harry potter and the obviously different dye lots

Why do so many of my blog posts involve me writing the word “TRAGEDY” in all caps? Um, maybe it’s because I eff up my projects so much, but this is getting ridiculous. This one is definitely 100% my own stupid fault. Read on to join my pity party.

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I decided to knit my sister a sweater for Christmas, and chose Ginny’s Cardigan from the Interweave Harry Potter Knits magazine.  I had 5 balls of superwash DK in a purplish red color in my stash, so I just bought a couple more from KnitPicks to have enough to knit the sweater. I was almost done with the sweater body today when I realized that there was a stripe where no stripe should be.  It turns out that the dye lot for the KnitPicks Swish DK Bordeaux colorway has shifted slightly to be just a little more purple. Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a lecture hall so I couldn’t fully express my frustrations, which would have involved much gnashing of teeth and loud sobbing.

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See? Very obvious stripe. Ironically, there was a post on Fringe Association yesterday about the same exact thing! I read it and thought, “Wow. I would be so sad if that happened to me.” THEN IT DID. Murphy’s law of knitting, I suppose. In the end, I decided to frog everything that I had done (and by that, I mean I decided to make David frog everything I had done, because there would be no way I could do that to myself) and buy more of the newer Bordeaux.  So much for making headway on Christmas gifts before the surgery clerkship. Luckily, this hasn’t represented TOO much time spent knitting (thank goodness for DK weight, size 6 needles and a loose gauge). Time to see how quickly I can catch back up.

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Have you ever encountered a piece of fabric and immediately known exactly what it was going to be? This was one of those fabrics for me.  I went to a Jo-Ann Fabric in Chicago for the first time ever (normally I go to the one in the town half an hour away from my parents’ house) and it BLEW MY MIND.  The Jo-Ann location I normally go to has about 1/3 the fabric that this location did, with almost exclusively quilting cotton, baby flannel prints, and licensed character/logo fleece. Not exactly the most inspiring fabric selection. But this Joann… HOO BOY. So many apparel fabrics! It was distraction city from basically the second I walked in the door. Whoops.

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Anyway, I spotted this knit fabric in passing, and it was just dying to be a knit wrap dress.  So of course I had to take it home and do its bidding.  Luckily, I found a tutorial for a Lady Skater pattern hack for a pseudo wrap dress.  It was very useful, and given the fact that I managed to use this pattern hack without any incident, it’s also definitely foolproof.

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Cutting out the fabric was probably the biggest challenge – the Lady Skater pattern does that weird thing with folding to meet the selvedge edges in the center, and this fabric was really lightweight and sticky to itself. My kitchen is about four feet wide (not kidding) and six feet long and this fabric was >60″ wide and over two yards long, so I just could not get it to fold nicely for cutting.  Instead of continuing to struggle inside, I took it out to the hallway and did the cutting there. I am that neighbor, everyone.

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After a sweaty cutting debacle, the rest of the dress came together very smoothly.  My biggest gripe with the dress is that the back gapes a bit, but that might have to do with the stretch content of the fabric + my neck binding isn’t as tight as what the original pattern suggests. It’s not gonna stop me from enjoying this crazy-printed bad boy.

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famous last words

Hello there everyone. Can y’all guess which incredibly inaccurate and foolish sentence came out of my mouth not even a month ago?

“I’m totally not doing any knitting for Christmas gifts this year.”  “I’m in the middle of destashing and not buying any yarn, and it’s going really well.”

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If you were the shrewd, cynical consumer of Internet information like I know y’all are, and you guessed that I actually said BOTH of those things, then well shucks, you’re right. Ugh. Just ugh, you guys.  Up until the beginning of August, I had only purchased two skeins of yarn for all of 2014. Just two!! I was feeling very smug about my 3 out, 1 in challenge/promise/thing. And then that fricking Knitpicks sale came along and ruined everything.

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In this gorgeous pile of shame I have enough yarn for gifts for David, my mom, dad and sister, a friend or two, and maybe even a lil’ sumpin sumpin for myself. I’m terribly torn between excitement and shame about this most recent yarn acquisition. Alas, alack.

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alright meow

Do I look like a cat to you, boy? Am I jumping around all nimbly bimbly from tree to tree? Am I drinking milk from a saucer? Do you see me eating mice?

Okay. That gets me every time. ANYWAY. Another sewing project completed!  This is Simplicity 2258 in that lovely Lizzy House Catnap fabric that I picked up at the Needle Shop a few months ago.

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This project was originally supposed to be done in time for my birthday, but you know how things happen (“things” being very upsetting booboos that make you squawk around the house and then promptly wedge the thing into a corner, out of your sight, until seeing it doesn’t make your eyelid twitch anymore). What happened to this lovely dress, you ask?  Well, you see. I have had this pen. I really liked writing with this pen – I liked the ink, and it had a little light on the tip that made it very convenient for clerkship. There was one problem with said pen. Every so often, it would glob out a big fat ink booger. This happened fairly infrequently, and like 100% of the time it did happen, the ink booger just ended up on my hand because I am a lefty and that is my lot in life. But one day, one fateful day as I studied for my Pediatrics shelf, unbeknownst to me, said pen globbed out a big ol’ ink booger right onto my desk.  Very shortly afterward I decided it was time for a sewing break, so I pulled my dress out onto the desk, and… you know where this is going. TRAGEDY!!!! Even worse, I didn’t notice until I had already ironed over the damned spot. Then I saw it – a small (but not insignificantly small) ink blob front and center at the top of the skirt. My reaction was not unlike this. Needless to say, I immediately threw that pen away with relish.

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I was pretty stumped as to how to deal with this issue (not enough fabric left to cut a big new skirt panel, too poor to justify buying more fabric just because I’m a dumbass), but of course my amazing mom came up with an answer. Why not just shorten the skirt at the waistband?  The blob was only about 2 inches down from the edge of the fabric – I could definitely shorten the skirt by that much, be judicious about hemming, and still probably get away with wearing it to clerkship!  “Genius idea, Mom!” I said, and then I promptly put the damn thing away and forgot about it until just a few days ago.

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The fix was very quick and now I am so satisfied with the result. I blogged about making the bodice here, and talked about how the princess seams went infinitely much smoother this time around.  I self-lined the bodice instead of doing facings (I hate when those things pop out of the armhole), which went very smoothly. The only gnarly (in a bad way) part of the dress for me was the armbands – the first time around with the dress, I chalked their awfulness to me f’ing it up, but this time I am beginning to think that the armbands just were not drafted with my shoulders in mind. Overall, I’m so happy with this make and I’ll definitely be wearing it over and over again.

it’s about time

It’s time to share the end of a project that is both cathartic and shameful. Cathartic because IAMSOGLADIT’SALLDONE (hem, sorry), and shameful because I should have finished the dang thing like seven months ago. Whatever could this project be? David’s “Christmas” sweater, which I have been working on for god knows how long. Well, I finally just pushed through to finish the last 6 inches of sleeve, the seaming and the collar. THE END. SAYONARA. HASTA LA VISTA. BOOM.

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Okay. So here’s the actual sweater. A little lumpy here and there, but who isn’t? It actually fits pretty well in the shoulders, arms and torso length. When I was knitting, I actually did modify the sweater and knitted all the pieces (including the sleeves) about 2″ longer than recommended because I knew that David has such a long chest/arms. There was no rhyme or reason to the extra that I chose, I just kind of picked a random number and knit to that point. I seriously almost cried with relief when he put it on and it didn’t look terribly misshapen.

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My biggest gripe for this sweater is that the collar/neck area is very tight. I don’t think I screwed up while knitting, and I blocked it to their specifications, but I don’t think even I could button this thing all the way up around my neck. I wonder where I went wrong – so strange.

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Guess what? This is the first ever adult sized sweater that I have finished. (Not the first one I’ve started, but I’m coming for you, you stinkin’ gray cardigan.) Hooray for knitting milestones! Now I’m off to work on my own cardigan, which is mercifully a) much smaller and b) a much more interesting color.

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on coming a long (or even just some of the) way

Disclaimer: this is one of those terrible posts where I talk about my personal life and relate it to crafting and do all that awful navel gazing jazz. Hopefully I won’t sound incredibly miserable, which is how, at least to my untrained eye, the overwhelming majority of medical student blogs sound.

What is this? It’s a princess seam. It’s a princess seam on an inside-out bodice of a dress that isn’t even finished and the insides aren’t even that pretty.  So why am I showing it to you? Because 2 years ago, when I sewed the exact same princess seam using that same pattern, it took me about 6 tries to do each side. That thing was an abomination. I cried, I swore, it took me two weeks to finish the bodice because I kept putting it down out of frustration, it made me want to quit sewing when I had just barely started. I kept going though, and was rewarded with two princess seams that only had a noticable-ish pucker or two. So when I chose to sew this particular pattern, I approached the princess seam with that baggage in my mind. But you know what? It didn’t suck. I had gotten better at sewing, which is hard to notice when you try so many different patterns that require different things (and you also just don’t have the free time to sew a lot). It only took me one try to do each seam, and dang, they looked pretty darn good if I do say so myself. They looked so good that I went ahead and decided to just self-line the bodice rather than do those godawful facings. Every now and then it’s good to have a win to make challenging yourself worth your while.

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Maybe you know, maybe you don’t know, but my third year of medical school has been under way for about three months now.  I just started a research month, which means there will be lots more time for posts and crafts (woo!) but I still feel like I’ve done a lot. (And enjoyed a lot, which is surprising.) I’ve done my pediatrics rotation, and while it may be calling it early, I really liked it a lot and that may be what I do for forever. Eeep. I also just finished obstetrics & gynecology on Friday! Will I go into OB/GYN? No, but I have had some pretty cool experiences. I pulled a baby out of the place where babies come from and I didn’t drop it, I saw some seriously rare stuff, I have seen some seriously sad stuff, and you can bet your britches that I have seen a lot of vaginas (and not once have I told a patient that I was about to put my fingers into my vagina, so let’s count that as a major improvement from a mere six months ago). I’ve also really bulked up my Spanish vocabulary, but it’s all words about urinary incontinence and vaginal discharge (flujo vaginal, if you’re feeling nasty, Senora Jackson).

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cloth sewing + sewing humans = two spheres of my life collide in a very strange way

The first two years of medical school were miserable. Mentally, emotionally, physically, everything-ally. I did work I wasn’t proud of, I constantly felt stressed about my future and even more stressed about burdening those around me with those feelings, I became very socially anxious, and I spent more time than I’d like to remember in bed with a migraine. Needless to say, I questioned why I was in medical school in the first place. For a long time, I was convinced I had made the wrong choice (am I now convinced that I made the right one? nope, but I’m still here, so I’d like to think that counts for something) and I spent a long time looking at other grad programs, job options, and just daydreaming about what my life could be like free from the miserable future I melodramatically believed that I had boxed myself into. In case you’re curious: my imaginary dropout scenes were approximately as dramatic and fabulous as that of the Weasley twins’, but instead of opening a joke shop I would go on to become an international craft-gymnastics-cat blogging sensation. Hey. Crazier things have happened.

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the most “medical” thing i’ve ever done – work the night shift, wear scrubs, and eat takeout from a plastic hospital dish that was definitely meant for something other than chicken pad thai. cue the scrubs theme, everyone.

But I kept going. Not sure why, but it probably had a lot to do with my amazing boyfriend and the other people who cheered me on even when I didn’t deserve it. And now I’m here, and you know what? It doesn’t suck. Sometimes it’s even fun. I can feel myself getting better and learning, which is a very cool, strange feeling, possibly the only thing stranger would be feeling my hair or fingernails grow. In the end, will medicine have been the one and only career for me? Probably no, but I’m okay with sticking around and helping people out.

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embarrassing bathroom selfie (no worries, hands were clean). it is cruel irony that someone who cares so much about sewing should have to wear the most shapeless, wrinkly clothes on a daily basis. not one single dart!!! NOT ONE.

TL;Dr. (see what I did there?) – I am finally coming out from that dark hole that consumed me for a very long time. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re getting better, and that is my message to everyone who might be in a similar boat. It’s good to be reminded that you’re not wasting your time, that you can improve, and that things can get better without you noticing it until all of a sudden boom! You’re kind of excited about the next day.

Do I worry that saying these things will bar my entry into the residency program of my choice? Yes, but then again, if my top choice residency program doesn’t acknowledge that burnout exists and physicians sometimes end up in dark places needing to care for themselves, then I maybe shouldn’t have made that my top choice program.

for future neck snuggles

Knitting in the summer is a terrible double-edged sword.  On one hand, I have a little more free time to knit, but on the other hand, when I finish a project, I can’t (and don’t want to) enjoy it for 5 months at least.  The finished object lies on my desk or dresser for a few weeks and I occasionally pet/squeeze it, and then I regretfully stash it for a colder, wetter, more miserable day.

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This is definitely one of those projects. As I finished the triple needle bind off, I casually mentioned to David that I couldn’t wait to wear my new project. David turned around  and the look he gave me was colder than the weather I’d need to wear this scarf without getting sweaty. Point taken, David. I’ll wait until November.

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The pattern is the Marble Falls Cowl from Ravelry, which I picked to show off my lovely YarnCon purchase. The pattern was modified slightly –  I was just a teensy bit short on yarn, so I took out one 5 row repeat in the middle section of the cowl.  I love the shell-like pattern, and the yarn is so soft and squishy!

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