Thursday, February 28, 2013

Getting it Done in February, and Goals for March

I guess it depends on what the meaning of "done" is.

Here were my 5 goals from the beginning of February:

  1. have fun, or everything else is pointless. Verdict: there were moments of fun, and there were moments of not fun. The not-fun was largely a function of not being able to have time to quilt or knit, so I guess that says something right there.
  2. hand applique one of the floral side blocks for the 1996 Piecemaker's calendar quilt Not Done.
  3. finish Daniel's socks, and get halfway on another pair for Steve. Done!
  4. finish the Easy Street blocks and begin seaming them together Done with the top!
  5. and for good measure, make Crumbs blocks and play with the Scrappy Trip-Along. Which will be fun even if I don't get them done.  Crumbs blocks - some done.
Besides these goals which were a mixed bag, I actually did a few other craft-related things.  I excavated a hibernating bathmat on size 15 needles and started working on that again.  And, well, that was about it.

So now I need to set goals for March:
  1. True to my habit, I drew a random #3 from my master list - Bowling Style Knitting Bag.  Maybe this will be the time I get it done.  Goodness knows I'd like to clear the rolls of fabric out of my sewing area!
  2. Quilt, bind, and give away the Easy Street quilt.  There is a hard deadline for this one.
  3. Finish Crumbs quilt top for Cedar Tree auction.  There is a semi-hard deadline for this one, and I will need to start collecting signatures from the students soon also.
  4. Finish current Steve socks and begin the next sock project, whatever it is.  It may be the argyles hibernating from last year.
  5. Finish that knit cotton yarn bathmat that I dug out of cold storage this month.
  6. For fun, play with the Scrappy trip-along.  I wanted to do this last month and never got to it.
These are more than the 4 goals we are supposed to set, I know.  But 2 of them are "have to" projects at this point, and I want to keep the fun element in there.  And that is really only a tiny fraction of the things I would like to do.

Linking up to Judy L's blog so you can check out what others are working on.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yarning Along on WIP Wednesday

This tangled mess is Zero to Fifteen, the confluence of my two current knit projects.  Socks for Steve on size 0 needles, and a jumble of 8 cotton or linen strands at once knitted on size 15.  It will be a very absorbent bathmat eventually.  Notice that I've now turned both heels of the socks.  And you'll have to take my word for it because the cats have been messing with the rug, but the circle is about 2/3 done.  So things are coming along!  It is such a confidence boost to knit about 5 square inches of rug fabric in the time it would take me to knit one half round of the socks.  I know I'm supposed to comment on my current book that I'm reading, but right now, it's the calendar that I'm studying, and all the emails I'm falling behind on. 

Family calendar events include dentist visits, orthodontist consults, a choir field trip, a symphony field trip, a bowling match, upcoming IEP for Tertia, upcoming part time job for Secundus, and a trip to the grocery store that just isn't happening even though it desperately needs to!  The only reason that I'm reasonably able to handle it today is because I just came back from my massage and chiropractic adjustment.  The kids don't know it yet, but they are going to have to come up with a side dish and veg. for dinner.  I am just not going to be able to deal with strategic planning for any Latin events or grading for the rest of the week.  And that will have to be okay.  Sorry for whining about the stress on Monday; it must be building up too much if it breaks into my blog.
Easy Street is mounted on the Megaquilter frame!  It is big -- at about 97" square, I decided to go out and buy a King size batting rather than have to piece a long skinny strip onto a Queen size.  Now I'm thinking I will probably go out and buy aqua thread to quilt it, rather than white.  I just feel like any bit of aqua I can add to the mix makes it less Christmassy (especially since I pieced the entire back from my lime greens and reds)!  I'll be cogitating on what quilting pattern to use and then I just need to dive in and do it!
The crumbs blocks are still waiting for me to get back to doing some more of them.  You can see some leftover Easy Street patches in there, and a bit of Jack's Chain next to a giant fish from scraps from boxer shorts, and of course the trees.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Political Tuesdays, the Sequester Edition

Omnium consensu capax imperii nisi imperasset. -- Tacitus

Tacitus immortalized the otherwise extremely forgettable emperor Galba this way: "No one would have doubted his ability to command if he had never been emperor."  (Galba was one of the three emperors between Nero and Vespasian.)  Everyone agreed that Nero was a bad man and a bad emperor; most agreed that Vespasian at least provided competent government once again.  But despite Galba's delusions of grandeur, I wonder if the Roman Empire would have been substantially different if Fortune or Ambition had never plucked him from obscurity and brought him to prominence for a few months before dropping him.  Maybe he talked a lot about transformational change and demanded unpopular sacrifices.

It must have felt a little like watching children play a made-up game, one of those with constantly evolving rules and no winners, to the political wonks of the first century.  It certainly feels like that today.  So we are apparently going to experiment, as Rome did before us, with massive cuts in areas such as defense.  Or would the proper word be "defaulting?"  I'm not sure, I'm really just an ordinary citizen who is appalled by the leadership deficit coming out of Washington.   I wonder how many more Benghazi-style attacks our outposts will see.  It's nice to know that the Senate has confirmed a man to command our military who feels that Israel is the real problem in the Middle East, who has to be slipped a note to inform him he misspoke, and then misunderstands the note.  That will send a strong message that America means business. 

As I was watching Argo with Steve last Friday, I was enraged by the weak America portrayed there: an America where it was in doubt whether a handful of endangered State Department employees were worth the risk to rescue.  Enraged also, of course, at the regime that oppressed our people without fear of reprisal, because it held our citizens hostage. I wanted to see America swoop down on them in military might like an avenging eagle, but of course it was a movie about patience and subterfuge.  And Carter was president, not Reagan.  Patience and subterfuge were about the only things available to us in that situation, and even they were in doubt.

At least our citizens didn't die, completely abandoned by those sworn to protect them.  Even with as little leadership as he provided during that time, Carter is looking positively noble compared to our current executive.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Design Wall Monday and Stash Report

{insert primal scream here} I'm stressed beyond belief and really wishing I could afford an appointments secretary to make sure my kids get signed up for the things they need to get signed up for.  How is it that I spend ten hours (that I don't get paid for) making sure everyone else's kids are signed up for the Latin Olympika, and miss the fact that Tertia has missed the first two weeks of play practice because of a conflict with bowling?  The teacher's children have no permission slips.  Seriously, how do other teachers manage to get everything done and still have good attitudes?  I guess she won't be doing the play this year.  I hope I can get Steve to break it to her.  I just returned from the dentist where they ground down the chip on my crown that probably was caused by my chronic teeth clenching.  Stress, what stress?  All I can say is that however hard I work, it's never good enough.  Tertia, plodding along in the special ed class in public school, is always getting the short end of the stick.  I can mostly keep up with things at Cedar Tree (with anywhere from 5-20 hours of unpaid labor a week in addition to what I get paid for), but I still seem to have lots of people upset with me at any given time.  People, I dare you, try my job for a week.
So here are the most recent crumbs blocks on the design wall.  I'm really not sure how I feel about my job right now, so maybe I should wait until I'm in a better place before planning the quilt I'm making for the auction.  It will look great... if I ever get to work on it.

Stash Report:

Quilting fabric:
Fabric used this week: 6.5 yards for Easy Street backing (to be mounted very soon on frame)
Fabric used year to date: 16 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 3 yards
Net used for 2013: 13 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 0 yards
Yarn used year to date: 880 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 910 yards
Net used for 2013: -30 yards in the hole and working hard to finish more

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Randomday once again

I think I'm trying to do too much on Saturdays.   But then, that's nothing new.

Yesterday afternoon I spent wrestling with an Excel spreadsheet to figure out registration for all the students who will be doing the Latin Olympika.  I don't speak spreadsheet and I couldn't make it do exactly what I wanted, but Steve said it was a good spreadsheet anyway.

Cedar Tree Logic students put on a "teacher appreciation dinner" last night.  Steve was my date.  I felt very appreciated.  Afterwards we went to see Argo.  It was an excellent film, but very intense.  I should probably not try to knit socks on size zero needles while watching intense movies in the dark, especially when increasing for the gusset.

Quarta has to clean her hamster cage on Saturdays, so it's kind of fun to have Winky the hamster girl rolling around the downstairs of the house while we eat our breakfast on Saturday mornings.  It's wild how she freaks out the cats.

I noticed that the glass reflecting bowls on the lights in our bathroom hadn't been cleaned in many years, so I did it this morning.  I should really do that for all the other lights in the house.  I wish I could fix the lights that have shorted out, but I don't think I can do that.  We really need to hire someone to do that.

I pieced the backing for Easy Street, but I didn't get to put it on the frame yet.  I sewed about 6 more blocks for the crumbs quilt, and the sewing room is still a dreadful mess.

I graded some more Latin quizzes.  I am always amazed at how differently all of my students interact with the problems I set them.  Some with scary, mathematical precision; some as though the lights have not yet been switched on.

I took Tertia shopping to try to spend some of her Christmas money.  She looked at board games but didn't really see anything she liked and didn't already have.  We decided she doesn't need any more video games than the ones we have that she doesn't play, and she doesn't have enough money or real need for an ipod.  (I would like Quarta to help her learn how to play some of the video games and computer games that she would enjoy, but Quarta probably doesn't have enough patience.)  She looked at "jewelries" and liked some, but didn't buy it.  She bought a bubble see-through umbrella of her very own and we practiced putting it up and down in the store so she can do it herself.  She also bought a battery-operated hand-held fan that dispenses M&M's.  She still has some of her Christmas money left.  Maybe we'll work on taking her shopping more often, because it's kind of fun seeing how her mind works.  She resisted efforts from Quarta, who has already spent her Christmas money, to influence her to buy something that Quarta would like.
Quarta's class celebrated "Cowboy Day" a week ago.  She was probably the only one in purple boots, who made her own horse.
Tertia has now had two bowling matches.  In yesterday's, she bowled a 41.

After reading this article, I want to play a Civ IV game and conquer the world.  Aztecs? Zulu?  Mongols?  Something I haven't been much before, I think.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yarn-Along: Zero to Fifteen; and WIP Wednesday

Welcome to all my new followers!  Since the Liebster Award came along, I have noticed the number of followers has more than doubled (from 4 to 11, that would be almost tripled!) and I really appreciate each one of you.  Thank you for your patience with my ramblings and woolgatherings!
The big quilting news since last week, of course, is finishing the Easy Street top.  I am hoping to piece a backing and get that on the frame soon. 
Once again I am venturing into crumb-land.  This will be the signature quilt for the 2013 Cedar Tree auction, and I was so happy with how last year's turned out that I'm using basically the same formula.  You can find basic instructions for the crumbs technique at Jo's Country Junction, but it's pretty much just free-form patchwork with very little advance planning and no strict rules about fabric matching.  I'm trying to make as many tree blocks as possible -- some are double height, but most blocks will be 6" finished, with plenty of dark green to tie the whole thing together.  But in addition I have lots of leftover scraps, orphan blocks and dead-end blocks that will find their home in the top.  And if one of the tree trunks has a bit of a lean, and some of the fabric is from old sheets or curtains, or there is the bottom half of an orange T-Rex wandering through the forest, that suits my aesthetic just fine.  Most of these blocks were made in the last few days... I have acres of scraps to sort through and about 90 more blocks to make before I quit.  It will be messy in my sewing area for awhile yet.
For the Yarn-Along, I give you Zero to Fifteen.  Last year was the year of shawls; this year I'm working on knitting up some socks.  I'm chugging along on Steve's Zauberball socks on size 0's.  I am increasing for the gussets -- I decided to use Wendy Knit's basic instructions for toe-up gusset socks, which I've used in the past with good results.  But for a break from the teeny tiny stitches (and also to clean the sewing room just a bit) I dragged out this bathmat rug that's been hibernating for awhile, on size 15 needles.  I'm stranding 6-7 strands of reclaimed cotton yarn from thrift store sweaters.  The socks are about 9 stitches per inch; the rug is about 2 stitches per inch.  I get a bit of vertigo switching back and forth.  And the book is my recent purchase, Scraps and Shirttails II.  Lots of dream quilts in there!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Easy Street Top - Finished!

So I put the final seams in my Easy Street quilt top as the light was fading Saturday...
Closeup of the border, some plain red and Connecting Threads turquoise I picked up at that warehouse sale...
This is a big quilt... about 97" square because I added a smidge on the borders.  It could probably pass as a skimpy King size and definitely a generous Queen.  I was glad to get some nice light Sunday morning, but it was almost too big for the fence:
I am sticking by my opinion that it's not Christmassy.  Not at all.  Just cheerful, bright and modern.  Feel free to tell me that it's not too Christmassy...
We quilters have our moments of doubt.  There were a lot of little pieces in this puppy, and they didn't always match perfectly at the corners, and by the time I was seaming the 3rd row I didn't care anymore.  I do like the way the two blocks create secondary patterns.  I have seen so many pretty examples of this quilt around the internet; it really does work with many different color interpretations.
The groundhog was right... spring is coming!  With crocuses,
and violets, all on the way from the fence to the back door.
And because this quilt used so much fabric, I have a stash report to update:

Quilting fabric:

Fabric used this week: (the whole) 9.5 yards according to my estimate
Fabric used year to date: 9.5 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 3 yards
Net used for 2013: 6.5 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 0 yards
Yarn used year to date: 880 yards
Yarn added this week: 460 yards (Knit Picks replaced the yarn that felted!)
Yarn added year to date: 910 yards
Net used for 2013: -30 yards in the hole and working hard to finish more

Well, that felt good!  Now to git 'er quilted!  Then I can count even more fabric used for the backing. 

Today I'm puttering in my sewing area, cleaning and organizing a little bit and working on crumbs blocks for the Cedar Tree auction quilt.

Saturday, February 16, 2013


I finished piecing Easy Street today!  That's a big quilt top, and my first sewing finish of the year.  Pictures when I can.

The girls and I went to the library, then to a bridal shower at church, then to Fabric Depot.  I was removed from their mailing list because I didn't return my mailer to be scanned before the end of January, so I signed up again.  Somehow going into that store always makes me feel overwhelmed.  Lots, lots, lots of fabric, but it's hard to focus on just what I need.  I did buy a book:

I'm really liking Bonnie Hunter's aesthetic.  I was looking for her most recent book, String Fling, but this was the only one I could find.  It's not like I "need" another quilt book, but it was a treat.

On Valentine's Day I was walking past a couple of 8th grade girls at lunchtime.  "Mrs. Chapman, would you like a piece of seaweed?" one asked, offering a little box of tissue-thin seaweed wafers.  I figured, sure, it's a healthy alternative to chocolate and I'm up for adventure, and besides, these girls are so kind to remember me on Valentine's Day.  So I took one and ate it.  "It has wasabi on it," she said as I prepared to walk away.  "It sure does," I replied, and smiled sweetly.  This is what it's like to teach 8th grade.

Quarta won her slot at the speech meet this last week, with a spirited rendition of "Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer" by T.S. Eliot. 

Daniel is going to be in a Children's Theater production of Seussical.  I believe he has been cast as a Who.

In Latin-related news (what? You don't believe there is Latin-related news?) ... here is a fun article about how knowing Latin can make your career. 

And a fun quote I ran across while playing cryptograms this week:

If one man says to thee, "Thou art a donkey," pay no heed. If two speak thus, purchase a saddle. -- Talmud

Thursday, February 14, 2013

SuvwI' paSlogh

"Warrior Socks" in Klingon.  I looked it up.
The care package arrived and Daniel was quick to take a modeled portrait:
It was the least I could do for him: he had to leave his bat'leth at home.
I have always felt the symbols for the DOT and the Klingon Empire were switched at birth.  Steve recently received his 30-year pin from one of the above.  Guess which.
The care package contained some cut-out cookies appropriate to the February holidays.  Secundus almost ate all the Washingtons before we could mail the package.  Narrow escape!
So now my official "finish" list for the year stands at two -- the socks that felted, and these socks.  I need to get some quilting done; that's been lagging.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Saqqara Shawl and Yarn-Along

With all the excitement of getting my Liebster award post ready for yesterday, I have a bit of a backlog of blog photos.  I can finally go public with finished pictures of my Mayan Spring shawl that I finished last year.  This is a pattern called Saqqara, designed by Melinda Vermeer, a knitting buddy of mine, which I test knit.  It's great for showcasing handspun yarn.
So fun!  These are Melinda's pictures, not mine.  I should take photography lessons from her.  I'm through with shawl knitting for awhile after last year's marathon.  It's practical socks for me.
I've started some new socks for Steve.  These are from a Zauberball that I bought in Seattle last month, and they are knit on size 0 Addi Turbos, a gift from my knitting buddy Joyce, who prefers Magic Loop and long needles.  I like the Addis because they aren't too pointy, which causes problems when I use my right index finger to push the stitches along.  In the past I hated working with size 0's because of that, but these make it go fine.  Just very slow.  80 stitches circumference, so I'll be working on these awhile.  I love the gradual changes in the color.

I finished reading The Matters at Mansfield, by Carrie Bebris, part of a series which has Mr. and Mrs Darcy of Pride and Prejudice fame as amateur detectives.  For Austen fanfiction, this is well-written and entertaining although not pitch-perfect.  I felt that the author took too many liberties with Austen's characters to be fully believable.

Also on my reading stack is Socktopus by Alice Yu.  It has some nice sock patterns, most of them more complicated than my plain-Jane tastes.  But I'm giving serious thought to trying to adapt Farmer McGregor to toe-up style.  I think I could do it.

Linking up to the yarn-along so you can see what others are knitting.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Liebster Award!

Well, this is a pleasant surprise!  I was nominated by Jill at Crazy For Red for the Liebster Award.  Thank you, Jill! I’m really honored and excited, and hope the bloggers I nominate will feel the same way.
The Liebster award is given from bloggers to bloggers. To qualify, the blog must have less than 200 followers or be less than 6 months old. Once the award has been bestowed upon you, you may accept it and pass it along by writing a post with the following things:
  1. List 11 random things about yourself.
  2. Answer 11 questions posed by the nominator.
  3. Choose 11 blogs to pass the award on to and link to them in your post.  You’ll need to notify them too, probably by a comment on their blog.
  4. Create 11 questions for those 11 bloggers to answer.
My 11 random things:

  1. I was once frisked by Dan Quayle’s Secret Service agents.  It doesn’t get much more random than that.
  2. I was born in the Netherlands.
  3. Both my parents were philosophy and history majors.  My mom was also an English major.  My dad has an earned doctorate in Theology.
  4. I am a preacher’s kid and a blonde, and I’m on a lifelong quest to prove both of those stereotypes wrong.
  5. I am a fourth-generation teacher (at least), following in my mom’s, her dad’s, and his mother’s footsteps.  Some stereotypes you just can’t fight against!
  6. I have taught Latin to middle school students at a classical Christian school for 13 years now.
  7. I have an irrational fear/dislike of talking on the phone.
  8. I have a completely rational fear and dislike of snakes.
  9. I am weirdly stubborn and tenacious.  Case in point: the Liebster award.  I thought I should trace it back to the great blogmother of all Liebster awards, but I kept hitting dead blogs and getting caught in infinite loops of YA teen paranormal romance book blogs.  I have discovered that the number and rules vary slightly: some people only nominate 5 blogs and don’t do random facts or questions. I’m not giving up, though.  The origins of the Liebster award meme are now my personal holy grail of blogging.
  10. I am obsessive about some things.  Case in point: knitting.  I began knitting more than 10 years ago, and at first I said to myself, “it’s just the pregnancy hormones.  I’ll make a scarf or two and get it out of my system.”  Shortly after that I bought my spinning wheel and it has snowballed ever since.  My Ravelry queue has nearly 1500 items on it.  I don't think it's out of my system.
  11. I aspire to be a polymath.  That means that I can’t stick to one subject, and my blog has what some might call multiple personality disorder.  I prefer to think of it as “eclectic.”  I aim to be the only blog in the universe that regularly posts on the subjects of knitting, quilting, spinning, book reviews, Down syndrome advocacy, politics, theology, history, classical education, grammar, literature, recipes, and Celtic folk music.
My 11 questions from my nominator:

1. Cat or Dog?  Definitely cat.  I have three.
2. What is your favorite TV show?  Probably Project Runway.
3. What color are the walls in your living room? “Butter”.  In fact, yellow is a theme in several rooms of the house.
4. What is the largest quilt you have made? I’ve made two king-sized quilts, one a Double Wedding Ring that was 104” square.  Here it is, a blast from 1998:
5. What are you listening to right now?  The dishwasher, and my 16-year-old son humming.
6. Do you use a mac or a pc?  A pc.  I am not wise in the ways of Apple.
7. How many states/countries have you lived in?  Let’s see: the Netherlands, 3 different houses in Ohio, Pennsylvania for college, 3 houses in Virginia, 2 houses in Colorado, and now Washington.  That’s 6 different regions and 11 different houses.
8. What is your favorite book?  Hard to pick, but my fallback is always The Lord of the Rings.
9. Who is the teacher who most influenced you and what did he/she teach?  Dr. Leon, my college French professor.  She made grammar fun, as I hope I do for my own students.
10. What is one thing you would stay up late to do?  Um, blog?  (It’s 11:18 as I type this).  I also stay up late to read a good book, sew or knit, or play a game or puzzle if it’s got my attention.  Basically, I like to stay up late because the house is quiet then, even if I pay for it the next day!
11. Did you play any sports in high school or college? If so, what?  I’m almost completely unathletic, but I do play a good game of ping-pong.

And now my 11 questions for my 11 nominees:
  1. What do you like to blog about?
  2. How did you get started blogging?
  3. If you had a time machine, when and where would you go?  (You may assume for the sake of the question that no unfortunate paradoxes will be created by time travel if that makes you more comfortable!)
  4. What is the next color that you would choose to paint a room or the exterior of your house?
  5. Name a favorite fiction book.  Or two or three if you can’t pick.
  6. Name a favorite nonfiction book.
  7. What is your favorite genre of music or your favorite musician?
  8. How many states/countries have you lived in?
  9. A favorite teacher?
  10. Favorite color?
  11. Where would you like to go on vacation, if you could go anywhere?

My nominees are (drumroll, please):
Copperlight Wood
The Spinning Shepherd
Blackberry Rambles
Life in Wotring Woods
Domestically Aware
The Elliott Homestead
Carpe Quiltem
Weekend Wisdom
Have fun, everyone! I don't mean this to be a high-pressure obligation, so no worries if you're unable to pass along the award.  Or if you take a couple of weeks to write the post, like me!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Design Wall Monday and Stash Report

Draped over my quilting frame because the design wall isn't big enough for Easy Street.  I'm not quite half done with the seaming together, but it will happen.  It feels good to be getting a tiny bit of sewing done!  Check out what is on other design walls over at Patchwork Times.

I think this is only my second stash report of the year:

Quilting fabric:

Fabric used this week: 0 yards
Fabric used year to date: 0 yards
Added this week: 0 yards
Added year to date: 3 yards
Net used for 2013: -3 yards

Knitting yarn:
Yarn used this week: 420 yards for Daniel's socks (to be blogged soon)
Yarn used year to date: 880 yards
Yarn added this week: 0 yards
Yarn added year to date: 450 yards
Net used for 2013: 430 yards

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Once again it is Randomday, when the blog eats leftovers.  I spent my morning sleeping in (a bit), and then after Quarta opened a curio cupboard and had a hard time getting everything back, I got sidetracked on a bit of instrument repair that I've been meaning to do for awhile:
My dad's alto recorder from Holland, which I very occasionally play, had the threads coming loose on the joints.  So I used a teensy bit of wood glue and re-wound them.  I hope they stay in place.  I'm not really claiming fine instrument craftsmanship as one of my talents, but it pleased me for some reason.

The cats have been sitting on the ductwork in the basement, the ones that are insulated and wrapped in plastic and lead to the master bedroom.  Not coincidentally, I think, our bedroom has been getting no heat lately.  And poor Steve has a nasty cold.  The furnace repair guy came today, we are several hundred dollars poorer, and the heat is back on.

I went Goodwill shopping in Portland today and found 3 pairs of jeans.  I was particularly happy that all the pairs I tried on actually fit.  The last time I looked for jeans it was a lot more depressing.  On the way back I wound through picturesque Portland neighborhoods that reminded me strongly of my Grandma's old neighborhood in Middletown, Ohio.  And I visited a yarn shop that I'd never been to before.  So, a good day.  Now I will just try to avoid catching that cold...

The city of Leicester in England was quick to revise its parking signs, apparently.

I have been honored with a special challenge for the blog, one that I'm working on but that will take a few more days before I can post it.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Sock Archives

I've been thinking a lot about socks in the weeks since the Unfortunate Incident of the Felted Socks.  What yarns work best and hold up to long wear; what techniques make the making of socks the smoothest and most enjoyable; which patterns are worth the time to try and which ones I should leave to the truly sock-obsessed.
In the picture above are some of the first socks I ever made, starting circa 2002.  The fiesta striped Regia yarn was knit on size 3 double points, cuff down, and was my very first pair.  I still have them but they have been darned once and are not knit tightly enough to be super-comfy.  The blueberry waffle socks were an attempt to (over)compensate for the loose knit: I used bamboo size 0 needles and I will never use them again ... and not just because one of them snapped.  I don't remember which yarn I used (before Ravelry), but I still wear them regularly, though they also have been darned.  The third socks were made with yarn that I think was Knit Picks, but I only had one skein and had to buy black yarn from the fabric store to do the heels.  This may have been the pair I tried the 2 circular needles technique, which I've been using ever since.  I still have them and wear them.  Then there are the Socks That Rock in "Puck's Mischief."  Their fate was sad; they felted, but only after several wearings.  I decided after that that sometimes cheap sock yarn makes me happier than expensive sock yarn.  True disclosure: I'm not really willing to hand wash socks.  It might start well for a week or two, but it would never last in our house.
My heraldic socks are special.  I think this was also Knit Picks yarn.  I knit them in England, when Steve and I were on the bus touring with the GCC alumni Touring Choir in July of 2005.  I still wear them a lot.  They haven't needed darning yet.
Sometime in 2007 I completed the mother-daughter sock project. This was with handspun superwash yarn.  Some of the socks were more successful than others.  It's always fun to knit with handspun, of course, but I didn't get the gauge right for all of them relative to the different feet I was knitting for.  Some are still being worn, but not often.  The girls' feet have grown since then!
From 2008, these are the socks I knit for Steve in Knit Picks Essential Twist -- but they didn't felt, and he's still wearing them regularly.  I was really hoping for similar longevity with the pair I finished in January, but it wasn't to be.  Knit Picks is replacing the yarn that felted with some Stroll Tonal in "Kindling" -- I'm looking forward to working with it but will be a bit gun-shy with this brand for awhile.

I have more pictures of socks but these are the ones from farthest back in the archives.

My goal in 2013 is to knit plenty of socks for the members of my family that like and wear them frequently.  Ideally at least Steve and I will have enough socks to wear handknit socks every day of the week (I'm close, Steve needs a few more).  In fact, Steve has a cold right now and is trying the cold sock cure, which involves wearing wool socks over cold wet cotton socks overnight in the hopes that, I don't know, circulation will improve and the cold germs will flee through the soles of the feet?  Hey, it's worth a try. 

Are handknit wool socks the key to health and happiness?  Well, they can't hurt.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

In progress

Daniel's Klingon socks ("Earthy, peaty, with a hint of lilac") are almost done.  I'll be starting the cuff in a few more rounds, and probably finishing up with the lilac.  Reading: I did a review of Mockingjay, the final book of the Hunger Games trilogy, yesterday.  I'm actually between books right now, unless you count the audiobook version of The Cat of Bubastes that I am listening to in the car on my commutes.  I'm liking it more than I liked the other Henty novel I listened to.
No progress since the weekend on seaming together the Easy Street blocks.  I've been driving to the bowling alley every day after school to meet Tertia and tie her shoelaces.  Such are the sacrifices we moms of athletes must make!  I actually like watching the girls bowl, and getting a little knitting done.  But I'll be glad when her specially modified shoes with adaptive shoelaces are ready.  Here Tertia is modeling her bowling form.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Book Review: Mockingjay

I've done book reviews of the first two books of the Hunger Games trilogy for the last few weeks, and it's time to wrap it up with Mockingjay, the final book in the bestselling series.  Click on the links to read the previous review of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire.  I will attempt to review the third book without giving any spoilers for that book, but I'll be referring to events of the previous two books in this review, so if you haven't read the books yet and hate spoilers, be forewarned.


Panem's teenage heroine Katniss Everdeen is back again, a damaged soul after not one but two forays into the deadly arena of the Hunger Games.  This time, her defiance of the unwritten rules by which the Capitol keeps its subjects in line has caused a terrible retribution to fall on the citizens of District Twelve, her former home.  President Snow shows a creepy and altogether too personal animosity toward her.  Worst of all, her fellow combatant Peeta, one of the few morally centered characters in the books, has been captured by the Capitol and is presumably being tortured and brainwashed in an attempt to manipulate her.  Because Katniss has come to be the Mockingjay, the symbol of resistance against tyranny that may be the only thing able to motivate and inspire the freedom fighters in this post-apocalyptic world to rise up and overthrow their oppressors.  And it is most definitely a case of either kill or be killed, but on a much larger scale than we've seen previously.

Action centers in District Thirteen, previously thought to be utterly destroyed.  But in reality, an insurgency has been building itself there for several years, and its leaders desperately want Katniss to work for them.  Katniss spends much time fighting the call to be the Mockingjay.  She is very obviously suffering from post-combat psychological disorders, and the forms warfare takes in this distant future setting are not pleasant.  Her new allies are sympathetic, but Katniss is a soldier now and is expected to act like one. There is also the love triangle; Katniss, whether she wants to admit it or not, is torn between Peeta, the boy with the bread who loves her and has shown himself willing to die for her on multiple occasions, and Gale, the spirited hunting partner of her younger years, with whom she unquestionably has more in common.  And the danger: the very real possibility that none of the principal characters might survive the book.  Katniss is, at points in the story, so haunted by grief that she becomes passive.  There are no moral authorities in this book; and there is more than a little of the postmodern idea that all forms of government are equally corrupt.

If you've read my previous two reviews, you know I have mixed feelings about this series.  The anti-war message is all very well, but the first-person, present tense narration tends to make the action feel too close, too immediate.  I think of it as the literary equivalent of a first-person shooter game.  By no means is the violence glorified, but I have to wonder if a better way to create social consciousness and anti-war sentiment in young people might not be to make a few documentaries about real-world senseless violence and play some old Peter, Paul, and Mary albums.  Still, it was the most believable for me of the three books, largely because it focused on the larger world outside the arena.  When I was reading the first book particularly, I was desperate to see the whole world in context; this is where we get that information, and it is satisfying.

The depraved violence makes it a disturbing read for adults and older teens; I personally can't recommend it for younger children.  But it is a haunting story that will stay with you, and the ending is not as utterly bleak as I was afraid of.  Okay, so that's not entirely high praise.  It's a postmodern book.  It will have to do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Design Wall Monday

All my blocks for Easy Street are done done done!  Now I have to join them up.  My design wall is just not big enough for a Queen-size (?) quilt layout, but you can at least see what it will look like.  Lots of lime green.  Fortunately, I like lime green.  I made the decision to go with white-on-white for the background fabric, and I think it makes the design pop out a little more.  I really loved this mystery quilt.  I've seen people doing it in several different colorways, and it looks good in all of them. 

I'm off to meet Tertia at the bowling alley.  She is so excited about being on the bowling team!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Randomday: Candlemas

Today is Groundhog's Day in the midwest, and Candlemas in some, more liturgical, Christian traditions.  I hasten to stress I am not part of those liturgical traditions, but I was thinking about my mother, who passed away on this day 9 years ago, and how she always liked to burn candles.  Some of my earliest childhood memories involved her and the candles she bought at the Wicked Wick in New Mexico on our summer trips out there.  It always seemed to cheer the house up on a gloomy day.

Today was a pretty day in the Northwest.  So was yesterday.  When I stepped out of my classroom after noon and grading 2 classes worth of quizzes, I was greeted by an almost deafening chorus from the woods behind the school... what sounded like millions of frogs.  Apparently they knew that sunny days don't come that often in Washington, and were out to seize the day and woo all the pretty female frogs and make lots of little tadpoles.  So that next February the frog chorus will be even more deafening.

Tertia has the opportunity to be on the girls' bowling team for her school.  I spent yesterday evening filling out about 20 pages of athletic release forms, and this morning going around to the doctor's office to drop the sports physical form off and the cobbler shop to see if we can turn her spare shoes into bowling shoes. I had never given any thought to which foot is her bowling foot before, and I'm still not sure it really matters.  What I'm a little more worried about is the fact that she can't tie her shoelaces.

My sister shared the viral a capella tribute to John Williams with me today, prompting me to realize that I have been neglecting Tertia and Quarta's education.  I asked Quarta if she had ever seen the Star Wars movies, and she said, "Just the last three."  I probed further to try to figure out which last three that was... the first last three, or the original last three.  She wasn't sure, it was so long ago.  Even more disturbing, she was hazy about who Han Solo is.  This must be remedied.  We started this evening.  Unfortunately, Steve insisted we start with Episode 1.  I mean, it's not that unfortunate, I guess.  Quarta actually remembers many of the characters in a general way.  She enjoyed Jar-Jar a little too much.  How will it warp a young  mind if she encounters Jar-Jar Binks before Han Solo?  I hope it will be okay.