Tuesday, 29 January 2008
Andrena is a genus of bee that dig burrows- at least the females do anyway, and they then create little nests at the bottom for their eggs so I created a fullscale burrow with fake plants around the edges (note my wonderful dandelion plant wot I did make- am very proud of myself for this one!). The base is made from florists oasis which I cut to shape and coated in various layers of PVA, clay pebbles, sand and bits of soil (microwaved first to kill off the woodlice). It has about 10 layers of all these things and then it had been painted with both a wet and dry coat of different coloured paint so that it has texture and resembles soil as closely as possible without actually being soil. The leaves are all made from florists wire and tape (the kind they use for decorating cakes) which is then cut and bent into shape to try and make it look as authentic as possible. As a finishing touch we used some real dead bees. The female is the ginger one at the edge of the burrow whilst the male is circling above her awaiting his chance. Giggadee.
This one is only a small model- it's finished dimensions is 4x4x4"s or thereabouts. The model I'm making for the Forensic Entomology display is much, much bigger and we are only in early stages with that one but you can expect pictures as soon as there is anything to see!
And speaking of socks I got a great picture through from my mum this morning of her wearing the alpaca socks that I made and they fit her much better than they did me- which is lovely to see. I shall now be tackling round 2 on the husbands socks and try for a re-knit to make them bigger. I have just finished a second pair of baby socks so if I can avoid starting anymore of those then there's a good chance I can get the husband kitted out in some flashy stripey socks by the middle of Feb. Then there's some socks for me that need making up and at least three more pairs of baby socks.
At some point I might actually get round to knitting something other than socks (I realise that this is rapidly turning into 'sock blog') but I asked the husband for sock wool for Valentine's Day so I'm really sorry folks but it looks as though this trend is going to continue for a while yet!
Friday, 25 January 2008
Tuesday, 22 January 2008
Monday, 21 January 2008
This is me at Mudshute Farm this Saturday when I was out for the day avisiting a friend. It was a trifle muddy as I'm sure you can tell. They also had llamas to laugh at and turkeys to hide from. We had a great day trotting round though I have to say that scratching the pig was the best bit.
We managed to make it to Portebello Road which was wonderful- it's the first time I've ever been there though I did have the compulsion to sing the song from 'Bedknobs and Broomsticks'. It was on repeat in my brain the entire time as we walked the length and back again; I managed to restrain myself to a hum however. We also visited Greenwich, rode around on the DLR, saw Canary Wharf up close (which made me feel as though I was being eviscerated) and walked the underground tunnel that goes under the river and drips water in an ominous fashion. All in all it was an awesome day though I repeat- pig scratching beats everything else hands down!
Friday, 18 January 2008
Thursday, 17 January 2008
I had very nearly finished my first sock last night but it was bothering me- something was not right about it. The sock seem to be proportioned incorrectly. At first I thought that it was the pattern (how very arrogant of me!) but then I sat down and did some calculations this morning and it turns out, ahem, that my tension is way, way, way, way, way off. This should have been an easy problem to overcome- all I had to do was scale down the sock to fit the gauge that I had but I didn't think of this when I started so I now have sock that is far too long in the foot. They are effectively clown socks to fit in those overlarge clown shoes that they have, which is amusing but of little use if your feet aren't actually that size.
So I have two choices. I do some tedious calculations that may or may not work out what length the sock should be and then rip it back and make it shorter. This involves me working it all out from scratch as there is nothing to help me on this- I'm essentially unventing a new process for doing this hence it may be a bit hit and miss as to whether it works. It doesn't help that I have nothing for reference as far as actual foot sizes. I can't find any sort of chart of average foot size in relation to age anywhere.
My second choice is that I just finish it off as is and keep the odd sock as a warning to myself to always do a tension square BEFORE starting a project and then go away and make a pair properly.
I should have known that just subbing a ball in without really thinking about it was going to cause problems. It's because the pattern was a Lionbrand one. This is an American firm and there is only one stockist in this country for their yarns as far as I'm aware. Obviously this makes it very difficult to get hold of the correct stuff and you have to be pretty dedicated to the pattern to hunt it out. Replacing it with another kind shouldn't have been a problem- IF ONLY I'D THOUGHT ABOUT IT FIRST! D'oh, d'oh, d'oh, d'oh, d'oh.
I'm not sure yet as to which course of action to take. The pattern is lovely to knit and was pretty quick so keeping this one as an odd one doesn't seem like an entirely bad idea although it would be a bit a of a waste. On the other hand, whilst doing those calculations would indeed be a bitch to work out, it is somewhat of a mental challenge- I've already started plotting how to program excel and get it to take tension into account as well as foot size etc. Hmmm. I shall have to have a think about this I can tell.
In the meantime you can all continue laughing at my moment of complete stupidity. It will take me down a peg or two at the very least.
Oh! and on a final note I did manage to find a handy little website this morning that you can use for calculating circumferences and diameters automatically. You need never remember any of the Pi formulas ever again!
Wednesday, 16 January 2008
Back to the article however, which is, on the larger scale, about the problems within the music industry and the shake down that's going on at EMI at the moment with regards to how much artists are paid and how records are promoted as a consequence of the impact of cheap, large capacity mini MP3 players, internet downloads, file sharing and illegal copying. In my mind it can only be a good thing to make music cheaper and more freely available (taking the consumers stand point) despite all the associated arguments around this topic. Anyway, the article explores these issues much more eloquently than I could. I have to say it is well worth the five minutes it will take you to read it if any of these kinds of issues interest you at all. It's also reasonably amusing to a cynical or slightly childish person like myself.
For anyone who just can't be bothered I've included my favourite bit for you below:
"....What it is about EMI that Williams feels particularly upset about isn't immediately clear. Clark goes on to say, "They do not have anyone in the digital sphere capable of doing the job required."
Allow us to be 'Kids' just for a second, but is anyone else thrilled at the idea of working in a digital sphere? We imagine it'd be like The Matrix – only rounder....."
Tuesday, 15 January 2008
So because of lack of inspiration, or possibly having too much of it, I have very little to comment on or report today other than to say 'Look at my sock wool- isn't it lovely?'. I seem to have become completely and totally addicted to socks which is something I would never have imagined. I started a new pair of baby socks yesterday just because I read a newsletter from Lionbrand that featured a nice stitch and I wanted to try it. I have no idea who the socks will actually go to in the end- I just wanted to make them. Luckily for me we seem to know lots of people who are having babies at the moment so I'm sure that they will be suitable for someone and they are rather natty I have to say. Check out the slide show for a starter picture (yes, I am that enamoured with them that I've put a picture of them on already and I've only knitted an inch or two of the first sock!)
Monday, 14 January 2008
They also have a similar function for recipes. For this you find items such as an egg or cake mix (which act as power up items for health) and then you take them to one of two chefs who cooks them up. In most cases this creates a better power up item with special abilities (such a curing poison) that you need to heal yourself. You get a little recipe book that logs the stuff you make so you know what gives you the best power ups etc but at the same time it turns into a game of trying to work out all the possible combinations to make the best stuff. There are 96 recipes in all so of course, I'm also trying to get all of these!
And if that wasn't bad enough they also have an arcade section with mini games where you have to try to get the top score and thus win tokens. You can trade the tokens in for power ups and cards- argh!
Whoever designed this game knew exactly what they where doing and I'm not sure if I love them or hate them for it. It's bringing back the computer game geek in me which on the whole I don't mind as I find it very relaxing to play these sorts of games but they are so addictive! I keep catching myself thinking about the game and planning my evening around playing it for a few minutes (ahem....hours). I see that I'm going to have to go cold turkey- it's the only way I'll ever get anything important done ever again.
Friday, 11 January 2008
But at the end of the day, a beach is just the perfect place to walk the dog, party with friends or just sit and watch the sun go down.
Thursday, 10 January 2008
Link in his phantom hourglass incarnation
Ninja sword letter opener (classy or what?)
Domo pen drive which I WILL be purchasing at some point
This one I'm including because I really can not believe they make it- or that someone would buy it! but here it is- R2D2 sauce bottle (also available as a pepper mill)
Wednesday, 9 January 2008
I would love to take credit for this great discovery but it's all thanks to the bestest friend that I am even aware of this marvel of creation. Needless to say I am extremely jealous of Christmas time in this persons house so I'm determined that next year we will start a similar tradition of our own. I already have a mini tradition of getting one new decoration from the shops each year but come December I'm going to start making them myself. Admittedly I'm probably going to end up with a tree covered in insects but that can't be a bad thing can it?
I just walked into my office to find 'When will you come back home?' by Ryan Adams playing. Seeing as how I have spent the morning thinking about friends who are currently MIA it resonated with my mood somewhat so I thought I would share my favourite verse from the song with y'all. Think I will go and change my play list to something a bit more cheery now however...
When, when will you come back home
No one leave the lights on in a house
Where nobody lives anymore
Loaded like the boxes up in the bedroom
Coming off the hinges like the door
The shadows dancing up in the window
They're not who we are but who we were
And I'm not gonna break, but if I do
I'm gonna shatter like the glass I turned your heart into
I'm broken like the windows in the house where I used to live
And If I could find my way back home, where would I go?
When everything about me, I used to be,
Shivers in the sheets and the blankets of snow
I'm lost out in the woods looking for you
When, when will you come back home
No one leave the lights on in a house
Where nobody lives anymore
Everything about me you liked is already gone
Everything about me you loved is gone
When, when will you come back home
Tuesday, 8 January 2008
And now its all done. Its been moved into new storage which involved transferring specimens from their original housing of a rather nice mahogany cabinet into new plastozote lined unit trays and lime wood drawers. These are put in pest proof steel cabinets and then the door is locked and I get to walk away whistling. Yippee!
On a final note it's worth mentioning Donisthorpe himself. He was absolutely binkers which makes a nice footnote to the story. He used to be a bit of a canary fancier and wore a large top hat and used to stick any of the feathers that his canary shed in the band around the outside. He eventually blew his own brains out with a shotgun or some such thing and it turns out that he was suffering from syphilis. One of his final acts when he was in his fully mad stage was to try and get a family of beetles renamed after him because he felt that his work was so important that he deserved to go down in the annuals of history and have his name preserved for perpetuity. Ironically it was the shotgun that ensured that this was so.
I'm sure no one will be surprised to learn that I am working on a knitting pattern to make a cuddly version of a pangolin but don't expect me to get far as I'm pretty sure that I have bitten off more than I can chew on this occasion.
One of the things that I did get to see whilst I was in Sulawesi last summer (and one of the few things that made the seven day journey there and back worthwhile) was a tarsier. This photo doesn't do them justice at all as it just looks cute whereas in actual fact they are one of the most odd little creatures that I have come across. Apparently they give you a big toothy grin when they are threatened. They can't move their eyes as they take up too much room in their skull and there's nothing that they like better than a big fat juicy insect for their breakfast. Which they eat at about 10pm what with them being nocturnal and all.
I got to see one as we put out a light trap to try and round up some insects and we found it eating moths from the sheet. I couldn't believe that it would come down to a light source that bright - or that it wasn't put off by the 6 people all sat around chatting about bugs. One thing the picture doesn't show is just how long it's tail is as they are easily as long as their body and have a little bottle brush tuft of hair on the end.
Thursday, 3 January 2008
So go on, LOOK! :P