April Fools!

birdunderpants

Several prototypes

I have some exciting news…I’ve decided to focus all my attentions on my true passion. I’m going to be opening up an etsy shop called Polly Wants Panties: Artisanal Underpants for Discerning Birds. I’m so excited to embark on this new chapter of my life!

First Circular Knit: West Desert Hood

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I finished my very first circular knit just in time for fall! I used the absolutely fabulous West Desert Hood pattern.

A note on the ribbing– I found that using a 8 ply yarn with US size 8 needles made for some very loose and rather sloppy looking ribbing. I had never done ribbing before so I learned this the hard way, and it involved a lot of ripping out my work while making an angry monster face. SO after much trial and error, I ended up using US size 6 needles for the ribbing and then transferring it over to the US size 8s for the rest of the pattern (until the final ribbing). I suppose it’s a matter of taste; I prefer tighter looking ribbing.

I didn’t get any in-progress shots, but it’s really quite a fun and simple pattern!

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I used Malabrigo Mech in Archangel, which is just the most gorgeous yarn, with its blend of reds, oranges, and purples. I discovered it in a little yarn shop in Maine, and I’m absolutely hooked!

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Bonus cell phone selfie! It was about 80 degrees outside when I took this and it’s quite a warm cowl, so that might account for the crazy eyes.

Crochet Sputnik Amigurumi

So this past October 4th marked the 58th year of Sputnik 1’s launch into orbit! I guess I’ve been thinking about Sputnik recently because I just visited former East Berlin. Also, who doesn’t love the early space age? So exciting! Anyway, to mark the happy occasion, I made my own little Sputnik:

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He’s so cute! If you want to make your own fuzzy Sputnik, I used this pattern for his body (specifically the row 14 sphere), sewing on the face and filling him with stuffing before closing up the ball. I made up my own pattern for the legs.

Leg pattern:

Starting: Magic circle, ch1, sc 4 into the magic circle, slst to ch1
Round 1: Ch1, sc in each sc on the outer loop, slst to ch1
Rounds 2-25: ch1, sc in each sc around, slst to ch1

I used a 3.0 mm crochet hook for the legs since I wanted them nice and thin. I poked a bit of stuffing into them before sewing them onto the body.

Anywhooooo, I have been busy working on some other things in the past few months. I’ve been toying around with the idea of opening up an etsy shop (and got a commission!), but I ended up getting an Adult Person job, so I’m not sure if it will happen.

Hammerhead Shark: My First Crochet Amigurumi

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Drink umbrella for size. And shade.

In honor of Shark Week, I made my first amigurumi! I named him Sharkie Shark (but he does not hang out with the funky bunch). He likes hanging out under tiny drink umbrellas in the sand and collecting seashells.

So, I actually really love sharks as an animal, and hammerheads are one of my favorite sharks. While I like the concept of Shark Week, I am really not a fan of Discovery’s programming (I think its filled with unscientific fear-exploiting garbage that just harms the reputation of sharks). But I wanted to make a little amigurumi shark to celebrate the wondrous toothy creatures anyway!

I’ve never made an amigurumi before, and I found it to be a fun and quick experience! I worked from a pattern in this book. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it though– the instructions were a bit unclear and the fin pattern was a complete mess. I ended up creating my own pattern for all of the fins (tail, dorsal, and pectoral) and changing the eyes (why use french knots in yarn when you have beads?).

Bonus pictures:

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Finally Spring!

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It has been winter for a good long while in these parts. And only recently has it finally begun to act like spring! That means bees are buzzing, buds are blooming, and birds are….birding. Obviously I have an obsessive need to document everything and have been taking lots of pictures of the little creatures enjoying the warmer weather as I sit outside and read through The Gulag Archipelago (because it’s such great springtime reading?). I guess you can take the girl out of the poli-sci but you can’t take the poli-sci out of the girl. The birds at least provide a nice counter balance to the sad gulag human rights abuses.

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Goldfinch! We only ever get one or two of them in the spring and summer, and he’s pretty elusive. I guess he was hungry this day.

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A plucky little cardinal.

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House finch sitting in a tree.

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Here are the two of them sharing the feeder! The cardinal looks terribly suspicious of me.

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From top left, clockwise: chickadee, house finch, grosbeak (female), and nuthatch.

We have also seen a new face at our brand new hummingbird feeder!

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It’s a ruby-throated hummingbird! He’s quite small and difficult to spot as he flits back and forth.

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Flapping those wings very hard and fast.

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Getting a hit of that sweet, sweet sugar water. He’s actually pretty frustrating to photograph because he moves so quickly and is so tiny.

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I think I might name him Waldo, after the eponymous and elusive striped-shirt wearer. Relatedly, I wish I had one of those enormous NatGeo zoom lenses the size of an 18th century cannon. Anyone wanna loan me $10,000?

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The caterpillars and the dandelions are also out in full swing. And, finally, the cherry tree in our yard is blossoming! It’s nice to finally see signs of life after all the snow.

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Aquarium Trip

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Is there anything I love more than aquariums? Maybe cake. Maybe.

So I recently took a trip to the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Connecticut with my boyfriend. With the minor exception of some misbehaved screaming children and a strange promotional day that involved the most depressing cello player I’ve ever heard, it was a lot of fun!

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It’s located right on the Norwalk River, and it was a beautiful day!

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There were, of course, all manner of strange fish.

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Fish is staring at you!

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Did this fish just hear a piece of juicy gossip?

There were, of course, more than just fish there…

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I think the frog to the left was an albino.

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Here is his non-albino counterpart hiding under a leaf. We can see you, frog! You fool no one!

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I was pretty excited about these two axolotls (the dark one blends into the background a little)! Is there a more awesome salamander? The answer is no.

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Here is a diamondback terrapin. The poor thing was being constantly bothered by the other terrapins in the tank as it tried to sleep. I came back later to find this:

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Happy ending: it finally found some peace and quiet!

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They also had a bigger type of turtle: the sea turtle!

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Here are some anemones and moon jellies.

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A fish enjoying the anemone.

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One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish!

My favorite animal at the aquarium, however, was definitely…

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…this goofus, the dragon moray eel. There were also other “dragons” at the exhibit…

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For instance, this Chinese water dragon.

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A sailfin dragon.

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And this weedy sea dragon! (Okay, maybe this guy was my favorite animal there.) And I’m so happy I managed to get a semi decent picture of him (despite the fact that it appeared the aquarium had cleaned the glass on his exhibit with vaseline jelly and flour.)

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But the tiny residents of the aquarium shouldn’t be forgotten! I found this minuscule hermit crab in the seahorse exhibit. He appeared to be shopping around for a new home.

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Here is the aforementioned seahorse, roommate of the house shopping hermit crab.

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Close up of the seahorse.

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One of my favorite animals of all time: the lobster! But why are their claws banded like that?

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A silly looking fish who stood around staring at me.

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A pretty lionfish!

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A harbor seal enjoying the beautiful day!

So, I hope you enjoyed this interlude of aquatic animals. If not, the fish below is going to sit and judge you.

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Actually, I think he’s going to do that no matter what.

Kathmandu

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Everest:

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV

If you can spare any amount, please consider donating to one of the many charities that are helping Nepal following the horrific and tragic earthquake.

To make any pictures larger, just click on them.

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A view of Kathmandu from the plane

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The very small airport of Kathmandu

Okay, so I actually did not spend very many days in Kathmandu, so these pictures are limited to only a few sights around town. I wish I had had time to see more!

First up was Boudhanath!

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It is an enormous and impressive Buddhist stupa in the middle of a square. Apparently it’s one of the largest in the world! And it really is remarkable– there is an elevated walkway that allows you to walk around the stupa. Sort of relatedly, I think it was during this little walk that I began my slow lung damage. They were burning some kind of incense, and I inhaled. A lot.

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Above is the view that greets you walking into the square and then a street view near the stupa. Look at all those crazy wires! That was definitely another point of interest– the insane amount of electrical wires.

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A woman holding a prayer wheel at the entrance to the stupa walkway.

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We also went into one of the nearby temples at the Boudhanath plaza. It was extremely colorful and beautiful!

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The pictures are a little low-lighting since they allowed pictures but frowned upon flash photography. I loved the gorgeous paintings that decorated the walls (as seen in the photo to the right)!

We also visited a painting school in the square where children were taught to paint the ubiquitous Buddhist mandala paintings.

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Here is one of the students hard at work (although, ugh, he’s gonna hurt his back with that posture). They were amazing! I cannot fathom that intense level of detail. They apparently train and practice for years to reach mastery level. There were, of course, paintings for sale at the school. The prices varied with the level of skill of the student– beginner, intermediate, advanced-intermediate, and master. Only masters are permitted to sign their paintings (which, as an artist, really struck me). I ended up buying this painting:

mandalapainting

It is an intermediate level student painting. You can tell it is not a master painting because it is unsigned, and there are small errors within it. I didn’t care though– I thought that the colors were absolutely beautiful!

The next stop was Durbar Square.

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Here’s Durbar Square filled with afternoon strollers and children with balloons!

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Durbar Square is filled with beautiful temples and vendors selling balloons.

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There was also a thriving market nearby.

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Here is one of the beautiful doors on a building and a very tired man.

We didn’t stick around Durbar Square for too long. We walked around the area and then went down one of the many side streets towards lunch!

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I saw this little cutie pie on the way down the street.

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Some of the side streets we went down (while ducking from motorcycles). I apparently love taking photos of streets.

Up next was Swayambhunath (say that five times fast…).

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Swayambhunath is a Buddhist complex atop a hill that features another massive stupa (as seen above). It also features one bazillion stairs to reach this stupa. Not that I’m complaining (okay, I’m complaining just a little).

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It was most definitely worth the climb! You can see all the prayer wheels in the photo to the left.

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The guy in the picture to the right definitely had the right idea. It was such a gorgeous afternoon that I really felt like having a nice nap too.

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Here is a monk who walked around the stupa, spinning the prayer wheels.

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In the picture to the left is a giant Buddha statue that is part of the complex on the hill.

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Here is one of the many stray dogs in Kathmandu. I thought the contrast between the mangy stray dog and the golden statute of a dog he’s laying beneath was pretty striking.

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The view of Kathmandu from the top of Swayambhunath.

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More stupas with Buddha eyes at a monk circling the large circle with the prayer wheels.

Did you know that Swayambhunath is also known as Monkey Temple? Hm, why could that be I wonder…

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Yep! There were monkeys a plenty, particular at the bottom of the complex.

And sadly that was the extent of my sightseeing in Kathmandu. The rest of my time was spent in Thamel, which is basically the tourist area of the city and where most foreigners/tourists stay while in Kathmandu.

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Two streets in Thamel, one with dazzling prayer flags and one with dazzling (and quite frankly an impressive amount of) electrical wires. I was almost hit by a motorcycle about fifteen separate times on these little side streets. Also worth noting– I managed to find extremely cheap and excellent Italian food in Thamel. My little heart sang! All I could think about climbing up and down Everest was spaghetti bolognese.

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Hmmm…something leads me to believe that this is not, in fact, a Walmart.

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And I’ll leave you with two final pictures of Thamel– one at dusk and one right at dawn.

Though I was only there very briefly, Kathmandu was an overwhelming and exhilarating city filled with gorgeous temples, delicious food, and– well– lots of noise! It was also filled with kind and friendly people. Again, if you can, please consider donating to one of the many charities that are helping Nepal. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to see something so awful happen to such a wonderful country.

Crochet Garden Flowers Shawl

springflowersshawl

*Drumroll* I finally finished my shawl that I have been working on for…..a million years? Okay, maybe just a year. Life got in the way! The timing is at least good…it’s finally spring!

It is made up of 39 individual flowers that were then joined together continuously. I had some issues with the pattern, so I’m going to post some of my corrections here.

The pattern: here it is! 

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Oh my Ford, I approached this like an assembly line. I made all the little centers of the flowers first. Here is a nice little pile of them (but obviously not all of them).

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Then, of course, I did the petals on the flowers. Here is a picture of a stack of about half of the flowers I made.

Okay, here is where things start getting tricky. The pattern for the flowers themselves was great. The pattern for joining the flowers…less so. Honestly, it was riddled with issues. Why, you ask? Let’s take a look:

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Source.

Here is the diagram in the pattern for joining the flowers. It’s great except for one glaring problem…

flowershawlissue

Following the pattern exactly as it’s written will result in those gaps in the border (in the darker blue) in between the flowers! Compare the first row of flowers (wherein I followed the pattern exactly) with the second row (where I made some corrections). One clearly looks much better.

In order to get the border around the entire flower and also join it in two places, you will have to backtrack over some of your work. (Is this starting to feel like a weird middle school math problem yet?) I’m really not much of a pattern writer at all, but I did make a little diagram to help make things clearer for anyone who would like to do this pattern with corrections:

flowerinstructionsnumbers

So, loosely following the diagram from the pattern, this is what you will have when you’re ready to go around the bottom of a row of flowers. They will be half joined on top. Following the numbers in the picture:

1: continue working the pattern as written– (sc, ch 3, sc) in ch-1 sp, ch 5, sc between 2 sc, ch 5, repeat.

2: again, continue working the pattern. (sc, ch 3, sc) into the ch-1 sp, ch 5, sc between 2 sc, ch5. But then slip stitch into the ch-1 sp.

3: Slip stitch along the chain joining the two flowers and slip stitch into the ch-1 sp on the other flower. You should now be on the other flower.

4: Once in the ch-1 space, ch 5, sc between 2sc, ch 5.

5: Sc in ch-1 sp of the flower you are working on, ch 1, sc into ch-3 sp of opposite flower (you made the ch-3 sp on step 2, and this joins the two flowers), ch1, slip stitch back into ch1 space.

6: Ch 5, sc between 2 sc, repeat pattern as written with these corrections.

Hopefully some of that is coherent? It results in the most consistent-looking joins at the petals. Anyway, here are some more pictures of the finished shawl:

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All folded up.

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Folded in half because why not, I guess?

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All laid out so it looks like the joining diagram!

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Garden flower shawl in action! Disclaimer: it is beautiful but not particularly warm.

The Legend of Korra Crochet Gloves

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Wow, it feels like I haven’t completed a crochet project in approximately 5000 years. I’m close to finished on several larger things I’ve been working on, but I took some time in between to make these gloves!

So, I’ve been (obsessively) watching The Legend of Korra. I finished Avatar: The Last Airbender and didn’t know how to go on, but then I discovered that Korra is actually the better show (sorry Avatar fans). I especially love its design and the titular character. I was watching one day and thought “hey, her armband and bracers would make some wicked gloves!”

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Source.

So I set about making them! Given how narrow the triangles are and the constraints of working with yarn, I had my work cut out for me. My first wristband featured fat triangles that were just too big.

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Too big!

So I tried again and came up with a better pattern for more slender triangles:

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To the left is the initial part of the triangle and then to the right is the finished triangle with a border of single crochet. It gives it a little bit more substance and makes sewing them together a lot easier.

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Here are all the triangles sewn together but not yet sewn into a circle. I decided to go with a raised blue bauble (instead of just a flat circle) on the white triangles because…well….I liked how it looked better. It gave it that extra razzle dazzle! Once the triangles were all sewn together and joined into a wristband, I crocheted the easy part– the dark blue glove.

Lest anyone think otherwise, the hardest part of this whole endeavor was modeling the gloves. I have a rather heavy DSLR camera and taking one handed pictures with my left hand is easier said than done. And I have photographic proof!

Glove photoshoot outtakes:

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Nope, I totally missed.

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Okay, we’re getting closer now.

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Almost….!

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Welp, there’s pretty much no excuse for this one.