop Southampton".

And this is what I get!

It's a knitting resource page on the official University of Southampton website! Take a look at that list under 'Collections' on the left: data resources, European Documentation Centre, health circulars, knitting, official publications...

Totally, yet delightfully, bizarre.

Apparently they have a large knitting collection there. I was totally excited about visiting the exhibitions (there's a Montse Stanley collection!) and- get this- a knitting pattern collection! Unfortunately, the collection's only open on Thursdays. Damn.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

We have a winner

So it looks like the vote goes to #1: the horseshoes lace. I'm happy with this decision because: 1) it's a smaller repeat and so easier to incorporate increases and decreases for shaping and 2) the holes are smaller, so it at least has the appearance of being a bit more modest.

I did all the math, and then totally ignored it when I cast on, because if I learned anything from working with this yarn before, it is that it grows and stretches like crazy. Swatches lie!

I have one vertical repeat done, and then did something monumentally stupid last night: poured boiling water from the kettle onto my left hand. So I don't think I'll be knitting for a couple days.
The hand's all right, though. I was at the kitchen sink, so I had it under running cold water almost immediately. Then I sat with it in a bowl of water while The Limey ran out to the late night pharmacy to get one of those spray gel things for burns. I think I reacted quickly enough, because there's barely even blisters today, just a lot of skin that looks like it's splitting and going to peel.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

swatch and a poll

Which do you prefer? I'd love to hear your opinions.

Exhibit A: horseshoes lace (from my Reader's Digest book of needlework (thanks, H!))

or Exhibit B: gothic leaf pattern (from B. Walker's Second Treasury)

They're both knit in the Be Sweet Bamboo I got in London. My idea is to make a lacy summer shell from it (for when I move to a country that has a summer, obviously), so it will be an all over lace pattern. I can't decide whether I like the curves of the horseshoes lace or the strong diagonal elements of the gothic leaf.

swatch and a question

Pink mohair: can I be having with it?

The answer is no. No. Absolutely not. This is some Jaeger Mohair I got from The Limey's mother when we visited in March. It's just barely more than half mohair, the balance made up of nylon and polyester. It feels like polyester. And the mohair isn't your finest, softest kid mohair, either. It feels like they must have spun up whatever was left after someone else got the nice stuff. Look how long the fibres are!

Those fibres like to wrap themselves around everything, most notably, each other. I had problems knitting with it from the get-go. Seriously. It was difficult to make a slip knot to start my cast on! The knitting was just as fun. I shudder to think what it would be like to tink or rip back with this yarn. Urrgghh. To be fair, this was yarn from The Limey's mum's stash, and she hasn't knit in decades, so it probably dates from the late '70s-early '80s. (Hey, can I call it vintage if I sell it on eBay?)

I don't know what I'm going to do with it, now. This yarn has no redeeming qualities. That I have lots of it, and could have more with just a short phone call to Stoke are not virtues at this point.

(Just as I was singing the praises of Jaeger, too!)

Monday, August 06, 2007

Biggest. Swatch. Ever

I'd bought some Jaeger Extrafine Merino DK a few months ago, during the last month that The Wool Shop in Bray was open. It sat around for a while, and then I got an idea for a cabled cardigan. So, my biggest swatch ever:

As a scientist, I apologize for not putting a scale bar on the image, but, as a hint of the size, this took close to a whole ball of yarn. I'm glad I swatched, too, because the cable pattern looks nothing like what the one in my head looks like. The aspect ratio is all wrong. I imagined the cables being taller and less wide. Oh, well.

Aside from the design, I also learned that I freakin' love working with this yarn. It's just so lovely. Light, even, springy, easy to knit...a great basic DK yarn. I've heard rumours that Rowan, who owns Jaeger, are discontinuing the whole Jaeger brand. I sincerely hope this is not true. I've worked with a few Jaeger yarns in my knitting life, and they have always been exceptional and joyous to knit with.

Now I'm not sure whether to continue trying to get the cable pattern in my head onto a swatch, or try for something else altogether.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Candlelight Halter

Belated, but I thought it deserved its own little FO post.

Candlelight Halter
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cathay, every inch of 3 balls- I had to cannibalize my gauge swatch to make the i-cord for the strap long enough
Needles: 4 mm Addi Turbo circulars
Pattern: my own, and now available for free download at This Is Knit

Notes: Story of the halter is here and here. My first pattern! I've designed stuff for myself before, but this is the first time I wrote it up in different sizes for a proper pattern. I'm quite proud of myself and I'm dying to know what other people think, if someone knits it. I wrote up most of the pattern after the first bamboo version, so when I made the second one, I followed my own directions to see how it worked out. It was definitely a steep learning curve between the first and second versions.

The first thing I ever made with Cathay was the cap sleeve tee, and I knit that at a much tighter gauge- I was hurting my wrists. It's much, much nicer to work with at this looser gauge. Plus, the resulting fabric is so much nicer- softer, smoother- at looser gauge.

It's been- dare I say it?- warm and not rainy the last couple of days. Maybe summer and halter weather are finally coming?!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Some job hunting statistics

For my own amusement/disappointment, I've crunched some interesting numbers from my job search so far. May also be of use to other job-hunters, especially if you're in a similar situation as me.

I write a separate CV, geared specifically towards the job description, for each job application. So the numbers here come solely from the files I can count from my computer. For jobs through recruiters, I have to rely more on my memory. But those were so few that I don't think I missed any.
For all interviews, I either had a formal phone interview OR a formal in-person interview, so no company/group/outfit/what-have-you was counted twice for interviews.

Months spent on job hunt: 4

Number of jobs applied for:

through recruiters: 3
directly: 1
Ireland total: 4

Interviews: 0

through recruiters: 0
directly: 9
UK total: 9

phone: 2
in-person: 3
UK interview total: 5
interviews from applications: 56%

applications: 13
interviews: 5
interviews from applications: 38%
# (among all applications) who had the manners to personally reject me: 7
# of applications pending: 4
# from whom I just never heard back (bastards): 2

Discussion and Conclusions
Well, now, this turned out to be a very interesting exercise for me. The biggest surprise is that I applied to so few jobs! Honestly, it seemed like I was writing CVs and applications every other day. I'm shocked it was just 13 applications. I don't think I could have mis-counted, because all the CVs I remember writing are there. Maybe there were jobs where I sent in a general CV, but I can't recall any.

The other interesting thing is the low number of interviews I got from the Irish applications. Given the interview success rate of my UK applications, I should have gotten two interviews from my 4 Irish applications. I think the low number reflects two things: 1) the small number of jobs going in this country for my particular set of skills and experience and 2) I applied to most through agencies and, basically, they can't do as good a job of representing me as I can. This effect is compounded by the fact that almost all jobs I find on Irish job sites are presented by agencies, rather than by the hiring company itself.

In future, it seems what I really need to do is step up the number of applications. However, my high interview success rate would indicate that I'm choosing well- the positions I'm applying for suit my background/skills/education very well. Increasing the number of applications would mean expanding my search criteria for jobs, which would probably mean I'd apply to more jobs that aren't so well-suited for me.

Given the bind The Limey and I find ourselves in at the moment, I've started to look for post-doc jobs, as well. So the search criteria is expanded on one front, anyway. And there are still applications out that I'm expecting to hear from in the next couple of weeks. However, time is getting tight. Also, I will seek out some advice on interviewing. Maybe I'm sending out "don't hire me" vibrations or something. I've never had to do such formal interviews for a job before, so I probably have a lot to learn about them. (In academia, they just want you to present your work and they judge you -supposedly- solely on that, not on whether you can "tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co-worker".)

Back to trawling the web, then.