Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Erin's Challenge

I am currently in the process of learning Japanese so any resource that helps is welcome. My Japanese teacher has shown us several videos in class from a website called Erin's Challenge and encouraged us to use it for studying. And while I haven't utilized it quite as much as I should it's a really great resource.

The site is set up as a series of skits and conversations about real topics pertaining to Japan. There are also several videos that discuss different cultural aspects of Japan. Even if you aren't learning the language but want to learn more about the culture, this is a great way to start. The site also contains some games and other fun activities that are worth a try.

Check it out!

Erin's Challenge! I can speak Japanese

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Wet and Blocked

I finally finished my kitted Vonica sweater. It didn't take me a year which I am really proud of. There really is a distinct difference between a wool garment right after you knit it and after you wet block it. Looking up various tutorials for blocking, I found the most helpful to be the Youtube videos by Knitpicks. That seemed appropriate to me since I used their blocking boards to block my sweater. The only downside was that I did not buy enough interlocking pieces for the size of my project. I'll probably need another set for future large projects.

Here are the tutorials I used:

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Face of the Past

The Special Collections department the University of Nevada, Reno (the university I'm attending) is doing a really neat historical project with a modern twist. This year they launched Facebook sites for two UNR alumna Joe McDonald and Leola Lewis. They are approaching the project from the point of view of these two historical students using pictures and comments about the the early 20th century in Nevada. It's really exciting to see something as fun and quirky as this coming from a department you usually associate with just books and traditional research.


If you love learning from the past and you want to do it in a fun, modern way you should definitely check them out. There are some wonderful historic photos courtesy of Special Collections as well as the ability to have questions answered by knowledgeable people.

Leola Lewis' Facebook Page

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Pretty in Pink

This week I decided to start a sewing project for myself. I've dabbled in sewing but I've never really committed to making myself something to wear for everyday. A while back I picked up a really pretty pink fabric that looks like it's been water colored which reminds me of Asian brush strokes. Since I really love Japan I decided to make a kimono inspired wrap dress with it.

I am working with the Butterick pattern B5030, all in the one fabric (without a contrasting band) with the longer sleeves and no collar or cuffs. So far I've gotten all the pieces cut out and have started on the bodice. I'm really excited to see how this project turns out.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This Book is Overdue

I checked out a book called This Book is Overdue: How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All by Marilyn Johnson from my local library and I am in love. I've always been a bookworm and always frequented my local libraries so I certainly have a soft spot in my heart for libraries. My current job is doing graphic desing for the Special Collections department of my university library, which has really opened my eyes to the behind the scenes lives of librarians.

Anyway, this book is fantastic. From the awesome cover art to the author's witty praise of librarians everywhere, it gives wonderful insight into just how valuable librarians really are. Not only does she talk about librarians but she discusses new library technologies and how pivital our librarians are to helping intigrate and educate people about them.

Check it out. This book is really heartwarming and informative and really worth a read.
This Book is Overdue

Monday, January 23, 2012

Dyeing to Dye

I've recently learned to spin but rather than buy colored wool roving I've decided to buy a bunch that is undyed and neutral colored so that I can learn to dye. Learning to dye is also exciting because I love playing with color and the thought of having custom colored yarn is too tempting. This is my first attempt at dying my own wool roving:

I've looked at various home dying tutorials but one of my favorites was on YouTube by a user named jennscharf. Her video shows how to simply dye the wool roving by placing it in a metal turkey pan, pouring vinegar water over it and then dripping food coloring and blending with a fork. Then you bake it in the oven for a couple hours. (Please check out the YouTube video for exact instructions.) I tried this process and am really pleased with the results.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Sit and Spin

This holiday season was a really lucrative one for me. Usually I try not to be materialistic and just enjoy the season and my family, but I have to say that getting an antique style spinning wheel for my birthday (Dec 23) was really a highlight.

My mom, who is really great at reading my mind I might add, decided that it would be the perfect investment for me. I certainly agree as I have not been able to stop playing with it for weeks. I spun all of the little bag of wool roving I owned, and a whole bag that was given to me by a wonderful coworker. And I've already had to order more to feed my fiber craving. I LOVE spinning on a wheel and I feel like I'm really catching on to it quickly.

Thursday, January 19, 2012


My local library is promoting a fantastic new technology called Overdrive Media Console. It's basically a program that allows you to check out audio and ebooks onto either your computer or mobile device. You just download the software either from their website or mobile app store, enter your local library information and you can find and check out any book that is available in their system.

The only drawback to using Overdrive is that just like physical library books they only have a limited number of "copies" available, so you often have to put popular books on hold. They also are not permanantly available to you and expire after a certain amount of time (determined by you when you check out) and then you are prompted to delete them when they expire.

But besides those small setbacks this is a really great resource. All the books are free to use, just like physical library books and many libraries have a really great selection. I use this all the time for classic books for school since they are almost always available.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Vonica oh my Vonica

I started knitting this sweater last year and I am proud to say I've made fantastic progress on it. all that I have left to do is the right sleeve and I am so close to being done with that.

Unfortunately due to a miscalculation I ran out of yarn before I finished the last sleeve. Not to fear though, it's a fairly common yarn and I know just where to get it (Jimmy Beans Wool). I have also found that my cats love my sweater as much as I do (or at least the yarn) since I have on several occasions found them either laying on it or found the ball of yarn hopelessly tangled all over the living room. I try to always put it away where they can't get it, but I sometimes forget and almost always regret it the next day. So far I've been able to salvage it each time, but I am definitely ready for this project to be done.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Nagasaki Study Abroad

I applied last year for the USAC (University Study Abroad Consortium) program through my college and have now been officially accepted into the program. I will be studying in Nagasaki, Japan from the end of March until the beginning of August.

The application process was pretty complicated involving a lot of paperwork and runaround. First I had to apply with USAC and get approved with them by proving I was eligible for the program (high enough GPA and financial aid). After that I had to apply for the college in Japan, get a passport, file for a visa and decide where I wanted to stay. I had to get several passport photos taken for all the various ID's.

Now I am currently waiting for my acceptance packet with all the details. The next step will be buying the airplane ticket and figuring out what to take with me.

I still haven't heard if I'll be able to stay together with my husband or if we will have two different homestays. I wish they would hurry up and give me all the information I need.