Wednesday, August 04, 2010

"This never happens here"

Here's what my morning looked like:

This picture was on the homepage of the Des Moines Register for awhile this morning. We're here for a conference my husband is attending. The text below was a hotlink to the article on the site. Heavy rains caused flash flooding, which in turn caused a storm drain to collapse. My car has been towed, and will likely be totalled. The water was up over the hood at one point.

D.M. swamped after a.m. downpour

• Power is out for many in Des Moines and streets are swamped with this morning's sudden rainfall. Morning traffic was locked up on a number of metro-area arteries. Part of an Urbandale parking lot is now a sinkhole after a storm sewer collapsed.

And how's your day going?

Knitting content (!):
I started the Mr Greenjeans sweater on the trip up here (about 8 hours in the car), and it's about 1/4 done. Or, I'm about done with the 1st of 4 balls of yarn. I hope I'm at least 1/4 done! As usual, I have left home without the thing that lets the computer read the camera card, so the pics are stuck in the camera for now.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How's Your Summer Going?

Goodness, has it been that long again? I do appreciate those of you who have the patience & fortitude to keep checking to see if I've posted anything.

First and foremost, I'm still working on writing curriculum. Well, you and I both know that I'm really procrastinating more than actually working on it, or it would be done by now. Why do we have to reinvent the wheel? And the format in which we're supposed to do it makes very little sense to me.  Bah -- I just need to buckle down & do it.

On the fiber front, as I was perusing blogs the other day, I found a link at the wonderful TECHknitting blog to a series of tutorials called Fit to Flatter on the stash, knit, repeat blog. Spent the rest of that day and part of the next reading the series (which has 3 more installments to come) and looking at the sweater patterns she recommended for my body type, adding to my Ravelry queue, editing others out of my queue ("what was I thinking?"). This expanded into adding to my Ravelry stash (I haven't added pics, so it's not really fun to look at, but I love how Ravelry links stash to queue -- sometimes I forget which yarn is for which project).

Then I went yarn shopping. Yikes. I found yarn in wishlists or abandoned in shopping carts (online) that I have no idea what I was going to make with it. So I started another list on my Palm Centro (phone) to help me remember. And (sound a trumpet, or something) I didn't buy anything! Go, me!  Instead, I pulled out a cotton tank that I started last summer and worked on it. Old pic, as I'm too lazy to take a new one, and I did just 8 rounds (1 repeat) on it the other day.

And, because I don't have enough else going on, I also joined the Tour de Fleece on Ravelry. My poor spinning wheel had gone upstairs when we set up the Christmas tree in December, and hadn't been heard from since. I brought it down, dusted it, oiled it, and then tried to see if I could remember how to spin (like falling off a bike? Just get back on!). I am working on some very soft, lovely feeling but visually not exciting dark blue-faced Leicester. I don't remember what I was going to do with it, what size I'm trying to spin it. I'm just going with whatever I get.

Catastrophic equipment failure ended my first evening's spinning. The cotter pin that secures the attachment of the footman to the treadle worked itself out (or maybe it was missing when I started, and the treadle yoke pin -- I'm having to look in the manual to get the correct names for these parts -- just took that long to work itself out). My handy son found a cotter pin, and put things back together, but I was done for the night. The next day, I found 2 white plastic washers on the floor that obviously should have been included when we put it back together. Had to consult the manual to figure out exactly where they went, but finally got the wheel back together. It does have a rather annoying squeak if I'm spinning slowly. I think it's where the leather part of the footman rubs against the treadle yoke, and the only way I can figure to make it stop is to spin faster.

I'm not keeping up with the Tour very well (either the spinning or the actual bike race that inspired it). I have spun about 50g of my fiber in two sessions. I thought I might actually spin daily and improve my techniques.
Pics (now that I have located the camera so I can get the files onto the computer):

Where I was at the start, and where I am now, about 50g spun

I am very glad I took the "before" picture. I can see progress in the pics, which wasn't as obvious in person.

Have a great day/week/month. I'll try to show up here a little more often.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Oh, hi

Well, thank you for checking in. Sorry I haven't posted in a while. Currently feeling a bit like a big snowball rolling downhill, gathering debris & more snow as it gains momentum.

The school year is coming to a close. Seniors have one more week. Graduation will be the following Friday. In the meantime, the seniors' last week is also the week we are doing End of Course (EOC) testing (those state tests that determine whether we're leaving children behind). This coming week will be a bit of a mess. All of the testing is going to be done in my room and the adjoining math classroom; the rooms are separated by a heavy curtain that will be pushed open.  The kids are allowed at least 2 class periods to take each test, so during testing, not only will I be booted out of my room every day (except the 2 days of math tests), but everyone who is not testing is going to remain in their 2nd hour class for 2 hours, then in their 5th hour class for 2 hours, so we don't have people moving around and disturbing those who are testing.  I can keep my 5th hour busy for 2 hours every day; there are only 5 students, and 4 of them are seniors. They are in the highest-level math course we offer, and have some extensive reviewing to do before they take their final exam on Thursday. But 2nd hour is a whole different story. They are not in an EOC tested course, or we could use the extra time for review. I teach another section of the same course, and I will not see those students at all next week, as they are in my 6th hour class. So 2nd hour has 10 hours of class while 6th hour has none. I'll have to figure out some way to keep them busy and learning, even though we will probably have to meet in the library or computer lab. Oh, computer lab, you say -- there must be math things they can do on the computer. Probably so -- I'll just have to figure out what, since we haven't been using the computers much.

My daughter will be graduating from college this coming Friday, then there's a wedding for one of her friends on Saturday. These events are approximately 150  miles apart. Son graduates from high school the following Friday. Then we have one more week of school. Please do not begin to think that I will be lying by the pool (if I had one) for 3 months until school starts again. There is so much to do over the summer for school -- it contributes to that snowball feeling.

Actual knitting content:
Who has time to knit? Really, days go by and I don't touch the knitting. But I have been trying to get in a little "sanity break" with some knitting the past few days. I received my Loopy Ewe May sock club shipment yesterday, and wound the yarn immediately. I cast on for the scarf project this morning. Well, I wasn't going to, since I have so many works-in-progress, but when I checked my needles, I did have the recommended size available, so it must have been meant to happen, right? I am making the scarf rather than the socks because I saw so many pretty lace scarves/shawls at the Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling 2 weekends ago. My roommate (hi, Mel!) had a whole wardrobe of them with her. So I decided I need to make some.

Spring Fling was wonderful, of course. Sheri is a master event planner. A whole weekend of knitting, Starbucks coffee, knitting classes, a trip to shop at The Loopy Ewe, meeting like-minded people from all over the US and several foreign countries (at least those who got out before flights were grounded by volcanic ash). I forgot my camera, though, so no pics. There are several with me in them on the Spring Fling Flickr group, and one on Sheri's blog. (Scroll down to the 5th picture. That's me in the foreground, exhausted from yarn shopping!) The class I took was taught by Jared Flood (brooklyntweed). It was a seamless sweater class. He's a very good teacher. I enjoyed the class, and will be trying some of his suggestions as I work on the sweaters that I currently have on the needles, as well as future projects.

One of those on-the-needles sweaters is the youth-sized sweater for Afghans for Afghans. Unfortunately, I am not going to meet the new deadline. But I have finished the body, worked in the round to the armholes. I have a partial sleeve, too, as I decided to work on that a few days ago. Hmm - I haven't incorporated Jared's short-row shaping into the sweater body. I wonder if it would be fewer short-rows for a smaller sweater.  I'll have to look at the sweater directions I'm following (Jacqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop, basic sweater) and see how she does the shoulder & back-neck shaping, and maybe try the short-rows instead.

I finished the Tweed Baby Blanket at the Spring Fling. I haven't run in the ends or blocked it yet, though.
Then I made replacement soles for my Felted Clogs. Haven't sewn them up & felted them yet. This is an experiment -- the outer layer of the soles was starting to get holes, and then the puppy helped improve the holes. So I thought I'd try knitting and felting a new outer layer, snipping off the old one, and attaching the new one. And I have the pieces of a pair of French Press Felted Slippers completed, but not sewn together or felted.  It seems that my to-do list should be pretty obvious.

It is a beautiful sunny day here in Southeast Missouri. About 65 degrees F for a high temp today. The past few days have been around 80 degrees.  I hope your weather is good, too, and if not, that you can curl up with your knitting & enjoy a quiet day at home.
Our first iris appeared last weekend; lots more have bloomed in the past week.

Talking about weather reminded me about Prom last Saturday. The weather went bad, and just to ensure this would be a Prom nobody would forget, we had to evacuate to the storm shelter sometime before 10 p.m., as the tornado siren was blaring.  Too bad there's no sound system in there -- we could have plugged in someone's ipod and continued dancing.  I think the dj packed up and left at that point, so prom was over an hour early. They were anticipating another round of bad weather later, but it passed by on either side of us. This is my son and his date. The prom theme was "A Night Under the Stars". The junior class and their sponsors did a wonderful job transforming the (unairconditioned) gym for the event. Just realized he's standing in the stream.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Catching up

My high school history/government teacher said that we use the word "up" too much, that it is redundant in most cases. I don't think a post titled "Catching" would make much sense, though.

Over a month has gone by since my last post. It's been a busy time. The Olympic knitting project was a fail. [But Afghans for Afghans is doing a part 2 for their youth campaign, with an early May deadline. Maybe I can get the sweater done by then.] Progress to date:

The February KAL for the Loopy Ewe Spring Fling was also a fail. This is as far as I got. And there's a mistake in it -- I'm missing a stitch on the top of the foot, all the way up. So I'll either have to repeat the mistake on the 2nd sock or rip this out and have a do-over.

Not that either of those incomplete projects has kept me from starting at least one more. In this case, it's the March KAL for Spring Fling: a Jared Flood (brooklyntweed) pattern. I chose the Tweed Baby Blanket. The center is all garter stitch, done on the diagonal. Really not too bad. I'm on the more mindless decreasing part, so I don't even have to count stitches anymore.

A week ago, we got home from a week-long ski trip in Winter Park, CO. My husband and I hadn't skied in about 20 years, and the kids had never skied. We had lessons for a couple of days, then took a day off, then skied the next 3 days. I spent most of my time following the 17-year-old (boy child) down the mountain as fast as he could go. Practicing his turns, of course, but no stopping to rest until we got back to the bottom of the chair lift. Legs burning. Whew. It was a great week. I think when I grow up, I want to move to Colorado and be a ski instructor. What? It could happen. Our instructor was retired from something like 30 years as an accountant. I'd need to stock up on sunscreen, though. Here's the whole gang, day 2: me, my husband, his brother, the kids.
School is in upheaval again. For the second year in a row, we have lost or gotten rid of the high school principal. This one intended to at least finish out the year, but something happened while I was in Colorado, and he left. My son, who is a senior this year, has had a different principal every year he's been in high school. Last year's mess could be counted as 3 principals in one year: the new one who started the year, the one who filled in after he left, and the one who was hired at the end of March to finish the year, who moved to the elementary school to be the principal there this year. Now he's having to do double-duty with the middle-school principal and a third administrator to cover the high school for the remainder of the year. Fortunately, all 3 schools are on the same campus, within easy walking distance.

[Just to clarify: our ski vacation was scheduled for Spring Break. Unfortunately, Mother Nature provided us with snow days that had to be made up, so Spring Break turned into make-up days. So school was in session and my poor students had to muddle along without me, with a "mean" sub who made them work all week.]

Grades were due last Monday by the end of the school day. I did take stuff with me to Colorado, and did some work, but it was an intense couple of days getting grades in. No time for frivolities like knitting or reading email. So I'm also catching up on my ridiculous amount of unread email. As well as planning lessons, writing curriculum.... oh, and I should get started on the taxes, too, I suppose. :-(

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympic Knitting

Before the opening ceremonies, I gathered my yarn, needles, and books:

Here's my progress, after 3 hours.

It would have been about twice as much, but I misinterpreted the directions for left twist (LT): "K the second st tbl, then k the first st and sl both sts off needle." I stuck my right needle into the back loop of the second stitch from the front of the work (going between the 1st and 2nd sts), to knit that stitch, then knit the first st, and slipped them off the needle. Didn't look right, but I persevered. Three rounds later, I decided to try putting my needle into the back loop of the 2nd stitch from the back of the work to knit that stitch, then knit the first stitch and slip them both off. Ah, that looks better. So did I stop at that point, rip back & redo the first twist round? No. I plowed on, did 3 more rounds, telling myself that it wouldn't look too bad. On the third twist round, I decided it really didn't look too good, so I tried fixing one by laddering down and working back up. Bad idea. Next step: rip it back to the first twist round. So I wasted about an hour and a half. Oh, well. I'm much happier with the way it looks now.

This morning, I finished the bottom of the sweater (not really ribbing, not a hem -- what do I call it?), increased from 90% to 100% of my stitches, went up two needle sizes, and started the stockinette body of the sweater.

I started a pair of socks for the February Spring Fling KAL. These are Wendyknits' Mock Cable Socks. Notice that they have twisted stitches, too. I have been taking the stitches off the needles, switching them (right or left, depending on where they should go) and then knitting them. Time consuming. I'm wondering if I can do LT and RT instead. I'm an old pro at RT (right twist: knit two together leaving sts on LH needle, then knit first stitch again, slip both sts off left needle). I figured there should be a similar procedure for LT, and now that I have learned it, I think I'll try doing the twists instead of the cables on this sock.

A recent post on ScoutJ's blog led me to this pattern: Rosemary Hill's Brandywine Shawl. She is donating $5 from each pattern sold to Haitian relief efforts. While watching the new version of "We are the world" last night, I told my husband I had donated to Haitian relief by purchasing a knitting pattern, and he just reacted with a facepalm.

Oh, and in the "completely random" category, Mock Homecoming 2010. My favorite high school senior and his mother (doesn't look a thing like me, does he?):

Monday, February 01, 2010

Snow Day!

At this rate, we'll be in school till June. For some of you, this may be a cause for confusion, as you're always in school till June. We started school on August 19th, a good 2 1/2 weeks before the traditional after-Labor-Day start that seems to be more common on the East and West coasts. For whatever reason, our district never builds snow days into the calendar. They tease us with Spring Break, then take it away to make up missed days. Our total so far this year: 2 1/2 days in October for flu, one day the following week for flooding, 4 days the first week of January (2 for a "boil water" order in town, 2 for snow/ice), last Friday and today for snow. We had school on MLK day, and will have school on Presidents' Day. That makes up 2 of the 9 1/2. Four more will come from Spring Break (they're letting us keep the Friday). That leaves 3 1/2 which I guess will be tacked on to the end of the school year. Looks like May 25th could be our last day. God willin' and the crick don't rise. And that's happened, too. We've already missed one day due to flooding in October. Spring rains could cause more of that. Que sera, sera.

I received a plea from Afghans for Afghans. They're conducting a youth campaign right now. They need sweaters, vests, socks and mittens for 7 - 14 year olds. Apparently, they have plenty of hats. Deadline is early March.

I have decided to kill several birds with one stone. I wanted an Olympic knitting challenge, and this is it -- a sweater for an Afghan youth. I have some wool yarn that a friend gave me years ago. I should have enough to make a sweater with a 34" chest (stash reduction). Now, for a pattern: I have never made the Basic Crew from Jaqueline Fee's Sweater Workshop, and this seems like the ideal time for it. So I have already swatched (pats self on the back) and filled out my "Gauge Page". I don't care for the 2x2 ribbing at the bottom of the sweater and the sleeves, so I have to figure out what to do instead. I think I'll still use the 90% of key number cast-on (key number is gauge x chest circumference) and the 2-sizes-smaller needle, but some other kind of edging. I have Nikki Epstein's Knitting on the Edge; I should be able to find something in there that will work.

Meanwhile, I have finished Tudor Grace (photo above), and am starting the Spring Fling February challenge, a Wendyknits pattern. This will be the Mock Cable Socks from Socks from the Toe Up, in Trekking XXL color 147 (wine).

Monday, January 18, 2010


Or, you just might use that math you learned in high school.

I am currently working on the Tudor Grace pattern by Anne Hanson. It is the January KAL project for The Loopy Ewe's Spring Fling. I was fortunate enough to get a spot at this year's Fling, to be held April 22-25 in St. Louis. I didn't get to go last year, but I did attend the first one the year before. I was the last person to arrive, Friday evening. This time, I'm skipping school on Friday and going to St. Louis on Thursday evening.

Back to the title of the post: the pattern calls for 43 6-row repeats. I would like to use as much of my yarn as possible. So I have been weighing the yarn ball & counting the number of repeats that I have completed. Using proportions, I can figure out how many more repeats I should be able to do.

I have been teaching proportions recently, in fact, in one of the courses I teach. Now, when students ask when they're ever going to use this, I'm just not sure the knitting-to-the-end-of-the-yarn example is going to do anything for them. Probably just result in a bunch of blank stares.

My yarn is Socks That Rock Lightweight in the Lenore colorway.
The scarf is now about three times the length shown in this picture.

I meant to do 2 6-row repeats per day, so I would finish well before the end of January, but I'm behind already! It's still do-able, though.

I just realized this picture was taken one morning after the chocolate lab puppy had apparently tried to knit while I was asleep. She chewed the cable of my needle in two. I repaired it with electrical tape. Not a good repair, but I'm knitting back-and-forth, so it hasn't really affected me. I will probably never be able to use this needle for a circular project again, though. The bit of yarn above the needle in the picture was very stiff and smelled like dog breath. I removed it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Winter Lace Project

I am working on approximately a dozen or more projects, as usual. I just dropped in to invite anyone reading this to join a new Yahoo Group; Andrea of BadCatDesigns is going to do a KAL for a Pi shawl (circular, using Elizabeth Zimmermann's Pi shaping). The charts will be posted at SnowQueenShawl. She'll be closing the group when membership reaches 400, so get over there! Description from the group site:
BadCatDesigns Winter 2010 group project! This project uses Elizabeth Zimmerman's formula for a Pi shawl construction and original charts designed specifically for this project. This project is going to be technically advanced for lace knitters looking for something fun and a bit different.

I have ordered yarn from ColourmartUK, a cashmere/silk/merino blend in light grey. Seemed Snow-Queenish to me. Who knows if I'll actually knit along or not? I have joined so many knit-alongs over the years, and I'm not sure I've ever completed a project with a group. Some never even got cast on. But I do have intentions of eventually making most of these projects. Eventually. Ha. Did I mention eventually, or some day? Notice the lack of explicit time reference in there.