Diary of a Dick Vet

30 May 2010

A lovely sense of accomplishment

Filed under: knittykeen — Jessica @ 9:26 pm

I just finished this pullover, and just in time, too! It’s knit in baby alpaca, making it far too warm to wear in California, so it will stay in the closet until I return. Oh well, at least it will be something to look forward to.

I’m really pleased with it. It may not be the most polished piece of work, but I added the waist shaping, re-designed the torso, and raised the neckline all by my little self, meaning it’s really modified to suit my figure. The snake-stitch pattern on the torso ended up pretty clean, as did the yarn-over holes along the shoulders and sleeves… I spent a lot of time working on this and a lot of time taking it apart to re-do what I didn’t like, but now it’s finished and I’ll be proud to wear it!

29 May 2010

Het is klaar

Filed under: EMS, Exams, knittykeen — Jessica @ 11:18 am

My exam is done, which is such a relief. For the week leading up to the event, I usually alternate between confidence and begging for just a few more days, until about 24 hours before, when I resign myself to destiny. This time, unfortunately, I spent just about every minute up to the exam trying to cram a bit more info (cf. knowledge) into my head, wishing I could just give up and spend the evening before the exam knitting. In hindsight, the tangle of thought I attempted to sort on that last day probably resulted in approxiamtely nothing, but I suppose it kept my conscious clean.

It’s nice to be out of my study-funk, although the aftermath is fairly brutal. Whereas other students tell me that their flat is never as clean as it is during exam week, I tend to live in the library from 10am to 11pm at night, so when I come home, I dump my notes on the desk and my throw my clothes on the floor and go to bed. Thus I have a disaster zone to organize; I have so much to do, it’s easier to just do nothing at all. But I want the flat to be clean before I head off to the States for five weeks, for the first half of my summer break.

Ah yes, summer. I have a few weeks of EMS scheduled at home with what looks like a really nice small animal clinic with lots of gadgets, a trip to Oregon for a Shakespeare Festival and a weekend in Yosemite, plus hopefully loads of time to browse the local yarn shops. I am bringing about 1400m of yarn with me to knit a cardigan, and hopefully I’ll make space for some more on the way back! Sadly, yarn is much cheaper in the US than in the UK, and while I love supporting independent dyers and British-based yarn companies, I can’t knit entire sweaters in Rowan or Debbie Bliss. Well, I could, but I could then afford to knit about one sweat a year…yep, it’s cheap US yarn for me. Looking forward to it!

I’ll try to remember to update about my EMS experience. I’m hoping I’ll get to try out some of the simpler surgeries and see some interesting cases, and add more check-marks to my list of procedures to accomplish before final year. Happy summer, everyone!

29 April 2010

Easter Break, Ended

Filed under: EMS, Holidays, Uni, Vivre ma vie, knittykeen — Jessica @ 10:11 pm

How on earth (a) did break end, and (b) am I almost finished with the first week back? Exams are in a few weeks time, and I don’t know how I’ll learn all the new material and review the old stuff in the meanwhile! The perennial problem for the student, of course.

When I last left you, I had nearly completed a stunning first week of EMS. The second week was great as well, especially since the vet who did most of the operations was back from vacation. I was able to watch a femoral head and neck excision arthroplasty on a Border Terrier and a splenectomy on a Rottweiler before I left, have a good chat with everyone about the realities of working in a small animal clinic, and enjoy some good cuddles with lots of interesting pets. Success!

Sadly my scheduled trip to Holland/Belgium/Luxembourg was cancelled due to an unfortunate cloud of ash from some Northern neighbors, but at least I spent an extra week ’stranded’ in Edinburgh, rather than stuck in a foreign country, with no certain way of getting home. I spent my last week of sweet, sweet freedom knitting and watching The Mighty Boosh on DVD. As you do.

Some FOs:

My o w l s! This was my first proper sweater, and I would say it’s a good beginner jumper. Perhaps it wasn’t as challenging as I had originally anticipated because I was already confident with circulars, cables, and short-rows, but I still think anyone who can knit and purl can make this! The pattern is written wonderfully and is hugely popular on ravelry, and I’m proud someone who wrote something so fantastic is also a current resident of Edinburgh! I want to knit all of her designs (Manu is going to be my next ‘big’ project.) I’ve gotten several compliments on this sweater, which illustrates how knitted garments can truly be trendy and fashionable.

In addition, I found a way to use some of the lovely 4-ply I bought from Scottish indie yarn dyer Ripples Crafts:

It’s a very simply little shawl/wrap - I didn’t want a complicated lace pattern to obscure the colors in the yarn. I genuinely enjoyed knitting the the stockinette stitch base and then simple lace section, before finishing with some good old-fashioned garter. Garter - it’s coming back in, man. I have purposely photographed this from a distance, because upon closer inspection, it’s very, very obvious that I was off on some of my stitch counts, leading to a disruption in the lace pattern. You’d only noticed if you looked closely, and I’m going to let my amazing shawl be spoiled by details.

And finally, my pretty green hat. My wardrobe is unintentionally skewed green but my accessories are not, so this was a way to fill the deficit. The colorway is ‘Light Olive’ but it makes me think of lichen or moss, of damp forests and mushroom hunts with my dad when I was a teen. I call it my ‘Angwin Tam,’ and the yarn is 50% angora, 50% wool - it’s super-soft! I think I might buy another skein and knit some simple mittens to match, for next winter.

In addition to knitting my fingers raw, I also took a semi-impromptu day-trip to Thirsk, where the famous vet, James Herriot, had his surgery. All Creatures Great And Small is practically the bible for aspiring vets, and I’d been wanting to visit ever since I learned his old surgery is now a museum. The three hours of train journeys made it just far enough away to be someplace very different, but close enough to enjoy a full afternoon, arriving home in the early evening.

It was a very overcast day, but for a gal who lives in Edinburgh, the absence of rain is enough cause for joy. So forgive me if my photos are a bit gloomy and gray.

Donald Sinclair, aka Siegfried Farnon, vetted the Thirsk Races every year

Donald Sinclair, aka Siegfried Farnon, vetted the Thirsk Races every year. I could just see the track, as I made the 20 minute walk from the train station to the town center.

On the front of Skeldale House

On the front of Skeldale House

I was practically alone on my tour of the house. The guide at the entrance insisted that I take loads of pictures, and filled me in on many of the little details of the house, such as which pieces are original to the house, and sights that were directly referenced in the books. Wight’s widow was involved in the curation of the museum, so the house is a fairly accurate picture of how it looked in the 1940s. I couldn’t help but find the place a bit romantic, full of old charm, and a reminder of what vetting used to be. My absolute favorite room was the old dispensary, where James and Siegfriend mixed any number of strange brews for the farmers.

A real potions cabinet, full of Placentula or Cleansing Drink and Oxygas for Udder Ill and other strange wares. I wonder for vets 50 years from now will find our current pharmacies?

A real potions cabinet, full of 'Placentula or Cleansing Drink' and 'Oxygas for Udder Ill' and other strange wares. I wonder how vets 50 years from now will find our current pharmacies?

The consultation room for small animals

The consultation room for small animals

The cheerful kitchen

The cheerful kitchen

I doubt this tea cozy was originally in the house, but Im still in love with it!

I doubt this tea cozy was originally in the house, but I'm still in love with it!

The back portion of the property included a short video on Wight’s life, and the car used in the television series. I’ve only seen bits and pieces of the show and wouldn’t call myself much of a fan, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to sit in that sweet car. Sadly, no one was around to take a photo of me in it, so I had to improvise:

Its me!

It's me!

Upstairs was a totally brilliant museum of veterinary medicine. I majorly geeked out, looking at the old instruments and reading about all the wonky things early vets used to do. I recognize that non-vets probably couldn’t care less about this, and since my tiny readership consists of my immediate family, and people from my knitting group who openly stalk me (hi, Jez!), there’s no need to detail all the photos I took, but I will share this beauty:

An old probang - used to retrieve potatoes and turnips lodged in the throats of cattle. It looks remarkably similar to the modern version, although the favored material is no longer leather. On a side note, its a bit...wrong...that an instrument made from cow hide is shoved down the throats of other cattle to retrieve potatoes. Not that the cattle care, Im sure theyre glad to be feeling better at all!

An old probang - used to retrieve potatoes and turnips lodged in the throats of cattle. It looks remarkably similar to the modern version, although the favored material is no longer leather. On a side note, it's a bit...wrong...that an instrument made from cow hide was shoved down the throats of other cattle to retrieve potatoes. I suppose it's not unlike using catgut in sheep!

In addition to the potato-grabber’, calving aids and castration instruments appear to have changed little in the past 100 years, and why would they? Those were skills based on experience and knowledge of anatomy, along with a bit of strength. The most important contribution to veterinary medicine (human medicine, too) has undoubtedly been antibiotics, and anthelminthics have dramatically improved welfare and production systems for food animals, but these don’t retrieve a stuck lamb or geld a horse. This was represented on the poster boards that guided the tour of the museum, but I imagine only someone involved in the vet profession would realize how humbling it is, after having a good laugh at the often useless potions at a vet’s disposal, that so much of this field hasn’t actually changed since the introduction of antimicrobials.

Okay, one more geeky thing:

A cat castration box. Use your imagination.

A cat castration box - use your imagination. (Anesthesia is such a wonder!)

I spent about two hours exploring the museum, and loved every minute. I bought myself a few souvenirs and walked down the street to St Mary’s Church, which is a gothic-period church in really good condition. Its original windows had been destroyed during the Blitz, but this appears standard for most British churches; what makes it unusual is that one of these windows had been restored to near perfection. The inside was lovely:

View from the alter

View from the alter

There are a few more pictures on my flickr, especially of the vet museum, if you’re interested. Now I’m back in classes, and trying to relight that fire that led me to this place, to complete this course…with exams so frighteningly close, let’s hope I find my spark!

13 March 2010

Keeping Busy

Filed under: Vivre ma vie, knittykeen — Jessica @ 7:29 pm

The sun came out today (it was just about too warm for my heavy jacket!) and so did the camera. The crocuses are in bloom in the Meadows and in my front yard, and I can’t wait for the Daffodils next!

Flowers in the front yard

Flowers in the front yard

The Meadows

The Meadows

Everyone else seemed to agree that today would be perfect for hitting up the Farmer’s Market:

See that pretty blue sky?

See that pretty blue sky?

During the winter, the Market is mostly full of butchers, fishmongers, and the odd baker, but there was some nice produce mixed in today:

I see the makings of a good omelette!

I see the makings of a good omelette!

I bought an angus burger, which I planned on taking a close-up photo of - the kind that would upset a vegetarian while still appealing to their photographic eye - but I remembered my plan literally as the last bite of that beauty went into my mouth. It was tempting to order a second, but I managed to restrain myself. Instead I ducked into a Starbucks and bought an iced latte (thanks, family!) One day of sun and I act like it’s appropriate to get iced drinks! I stayed in the cafe and studied/knitted, then set off toward the Meadows again.

Yep, the flowers are everywhere.

Indeed, the flowers are everywhere.

Of all the lovely things I saw and smelled and heard today, perhaps my favorite was the pencil case I bought to house my knitting supplies. Usually they kick around, haphazardly, in the bottom of my tote bag, which is pretty frustrating when I’ve just dropped a stitch and need a sturdy crochet hook to save the day. Anyway, it took fifteen minutes of rummaging through the bargain store, but in the back corner, buried under far more practical options, was this beauty:

Score!

Score!

Yep, I am well excited to show up to my knitting group on Wednesday with my new pencil case.

28 February 2010

FO sho

Filed under: knittykeen — Jessica @ 6:21 pm

Wanna see what FOs (finished objects) I’ve knitted recently? Of course you do!

First, there is my biggest project yet:

De blauwe tas

De blauwe tas

This blue purse was a gift for my sister’s birthday, and is a modification of the Quinn Cabled Bag. Looking back on it, I can’t quite tell why it took so long to make, since it appears deceptively simple. The cabled band at the top actually took less time than the seed stitch bottom! Except for some spots where I dropped the pattern and switched to stockinette stitch, and despite the fact that the yarn I ordered online appeared far more close to black than the yarn I received, I’m happy with it.

My friend Amy sewed the lining for me and did the zipper as well! Team work :)

My friend Amy sewed the lining for me and did the zipper as well! Team work :)

The blue bag actually inspired the next FO, a blue-ish hat:

De blauwe hoed

De blauwe hoed

Star Crossed Slouchy Beret is a very popular Ravelry pattern, and I had planned on making it after I found a skein of Rowan Pure Wool Aran in a bargain bin at John Lewis. What bumped it up in terms of knitting priorities is due to Dutch grammar and perhaps a bit of pride. My father was born in the Netherlands and I’ve always wanted to learn Dutch, so I’m taking a night class through the University of Edinburgh. Our weekly assignment is to practice the past perfect tense by describing what we’ve done during the weekend. My three sentences are always terribly dull, so I was quite pleased when I learned the verb for ‘to knit,’ and even more pleased when I used the correct adjective with the subject in my homework. Alas, my excitement was abated when my teacher informed me that ‘Ik heb een blauwe tas gebreid’ was technically not correct, as the bag was not finished - a key element for using the past perfect tense. Failed! Because we haven’t learned the Dutch imperfect tense I was forced to only share finished items, so I resolved to knit something easy (and finish it!) before Tuesday. Ik heb een blauwe hoed gebreid!

The only other truly finished craft is a wee hedgehog, made for my friend Amy for her ’51st week in our flat’ party last night (she owns two real hedgehogs herself!). The pattern is by Scottish designer Ysolda Teague, who is my current knitting hero. In addition to publishing wonderful, delicate patterns, she also manages to actually earn a living through her designs, which is pretty incredible! I bought her book, Whimsical Little Knits 2 because I want to make almost everything in it, and the hedgehog, which I’ve named Tronstein, was my first pick:

Aint he cute?

Ain't he cute?

If you’ve found this blog and you’re a knitter, do please add me on Ravelry.

2 February 2010

Vine Lace and other Funny Knots

Filed under: Vivre ma vie, knittykeen — Jessica @ 4:24 pm

So this knitting thing, it is so addictive. I did finish those wrist-warmers:

But I didn’t stop there! I kept on going with a hat, which was distressingly tricky for me. I had to start over about 10 times, and the yarn was quite happy to tear or snag while frogging the project, so I grew increasingly distressed with each failed attempt. Finally, I set my needles down, and just as I was about to fall asleep that night, defeated, I had a moment of clarity, and realized the large, glaring mistake I had made in the pattern. It was easily fixed and finished a few days later:

To be honest, the hat doesn’t fit the way I want, so although I’m proud of finishing the beast, I’m much more excited about the next hat I made:

Back view of the vine lace pattern

Back view of the vine lace pattern

Two things:

  1. This was made with half of a 50p skein of yarn I found in a charity shop. Score! I’m not sure what to do with the rest of the yarn, but I could easily make a second hat with another, equally intriguing pattern.
  2. These pictures are before I ‘blocked’ the object, e.g. shaped it, so the vine lace pattern isn’t terribly apparent. However, I sort of like the gentle waviness of the hat, so I didn’t change it too much.

Between knitting and class and orchestra, I’m quite a busy little vet student. Today, I woke up to an inch of fresh snow on the sidewalks, and the trees and fields were gorgeous out at school. The sun was shining, and inside Easter Bush I was so warm, it was an all-around pleasant feeling. As the days get longer and the classes and tons of information pile up, I hope I still get a chance to enjoy how beautiful winter in Edinburgh can be.

20 January 2010

In the round

Filed under: Uncategorized, Vivre ma vie, knittykeen — Jessica @ 11:31 pm

I have an awful habit of picking up hobbies and dropping them. Sometimes I will come back to them again later, reminding myself how much I enjoyed them in the first place, but again they lose favor with me, and I trade those hobbies for something else new and exciting.

Having mastered some very basic crochet since my freshman year at my first University, I thought I might take up knitting. So, with pair of US size 9 aluminum needles and some cheap acrylic yarn, I taught myself to knit over Christmas holiday. Not sure how long it will keep my fancy, but already I prefer it to crochet, and I have a long list of patterns I’m itching to try. I have a few things cast on but not finished, so I’m trying to discipline myself and finish one before starting another - just like I intend to ‘finish’ learning to knit, instead of dropping it for, I don’t know, embroidery. On a related note, I am currently reading 4 books right now!

The internet is an absolutely wealth of information, with so many free patterns and videos showing techniques, that it was quite easy to pick up the basics. I made my first hat and it ended up far to short, but it was just a practice go for my second hat, which went much better:

My Hot Head hat

My 'Hot Head' hat

I have a scarf in the works, but what I’m enjoying the most right now is a pair of wristwarmers I started yesterday. Like the hat above, there is a ‘ribbed’ effect, which is very basic, but what’s keeping them interesting right now is trying to knit it the round. In order to make a tube-like structure without stitching a flat piece together, and thus to avoid a seam, you can knit with double-pointed needles, which is a very fun balancing act between 3-4 shorter needles.

Simple Wristwarmers

Simple Wristwarmers

There’s something satisfying about juggling those little bamboo sticks, to create something useful and sorta cute. I just hope I can bring myself to make two of them!

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