Saturday, September 16, 2017

Poop Emoji Inspired Knit Hat

Dr. Katharine Ng
I was inspired to knit this hat for Dr. Katharine Ng who got her PhD studying how bacteria that live in the intestines respond to antibiotic treatment. So, basically, she worked with a lot of poop. Read more about her work [insertlinkhere].
I used the poop emoji as inspiration and designed this hat with 6 poops around the hat. I added a pom pom on the top for some extra character. You can get the pattern on Ravelry [insertlinkhere], on Craftsy [insertlinkhere] or directly [insertlinkhere]. Happy stitching!
Please note: this page is under construction. I'll be adding the links in the next few days as well as more about Kat and her research so stay tuned!




Saturday, September 9, 2017

Scientists in Stitches - Loren Cassin Sackett, PhD


"Scientists in Stitches" is a new series on my blog where I will interview scientists about their careers and the steps they have taken to get there. I have made each of these scientists a knit item that represents their PhD (#KnityourPhD) or career (#KnityourScience). 

This post features Dr. Loren Cassin Sackett. Loren is an evolutionary biologist that does some amazing work studying natural resistance to pathogens using the prairie dog and the Hawaiian 'amakihi as model organisms.

You can follow along with Loren at the links below. Her Instagram feed is especially rad. 
website: http://www.cassinsackett.com 
twitter: (@LorenCSackett) https://twitter.com/lorencsackett?lang=en
instagram: (@travellingcassin) https://www.instagram.com/travelingcassin/

What is your current job title and what do you do in your job?

Loren at the bench in her Prairie dog knit hat
I am an Assistant Professor in Integrative Biology at the University of South Florida. I spend about half of my time on research and half on teaching/mentoring activities (I teach both mammalogy and evolution). My research is focused on evolutionary processes in wildlife, including dynamics of small populations, adaptation to introduced diseases, and the disruption of gene flow by habitat fragmentation. Given that much of my research is on wildlife, I am in the enviable position of getting to do some field work each year in amazing places like Colorado and Hawaii, although I also do a lot of molecular lab work, data analysis and writing, and above all mentor students in how to do those things.


What is a typical workday for you?

The first and most important part of my day is making coffee.  :)  I bike to work, and then usually start my day by writing something I'm working on (a paper, grant proposal, lecture, etc.).  I start this way because as soon as I open my email, chaos breaks loose (I get about 100 emails a day during the middle of a semester).  I also have a lot of meetings with students.  I teach two days a week and spend those days planning activities, writing lectures, reading papers that are relevant to the course, and grading.  I try to infuse contemporary science into the courses I teach, which benefits the students because they get an idea of what scientists are actually doing in the field/lab, and how they are generating knew knowledge.  And it's good for me too, because it keeps me abreast of the relevant literature.  For me, this is one of the things that I tend to let slide too much when I get busy, so it's nice to have something that forces me to keep reading.  
On the days that I don't teach, I try to pick a specific project to work on so I can make noticeable progress on it.  It's hard for me to multi-task different projects on the same day, so I try to generate some momentum to carry them forward separately.  I still have to answer emails these days, but I spend more time reading abstracts and papers, writing, and planning research projects. Those things pretty much eat up 8 hours in what feels like no time!  I am currently developing a new class, so unfortunately my workday does not end after 8 hours, but I try to minimize the amount of time I spend at home working (work-life balance and all that).  :)


What inspired your interest in science?

Loren with 'amakihi (source)
It had to be my mom and my grandpa, who encouraged me to constantly ask questions about the world around me, and to try to understand the patterns I saw.  I did not recognize this as an interest in science until much later -- in fact, I rebelled against my mother in high school be deciding that I would study psychology.  I obviously did not know exactly what science was!  I think I was probably subject to many subconscious ideas that science was performed by old white-haired men in lab coats in dark windowless labs, and my understanding of science was limited to what I had done in high school courses, so I thought it consisted of essentially doing 30-minute experiments that had no purpose because we already knew what the outcome was supposed to be.  I had no concept that a scientist designed her own experiments to answer her own questions about the mysteries of the world, or that those experiments could lead to fascinating new questions.  But when I finally figured out that research was a career--that a person could get paid to seek knowledge--I knew right away that that was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.  My mom and my grandpa probably wondered what took me so long.

I think I was probably subject to many subconscious ideas that science was performed by old white-haired men in lab coats in dark windowless labs ...  I had no concept that a scientist designed her own experiments to answer her own questions about the mysteries of the world, or that those experiments could lead to fascinating new questions.  

What training/education did you do to get to where you are now?
Loren with prairie dog (source)
I took kind of a circuitous path to get here.  I was always passionate about conservation, but I never really knew what types of careers could be associated with conservation work, except some that did not appeal to me (like fundraising from private donors, which is essential work but is better suited to extroverts). I was fascinated by a lot of scientific fields and ended up studying psychology in college, even though I didn't want to be a practitioner.  It was through participating in psychology research that I learned research could be a career.  By this time, I had discovered conservation genetics, and immediately after I graduated, I enrolled in undergraduate courses in biology to get the prerequisites for graduate school (but I never actually got a bachelor's in biology).  I received my PhD in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, and I was lucky to have received really solid training in both ecology and evolution from a fantastic department.  And thanks to the patience of my PhD advisor, I took a lot of opportunities to receive specialty training elsewhere:  I took 2 short courses in Costa Rica through the Organization for Tropical Studies, and I took a leave of absence from CU for personal reasons and audited Alan Templeton's population genetics class at Washington University in St. Louis.  I think it was really useful to gain intellectual perspectives from a lot of very diverse-thinking scientists.  Eventually (!) I finished my PhD and secured a postdoctoral fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, which is really the dream for a conservation biologist.  One of the things that was important to me in a postdoc was to work in a different system and learn a new skill set.  Not everyone chooses this strategy, because it does take a lot of time to shift systems and techniques, and many postdoc terms are not really long enough for this.  I was fortunate that my PI and I were able to secure funding to keep me there for 3 years, and I learned a lot of genomics tools--which is becoming essential for biologists today. 

What was your best day in science?

Wow, that's a really tough question. I haven't had a Nature paper or anything prize-worthy, but I appreciate the little victories (like an editor choosing my paper to feature on the journal's website) and I love fieldwork. Last year I got to backpack into a field site on Kauai with a 40-lb pack that kept hitting trees above my head level, and army-crawl under fallen logs to get to one of the most pristine places on Hawaii (except for the tourist helicopters flying overhead).  And catching elusive species (like the Kauai amakihi, which we caught only three of in a week) is really satisfying.  When the animals make us really work hard for it, the feeling of success is greater.
And actually, I really like the day-to-day work in almost all respects. I love having students get excited about projects, and getting grants funded is an awesome feeling.  



What was your worst day in science?

Well, some of the same days. Before we caught that Kauai amakihi, it felt like a huge failure and a waste of money to be spending all this time not catching anything. It is always really frustrating having dozens of traps set at a prairie dog colony with dozens of prairie dogs and not having ANY of them go into the traps. The days when you realize rodents are outsmarting you really start to make you question your sanity.
Bad days are also the ones when I get rejected from something.  There's a lot of rejection in science -- rejection from jobs, rejection from grant proposals, rejection of papers.  I try to just assume everything will get rejected, and then I'm not too disappointed when it happens, and if it doesn't, then it's especially exciting.  And I remind myself that everyone gets rejected and not to take it personally.
There's a lot of rejection in science -- rejection from jobs, rejection from grant proposals, rejection of papers.
What do you do in your free time?

I try to stay active and keep my body healthy as a balance to working my brain all day.  I love being outside. Biking makes me feel completely liberated, like I am capable of anything (it's a nice illusion).  Biking--mostly commuting rather than going on long weekend rides right now--is the main thing that keeps me sane.  And I like hiking, rollerblading along the water, running, etc.  I read, but never enough! 

What are your hobbies?

I dabble in photography.  Nothing fancy--mostly pictures from my travels.  I really love traveling.  Well, it's more than love: it's more like an insatiable desire to explore every corner of the planet.  When I see a dirt road winding around a bend, I have to take it.  It's not even a choice, it's an urge I can't control.  I love meeting people from all over the world and seeing the day-to-day life in other countries, and I really appreciate the perspective it gives me on the world. 

video
7 of Loren's travel photos, 1 from each continent

If you could send a letter back to your 18-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself?

Ha! So many things: Listen to your mother. Practice your Spanish with your classmates. Science is fun, and you can be good at it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Now it is your time to participate:
If you have any questions for Dr. Cassin Sackett, leave them in the comments below. If there is enough interest, I'll gladly publish a follow-up with Loren so she can answer your questions!


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Wonder Woman Inspired Knit Hat


I designed this hat to show my excitement over the Wonder Woman movie. I very rarely go to movies in the theatre but I made an exception for this one and it did not disappoint me. It was such a great story! I particularly loved the development of Diana's character and how she went from seeing the world in "right" and "wrong" to viewing it in complicated shades of gray.

I designed this hat to use a colorwork pattern that was inspired by the original Wonder Woman's costume. The pattern for the hat can be found here on Ravelry, here on Craftsy, or purchased directly here.


Saturday, August 19, 2017

Solar eclipse knit hat

Y'all, I am so excited to see the solar eclipse tomorrow! I extended a trip to visit my family for a few days so that I could swing back through St. Louis first just so I could witness my first ever total solar eclipse. I designed this knit hat to mark the occasion. The hat features the path of the moon as it covers the sun. I even embroidered on the corona of the sun onto the hat. If only the solar eclipse was during the winter! Unfortunately, I'll only be wearing this when I am in air conditioned places on Monday, but it is awesome anyways.

You can get the hat here on Ravelry or purchase directly here. It will be free up until the eclipse with the promotion code "Eclipse2017".


Here are some interesting facts I have learned about the eclipse:
1) It is only safe to look at the sun when the eclipse is in totality. It is never safe to look at the sun, but it is even more dangerous during the eclipse because the decrease in ambient light will make your pupils dilate and expose more of the retina. Bottom line: DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN UNTIL TOTALITY! If you are not lucky enough to be in the path of totality, DON'T LOOK DIRECTLY AT THE SUN!

2) Safe ways to view the sun include special approved solar glasses (my rad ones complement my knit hat perfectly), pinhole camera obscura viewing boxes that project an image of the sun onto the inside of the box, and even using binoculars to direct an image of the sun onto a screen and focus on it. Find instructions for 6 safe ways to view the eclipse here

3) Some animals will begin their nighttime behavior during totality even though it is in the middle of the day. I am particularly excited to witness this occurring.

4) Many people will be participating in citizen science efforts by using apps on their smart phones to record observations during the eclipse. In particular, one project by NASA will be monitoring temperature before, during, and after the eclipse (more information here) and another project from the California Academy of Sciences will record plants and animal behavior during the eclipse (more information here). 

Enjoy the eclipse and the knitting pattern!



Saturday, August 12, 2017

Black Lives Matter Knit Hat (#BLM)

There was a white supremacy rally in Charlottesville, Virginia last night. I was disgusted when I heard about it this morning. This cannot and should not be allowed and we need to stand against hate and stand for the equality of all people.

I designed a Black Lives Matter hat a while back and have been wearing it in public for the last few weeks. The events of last night gave me the spur of energy needed to finish writing the pattern.

Also, I included instructions for altering the hat to fit afros. I have very flat hair and my hat designs typically fit those with flatter hair perfectly, but I have not done a good job altering my designs to be inclusive for those with different hair styles. Here are my suggestions for altering this hat as well as any of my other designs to be suitable with afros. Please contact me if you have any other suggestions or guidelines for designing hats for people of color as I had a hard time finding resources for this online and had to consult some friends for advice.

Notes for altering beanie hat designs to accomodate afros: To make a hat that can accomodate an afro where all the hair is shoved into the hat, as a general rule, add 1 inch to the hat (before decreasing) for every 3 inches of afro. The ribbing will need to be tight enough to stay on and you may consider sewing some stretchy satin to the brim. If the wearer intends to wear the hat over an afro with the hair down, the hat should be made wider rather than taller and 1-2 black stitches could be added to one side of each repeat.

Click here to get a printer-friendly pdf of this Black Lives Matter Knit Hat pattern.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Cafe Zoë fundraiser for Willow Oaks Elementary School

Kathleen Daly and her daughter Zoë Sharkey
Source: Cafe Zoë's facebook page
Today I would like to showcase a fundraiser that is ongoing through the end of August at Cafe Zoë, my local cafe.

Cafe Zoë regularly runs fundraisers to provide Willow Oaks Elementary with needed items. Willow Oaks is part of the Ravenswood School District, which, from what I can gather, was the victim of some unfortunate rezoning over 25 years ago after the completion of Highway 101. It appears that some of the more middle class neighborhoods "opted" to join the Menlo Park City School Disctrict (source). Willow Oaks Elementary in particular, was pretty much abandoned by the neighboring communities, whose members must send their kids to schools that are farther away than the elementary school nestled in their neighborhood.

Cafe Zoë is a neighborhood cafe run by Kathleen Daly and it's my regular blogging and knitting pattern writing hangout. Daly has a huge heart and has, along with the patrons of her cafe, adopted Willow Oaks to raise money for items the school needs. In the past, the successful fundraising campaigns have purchased spare school uniforms and choral risers for the children. The current fundraiser is providing art tables to the school. Daly says some of the students are rewarded for good behavior by being able to make artistic creations on posterboard. Currently, the art teacher must push together small desks to make do as the school does not have art tables.
A map showing the communities that "opted" out
of the Ravenswood school district (source)

Daly's daughter, Zoë Sharkey, who manages events took the lead on this fundraiser and recruited local artists (including myself) to donate items to the fundraiser. The artists are displaying their art in the cafe through the end of August and a portion of any art sold will be donated to Willow Oaks. The artworks can be viewed in an album here. If anyone would like to help out with the fundraiser or purchase art, they can contact Cafe Zoë directly here. Cafe Zoë is almost halfway to its goal for the fundraiser and hopes to purchase four art tables for the school.
Craftimism's "Politiknits" items for sale at the Cafe Zoë fundraiser - earrings, pins/magnets, and coffee sleeves

To learn more about Cafe Zoë, check out their website here: http://www.cafezoehub.com/contact/

Here are a subset of the donated works of art: (click here to view all donated art in an album)
















Monday, July 24, 2017

Resistance themed coffee cup sleeves

I was so blown away by the Women's March and the March for Science that I have been knitting resistance items for months now. I designed these Resistance-themed coffee cup sleeves to honor the efforts of the Pussy Hat Project and the Project Thinking Cap. I hope these items will serve as small reminders and inspiration to keep the resistance alive and well and stand up for science and women's rights every day.

GET THE PATTERNS:
I've decided to give away the pattern Pussy Hat cup sleeve for FREE here. If you have the means, please consider donating some money on my behalf to a progressive cause or buying the pattern bundle here on weDoNotAgree (info below).


I've decided to use these patterns to raise money for Planned Parenthood, the National Resources Defense Council, American Civil Liberties Union, or Southern Poverty Law Center. If you would like to get the bundle of ALL FIVE PATTERNS, they can be yours for a $10 donation to a progressive cause of your choice (may I suggest PP or NRDC to support women's rights and the environment) at weDoNotAgree

SUPPORT WeDoNotAgree:
If you have not heard of www.weDNA.org (weDoNotAgree) yet, it is like the Etsy of the resistance. Crafters donate items to sell and buyers get those items in exchange for a donation to the ACLU, SPLC, Planned Parenthood, or NRDC. Check them out and consider buying products or becoming a vendor. The entire effort there is 100% donation based so ALL proceeds go to the chosen cause. You can also follow them on Instagram to see featured products.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Star Wars Alliance Starbird inspired knit hat and armband

I designed this hat based on the symbol for the Star Wars Alliance Starbird. Full disclosure, I am not a superfan of Star Wars (at least not yet). However, I saw this symbol and I thought it would work great on a hat. I adapted it to work with a loose gauge.

The pattern for the hat can be found here on Ravelry and purchased directly here. The hat pattern comes with a bonus armband pattern (shown below). Make sure to make the symbol in red to represent the Rebel Alliance.












Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Simple Knit and Crochet Heart patterns - #Hearts4Cville


I designed these knit hearts to be used as a symbol of love and hope after hearing about the tragic Max attack in Portland that inspired the #hearts4PDX effort. A friend of mine designed a simple crochet heart as well (found at the bottom of this page).

These are also perfect to make and send to Laughing Sheep yarn in Charlottesville to show the city how much love the world has for them. Please see the Hearts for Cville Facebook page for more information.

Share your hearts on social media using #Hearts4Cville.

Garter stitch heart
© Heidi Arjes, 2017. This pattern is for personal use only. Commercial use without written permission of the author is prohibited.
Directions:
You can use the yarn and needles of your choice. I used worsted weight yarn and needles so that the finished product would be loose (I'd imagine size 8 will work for most knitters). Gauge is not super important.

Cast on 10 Stitches
Row 1-6: Knit
Row 7: K2tog K8 (9 stitches on needle)
Row 8: K2tog K7 (8 stitches on needle)
Row 9: K2tog K6 (7 stitches on needle)
Row 10: K2tog K5 (6 stitches on needle)
Row 11: K2tog K4 (5 stitches on needle)
Row 12: K2tog K3 (4 stitches on needle)
Row 13: K2tog K2 (3 stitches on needle)
Row 14: K2tog K1 (2 stitches on needle)
Row 15: K2tog (1 stitches on needle)

Cut yarn and pull needle to pull the end through the final stitch. Pull tight.

Finishing:
Cut yarn to ~10 inch length. Use yarn needle or crochet hook to pull yarn through center of heart. Tie on the top to create the top bumps of the heart. When you are happy with the shape, tie a tight square knot at the top of the heart and then tie the top of the strings so it can be hung up. I used the yarn needle to stitch the cast on tail down to the cast off tail and I tied those. You can leave the tails long as a tassel, trim them, or weave the ends into the heart.
Off the needles, the heart is not yet a heart.

String yarn through the heart as shown.


Tie the yarn tightly at the top to make the heart shape.

Stockinette in the round heart
© Heidi Arjes, 2017. This pattern is for personal use only. Commercial use without written permission of the author is prohibited.
Directions:
You can use the yarn and double pointed needles of your choice. I used worsted weight yarn and needles so that the finished product would be loose (I'd imagine size 8 will work for most knitters). Gauge is not super important.


Cast on 20 Stitches, divide to two needles, 10 stitches per needle
Join to knit in the round
Round 1-6: Knit
Round 7: *K2tog K8* repeat twice
Round 8: *K2tog K7*
Round 9: *K2tog K6*
Round 10: *K2tog K5*
Round 11: *K2tog K4*
Round 12: *K2tog K3*
Round 13: *K2tog K2*
Round 14: *K2tog K1*
Round 15: *K2tog*
Round 16: K2tog

Cut yarn and pull needle to pull the end through the final stitch. Pull tight.

Finishing:
Use the cast on tail and yarn needle to whip stitch the top closed. Cut yarn to ~10 inch length. Use yarn needle or crochet hook to pull yarn through center of heart. Tie on the top to create the top bumps of the heart. When you are happy with the shape, tie a tight square knot at the top of the heart and then tie the top of the strings so it can be hung up. I used the yarn needle to stitch the cast on tail down to the cast off tail and I tied those. You can leave the tails long as a tassel, trim them, or weave the ends into the heart.

Crochet Heart by Silke Pflueger
©craftimism, 2017. This pattern is for personal use only. Commercial use without written permission is prohibited.


Magic circle
1st round: 6 sc in magic circle, close with slip stitch
2nd round: 2 sc in every sc of round 1 for total of twelve sc, close with slip stitch
3rd round: sc, hdc, 3 dc in first sc; dc, hdc in next stitch; sc in each of next three stitches; hdc, dc in next stitch, top with two chains and slip stitch in "belly" of first chain; dc, hdc in next stitch; hdc, dc in next stitch; 3 dc, hdc, sc in last stitch; close with a slip stitch somewhere below to give it more heart definition.
If you like the ones with the hole in the middle start with round 2.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Yarn under the microscope

Wool - 10X
I am a microbiologist and a knitter. As a microbiologist, I have access to some fancy lab equipment. As a knitter, I have A LOT of yarn (seriously, my one of my kitchen cabinets is chock full with yarn as I have more yarn than kitchen items).


Last week, I decided to look at yarn under the microscope. Enjoy these photos of yarn up close!

Stereoscope (aka dissecting microscope) images: 10X magnification

Using the lab stereoscope to look at yarn at the CalAcademy's Maker's Night Nightlife

Wool - 10X


Wool 10X

Baby Alpaca/silk blend - focused on two alpaca fibers above the strand

Baby Alpaca/silk - a cut edge with baby alpaca (reddish fibers) and silk (thinner fibers)

Alpaca

Cotton

Acrylic - focused on fibers above the strand of yarn

Acrylic - focused below on that strand of yarn

Compound microscope images - 60X magnification - all images are on the same scale, shortest side is 0.1 micrometers

One of our lab's compound light microscope

Cotton

Wool

This one was in the silk/baby alpaca mix - I think it is silk

Baby Alpaca

Adult Alpaca - note the air pockets in the fiber - this helps alpaca fibers retain more heat

Acrylic