Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Lucy Ellen Surko Reth

My grandmother, Dad's mother.
1931, high school graduation

Mother's Day 2004

Her time on earth ended today; she would have been 92 years old in a couple of months. Rest in peace, Grandma Lucy. See you again someday.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Couldn't resist

funny pictures of cats with captions

This is not my cat or my yarn or my house. I just found it hysterically funny.

Life has been extraordinarily busy. I am doing a little bit of knitting, have started a few new projects in the past couple of weeks. Quick things like fingerless mitts, hats.

School is busy, busy. We get a day off tomorrow because the septic system has backed up. I was prepared for a substitute tomorrow anyway, as I am going to a workshop all day.

In other news, my favorite soldier is coming home Friday, just for 2 weeks. He'll have to go back before Thanksgiving.

The day after the presidential election, I'm having a hard time getting excited about this vague notion of "change". Actually, I'm kind of concerned about what kind of changes we might see. Change isn't always good. We'll just have to see.

Happy birthday to my sister, the middle child.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Long time, no post

Yikes, another 7 1/2 weeks have gone whizzing by. School started August 20th. This is my second year teaching. I have to finish my certification this year, before my temporary certificate expires. I am a junior class sponsor, which means there is prom to plan & funds to raise. So far, we seem to have a pretty good group of students who are taking ideas and checking into possibilities for prom locations (our new principal is encouraging us to go off-site, instead of using the high school gym as we've done for the past ... million years or so; of course, that's pending school board approval) and fund raisers. My daughter is back at college and my son is actually getting to play baseball this year. He was injured last fall, and just didn't get to play much during the spring season. For those of you accustomed to football in the fall, most of the schools in our area are too small to field a football team, so we have baseball and softball in the fall as well as in the spring.
And my husband is somewhere in the Baghdad area. He does get to email regularly, and calls occasionally. I've been so busy, I haven't really had time to pine. We're all doing fine so far.

I managed to finish the chenille scarf. I think it may be a gift for an as yet undetermined recipient. I just knit until I ran out of yarn. I don't remember if I have another cone of this yarn somewhere or not. I sorta hope not. Since it doesn't have any wool content at all, I didn't even try the felting process as the Vintage Velvet pattern calls for.
Pattern: Vintage Velvet, from Scarf Style
Yarn: Blue Heron Bulky Rayon Chenille, Heather

I also finished a pair of socks in Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock, in the Liberty colorway. These were ripped & reknit multiple times. I just couldn't seem to find a stitch pattern I liked. Ended up with a 7x1 ribbing because I didn't like the plain stockinette either. And I'm not thrilled with the way the colors do whatever it is they're doing. Great zig-zags of alternating rows of color & white. I'm guessing the Country Christmas colorway I have will look just like this, with green in place of the navy on this sock. These are going to Socks for Soldiers.

And last on my roster of items finished since my last post is yet another one I'm not thrilled with. This is Sizzle, which is not quite sizzling on me. I clearly don't quite have the hang of knitting to fit myself. The bottom of it is too big around. The waist decreases end just under my bust, instead of at my waist, and the bust increases continue above where they needed to stop. The yarn is Tahki Cotton Classic, recycled from another ill-fitting sweater I made myself. I do not plan to rip this out, but consider it to be a learning experience.

In much cheerier knitting news, I love this scarf! The yarn is Noro Silk Garden, in 2 colorways. Alternating 2-row stripes of 1x1 rib, a la brooklyntweed's directions. It is growing rapidly, not tedious at all to work on. I think it's the anticipation of what color combination is going to appear next that makes it so much fun to do.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Now, where was I?

Good question. Lots of catching up to do.

Psychology course: Done! And I got an A, but this time I worked for it.

Then I went and signed up for a program called Passport to Teaching, which will allow me to get certified without taking any more college courses. I just need to pass two tests -- one on Professional Teaching Knowledge, and one in my subject area (Secondary Math). This is a lot less expensive, too, than the 15 more college credits I needed.

Vacation Bible School was in there somewhere, too. I have been in charge of the 5th grade for the past 6 summers, but I was finishing that psychology class and didn't have time to do justice to both, so I was a helper in the 4th grade this year.

In June, my husband came home from the National Training Center in the California desert (Death Valley). What? Oh, yeah -- I haven't mentioned that after 11 1/2 years of retirement, during which he has been teaching high school JROTC, he has gone back on active duty in the Army for about 16 months. So, you might guess what they were training for.... He was home for a week or so, then we went to spent a couple days each with my parents and his, then we dropped him off at Ft. Riley, KS and drove away. He flew to Kuwait City a couple of days later, and he and his team are now in Iraq. They'll be there another 11 months or so. Prayers for his team's safety and that nothing in my house goes drastically wrong while he's away will be greatly appreciated! (He's the tall, dark & handsome one standing front & center in the photo below.)

Knitting ... it looks like I have finished 2 pair of socks and a replacement pair of felt clogs since my last post. Not real impressive.

The first sock started out as the Reversai pattern from Sock Madness. I got knocked out of the competition that round, so I modified the pattern -- the garter stitch sole, which made the sock reversible, just wasn't working for me. Mine are not reversible, but that's ok. The yarn is Regia 4-ply Nordic Color #5511. I got it some time ago from Kim at Socks for Soldiers, and these socks will be going to her, so she can send them on to Iraq or Afghanistan. The purpose of the group is to knit socks to wear in uniform, but she also takes leisure socks.

The other pair of socks is knit in Colinette Jitterbug, in the color Charcoal. I lost track of the number of times these were ripped & reknit. I tried plain stockinette feet -- too loose. I tried a lace pattern -- didn't like it. Finally went back to the beaded rib I had originally thought to use. My proudest accomplishment on these is the heel. Since Jitterbug is a slightly heavier fingering weight, the yardage is a little shorter than with most sock yarn. I had carefully split the skein in half, and wanted to work toe-up so I could knit the foot to my length, then the leg could go until I ran out of yarn. But I didn't want to do a short-row heel. No problem. I have 2 different sources for directions for a heel-flap & gusset done toe-up. And I have tried them both. They're pretty much the same; I wasn't really happy with them. So I hunted around for other ideas. And thought about how to reverse a cuff-down heel flap and gusset. Looked at the You're Putting Me On sock by Judy Gibson. The light bulb started to come on. But she turns the heel and then you have to pick up stitches along the edge. I knew it could be done without having to pick up stitches. Then I checked Wendy's free patterns, and found the answer. Wendy's toe-up slipstitch heel sock has the coolest heel method. The only problem is her numbers and mine weren't the same. No problem. I teach high school math. I can handle a little knitting math, right? And I did it! This heel fits beautifully.

My daughter managed to wear holes in the soles of her felt clogs in about a year. I patched them with a bit of needle felting, and they held for awhile, but when she got home from school in May, it was clearly time for a new pair. Toes sticking out of the bottom of her slippers - she looked like a classic hobo. These will have suede soles attached, in the hope that they will last a little longer! The soles aren't attached yet, because that requires sewing, but I'll try to get to that later today.

Finally, I am also working on UFOs (unfinished objects). This one is the Vintage Velvet Scarf from Scarf Style, in Blue Heron Chunky Rayon Chenille. I purchased the yarn from an ebay seller eons ago. The color is called "Heather". Started the scarf in June, 2 years ago. I did one 22-row repeat and set it aside. I am now up to almost 5 repeats. It's not hard. There are really only 2 rows to memorize (even and odd), and then rows 5 and 16 of the repeat get the cable crossing. I added stitch markers (wasn't using them, even though the pattern says to), and since they're different, I know whether I'm on an even row or an odd row. I think the color in the top pic is more accurate.

Whew! Sorry about the long post! Maybe if I posted more often, I wouldn't have so much to say all at once.

Last, but definitely not least, I wanted to point you toward a raffle for a good cause. It's on earthchicknits blog. She's got some fabulous prizes, too.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Coming up for air, finally

School is out for the summer! I didn't know how crazy the last few weeks of school would be. My kids would always come home and tell me, "We're not doing anything." I didn't realize the teachers were running like little hamsters on exercise wheels. At least, that's what I've felt like the past few weeks. We had final exams scheduled on Monday - Wednesday last week, a short schedule (25 min. classes) followed by a barbeque and play day in the afternoon Thursday, and a half-day with an awards ceremony yesterday. Leading up to finals, I wanted to get as much additional information covered in each class as I could, then review for finals. Competing with this plan were several class & club trips which had students missing partial or entire days of school that last week before finals. Hmm -- maybe I do have something to request of the new principal next year. There are so many kids missing school for so many trips like this. The timing was really bad, too. I added 6 points to each Algebra 1 student's final exam score just to make the class average on the test a 75. Ouch. Have I been talking to myself all year?

I'm not really done with the end-of-year wrap up. I'll have to go back in Tuesday (when summer school starts, but I'm not teaching summer school; I need a break!) Grades are turned in, but I have to requisition supplies for next year, and turn in various paperwork.

I am about halfway through a 4-week summer intersession course for my certification. It is a lot of work! Three credit hours in 4 weeks. Very intense. So these past 2 weeks have been doubly busy. Now I get to breathe a little, and maybe even knit. Haven't even touched my knitting in days, and when I have, I didn't get much done.

I did get to attend the Spring Fling hosted by The Loopy Ewe in St. Louis 4 weeks ago. It was a great weekend. I took a sock designing class from Cookie A., and got to visit The Loopy Ewe in person. Fun!

Upcoming events include the kids' birthdays -- my daughter will be 20 on Monday, and my son will be 16 on Thursday. Of course, this will involve taking a driver's test and getting a driver's license. The only problem is that in our rural area, the testing sites are open on weird schedules like the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month, or the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. So we've pinpointed the one place that will be open that day. The only hiccup in the plan is that we'll be in St. Louis for the Stitch n Pitch game on Wednesday evening, and will spend the night there. We'll have to make sure we head home in time to get to the driver's testing place before it closes. That will cut short any shopping time in St. Louis, which will disappoint my daughter, I'm sure. C'est la vie.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Saturday (again?)

Yesterday felt like Saturday. We didn't have school -- it was our last remaining day of Spring Break. The earlier part of the week we were in school to make up snow days. And flood days.

I had made an appointment to take my car in to the dealership to take care of a recall. But since the nearest VW dealer is 150 miles away, in St. Louis, I wanted to make sure they went over it and took care of anything else that needed to be done. So they asked if I could leave it first thing in the morning. The easiest way to do that was to go up Thursday, stay in a hotel, and take the car to them. They got me a rental car to use while they worked on mine. My son went with me, and we went to the Gateway Arch.

He'd been there before, but had never taken the tram ride to the top. So we did that -- it was a gray day, but we could still see pretty far. The view from inside the top of the Arch, on the Missouri side:

After the Arch, we went to Kirkwood Knittery to buy Stitch n' Pitch tickets. This year, the St. Louis game is May 28th, so it won't be as hot as last year's August game. I might have also found some Jo Sharp Silkroad DK Tweed on sale, and purchased 2 colors. Unfortunately, not enough of either one to make a sweater, and I don't think they'd really go together too well. But I remedied that with an order from the Knitting Garden this morning. Now I'll have enough for 2 sweaters! I'll work out any dyelot issues later. The dark green is #408 Cedar; the dark brown is #411 Granary.

My daughter needed shoes (I think I'm going to have to start calling her Imelda), so she drove up from Springfield to meet us in St. Louis so I could buy her some shoes. Fortunately, she already knew what she wanted, and where to get them, so all I had to do was pay for them.

While we were eating lunch, the dealership called and said my car was ready. We headed back that way to return the rental car. Then the phone rang again. They were very apologetic, but something had gone wrong with the car, and they would need to keep it over the weekend. All the VW techs had gone home until Monday. They would arrange for me to keep the rental car all weekend. So we finished our shopping and headed home (150 miles) in the rental. I guess I'll have to get a substitute for my afternoon classes on Monday so I can go back & get my car. There goes my (potential) perfect attendance bonus for this semester.

Sock Madness round 2 pattern was emailed on Monday. By Wednesday night, this was as far as I'd gotten on the first sock of the pair.

It's a completely reversible sock, with a garter stitch short row heel and garter stitch sole. It's going very slowly. I made very little additional progress Thursday or Friday. When I checked the divisions this morning, there were 17 finished in my division. The first 20 advance to the next round this time. Since I'm still working on the first sock, I think I'm pretty much out of the running. So I'm going to make some modifications and finish these my way. I have ripped back to the beginning of the heel. I'm doing an eye-of-partridge heel flap, and I'll do a stockinette sole and standard toe.

The sun is shining, and the grass is green (after all the rain we've had, the sun is a real relief, and the grass has been well watered!). My son walked outside & said he thinks he's going to have to mow the yard. Spring has sprung!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lots of rain

We're in one of those areas of the country that got 12" of rain on Tuesday and Wednesday. In fact, school dismissed early on Tuesday, and was cancelled Wednesday and today. This has been a weird year of weather and cancelled school. One of our neighboring towns, in fact, made national news -- Piedmont, MO is just about 30-40 minutes away. This is very hilly country, criss-crossed by creeks of all sizes. The one down the hill behind our house got way out of its banks, but it's mostly back in now. The sun is shining and there isn't a cloud in the sky. I think the reason school was cancelled is that there are several of our county highways (read: "paved roads" -- 2 lanes, very curvy & hilly, mostly marked with double yellow lines, because there aren't any safe places to pass someone) that are still closed due to flooding.

This is the creek behind the house:
The tree in the foreground (above) is about 9 or 10 yards off the corner of the front porch. The grass is the edge of the yard, and then there's a fairly steep hill going down to the creek. You can see the neighbor's fields & fences at the top of the picture. The picture below was taken from the edge of the hill (about the middle of the picture above), but at the other end of the house.
I think the picture below is roughly the same view, with the creek back where it's supposed to be. The creek is barely visible, in the top left corner, the darker area passing behind the tilted tree and extending up and to the right, about 3/4 of the way across the top of the picture. The lighter area in the top left corner is the gravel bar on the other side of the creek.

Sock Madness started a week ago. The pattern was emailed to participants on Thursday. I printed it out (at school) and started the sock when I got home. Even took it to school the next day and laid it on my desk to work on in odd moments. I only got half a round done, and that was because one of my students wanted to watch me knit. When I got home, I decided I didn't like the way the whole thing looked, so I found some different yarn & started over. Already over 24 hours behind. But I finished sock #1 on Saturday and started sock #2, which I finished on Sunday night around 11:00 p.m. Not too bad. I quickly posted the required finished pic, emailed the moderators with a link to the picture, and went to bed hoping I'd made the cut to go on to round 2. No need to worry. Forty people from each of the 4 divisions are advancing. I thought there were 40 people in each division at the start, until I counted & found 57 in my division. We're still waiting on 46 more people to finish. Only 6 slots left in my division, though (UConn Cast Ons). I do need to catch up on things that didn't get done during those 48 or so hours of concentrated sock knitting, so I'm trying not to knit at all. (HA!)

Monday, February 25, 2008

Back to School

We had only 2 days of school last week. No school on Monday, President's Day, back to school on Tuesday & Wednesday, another ice storm on Thursday, so no school Thursday or Friday. So, lots of knitting time! There were widespread power outages with the ice storm that hit on February 11th, but we only lost power for a little over an hour while we were asleep Monday night. We didn't lose power at all with the storm on Thursday. We lost a few trees, but none in the yard -- we have quite a bit of forested acreage here.

I finished one Tempted "Tease" sock, and started the other. The toe I like to do is easier on circulars than on dpns, so I dug out a circular needle to do it. Then I decided to just keep going, using Magic Loop. It seems to be going so much faster. Not that I'm done with dpns -- just feeling more Magic Loop-y right now.

I also switched my Big Black (soldier) Sock to Magic Loop. Unfortunately, the yarn I'm using is no longer on the approved yarn list for SFS. So these socks will be for my husband. Good thing I was making his size!

I dug out another UFO -- my Diamond Fantasy Shawl, in Handmaiden Sea Silk, in the Glacier colorway.

I have no idea why this has been ignored for so long. Since I picked it up a few days ago, I have completed 2 chart repeats. Part of the impetus for this is that there is another knitalong on Sivia's Yahoo group, for her Moonshadow stole. I got the kit for it, from WoolGirl, and would love to start it, but I'm really not good with more than one lace project at a time. There are two other shawl knitalongs which will be starting soon, as well. One is for an Orkney Pi (based on Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi Shawl) on the EZasPi group (first part of pattern will be posted 2/29), and the other is MysticLight, the sequel to the MysticWaters shawl by Anna of Knit & Knag. (This one starts March 26th. Signups close on March 25th.) I have yarn on order from the UK for the Orkey Pi, and have already ordered and received my yarn for MysticLight. More when those KALs actually start.

Just in case that's not enough, I'm also signed up for Sock Madness, which is scheduled to start March 13th. If you've missed the sign-ups (they're closed), you can still be a spectator. I participated last year, but was knocked out in the first round. And I wasn't working last year.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Day 4 - The ice is melting

We went to school Monday morning, the freezing rain started, and we were dismissed before 1st hour was over. The precipitation continued all that day, and there was no school on Tuesday. It stayed cold and gray, and nothing melted on Tuesday, so no school Wednesday. The sun finally came out (briefly) on Wednesday, but the temp. never got above freezing, and our country roads and gravel parking lots remained sheets of ice, so no school today, either. The sun is shining brightly today, and the temperature is in the upper 30s (F), so we are finally getting melting. In fact, we are sitting here listening to hundreds of little chunks of ice from tree limbs hitting our metal roof and sliding down (it's an A-frame; the roof goes all the way to the ground).

I am experiencing whatever you call it when you want to start a new project about every 2 or 3 hours, nevermind the current pile of works-in-progress. I have been working on a Big Black Sock for Socks for Soldiers. This is only my 3rd pair since joining (8/25/2006). Not an impressive statistic. (Safety pins mark every tenth row on leg & foot, giving me a better chance of making a second sock to match.)

My Tempted Yarns "Tease" sock has been re-knit with a short-row heel, and I am starting the leg. I'm much happier with how it looks this time.

I started making an Aibhlinn (cowl) last Friday night, thinking it would be my take-along project as I went to a "Teachers as ACT Coaches" workshop about 3 hours away last Saturday. Turns out, it was carried along, but I never took it out of my bag to work on it. I figured it would be easier to explain knitting neckwear to non-knitters, than to explain hand-knit socks. The yarn is Elann.com Pasticcio, 100% cotton aran weight, in a color called Deep Denim. I don't see it in the current listing.

Yesterday, I got a package from KnitPicks, with The Best of Interweave Knits and the yarn (Andean Silk)to make the Cabaret Raglan. I think instead of knitting it as written, I'm going to knit it in the round, adding waist shaping, attaching the sleeves, and continuing with the raglan shaping in the round. That will require some thinking, but hey, I'm a math teacher. I can do it! So I thought I should do a swatch in the round. The pattern gauge is 17 sts per 4", so I cast on 34 sts and joined. This way, it should be 4" across when I lay it flat to measure. After about 3 rounds, I realized that I could just start a sleeve as my gauge swatch, so I ripped that out and cast on the 46 sts required for the sleeve. I finished the sleeve increases last night, and am about an inch or so from the point where I'll have to put it on a holder until the other sleeve and body are ready.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, January 31, 2008


It started snowing during 2nd hour today, and it wasn't too long before the decision was made to dismiss early. By a little after 11:00 a.m., we had the kids on the busses, and we were in the parking lot cleaning the snow off our vehicles. I brushed the snow off the back window, worked my way around the car, and had to brush off the back window again before I got in the car. I don't think we'll have school tomorrow.
Here's what it looked like a couple of hours ago, and it's been snowing steadily since it started:

The same building (we call it the machine shed) a couple of days ago, after a very windy day:

The little tiny guy on the roof is my 6'2.5" tall husband. The wind caught the edge of the roof (the corner to the left) and peeled it up, lathe and all. He was able to get it unbent and fastened back down.

I finished the socks for my son. Now the poor little kid (whose feet are men's size 12) won't have cold toes.

Yarn: Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport, Camouflage
pattern: a combination of things -- I did an Aloha toe from Queen Kahuna's Crazy Toes & Heels, increasing to 64 sts, then knitted a stockinette foot. I did a really cool heel from Cat Bordhi's New Pathways for Sock Knitters, then did 3x1 ribbing until I ran out of yarn. Undid a row and bound off. Actually, I also went around the sock and laddered the 3rd knit stitch on each rib about 15 rows and latched it back up from the inside to turn that section into 2x2 rib at the top of the sock. The yarn in the needle below the socks is all that is left from 2 skeins of Shepherd Sport.

Then I decided to start a sock for myself. This is Tempted Hand Painted Yarns, fingering weight, 100% merino superwash wool, recently purchased from The Loopy Ewe. The color is called "Tease". Our school colors are red & white & black, so I thought they'd be sort of school-colors socks. Yes, that's gray, not white. Whatever. I started with the same Aloha Toe mentioned above, then decided to try one of the socks in the Cat Bordhi book. Settling on the Dove Socks on p. 73, I knit the foot to my length, then started the increases. Then the pooling became more like striping, and while each type of patterning is ok on its own, I don't think I like the combination. You can see that I had already removed the needles before I took this picture. But I didn't rip it out right away, and a couple of days later I realized that I didn't need to rip all of it out. I ripped back to the start of the increases/stripes and will continue on with the zig-zaggy pooling until it's long enough to do a short-row heel, then the leg. Since the number of stitches in a row won't change, the foot and leg of the sock should not do this stripey thing.

Goodness, I'm sleepy. I think I'm going to take a nap.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Crazy hair

We're having a "spirit week" at school -- this Friday is Homecoming. It's a small school, no football, so we do a Homecoming basketball game in January. Today was crazy hair day.
Cell phone picture taken by my son. Don't click & make it bigger -- you'll pixellate me! The child's almost a foot taller than me, hence the looming down angle.

Friday, January 04, 2008


T.G.I.F. And I mean that most sincerely. Around 2:00 this afternoon, I'd have sold you my Algebra 1 class for pocket change. But I'm all better now. Figured out what they're going to do on Monday. They'll enjoy it. Lots. Really, it will help them learn what they weren't paying attention to today.

Second quarter grades are in the computer. I just have to do something about a couple of kids who transferred in and don't have first quarter grades, so the semester grade is wrong. And I have a couple of others who should have incompletes because they were out sick so much they missed tests.

So now I have a little knitting time, and I can finish the felt clogs for big foot my son. And start another pair for another young man who has slightly smaller feet.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!

It's snowing, but I don't think that was in the forecast. It doesn't even show up on the radar map. I wouldn't mind if it continued, but our College Girl was planning to drive to St. Louis today, to spend a few days with friends.

This is what a 19-year old thinks we looked like in the '80s.

Her Sunday School class had a New Year's Eve '80s-themed party last night. I spent a good chunk of the '80s in college, and I know I never dressed like that! I remember owning several Shaker sweaters, which I wore with polo shirts underneath, collars popped up. Come to think of it, I owned several other obnoxiously oversized sweaters then. Not hand-knit sweaters ... although there was one, in that sort of sparkly red Red Heart acrylic. That put the brakes on the sweater knitting for a long time....

I am nearly finished with the Ski Jacket from Knitting Classic Style. All I have left to do is run in the ends in the colorwork section of the yoke, and add buttons. Well, I need to buy buttons first, and we don't even have a fabric store anymore.

The bigfoot slippers are lacking the outer sole on the second slipper, then felting. We'll have to take some pre-felting measurements. They're huge!

As we start this new year, I am trying to decide how best to use my limited knitting time. I still have a rather long list of works-in-progress; many of them have achieved UFO (unfinished object) status. I could continue whittling that list down; it would be nice to finish them and get the needles back. But there is also new yarn for new projects that I would love to start. Too many options.

The snow has stopped -- we have sunshine and blue skies dotted with clouds, a dusting of snow on the ground.

Back to school tomorrow. I'll try to keep up with the blog a little better. I'm also on Ravelry, as JulieC.