Friday, August 31, 2007

Spinning Content--No Picture

There is no picture because I just finished spinning about 300 yards of solid black alpaca and wool blend for a Christmas project. Did you ever try to make a picture of black yarn that showed anything but a large black blob? I know it could probably be done successfully with a lightbox or something, but I didn't have the patience to keep trying.

I have also been knitting steadily on Fibonacci sweater #2. I need about 2 rows on the body, both sleeves, and the neckline finish. I hope to be through this weekend. This one is a "guy" version--he's 4.

Haven't touched a sock all week.

This week is the first back-to-school week with students. That is a good thing. The obligatory week of teacher training was especially irritating this year because it continued into this week with two afternoons. That meant running a full 8-period schedule, including lunch, between 8 and 12:30 each day. I'm sorry, but that just means frustration for everyone. You can't accomplish much in two days of 25-minute periods. It was a real relief to actually have real class on Wednesday and Thursday. We're back to shorter periods today due to the pep rally for the first football game tonight, but 5 minutes shorter is not such a big deal. Besides, game day means I can wear jeans, a spirit shirt, and crocs and these socks!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Fibonacci Stashbuster Sweater

After making the two Baby Surprise Jackets, I was going to put the leftover yarns in my stash. This, however, is a Knitting Pure and Simple Child's Pullover (sort of), size 2-4 (sort of). I changed the sleeves by adding knitted cuffs. I don't really care for a rolled edge on the sleeve and on the bottom, and I remembered EZ's comments about how ribbing could make a too-long sleeve fit, so I have attempted to add some "grow room" by doing the sleeves this way. I first put ribbing on the bottom sweater edge, but I didn't like the way it made the stripes look, so I added a seed stitch edging that maintained the Fibonacci sequence. I had plans to stripe the sleeves, but the ends of Cotton-Ease are more difficult to weave in securely than wool, and I decided it was making for too much underarm bulk. My DGD has not tried this on yet, but my DGS tried it on last night so I could see how to size the same pattern for him, so it should be a good fit for her.
The colors in this picture are fairly accurate, and they are the "new" Cotton-Ease colors. I am mentioning this because they call that blue color "Violet," and it is much more blue than violet. The other colors are Stone, Lime, and Berry. They are very nice colors, but I really liked some of the old Cotton-Ease colors as well.
The sweater was blocked by washing on the handwash cycle on a Maytag front-loader and laying flat to dry. Some fuzzies from the woven-in ends poked through from the washing, and I had to trim them. I hope it stops doing this.

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Love It!

This blog redesign is by Susie at Bluebird Blogs. I absolutely love it, and I think it expresses my feelings about life. The redesign is a birthday gift from my DD. Thanks, Boo!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Knitting Content at Last

A scarf for the 2008 Red Scarf Project. The deadline is early this year.

It's knitted from LB WoolEase in Ranch Red. I found the stitch pattern online, but I don't remember where. It is: *K1, YO, K2tog* over a multiple of 3 stitches cast-on. I used 24 on size 10 needles.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I've Returned!

Wow! I just read the last three books in the HP series, including a straight read through of the last book in my motel room last night. It was great fun! I also went with my DD and infant DGD to see the OOTP movie.

I liked the movie, even though, having just read the book, I realized how many really good things were left out by necessity. I also liked the books. As always, I admired the richness of detail and character, and I admired the twists given to the archetypal quest motifs in the last book.

I also fell in love with this sweater and some others. Someone on line has already attempted a duplicate. Of course, this would look really good on my AARP-style body! I would, however, like to make one for a child. Any suggestions from experienced crocheters would be welcome.

I got very little knitting done for the past few days. I know some people say they can read and knit, but I can't read anything as textually complex as the Harry Potter books while knitting.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

No Knitting Content--On Vacation at Hogwarts

I just realized that school starts on the 27th, and I have not caught up with Harry Potter. I had not read the last 3 books. I just finished The Order of the Phoenix a few minutes ago, and I'm planning to see the movie tomorrow. I am going to read madly to finish the next two this week. I have avoided spoilers so far, but someone will say something in the faculty meetings next week. My DD taped the J.K. Rowling interview so that I can watch it after I finish the book.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Variations on a Theme by Zimmermann

I had previously published a picture of the first jacket, the one on the left, but I was dissatisfied with the overly stretchy front band and with the way the buttons were attached. On the second, I single crocheted around the edge, and it made a much more satisfactory finish. I "ungifted" the first sweater and redid the edge on it. I also resewed the buttons, using backer buttons. On the first BSJ, I followed EZ's suggestion to put buttonholes on both sides and use them as a guide for where to sew the buttons. I do not like the weakness of button attachment that this system created. On the second garment, I made only one set of buttonholes, so I felt the button attachment was easier and firmer. The yarn is LB Cotton Ease.

The BSJs will be worn by my two DGDs. One thing I like about this pattern is the way the backs look. When a baby is being carried upright or on the hip--both these girls are healthily sturdy--the back is often on view.

I'm taking a little pause from anything new right now and trying to finish some UFOs before school starts.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Getting Your Money’s Worth out of Handknit Socks!

There's been a rather heated discussion about the price of sock yarn on one of the forums. Here's how to get your money's worth out of your handknits--wear two pairs at a time, of course.

The socks on the "rear" feet are the new blue socks that we dyed together using Wilton’s. You can’t see the pattern, of course, but it is the Basketweave Ribbing pattern from Stitches of Violet. It made a wonderfully cushy sock.

At this point, I’d like to make a book recommendation to all the mothers and grandmothers of little girls—Fancy Nancy and Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy, written by Jane O’Connor and wonderfully illustrated by Robyn Preiss Glasser. The illustrations will fascinate both children and adults, and the books do a wonderful job of stretching budding vocabularies. Who knows when a girl will need words like "posh" and "dressing gown"? I bought the books on Amazon, but I know I’ve seen the book at Barnes & Noble, and there’s always the local library; however, these books really need to be owned because they are suited to repetitive rereading—both to explore the detailed illustrations and to savor the new words, which are fancy ways of saying ordinary things.

I also finished the Regia Bamboo socks that I have been working on. These are plain stockinette, cuff down—my usual pattern. Since some reviewers of the yarn reported slightly less stretch, I added a couple of extra stitches to the gusset pickup. I found the yarn very nice to knit with in a silky sort of way, but not the soft wooly squeezy feel of Fleece Artist or Bearfoot. I’ll try to remember to report on how they wear.

The little bag that I plan to use for small projects is from Japanese Handmade Etc. at Etsy. I heard about the bags a couple of weeks ago on Etsy Friday on the Sock PrĂ˜n site. The bag is well made and beautiful, fully lined. The knot is a wonderful finishing touch. And, most importantly, the bag is my favorite color. I would never have the nerve to walk around wearing this color of brocade, but I can use the bag. Her service was amazingly fast and courteous as well, and I think her prices are very reasonable.

And, finally, some progress on the FLAK KAL sweater. I have completed the "back." No, the sweater is not short; the section called the back just goes to the bottom of the underarms. Next will come the "front," and then the "body" is knit below that. Sleeves are in there somewhere. I'm trying to learn from this, so I'm pretty much just going step-by-step.


FLAK KAL sweater

2nd Tidal Wave Sock

Exercise Total to Date--4 miles

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My Plans for Today or Why Am I the Way I Am?

First of all, understand that I am a teacher in the last days of summer vacation--the days in which my thoughts, at least, are often prepping lesson plans and changes for the coming year. I am also trying to assemble in my non-fashionable sort of way, a wardrobe for the coming year and take care of last-minute business before the school year starts. Even though we teachers have the summer "off," not counting workshops and working at home on school work and keeping up with professional reading, a downside of the job is that you pretty much have to be there when it's going. I have gone to school really sick before because I was at a place where there was simply no way to think up anything that a substitute could do that would keep the class where it should be. Therefore, I try to cram every forseeable interruption into the summer.

Actually, this small town where I teach now is pretty wonderful about this sort of thing. The staff has a tradition of helping each other out with short absences from duty, for example, to pick up a sick child from another building or to attend that child's kindergarten concert.

Many places are not like that. During the Vietnam War I worked for a school which allowed a day off if your husband or son was leaving for combat but not if he was returning, on the theory that if you knew he was ok, you didn't need to go meet him.

At that school, I was subpoenaed to testify in a capital murder case because a student had robbed a convenience store and killed the clerk. The student was expelled from school at the time of the incident, but later readmitted by the administration over the protest of the teachers. (At that time no one knew who had robbed the store.) When the culprits were arrested a year or so later, three teachers were called to testify as to the ability of the student to read the statement he signed. The defense attorney obviously was not going to call administration and risk the disciplinary record coming up. The school tried to dock our pay for being gone a day because there was a school policy about jury duty but not one covering this situation. Then they tried to force us to pay them our expense money--gas money to the change-of-venue city and lunch. We fought it and did get it straightened out eventually, but the fallout was such that I was afraid to take off for my wedding day a couple of weeks later, so I taught that day until a friend covered for me the last period, and then I got married at 8! Sorry. That was almost 30 years ago, and I've never been able to rant about it until now!

Anyway, I sometimes have a tendency to indulge in false economies. I will put up with something that irritates the fool out of me, rather than spend the minor amount it would take to fix it. Growing up with parents who had moved from being from poor backgrounds--my mother lived her first years in a dugout on a homestead in New Mexico Territory--to being young marrieds during the Great Depression (relatively prosperous--both employed for the duration) to building and operating a successful small business for 35+ years, I learned a great deal of "waste not, want not" philosophy, usually voiced as, "Do you really NEED that?"

For the last few years--about 7 or 8--I have had an alarm clock that I absolutely hated! I had grabbed it in an emergency when mine had gone out, so that I would be sure not to be late to work. It was hard to set. If I got up before it went off and turned off the alarm, it went off anyway about 80% of the time. This delighted my husband on the extremely rare days when he had the opportunity to sleep late because inevitably I would have to come running from 3 rooms away to shut it off. Would I get a new one? Of course not, because this one still worked, didn't it? Well, the other day, the buttons on the top fell into the clock. It does still show the correct time. Yesterday I went to Target and bought myself a new clock RADIO. It is not a particularly expensive one, in fact it was cheap, but I picked it because it fits my night table space. It also shows the days of the week--I've been know to bounce out of bed for school on Saturdays--and promises to reset itself when the power has been out. If it can do that, I don't have to worry about oversleeping when the power has been out during the night. Today I am going to install it. Then I am going to THROW THE OTHER CLOCK AWAY even though it still keeps time perfectly well. I am not going to plug it into another outlet somewhere in the house that I don't need a clock in anyway. In fact, I've hated the thing so much that I should burn it, but I don't know what I would get into trying to burn this plastic thing in the backyard.