Thursday, December 27, 2012

Ancestry Composition

While I've been a member of 23andMe for some time, it was a post at Your Genetic Genealogist that alerted me to their great biogeographical ancestry tool. Here's their speculative (highest detail, but lowest confidence) analysis of my roots:

I'm not holding out much hope that I'm related to my Japanese-American husband, and I expected a slightly larger African contribution from the part of my family tree that's mostly French-American. But all in all, it seems like a reasonable analysis of my spoonful of the American melting pot.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Knitters to the rescue!

While catching up with Annie's blog at, I was reminded of how often I have saved the day with a bit of yarn. Allow me to elaborate...

  • Taping directional signs to signposts does not work in wet weather. On more than one occasion at YMCA of the Rockies, retreat attendees have found their way to their lodges during heavy spring snowstorms thanks to a ball of Sugar 'n Cream cotton.
  • Ditto for hanging heavy banners at conventions - hooray for string!
  • After a trip to the body shop due to an unfortunate altercation with a concrete wall in a dark parking garage, a trim piece on my Subaru became disconnected and was dragging along the street. But was my teenage daughter flummoxed? Oh, no! "Surely Mom has some yarn in this car somewhere..."
In addition to our nail clippers and our towels, perhaps we should all be sure to pack a bit of yarn! 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

DIY Comet

In this week's astronomy class, Dr. K. decided we should all experience the making of our very own comets. We combined dry ice, water, dirt, ammonia, and complex organic molecules (i.e., pancake syrup). Using our ski gloves and oven mitts, we compressed all this stuff inside a garbage bag and...voila! Comets!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside

Well, it's 29° F out there and I have packed up the telescope for the night. Tonight I viewed four double stars:
  • Beta Cephei
  • Struve 2816 (which is actually a triple)
  • Epsilon Pegasi
  • Xi Cephei
On a break to warm up, I edited the Wikipedia article for Xi Cephei to add some additional star catalog names. I've been using the telescopes GoTo computer to find the stars, so it helps to have references like the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) star catalog number.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Clear, Cold Skies

It's Day 4 with the new telescope, and I decided to take a look at a few double and variable stars from the Astronomical League's Urban Observing Club while waiting for the moon to rise. The club is an observing program designed for amateur astronomers who battle heavy light pollution. Tonight I saw three double stars: Eta Cassiopeia, Gamma Aries, and Gamma Andromeda (Almach), and the variable star Beta Pegasus (Algol). The club includes a number of deep sky objects, many of which are too big for my f/15 scope. I suppose I'd better switch to the Double Star Club and stick to the more compact objects.

By the time the moon was visible from our backyard, it was getting cold. I logged observations of some objects along the lunar terminator, including the craters Julius Caesar and Sacrabosco, and a rille called Rima Ariadaeus. I had planned to make a sketch of the crater Byrgius A which is currently at lunar midday--we call it that even though each "day" lasts for one of our months. Anyway, I couldn't get excited about sketching and shivering at a cool 28 degrees F, so I decided to pack up around 10:30.

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Review of Zhumell 20x80mm SuperGiant Astronomical Binoculars

Originally submitted at

High power low weight! Other high-power binoculars may have excellent optics but they can also be quite literally a pain in the neck. The Zhumell 20x80 SuperGiants though weigh in at just 4.4 pounds light enough to use comfortably in the field. Still they are equipped with an integrated tripod moun...

Got a good pair at a great price
By Karen from Denver, CO on 9/19/2011
4out of 5
Pros: Works Well With Glasses
Cons: Not Waterproof
Best Uses: Astronomy, Stargazing
Describe Yourself: Casual/ Recreational
Was this a gift?: No
I was lucky to receive a pair of Zhumells that appear to be in good collimation. A fellow astronomer sent back two pairs, then gave up and paid $60 to have them collimated at a local optics shop. I'm pleased to learn that Zhumell offers a lifetime warranty, and that others have had no trouble when the warranty was needed.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Gifted mittens for kids of all sizes

I recently participated in the Ravelympics, Ravelry’s knit and crochet event coinciding with the Olympics. During the opening ceremonies in Vancouver, I cast on Kate Gilbert’s handy Gifted mittens pattern (the Ravelry pattern page is here). Sixteen days later, I cast off the eighth mitten during the closing ceremonies. Three pairs are on their way to the collection center of Afghans for Afghans, and will be shipped to Kabul to warm Afghan children next winter. The last pair is looking for a pair of hands—your suggestions welcome!

I love the Gifted pattern! It uses just two needles to knit the mittens flat, which makes the stitches fly. The thumb is seamed closed as you go with crochet, so there are no extra ends to sew in. I like to seam the whole mitten with crochet slip stitches instead of sewing.

The A4A campaign that ended today was for children ages 7–14. The Gifted child’s large size seemed great for the upper end of this range, but I thought that the child’s medium seemed quite narrow for a seven-year-old. I channeled Goldilocks and decided that I needed a mitten halfway between the two sizes. Here are the changes to create this in-between size, which I’m calling “kid size” here. You’ll need a copy of the Gifted pattern from Kate’s site for the unchanged portions. Here’s a picture of the child’s medium, my kid’s size, and the child’s large. Next time perhaps I’ll think to include a ruler for reference!

Cuff and Palm:
CO 19
Row 12: k2, M1L, k7, M1L, k1, M1R, k7, M1R, k2.
Row 14: skip to row 16.
Row 16: k2, M1L, k8, M1L, k3, M1R, k8, M1R, k2.
Row 18: k11, M1L, k5, M1R, k11 to end.
Row 20: k11, M1L, k7, M1R, k11 to end.
Go to directions for thumb.

Row 2: k20, slip rem sts to circ, turn.
Row 3: p9, slip rem sts to circ, turn.
Rows 4 – 8: Work evenly in St st.
Next Row: p2, p2tog, p1, p2tbl, p1.
K one row on smaller needle.
Right-handed crochet: Slip all stitches directly onto crochet hook.
Left-handed crochet: Slip all sts to the other smaller needle. Slip all sts onto crochet hook.

Holding the mitten RS facing you, slip the first 11 sts to your straight needle (Note: the original pattern seems to slip one stitch too many here). Put the loop from the crochet hook on the right needle, then k11 across the rest of the row.

Rows 2-10: Work evenly in St st.
Continue as directed for the kid size.

Kid size:
Row 1: P across.
Row 2: k1, ssk, k6, k2tog, k1, ssk, k6, k2tog, k1.
Row 3: p across.
Row 4: k1, ssk, k4, k2tog, k1, ssk, k4, k2tog, k1.
Rows 5-6: Work evenly in St st.
Row 7: p1, p2tog, p2, p2tog tbl, p1, p2tog, p2, p2tog tbl, p1.
Row 8: k5, k2tog, slip last st back to left needle. Turn needles so they are pointing in the same direction, with RS of work facing.

Finish with 3 needle bind-off as directed. Seam with your darning needle, or just use crochet slip stitches for a different look and quick finish.