Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Frog Attack!



The February Lady Sweater is getting to me! After the last post, I reknitted, then noticed an error in spite of the new smaller stitch markers that were helping me spot that middle stitch on the increase row. I frogged again, ripping out about 1 inch.
I reknitted. About halfway through, I noticed something on one set of increases that looked "not quite right." Oh, surely not. I kept knitting. I thought it looked better. I knitted another row or two, sure that I could just keep on. After 8 rows, I had to admit it was wrong. Frogged again! This sweater was meant to be my easy summer project using some yarn that I already had in the stash. I can't believe this is happening on the "easy" part of the sweater. I think that what has happened is that when I have moved the marker up, I have only hooked it in 1/2 the stitch. Then on the next increase row, I've increased too early or too late as a result of misreading exactly where it is supposed to be. Now I'm just going to be extra careful about that. I have also resolved that if I think a row is wrong, I will frog it right then instead of waiting for a number of rows. I know better than to do that!
New book reviews on Shelfari.



Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everything Austen Challenge


The Everything Austen Challenge from Stephanie's Written Word. Click on the picture for the link. It starts July 1 and goes until January 1, 2010.

My six things:

Audio Books:

  • Sense and Sensibility
  • Persuasion
  • Northanger Abbey

Reading and Teaching:

  • Pride and Prejudice
  • Pride and Prejudice (excerpts from the miniseries and the Knightley movie and the Great Books introduction)

Movies:

  • Sense and Sensibility
  • The Jane Austen Book Club
  • Mansfield Park

I know that's more than six things, but in case something doesn't work out, I added extra. If I get word that audio books don't count, I'll revise the list.

Book Giveways

Hilarie of Never Not Reading has posted two book giveways on her blog. One is for Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons. The other is for My Name is Will, a book about Will I'm-an-English-teacher-so-who-do-you-think? She has a wonderful blog. I'm on the RSS feed, but I have to click every time to look at the original because it is worth looking at.

Due to her review about the Librivox version of Jane Eyre read by Elizabeth Klett, I found not only a wonderful literary experience, but another new sewing/knitting/reading blog--with baby pictures. I'll post the review on Shefari later today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Rippit!!!!!!


It's times like this that I am so thankful for the Yarn Harlot's blog. Some other blogs that I follow show beautifully executed, finely designed, exquisitely-displayed-on-a-very-expensive-mannequin projects. Stephanie gives us beautifully executed and well-designed projects but allows us to see the results of mistakes, misreads of instructions, and just plain inattention.
Last night I frogged my February Lady all the way back to the point where the increases start. I kept those first rows because I still think my cast-on is spectacular, and I needed to feel good about something. My increases just didn't look right in spots. They were lined up properly, but I think that I must have goofed up in places on knitting in back or in front of the stitch. I would have let one go, but when it became apparent that there was more than one example, like about two in each of the four increase lines, I knew they would bug me forever because otherwise the increases looked so darn good. So I frogged. Between 1 and 2 a.m. While watching Ice Road Truckers. On the theory that no matter how painful it is to frog, it is better than putting on a second pair of tire chains with a 40000 lb. oversize load in blizzard conditions in Alaska. It's all a matter of perspective. I have also determined that when I finish the garter stitch part of the sweater, I'm putting in a lifeline before I start the lace. If I have to rip back, at least I won't have to do this part over again. I also got some better split ring markers that I think will hold better and be easier to move up every time.
Don't forget that book reviews are in my Shelfari shelf on the right sidebar.
I have found that if I listen to an audiobook extensively during the day or right before going to sleep, I sometimes dream plot and continue the story. Of course, that means that I have added characters and changed the storyline in a somewhat confusing way. Last night, Jane Eyre, while strolling in the gardens at Thornfield, heard voices and splashing. Peering over some bushes, she spied Mr. Rochester and some companions clad in those old-fashioned striped-top bathing suits, cavorting in a sizeable pond. Fortunately, I was startled awake by this, probably because I've read the book so many times that I was aware that it didn't fit. Right before I went to sleep I had been reflecting on the idea that until Jane encountered Rochester, she had lived in a world that was almost exclusively female. With the exception of the apothecary who was kind to her, her experience with males such as her cousin John and Mr. Brocklehurst had all been highly negative. Perhaps those thoughts prompted the dream. Whatever the cause, after going to bed at two something, I was up at three something sorting out the plot of a classic novel.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Experiment


I am spinning from what is labeled as "batting" rather than from a prepared spinning batt. I think this was primarily intended for needlefelting. The wool is Rambouillet. I'm using my Bosworth, and I was spinning on a car trip today. The drafting is difficult enough that I'm mostly using park and draft, particularly in the car. (Once when the spindle actually dropped, we had to stop because it rolled back under the seat.) The single is fine, and I intend to ply it with some silk hankie that I have already spun and then try to make a smoke ring from it.
I've had this for almost a year, but for some reason this week spindles have been calling my name, so I decided to give it a try on the trip.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Preadolescence


Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A View and a Sweater

IMHO, one of the best things about reading blogs is getting to see and hear about living in other places. I enjoy reading about the knitting, but getting regular updates about Sailing Knitter's voyage down the coast of Mexico and Central America, or those of you living in Toronto, Scotland, Guernsey, London, or other places makes for interesting and colorful reading. It occurred to me last week after reading the Yarn Harlot's wonderful posts about visiting Texas that there is a lot more of Texas than just the cities, wonderful as they are. Those of us out here in the lesser-populated areas enjoy ways of life that are quite different from you city folk. So naturally, since I'm wanting to show you about my part of Texas, here is a picture of New Mexico:

Our nearest sizeable town--35,000 or so--is actually Clovis, NM. What is it famous for? Well, there is Cannon AFB , and Clovis points, a type of prehistoric spearheads, were first found in a gravel pit at nearby Blackwater Draw. That's why they're called Clovis points. The city also has a connection with the early days of Rock and Roll.

This picture was actually made in the rural area north of Clovis called Pleasant Hill, where my mother was born. We don't have much in the way of mountains or rivers in our part of the world, but we do have lots of sky and wonderful clouds.

I have also been doing some knitting. I need to do some reworking of the Jane Austen dress tops for two of my granddaughters, but after knitting three of those and making 3 acrylic afghans since Christmas, my fingers were itching to tackle some wool. I frogged a project that was not turning out as I liked and began the February Lady Sweater. I'm still on the yoke, but it is a pleasure to be knitting with wool again--amazing how much easier it is on the hands.

. The yarn is Elann's Highland Wool in the color Violet Heather. I thought it was interesting that Knitting in Color commented about the name of this color because I was thinking the same thing. The neckline cast on of the sweater is at the bottom. I used a cable cast on, and I'm particularly pleased with the way it looks. Now if I can just make the rest of the sweater turn out as nicely!

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Bathrobe Day (or two)

Our school has a waiver for staff development next year. Because we are fairly small, getting in any worthwhile consultants for all the staff development days is very expensive. So, for three of our days next year, we need to "do" staff development during the summer. That means we don't have to attend those days during the year. This summer development can consist of attending workshops or conferences to better our teaching skills or some other type of "approved" learning.


One of the areas in which we have to keep up is technology. Last summer, we were dealing with a new attendance/grading system and a new web page posting system for our school. This coming year, all the mobile lab computers will finally be converted to Office 2007. Although I've been using the new office for awhile myself, there's a big difference between just using it and being able to a. explain how to use it to a student or b. straighten out a problem. In addition, I want to produce some PowerPoints that I can show on the big screen to help students through the process of setting up an MLA paper format and using the research tools on Word 2007.


Our school was able to arrange on-line courses for us. They consist of a pre-test, videos, hands-on lab, and a post-test. Produced by Learning Key, the ones I've used so far have been quite good, even if significant parts are directed at a large-business environment. Each segment "counts" as 1/2 day of staff development, but I signed up for extra because I felt I needed it. Then, of course, being me, I decided I wanted to get it all done this week! 14 segments! I can assure you that I don't always pass the post-test the first time. I have to take the study guide produced and go back and find where I messed up and what to do about it. So far, I've completed 9 segments--Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook. Last night, I started Excel, the one that is probably going to eat my lunch. It has 5 segments. Guess what my weekend plans are?


On the other hand, once I get this done, I can concentrate on the rest of the things I want to do here, like cleaning, redecorating our bedroom, and fixing up the fiber studio/sewing room I have planned. And knitting and spinning, of course. Today, though, I am going to my daughter's home to stay with one of her girls while she takes the other to the doctor. I'm excited. I don't get much, if any, alone time with this little one, and I'll get to see DD and the other DGD as well.


OTN--No-purl socks from Lorna's Laces Black Purl--ironic--down to toe on first sock.
February Lady Sweater--about 2" completed


If you have a dugout--which is basically a long narrow chain link cage with one exit--4 six-year old girls and 6 boys the same age in it--and introduce a BIG black bug, there's lots of entertainment value. The boys were all screaming and trying to stomp on it. The girls were all screaming and trying to get away from it. (That's sexist--a couple of girls were stomping and some boys were trying to avoid the bug, but they were ALL screaming.) The scramble was such that the bug crawled right out through the chain link on the other side.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

How to Betray your Age

  • Accidentally revert to a LONG time ago and instead of referring to grades of gasoline as "unleaded" and "premium," use the terms "regular" and "ethyl." Of course, along with that terminology came the dialogue--"Fill it up with _____, please. And, yes, I would like the oil checked after you finish cleaning the windshield."

  • Admit that you watch NCIS, not just for Mark Harmon's great silver hair, but because whenever Ducky comes on screen, this is your mental image:

Illya Kuryakin, from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. As I remember it, the turtleneck was something of a trademark, but when I was looking for pictures to post, most shots were of him wearing a suit and necktie. My students don't quite believe me when I tell them that Ducky was the hot item when I was in high school.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

We Don't Have the Empire State Building or the Yankees

but we do have T-ball and a skyline:



I had prepared sock knitting for "stitch and pitch," but T-ball goes much too fast to have time to knit.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

A Quiet Weekend, with Knitting

What did I do this weekend? A combination of things. First of all, DH and I went out to breakfast and lunch on Saturday. The breakfast was at our favorite used-to-be-a-truck-stop cafe in a neighboring town. The food, as usual, was excellent. The waitress was superb--we know which table to choose. However, some of the enjoyment of breakfast out was spoiled by the rudeness of a couple of other diners. One was in a booth on one side of us; the other was across the aisle. For the last half of the meal, they carried on a loud conversation with each other right across the two of us. The saving grace was that one of them was complaining about his Social Security/disability payments and the other was complaining about his employers. Both of the complaints were accompanied by reminiscences of trucking that were amusing in an ironic and colorful sort of way. One was complaining that he can't pick up anything off the ground. The other was complaining because he can pick up things off the ground but can't lift them higher than his waist. And this was a day when I had left home without a sock project. I could have used a sharp needle!



Yesterday, I finished reading the last book in the Twilight series--the last paper and ink one. I understand there is another published on-line. My review is on my Shelfari shelf. It was better than the other three, I thought. I don't think I'll be rereading this series any time soon, and I have no interest in the movies, except that I might like to see clips of certain scenes.


I also finished listening to a Charlaine Harris audio book while I was doing some household tasks and knitting. This one was ripped from CD to MP3 on my computer, so listening was a little more awkward than from an Audible.com download, but it was also cheaper. I took the time this morning to load a couple of books from OverDrive for my household work this week. One is a mystery story, which is starting out well. The other is a nonfiction work that I'm not sure about. I have the public library chasing down another audio book for me to download from CD. Right now, I'm using all the free services I can get. A friend and I are both doing this, so we can then trade books or CDs and not put the librarian to so much trouble.


For school, I finished and passed all three post tests for an on-line course on PowerPoint 2007. This will count as part of my staff development for next year. That leaves 10 more sections and tests to go for the summer, but I'm gaining some very useful skills and information. Ironically, I find that today's students are less computer interested than those I had a few years ago. They would love to be able to produce researched and formatted documents on their cell phones!



I also picked up knitting again. I'm working on socks, and I finished the gussets and got two more motifs worth down the foot of some No-Purl Monkeys. This afternoon, I swatched for a February Lady Sweater. Here's the result:


Here's where I need advice. The pattern calls for size 8 needles. That's the bottom swatch. The gauge is 18 stitches to 4" in garter stitch. Those are 18 stitch swatches. Size 8 is obviously too big, as is size 7 in the middle. The topmost swatch is about 1/2 stitch over. Now these swatches are wet, so perhaps they will shrink up a little, but I really did not stretch them, just pinned them into shape. Is the top swatch going to be ok, do you think? I know that going down to a 6 will be much too small. I'm probably going to have to do some size adjustments to measurements anyway, so perhaps I can compensate for that 1/2 stitch. Any comments are very welcome.

I also put in a couple of hours cleaning and organizing in the fiber room to be. It is still hard to see any progress, but I'm sure I will be able to see some soon. At least, I hope so.

Friday, June 05, 2009

A Great Day

Warning--No Knitting Content


Yesterday had lots of variety. My DGS went to Vacation Bible School yesterday morning while little sister stayed with me. Then we spent the afternoon watching a movie, playing in the backyard, and otherwise having fun. My daughter and two DGDs drove down for the big event--his T-ball game.
The boys all did really well--not being distracted by the freight train coming through about a 1/4 of a mile away, going the right way around the bases, showing good sportsmanship, and generally having fun. One of the little DGDs had a lot of fun playing in the dirt behind the backstop as well. Then we all went out to eat at a traditional local spot--the Tasty Cream--the winner of last year's Texas Cheeseburger Cookoff. Of course, real life intervened, and my DD got stranded here for a little while waiting for a severe thunderstorm to cross her travel path back home. While she was waiting, she got the picture I've been trying to get for awhile:




These are baby mud swallows in their musical nest. All of our porch activity was interrupting their usual feeding time. Mom and Dad were not happy with us and were swooping all over the place. This is the third year for this nesting site. See the previous posts here and here. I've been trying to get a picture of the adult on the nest because they seem to be particularly colorful this year, a beautiful blue with red breast, but they are much too elusive. I've tried leaving the front door open to lull them into security and then catching a quick shot without opening the glass door, but nothing seems to work. Because of the porch overhang, you can't get a shot from any other direction. It seems they chose their site well. When we first got the nest, I was afraid we would be having lots of them, but these birds seem to be rather territorial and are evidently keeping others away. I'm just glad they seem to go after mosquitoes. It must take thousands upon thousands of bugs to feed a family of this size!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Roomba Report

If I don't record these observations as I make them, I will forget. If you're not interested, just skip the posts.

Yesterday, I used Roomba on my laminate kitchen floor again. I was very pleased with his performance. The only thing he missed was a little piece of index card that the brush and roller failed to pick up. He did a thorough job otherwise. So what was new? I have a washable throw rug type runner in front of my cabinets and a matching rug in front of the stove. This time, I left them down for Roomba to tackle. He did an acceptable job. There was not a problem with getting on or off the rugs. Of course, I will still have to launder them frequently, but this should cut down on laundering just to remove spilled flour or something.

Now for the very slightly negative. I have 5 chairs in my kitchen that have legs that are wide enough for Roomba to go between. I have observed, though, that I need to pull the chairs out a Roomba width from the table before I start him in order to not slow him down too much. In addition, I need to remove the 5th chair from the room. Othewise, it creates a traffic pattern that is more time-consuming. The reason this is important is that if you slow him down too much, you risk his needing to dock for recharging before he has completely finished the room.


Absolutely no knitting so far this week. It's been a strange week.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

I Am NOT Adjustable!

I do not adapt in any productive or enjoyable way to changes in the start of my day. I find that this character trait is getting more pronounced as I get older. This is the first week of summer vacation. I am still getting up at my 6 o'clock alarm--notice I said "at," not when it actually rings. This week I'm taking my grandson to Vacation Bible School. I consider that an enjoyable privilege. However, I am used to being out of the door by 7:30 a.m. at the latest and on the job by 8. The 8:45 start time for VBS is driving me crazy! I don't get any more done before I leave, at least not an extra hour's worth. I fritter, I get nervous. Even after 25 years back in this small community where Sunday School/Church begins at 9:45, I can't adapt psychologically. I LIKED early services when I lived in a city. Notice I didn't include Saturdays in this post. I do have a Saturday routine. It still begins early, but I do not expect to go somewhere until after lunch, so I have a pattern especially for Saturdays. Do all women experience this as they get older?