Tuesday, December 14, 2010

How to Fix a Centrifuge

This morning I was ready to start another 8-hour round of reverse transcription, 30 samples of RNA in hand. To my dismay, the centrofuge said "Error 006." Crap. The centrifuge was erroring. This was the only centrifuge I knew of that could hold 30 samples. I would have to do multiple centrifuge steps in smaller groups, which would take much longer; I would have to do those nasty calculations to convert the revolutions-per-minute I used on that centrifuge into the force generated and back to revolutions-per-minute for a different centrifuge of a different size...

I told the lab tech about the issue, and Dr. O. overheard. "I'll handle this," he said, stepping out of his office in his scrubs. Oh dear, I thought. This is going to be just like when the -80˚C freezer died. This centrifuge is really broken. It must cost at least $5,000. I'm going to have to do those nasty calculations...

"I don't really understand the error messages," Dr. O. said as he walked past the centrifuge to the electrical socket. "I just unplug it, and plug it back in." He did just that, and the centrifuge recovered beautifully.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Beautiful in Blue

I've decided to make another treasury. This one is all about blue.

Yeah, I selfishly included one of my items in there. But only one!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Shoot, Score, Giveaway!

Remember my last post about the RNEST September challenge? My pumpkin head hat won! I am unreasonably proud of myself. Check out my mighty advertising banner of victory at the top of the RNEST blog: http://rochesternystreetteam.blogspot.com/

Now, the next thing: I'm sponsoring a giveaway, also through RNEST!

Head on over to this entry on the RNEST blog for details on this hat (one of my Rivulets hats), a little bit of back story on the design, and details for how to enter the giveaway. Good luck!

I'm also working on a couple nearly identical blue rivulets hats with the same yarn, which I will post in my shop shortly.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


A couple weeks ago, Evan and I agreed to cat-sit for a friend of Evan's while the friend's roommate (the cat owner) went to CA to scope out new living accomodations that may or may not allow cats. Jude took an immediate interest in Cleo, always approaching an sniffing and wanting to play. For the first day (and night) Cleo would consistently respond with hisses and growls.

It took Cleo a mere 48 hours or so to warm up to Jude, though, and the two became absolute buds, playing, chasing, wrestling, grooming, and cuddling.

About 2 weeks ago, Cleo's owner returned to claim his cat. Thereafter, Jude was especially needy, cudding extra hard at bed time and crying piteously when we had to leave for work. Evan and I resolved that we would act fast on our plan to get another cat. Evan was careful to emphasize that we were not getting a cat for Jude, but for ourselves.

On Sunday we went to Lollypop Farm, the local Humane Society shelter. The wait time for adoptions was 2 hours, which says something about how many people want to adopt pets, which rocks.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

RNEST September Challenge

The competition begins! There are 3 entries in the RNEST September team challenge, including one from me! Go vote, especially if you like mine.


This is my entry, a hat I knit with my handspun yarn:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Woolhead Works

OK, I've decided: I'm going to do it. I'm going to transition my Etsy shop from Sarah's Amiables to Woolhead Works. I know it's kind of a big deal, but I want to do it.

Why? A couple reasons.
1. I really like the name Woolhead Works (see figure below). "Sarah's Amiables" sounds kind of lame an unmemorable. I want a shop name I love and feel proud of.
2. Revitalization. Sarah's Amiables was getting stale and disorganized. Woolhead Works will be fresh, and (hopefully) much more organized and cohesive.
3. It makes kind of a neat parallel with how I've changed my own name.
To maintain cohesion between my blog and my shop, I'm going to transfer my blog to woolhead.blogspot.com.

As for twitter, I'm changing my username to SarahWoolhead. I've found my twitter usage has become more personal than business-related, so I think I'll continue that.

I think I'll let facebook fizzle. It was a cool idea, but I don't have the internet energy to maintain it properly. I'll try to focus more on my blog.

So there it is.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


Personality quizzes are fun, but crafterality quizzes are funner. Especially when they confirm something you thought already.


I am more color-texture driven than structure-pattern driven. It's true.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Free Poverty II

Check it out! I've gotten much better at the whole world geography thing!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Free Poverty

This is a fun game. You can donate water to people living in poverty by taking a geography quiz. It really reveals how little I know of world geography...

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Done Just Right"

This is a picture of an art quilt that will be featured in the 2011 Quilting Arts Calendar. I Love It. So vivid, so warm, so unique... and such happy memories.

Monday, June 21, 2010

little updates

I'm sore. Last Thursday we got a call asking if we would take pre-possession of the house we're buying, and immediately we learned we would close this Wednesday, so we opted for pre-possession, and have been moving all weekend. Lots of heavy lifting of mattresses and box springs and solid wood dressers and tables up the stairs, just Evan and me. Phew. I may not need to exercise for the rest of the summer.

Wedding is done, and it was awesome. Maybe tonight I'll post pics from my family on facebook. There are about 300 so far. Still waiting for the disc from the professional photographer.

I'm trying to get my head back into science mode so I can maybe graduate someday. I know I've got years left in my program, but it's all about getting the work done. I just had a meeting with one of my advisors, and I've got a LOT to do: write a grant, grab some more data and write a paper, learn about establishing and maintaining mouse breeders and colonies for our special genetically modified lines, iron out the best possible experimental design for an upcoming study (include behavioral measures? reduce mouse numbers?), learn a few new lab techniques, use said techniques to finish a study currently underway, begin another study to parallel the current (very large!) study in terms of experimental conditions but with a different means of analysis, and consider adding a study for potential therapeutic application of a new antioxidant agent one of my advisor's contacts has developed, while advising an undergrad and keeping him busy.

I want to huddle in a cozy corner somewhere and knit.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Super cool: grass sculptures

I just came across this link today, and it makes me smile pretty hard. Take a minute and go visit!

13 Most Amazing Grass Sculptures

Saturday, May 29, 2010

name changing

I'm getting married in two weeks. (Yikes.) And I'm changing my name to his.

I've also been thinking about changing the name of my shop. I had originally decided on SarahsAmiables to include my identity and to keep my options open as far as what I could sell -- knits, jewelry, handbound books, whatever I felt like making. Still, I find I'm pretty much exclusively selling fiber-related items. And I find I'm still not particularly fond of the name SarahsAmiables. Yes, it's charming and friendly, but it's not descriptive, nor is it super memorable. So I'm thinking of shutting down that name and getting a new one.

My favorite idea right now is WoolheadWorks. I've been listening to an audiobook in which the characters keep calling this one guy "woolheaded," and I can't help thinking that it doesn't sound so bad, being woolheaded. It's funny and playful, and a little pun-ish, given that wool is my most common fiber selection. But just "Woolhead" sounds a little bare, not to mention that there's already a shop by that name. So Woolhead-something. "Designs" and "Studios" sound too lofty for me, but "Crafts" doesn't quite fit. I think I like "Works" for the alliteration, as well as its pragmatic sound; and it still keeps my product options open, moreso than "Knits" would.

So. What do y'all think? Stay with SarahsAmiables? Switch to WoolheadWorks? Something else entirely?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Baby Sweater

Here is my latest listing on Etsy:

A baby sweater I knit, commissioned by my mother, for the daughter of my cousin. (Is there a name for that kind of familial relationship? The daughter of my cousin?)

I used Cascade 220 superwash wool. I bought two skeins, which was clever of me because the sweater took approximately 1.09 skeins. So, grr, I don't have enough in this color for a second sweater. This one was a lot of fun to make. I used Elizabeth Zimmerman's pattern from the Knitter's Almanac. I'm thinking about altering the pattern a bit, maybe changing the lace pattern, to see what happens. :)

I've also got a scarf in the works for the RNEST monthly challenge. It's blocking now, so it's almost ready!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

wedding dreading

Words becoming synonymous with "wedding:"

time suck
money suck

even: deterrent

Evan told me yesterday that he looks forward to the day he could call me his wife. I thought for a moment and replied that I looked forward to the day after I could call him my husband.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Feline Favorites

I have made my first treasury on Etsy! I call it: Feline Favorites.

Speaking of felines, Jude has developed a new endearing but not convenient habit. At some point in the very early morning, generally between 3 and 6 am, he leaps onto the bed, climbs over Evan's head, purring loudly, and paces on my pillow until I wake up. He then settles in the little space between me and the edge of the bed, so I have to spoon him hang on to him lest he fall. Of course I have to pat him, too. Very sweet, but I think I would more fully appreciate the sweetitude 12 hours later.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

prayer shawl

A couple weeks ago I finally finished the prayer shawl I started way back at the end of December. I brought it home to Cheshire last weekend, and my mom will see that it reaches the proper authorities.

Mom has also asked that I start knitting mittens instead of prayer shawls. Most anyone can knit a prayer shawl, but the church knitters are afraid of mittens, and Mom has noticed that the homeless people she encounters when she does Midnight Run frequently lack and want mittens. I am happy to oblige, because prayer shawls bore me half to tears, and mittens are much more interesting (and quick!).

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Recent Spinning

I cracked out my Kromski Symphony after several months a couple nights ago, and presto chango, I have 4 more ounces of spun up yarn! I got the fiber from Maine Woods Yarn in the colorway "Erin."

I'm spinning it up as a sort of worsted-weight singles, though the resulting yarn is distinctly woolen. No, I really can't tell you what my spinning technique is. It's whatever I developed when I started on a drop spindle -- a sort of lazy short backward draw.

I'm so proud of myself! I let the yarn sit on the bobbins for a couple nights to de-energize, and last night I washed the yarn and hung it up to dry and set the twist. (I felt especially clever, propping metal rods over the top of the shower between the wall and the curtain rod, to hang the skeins from there, so they don't drip over the floor.)

What should I make?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Wedding Progress

Tier 1
groom: √

Tier 2
wedding date: √
wedding location: √
reception location: √

Tier 3
Dress: √
Dress fitting: scheduled
shoes: ballet slippers obtained, but not completed
organist: √
service music selected: not so much
minister: √
service order: more or less
bridesmaids: √
groomsmen: √
DJ: √
music selected: working on it
menu selected: √
cake: not yet
rings: working on it
photographer: sorta

Tier 4a
Guest list: √
Addresses obtained: √√ (bonus check for hunting and pestering)
Save the Date cards: √
designed invitations: √
paper, envelopes, stamps for invitations: √
hand-addressed envelopes: √√√√√√√√√
sealed and stamped envelopes: √
mailed invitations: √ (almost all of 'em)

Tier 4b
Bridesmaids' dresses: √
tuxedos: silly lazy groom. no check.
Website: √
Registries: √
Local hotel info: √
Driving directions: √
Rehearsal dinner: in progress
Flowers: ... I don't really want real flowers because they die and cost more than the frigging dress... maybe I'll knit/crochet them.
Color-coded multi-sheet formulated Excel spreadsheet for RSVPs: √

Tier 5
Favors: got some ideas
Table naming scheme: again, some ideas
Centerpieces: 70%√
Card box: I have an idea. Just need time.
Guest book: ideas
Pen for guest book: √
Holder for pen for guest book: ideas
Cake topper: do I need this?
Gift log: √

Tier 6
honeymoon: If I make it through this, whatever happens after the wedding will count as a honeymoon by comparison.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


RNEST has had another monthly challenge, themed "Earth Day / Eco Friendly." I made this nest, shown above, as my dedicated entry.

Then, on a whim, I threw in this cowl, since I made it with environmentally friendly yarn, and I think it looks awesome.

Keep an eye on the RNEST blog and vote for my entries if you like them!
*Edited to add: the RNEST April Challenge entries post is up here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

A Couple Things I Love

A quote:
Esther: First and foremost, there has to be passion. The world is full of stuff that nobody needs, dead stuff. When the passion is there, others will be able to see it too, and what you make will sell.
From the Etsy Quit Your Day Job article for Star of the East

This other Quit Your Day Job article about Dolan Geiman. He just seems like a groovy dude.

This project: turning the bottoms of soda or water bottles into a desk organizer. I'm working on it right now. I can always use more organization.

PhD Comics! I've recently re-rediscovered them.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Sant Fe II: Convention Center

I really like the convention center in Santa Fe, much more than the one in San Diego, which was essentially a huge-beyond-all-reason hollowed- out cement block.

Here's one of the entrances. Adobe!

This is one of the halls. On the right are the doors to the room for the poster session and some of the rooms for the symposia and other presentation. On the left is a table with a constant supply of coffee, water, and soda.

In the main lobby there was a fireplace. I loved that fireplace! We weren't always sure that the heat was on in this place, so after a 2-hour long symposium, many of us would flock to the fireplace to warm our hands.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Santa Fe I: Around Town

Two Fridays ago I flew out of Rochester to Santa Fe (well, Atlanta, then Albuquerque, then took a shuttle to Santa Fe) for the American Society of Neurochemistry meeting (sounds pretty dorky, huh). All the science kept me pretty absent from the blog, and twitter, and most things internet. But here's the first part of an account of my time there. (I'm breaking it into several parts because I find blogger cumbersome when there are too many pictures.)

Part I: Around Town

This is the first thing I saw on Saturday morning as I stepped out of my hotel room. What gives? I thought Santa Fe was in the southwest, in the desert! Aren't the southwest and desert supposed to be warm and sunny? As it turned out, Santa Fe was mostly overcast -- I only used my carefully packed sunglasses for about 15 minutes -- and we got a couple inches of snow.

I walked by this wall on my 1-mile commute to the conference center every day. Yes, there was a shuttle, but it only ran at the very beginning and very end of the day, and I thought 2 miles a day would be good for me. I love this wall. I saw something new in it every time I passed it.

This is the plaza near the conference center. I was surprised at how pedestrian-oriented Santa Fe is. I had expected something like New York or Boston, or maybe San Diego, with tall buildings and nasty traffic. Actually, Santa Fe reminded me more of small-town Oberlin than any city I've ever known.
This plaza was cool. On Saturday there were vendors out on the sidewalks, and at night, they lit up Christmas lights in the tree branches.

This is a cute little cafe where I got my first fend-for-myself lunch on Sunday. I was lured in by a sign outside promising sandwiches. The cafe was burried in the depths of a building filled with cool artsy shops. Walking past them was difficult.

Here is the Cowgirl Barbeque, where I got dinner on Monday night when I had no specific plans. Cool place. There's always music playing when you walk by, and all the waitresses wear cowgirl hats.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

I've been meaning to spread the word about one of my new favorite shops on Etsy: ImaginativeIntention

-pretty pictures!


Thursday, February 25, 2010

carzoocritters giant list

If you haven't seen this yet, go see it:

As advertised, it is a giant list of blog topics. Like, tons. I plan on using it.

For now, I'm posting it here, partly to share it with y'all, and partly (mostly) so I know where to find it when I need it.

While I'm sharing... this poor little robot couldn't handle the pressure.

Has anyone got a favorite lace yarn that they would recommend? I'm planning my knitting for my trip to Santa Fe, and I know I'll need knitting. I've read that lace is best for travel because it takes up no room and a ton of time. I'm not quite decided on a pattern, yet, either. Maybe two patterns: one brainless and one interesting.

Also, I'm proud of these:
I think that's a pretty good picture. *puffs chest in pride*

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Motorcycle Parking

I took this picture a while back, during that huge snowstorm that everyone seemed to get.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Where I have been

Where o where have I been? A sort of forced break from blogging for purposes of part II of my qualifying exam. On Friday 2/19/10 I presented my thesis proposal and had my oral exam. I passed, and have earned my masters degree in neurobiology and anatomy. Friggin' phew!

Now that that's finished, I should have more time for blogging! Yay!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Simple Sewn Sachet

Lab has been rough, lately. Yesterday was a 15 hour day, and the recent past and near future are filled with unsavory tasks. So I've been desperately craving the opportunity to make, to create. And I really wanted a project with a high payoff-to-time-invested ratio. So I decided: scented sachets. Very easy, very quick, useful, and using materials I had on hand.

Then I thought maybe I'd share how I made these sachets. So I went ahead and wrote a little tutorial. My first one. :) If you could give it a try, I would love to know if the technical aspects of posting the tutorial actually worked. I would also like to know if the directions make sense, or if my little annotations are too much.

I'm thrilled with the response to my giveaway! 106 comments! Wow! The winner will be announced tomorrow, and then I'll be mailing the scarf. Thank you so much to everyone who participated!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Big ol' Saturday

This is turning into a big Saturday. Got up, watched Land of the Blind (a whacked-out movie. I can't tell whether I liked it or not), walked across the street to buy laundry detergent and deodorant, started laundry, cleaned like crazy, made and ate lunch, and now I'm sitting on the couch, listening to the president's meeting with a bunch of republicans. Interesting. Later, my brother and his girlfriend are coming over to make personal pizzas for us, and then all four of us (Jonny, Anna, Evan, and I) are going to the Rochester Philharmonic concert tonight to have a "grand old time," as Jonny said. I guess it's good to have productive Saturdays.

Last night I came across a new very cool blog, offering a free PDF for this project. I had to go to Joann Fabrics immediately to buy heavy weight fusible interfacing.

Not the best picture ever, especially color-wise, but you get the idea. Useful thingy. But I was reminded that I am definitely not a sewing person. My seams started out even and pretty, but by the end I started rushing, and the seams were considerably less even and pretty. Still functional, though.

On Thursday night I sang with Schola in Harmony for Haiti. The weather was atrocious, so the turnout was smaller than I had expected, but I think the concert was a success. I feel like a good person.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I'm having my first giveaway, and I am excited!

The i
tem: a handwoven scarf.

Made with Araucania yarn (75% wool, 25% polyamide).

8.5" wide and 60" long, plus 4.5" of fringe on each end.

The color palette features soft pinks and purples with gentle streaks of white and occasional dashes of grey and gold. Good Valentine's Day colors.

To enter, go here.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

words for my niche

I've been reading a bit about finding/making your own niche, which is both important and tricky in the world of Etsy, where there is a lot of very talented, very cool competition.

What is my niche? Or what might it be?

I thought a fun brainstorming game would be to pick out words that appeal to me for one reason or another, and that I would like to somehow highlight in my niche.

Some words that make me smile: wool, yarn, knit, fiber. Really good stuff of substance and potential.

I'm big on pragmatism, so useful should go in the list.

Aesthetic pleasure is important, too... beautiful, pretty, lovely, etc.

Simplicity really appeals to me, but not to the point of being spare.

Crafting etc is really fun for me, and I want that to come across in my niche.

I want my niche to be a pleasant, friendly place to be, to come hang out, have a cup of tea, and enjoy the crafts.

I think that's a good start.

The harder, longer-term bit will be actually defining my style. Or maybe just defining a part of my style. Is it color-oriented? Structure-oriented? Fiber-oriented? or something else. And how should I best express my style? Should it extend to the background I use for my pictures, for example? Probably. The challenge is that I like to try new things a lot, and many of the projects I return to are quite simple, because I enjoy the simplicity, I guess. The other problem is that I don't have enough time (never enough time!) to really focus on this issue and iron it out. I've got this pesky graduate school business to deal with!

What's in your niche?

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Me: That would be an awesome super power, to get songs stuck in other people's heads and annoy the crap out of them.
Danny: Welcome to Britney Spears's world.


I've been trying my hand at making ATCs (Artist Trading Cards), since I suggested that we have an ATC exchange at the RNEST meeting on Monday night. These things are fun! As I said, they're like twitter for art!


I am pleased to report that I finished Evan's birthday present in time! With hours to spare! And he loves it. His dad loves it, too, and wants one of his own.

It is a reversible hat, with USC colors on one side, and U of R colors on the other side. It's basically two hats, so it's super warm.


Good things come to those who... enter a Halloween giveaway, realize 2 months later that they won, and sheepishly contact the giveaway hosts to see if they can maybe please still have the prize.

I received these sweet Halloween notepads recently from the Trans Canada Etsy Team. Those guys are pretty awesome.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

doctors/knitters without borders

I'm not often moved to give to charity, since I'm a fairly poor graduate student. But today, with the crisis in Haiti, I was. This post from the Yarn Harlot finally pushed me over the edge, and I gave to Doctors without Borders.

I encourage you to go read the post and do the same.

Monday, January 11, 2010


Today my shop was featured at http://giftsbyartists.blogspot.com/, a blog for interviewing and promoting handcrafters and artists. You should go check it out. I got an interview. :)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Knitting Priorities

Priority projects:
1. The colorful, wooly scarf. I'm so close!
2. Evan's birthday present. I have 5 days. That's pretty close.
3. Katherine's hat. Haven't even started this one. I decided I had to make her something when (surprise!) she gave me a Christmas present. Damn, outfoxed! But I have the yarn, and I have an idea of the sort of hat I want to make. Just need to get projects No.s 1 and 2 out of the way.

Meanwhile projects:
more fingerless mitts for my shop
bookmarks, for quick satisfaction projects, and for my shop

Not quite forgotten projects:
- the wedding afghan for Izzie and Thatcher. I need to find that pattern packet...
- improv lace scarf. Shetland wool, and an improv pattern with diamonds, started last summer.
- lacy scarf for Jen, who helped Evan pick out my engagement ring, and who will most likely make our wedding rings. (Darn, I need to get on that, too.)

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

old news

I was sitting here, thinking, "I should write in my blog. But what should I write about?" Then I recalled: "I took a bunch of pictures a while ago! I'll look through those and write about them!" Then there was the problem of picking which pictures to write about...

I'll go with some old news. A year and a bit ago I knit a sweater for my brother. (My fiancé wants a handknit sweater, too, but I'm superstitious, so he's not getting anything more than a hat before we're married.) Jonny loves this sweater and actually wears it without my prodding! Here are some pictures of him on Christmas morning. (Well, Dec 26. We had to postpone Christmas in Cheshire by a day because I had to play the Christmas Eve midnight mass in Rochester.)

Appreciate the sleeve cables:

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Some new year's knitting recap

There has been much knitting lately!

I am pleased to report that I sold three items from my shop, and accordingly bought three skeins of yarn for a prayer shawl. I got started on it in Cheshire, CT.

I also got started on a scarf from my handspun. The stitch is "mistake rib," which makes for a neat ripple effect.

I've moved on to the next ball of this yarn, and the colors shift at a slower rate, which I like better. I must have predrafted it differently.