Friday, September 5, 2014

Police Box Arm Warmers

Check out these Doctor Who inspired Police Box fingerless mitts. Also pictured above are Police Box Legwarmers

I wanted to make a pair of Police Box Fingerless Mittens but I had a dilemma. I could not find any patterns I liked well enough. So I decided to design my own. I went through three versions of this pattern before settling on this one to write up and publish. The first version was actually my favorite but was more difficult as the colorwork began before the thumb gusset was complete and the finished product from that can be purchased at my Etsy site.

The pattern for these mitts can be purchased directly here on Ravelry (information page here). I will list the pattern on Craftsy very soon as well. 

As always, a big thanks goes out to Pablo Tsukayama my favorite friend-tographer for the awesome photos of me modeling the mittens! If you are in the St. Louis area and need a photographer with mad skills, check him out!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Bacterial Cell Cycle Fingerless Mitts

Today is a big day for me as my very first first-author paper is published online today in Current Biology. Non-scientists can check out the press release here. I would like to celebrate by sharing my own #knityourthesis project - these bacterial cell cycle fingerless mittens.

Our lab cartoon detailing the bacterial cell cycle.
DNA is blue and the cell divsion protein FtsZ is in red.
My thesis research in the Levin Lab focused mainly on identifying how the bacterial cell cycle is regulated. In particular, I studied what happens to bacterial cells when you block them from dividing, as would be the case when you treat them with antibiotics that block the cell cycle. As outlined in my paper, I uncovered some previously unidentified regulatory mechanisms that ensure proper cell cycle progression, which is very important for maintaining bacterial cell populations. I also discovered that cells blocked for division enter a zombie-like state where they remain alive but can no longer reproduce. As a result of my work, I was able to star in a youtube video that explains the bacterial cell cycle here. Here is to hoping that goes viral and helps a lot of people understand the bacterial cell cycle.

I originally designed these cell division mitts as a present for my boss, Petra Levin upon my graduation. I based the design on a cartoon detailing the bacterial cell cycle that appears in almost all of the presentations by our lab. I liked the mitts so much that I am now making a pair for myself. I also am making a hat that details the bacterial cell cycle that I am sure will be featured in a future blog post.

The bacterial cell cycle begins with a newborn daughter cell (top left).
The DNA (blue) replicates and the cell division ring (red) forms at midcell (bottom left).
The ring serves as the site for new cell wall construction that septates the two new daughter cells (right - top is a cell about to divide, the bottom is the result).

Photo credit: Daniel Haeusser

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Mouse fingerless mittens

Meet Kelsey Tinkum, the inspiration for another biology themed knit item. Kelsey recently received her PhD from Washington University where, as one facet of her PhD work, she studied the adverse side effects of chemotherapy using mice as a model organism. She also developed new tools to study the cell cycle and identified a novel mechanism of how one cell cycle gene is regulated. To see more of Kelsey's prolific PhD work, click here

To celebrate Kelsey's thesis defense and thank her for taking the time to read and provide insight to an early version of my own manuscript, I made her these mouse fingerless mittens to keep her hands warm when typing up her next paper. The pattern for these fingerless mittens can be found here on Ravelry and here on Craftsy

Photo credit: Pablo Tsukayama (the first 3, the 2 not as good photos were my own:))

Monday, July 21, 2014

Eyeball Hat

This post features the eyeball hat I made for the one and only Nick Tran. If you follow my blog, you may recall I made another mario-themed hat for Nick a while back (seen here and pictured to the right). For his PhD work, Nick studied a collection of diseases that result in vision loss. The diseases he studied resulted from degeneration of the retina, which is the primary neuronal tissue in the eye supporting vision. The retina is composed of photoreceptors called rods and cones which detect light and additional neurons that process and send light information to the brain.  To see more of Nick's work, click here.

To celebrate Nick's accomplishments, I made him this eyeball hat. I considered making Nick a rod and cone patterned hat, but decided an actual eyeball hat would be much cooler. I began by knitting a white hat for the base. Then I crocheted the pupil (black) and iris (brown) in a flat circle using this tutorial. When transitioning from the black to the brown, I simply switched colors. My flat circles usually end up like shallow bowls which was perfect for this hat. When I was satisfied with the size of the pupil and iris, I tied off the end and used a yarn needle to sew the crocheted piece to the top of the hat. I then added the "gleam" with white yarn and the blood vessels with red yarn. Nick asked for lots of blood vessels which gives the hat a rather creepy (but very cool and nerdy) appearance.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My experiences with Etsy

If you may have noticed, I have recently started an Etsy shop. This will hopefully provide me with a little revenue from some of my crafting projects. My shop has been officially open for a little less than a month now, and although I have not sold anything just yet, I have learned a lot from the experience.

Here are just a few of the things I have learned:

1. Each listing costs $0.20 for a 4 month period (whether it sells or not). If it doesn't sell after that period, you can choose to relist it for another $0.20 or take it off the market. This is worth it for big ticket items, but I will not sell small items such as my knitting pattern pdf's on Etsy. I will continue to sell the knitting patterns on Ravelry (free if you sell less than $30 per month, Ravelry takes a small cut after that) and on Craftsy (always free for sellers). For me, the $0.20 investment was worth it to see if I can sell some paintings and some knit and crochet items that will cost $20 or more. I fully expect this to be a learning process and I hope I can find a product that can be my bread and butter on Etsy, similar to my brother's deer antler rings on his Etsy store (seen here).

2. You can earn free listings by referring friends!! (I am a bit mad my brother never mentioned this to me!!). Basically if your friends sign up for a store using your code, you both earn 40 free listings! This adds up to $8 of free listings. Had I known about this before I started my store, I would have had someone refer me, just to take the worry out that even if I don't sell anything, that I won't owe Etsy money. For those of you starting an Etsy store, feel free to use my referral code ( and you can begin with 40 free listings!  

3. Photos matter! I have found this in both my pattern sales and also on Etsy. People are more attracted to (and more likely to purchase) an item with high quality, professional-looking photos. There are several blog posts on the Etsy blog (here) referring to this topic and you can find a lot of picture tips elsewhere on the web. If you have access to a friend with a fancy camera, have them take the pictures for you. 

4. Etsy has a "vacation" mode where you can close your shop for a while if needed. Customers can see that you are on vacation but cannot see any of your items. However, the 4 month period for a listing keeps ticking, but it is a nice feature if you are away (or simply too successful at selling things and need a break to catch up - hey, I can dream :)).

If you have an Etsy store, what have your experiences been? Do you have any tips for me and other store owners?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Brainy Slippers

So I have another science-themed knit item to add to my collection. I knit these brain slippers for my friend Elizabeth who got her PhD by studying the genetic determinants of brain folding. Her work was even featured in this article in the Huffington Post.

I originally was going to make her a brain hat such as this one, but she actually got a similar hat at her defense party. So I used my brain and thought of a different brain-themed project.

To make these slippers, I began with my favorite slipper pattern. Then I knit a super long I-cord (using this tutorial). For my I-cord, I used the 2 double pointed needle method with 5 stitches and size 6 needles. Then I sewed the I-cords on the slipper to resemble a wrinkly brain. As the wrinkles increase the surface area of the brain, it took a lot of yarn and I ended up going through all the pink yarn in my stash (3 different colors of pink). To make the slippers more durable and last longer, I cut pieces of suede fabric and sewed them to the soles of the slippers.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Puffy Paint Lettering Tutorial - Police Box Legwarmers

I have received a lot of questions about how to center lettering - especially for advice on using fabric paint (the puffy paint kind) to paint lettering on the Police Box Legwarmers I designed last year. 

I hope this helps!

Here is a step-by-step tutorial that should help you create even and centered lettering.

First, count the characters (including spaces) that you will need. In this case, POLICE BOX (9 letters + 1 space = 10 characters).

Second, find the middle letter(s). In this case letters 5 and 6 will be on either side of dead center. You can eyeball dead center or use a ruler to find it. 

Start the painting by writing "CE" in the center. Then add the letters to the right, making sure to keep the spacing and size even.

Now, working backwards from the "C" add the "I", "L", "O" and "P." 

Let it dry and then flip and do the other side.

I use this type of fabric paint.