I love my camera. My Canon SD1000 is a tiny thing of limitless wonder, and I have spent the last year finding ways to use the Canon camera hack to make my life as a graduate student better after reading a post about it on Lifehacker.

To wit: A 10″x13″ piece of half-inch thick plexiglas and a bendy tripod coupled with the camera hack that takes automated interval shots gets me an upside-down scanner that can shoot high-quality OCR-able scans of a 250 page book in under 20 minutes. VoilĂ , an electronic book in PDF format that I can use with Skim to double my reading speed and still take good notes. Truly a life saver when I have a big chunk of reading to do.

But the qualities that make my little point-and-shoot darling a fantastic scanner sometimes get in the way of real photography. Unless you’re made of stone, the camera sometimes doesn’t focus properly, and trying to get a nice photo that’s well lit under any circumstances is a near-impossibility. Even with a decent flash and good ISO control, no photo taken in normal lighting will ever be a great photo because the optics aren’t the best.

Lifehacker to the rescue again. This time, they pointed me toward a DIY photo studio in a box designed to create near-professional lighting and backdrops. I still need to get a better camera, but this will tide me over for the time being…

Macro Photo Studio

The subject? A new hapagirl.com pattern, a baby set that’s been turned on its head. The knitting, testing and pattern editing are nearly complete, and it should be out tomorrow. Today. At some point in the next 24 hours. Whatever…. Clearly I need to re-regularize my sleep schedule.

Steeking requires a very specific set of tools. Usually, that tool set requires scissors, a crochet hook, a ruler or a gauge tool, swatches, a tapestry needle here or there, and maybe a spare DPN in case of serious emergency…. The tool set that is on my floor tonight is altogether different, because the steeking is of an entirely different nature.

Truly, this is a lesson in how not to write, rather than in how not to steek.

Organizationally, one of the sections in my current research is a complete, utter, bloody mess. And by “bloody,” I don’t mean the British swear word; I mean really, actually bloody from the gallon of red ink that I’ve spilled on it. This organizational mess is not unusual. That’s just how I write. I word-vomit on my computer whenever I have an idea and then use my favorite writing tool to tag each paragraph with an outline sentence so I can reorganize from there.

The thing is, though, that I spent too much time inside each paragraph this time around, so the topic sentences didn’t fully reflect the extent of repetition in the body of the paper. Thus, a new kind of application for the scariest technique in a knitter’s repertoire: the research steek. I have reverted to kindergarten methods. My tool set tonight includes a stapler, scotch tape, my fountain pen, and a whole lot of paper.

Note that a glass of wine is still a requirement for cutting into one’s own creations, knitted or otherwise, to fend off the thought that it might not all hold together when it’s been cut apart like this. The only other tool to make the crossover from knitted-steek toolset to research-steek toolset: my fabric scissors. And let me tell you, I’d rather use those scissors to steek a cardigan made of pure silk rather than use them on my research again….