Sunday, December 9, 2018

Another Week Flew By

... and I still haven't started the Epic Knit. I can't even blame Hanukkah, as we won't really do much until Rachel gets home for winter break.

I did receive some hand-made pendants from my talented SIL Mary. Isn't this just SO cool?
She has an Etsy store here, just in case you need a gift for someone special -- or yourself!
While procrastinating on the epic cast-on, I finished my Dewberry, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this pattern. It's fast and easy, and looks great. Like Kathy, now I want to make a larger size.  I have a feeling I'll be giving out a few of these as gifts a year from now.

I'm almost done with finishing on a quilt. You can't tell from the photo, but I managed to miter the corners on the binding, which I am exceedingly proud of!
I know the flash photography does not do it justice, but the days here are short. I'm making a few more in this crazy/Kantha style. They are intuitive and relaxing. 

And relaxation is much needed. High school students get crazy this close to Christmas. Quite a few students I know are having trouble in the community -- and that never helps their academic performance. Still, the students are my favorite part of the job (along with the special ed team in my building). My husband and a few physicians strongly feel that I should retire. I go back and forth. I hate the paperwork, but there are still parts of the job that I truly love.

If you're retired, I have a question: How did you know when the time was right?

Sunday, December 2, 2018

I Blame Kathy!

If you read Kathy's blog (and if you don't, you really should) you know that she has knit up two Dewberry cowls. Hers are so lovely, that I just had to cast on one for myself:
Not only is it a beautiful pattern (which she says is also easy), but it lends itself well to Malabrigo Rios, one of my favorite yarns.

This is kind of a problem, because I'm supposed to be starting my Epic Knit, which is an amazing fair isle cardigan from Marie Wallin:
Is that not stunning? 

It's knit from the bottom up, so you start by casting on more than 350 stitches. Casting on that many stitches is so boring! I can't watch TV or listen to a podcast. It's all about counting. So I keep finding ways to avoid the start. I know, I need to develop some self-discipline.

It is going to take me forever. Marie Wallin is a British designer who runs an annual club of one pattern. I'll be shocked if I finish this in a year.

And since Hanukkah starts tonight, I want to gift you this hilarious and brilliant Hanukkah song:


Chag Sameach (Happy Holiday!)

Friday, November 23, 2018

And the Beat Goes On

The action just never stops here!

Wednesday I showed up at the hospital at 6 a.m. to have my A-Flutter fixed. It was easy. I just fell asleep and let the staff take care of things. They seem to have me all fixed up.
I made it to my family's Thanksgiving at my Mom's apartment. My brother Eric and his family came out from Virginia. My other brother, Michael (in Washington, DC), baked us two amazing pies (cherry and apple) and mailed them to us. Above, Eric is enjoying a piece of cherry.

It was surreal without my dad. It just hasn't fully sunk in yet.

My sweater is ready to be blocked, so I started a shawl. What can I say. I could outfit an entire homeless shelter in shawls -- and maybe I will! They are just so much fun to knit:
The pattern is the Soundwaves Shawl, and it is perfect TV knitting. Easy but not boring. The yarn has been in my queue for years: Dream in Color Smooshy with Cashmere. Can you even imagine? It is truly smooshy.

I am about to start a mega knitting project. Probably the most ambitious thing I will ever attempt. Does that have you waiting for my next post?


Sunday, November 18, 2018

When It Rains...

It's been a bit crazy here.  Between my dad's death and his funeral, I ended up being admitted to the hospital with Atrial Flutter. It's kind of like the more common A-Fib, but I'm way too queasy to explain the difference to you. What I can tell you is that when your heart isn't working right, you feel just awful!

The good news is that it can be fixed with a procedure call ablation. The bad news is that I am so queasy that I almost passed out when the cardiologist tried to explain the procedure to me. "I usually don't put patients out for this," he said, "but I think I'm going to have to in this case." I second that!
My dad as a boy. I think his openness and sweetness really shows itself.
I was out of the hospital in time for the funeral. For the first time, I really understood the Jewish tradition of family and friends placing the first shovelfuls of dirt on the coffin. There is something very comforting about being part of that process, although it was extremely emotional for my mom.

He hasn't been his "real" self for many years, but the finality of death is always difficult to grapple with.  He was a kind, smart, funny man who wanted to help others. One of our struggles after the dementia set in was that he wanted to donate insane amounts of money to public schools and other good causes. His goodness was appreciated in my hometown, so the funeral was well-attended. It was a fitting end to a life well-lived.

Because it was such a crazy week, I don't feel like the loss has hit me fully yet.

As you can imagine, I have not gotten much knitting done. It is taking me forever to finish the second sleeve on my Vodka Lemonade sweater ... but I'm almost there!

This weekend I've been reading blogs and enjoying catching up with you!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

It's Always a Surprise

It's been almost exactly a month since I last posted.

I hope to be back online soon, but for the next week I'll be focused on my family. After a decade of struggling with dementia, my father passed away this morning. It was surprise. In my experience, it always is. My first father-in-law was in a coma for days before he died, and still it was a shock when he left us.

Out of respect for my dad, I haven't said much about his illness. It has been a very difficult decade. He suffered from frontal-temporal dementia, and it turned the sweetest man in the world in to a very angry person. The kind, funny, smart man who raised me hasn't been around for quite a few years.

He is in a better place. I will always miss him.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Finally Some FOs...and a Start

I started out 2018's Secret Sock Society run by the talented Helen Stewart with great enthusiasm, but I've gotten distracted by embroidery and quilting. Still, I completed a second pair of the Winter Rose socks. 

This pair is gray and is for me. This is a great pattern than I highly recommend. It does require you to knit 3 stitches together occasionally, but you get used to it.

Don't faint from surprise, but I have a second FO. This is a Sockhead Slouch Hat. 

It takes some time because it's knit in fingering weight, but it is perfect for a gorgeous gradient skein. I used yarn from Knit Circus. Truly perfect mindless knitting!

As for my start, I have to thank Kathy B! I don't know why it didn't occur to me sooner that my father needs a Twiddle Muff. 
He does indeed have restless hands, so I'm hoping this will keep him happy once I add some texture, bobbles, and i-cords.

If he likes it, I may knit up a few more for other residents in the Memory Unit.


Saturday, September 29, 2018

Busy, Busy, Busy

The combination of school starting, the High Holy Days, and another health issue made September an absolutely exhausting month for me.

Still, there were plenty of good times. I love the services, and my friend Richard always makes amazing challahs for the Yom Kippur Break Fast. Those white dots you see are coconut. It turns out that coconut challah is delicious.

And we always have a good time eating in the Sukkah, which is in a friend's back yard. Usually we freeze while we eat in it, but this year the weather was warm and the problem was mosquitos!

School is as crazy as ever, but I am lucky to work with great colleagues and kids. I enjoy it, but there's just too much of it. When I come home, I'm drained and all I want to do is knit. So, I have made some progress on my Vodka Lemonade sweater.

I'm getting close to the end of my chaotic embroidery project. I'm just finishing up the white background, like this:

I just don't like the way it looks on white fabric:
 
Nancy asked me what kind of embroidery hoop I use. Until recently, I used the cheap plastic ones from Joanne Fabric and other big box stores. But I've discovered Morgan hoops:
This is the best hoop I've ever used. By far. It is truly a no-slip hoop. I found mine at a local fabric store, but I've since learned you can buy them online from a number of sources, including Joanne Fabric.

As for the health issue: Did you know that if you see flashing lights in the periphery of one of your eyes you need to get medical attention immediately? I didn't. Fortunately, my friends did. I do have some attachment issues with my right eye, but not a full retina detachment (whew!). 

Keith and I were going to go away for my birthday weekend, but the weather is rainy, so we decided on a staycation. (Six years to Medicare -- Yay!) I also want to take a vacation from Supreme Court news. I am so upset that a man who was part of such a drunken, sexist group of young people could even be considered for a lifetime job on the highest court. I work with hundreds of young people every year, and very few of them would even want be part of the 100-Keg Club. That behavior is neither normal nor acceptable. That's all I'm saying. I'm on staycation!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Chipping Away

 In the whirl of school and the holidays, I haven't had much time for crafting or blogging or blog reading -- though I've squeezed in a bit of that. I have chipped away at a few projects during my morning coffee.

I'm almost to the heel flap of my Winter Rose socks.
My unnamed embroidery is getting more filled in.
I made my sketch group for the first time in months at a cafe in Verona, a Madison suburb.

The cafe where we sketched had this sign:

I have to mention that there's a yarn store in Verona. My friend wanted to go in, so we did...and I came out empty-handed. No yarn was acquired!

This weekend I'll be cooking for the Yom Kippur break fast that I host every year. It's always fun, but it's a big event and it's a relief when it's over.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

It's THAT Time of Year

Well, it is if you're a teacher. Today was freshman-only day, and I'm exhausted! I did stay late for an IEP meeting, so that doesn't help. But I'm excited for tomorrow when the rest of my students show up. I want to hear how their summers were.
 There hasn't been a lot of time for crafting. My weekend was busy with driving to a family gathering in Chicago and working. But I did finish a Winter Rose sock and get a start on the second one.
 And I assembled another mini-quilt. I want to go through the whole process soon -- before I forget everything I learned at the workshop in August.
And along with the start of school, the High Holy Days start at sundown on Sunday. I took this photo of our communal granddaughter at services this past weekend. I told her that we stored all the good girls on this shelf, and she climbed right in!

I'm hoping to get back to work on my Vodka Lemonade sweater this week. Do you have any projects that you've been neglecting?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Unravelled Wednesday.

I've added a few inches to my slouchy hat, some of which was done during professional development. The knitting actually helps me pay attention.
I finished reading Sisters by Lily Tuck, which is really just a novella, which is not about sisters at all. It's about the second wife of a man who is obsessed with his first wife. I'd recommend it.

I chanced on I Await the Devil's Coming by Mary MacLane at a small bookstore in Minneapolis, and I could not resist it. It's a diary written by a young woman in Montana in 1903. She is depressed and lonely, but also believes herself to be a genius. The book was a sensation when it was published -- a time when confessional writing wasn't done, especially by women. It's short, yet it is dragging because there is no plot at all. More of a curiosity than a real book.
Our cats are usually near one another, although not usually this close. Nagi regularly grooms Kola, but I've never seen her return the favor.  

I'm joining Kat for Unraveled Wednesday.

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Back to Stitching

On Monday, we had torrential rains in Madison like we've never seen here. Many businesses are closed; lots of basements are flooded. So far, we haven't had any water in our house. And the levels of the four lakes in the city limits are still rising. 
This is one of the roads that Keith bikes. It's hard to believe so many people don't accept climate change as real. 

With more rain predicted for tomorrow, the danger is far from over. I plan to stay home, do some cleaning, and hopefully have creative time

I do have a knitted FO to share with you. This is my second Quill, a Taproot pattern, in Cascade 220. It's a pretty fast knit.
 I just love the gansey texture.
And my workshop quilt is officially done. This is the first quilt I've successfully quilted on a machine, and I am very proud of my crooked lines.
It's not a crooked as it looks. Some of the crookedness is the way I took the photo.
I've been working a lot on this embroidery piece. It may look familiar. Actually, it's new; but its partner is being framed. One just wasn't enough.

When I'm done with the color, I'll fill in the rest with white. I love the look of fabric that is 100% embroidered.

I go back to work full time on Monday with mixed feelings. I enjoy the students and the teaching, but there's always the paperwork hanging over my head. It reminds me of being in college and having homework all the time!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

The End of Summer

Although we don't get paid until next week, I am one of many teachers who have been showing up at school. For me, it is worthwhile to start on the paperwork and make get-acquainted calls to my new students and parents.

So, now it seems like ages since my wonderful week Up North with Joni, shown here with her quilt:
I can't say enough good things about Judy Coates Perez, our teacher, or Chris Daly, owner of Woodland Ridge Retreat. It was a week of being pampered in a beautiful setting, learning and exploring, and making new friends. I can't think of anything more wonderful!
Judy and Chris
There are trails right outside the retreat, which is nestled in the woods. One morning, I snapped this photo of a swallowtail:
Before we went to Woodland Ridge, Joni and I had a few days in Minneapolis. Right in the middle of the city is a park with the Minihaha Falls.
My favorite clothing designer, Gudrun Sjoden, just happened to be featured at the Swedish American Institute.

I loved the exhibit because it showed her process:

Most of all, I loved having a week with my best friend!




Friday, August 17, 2018

You Have To Remember...

...that I had to cancel my travel plans last summer and the summer before that due to surgeries. So when I tell you that I am at an art retreat -- after my other trips -- don't judge me too harshly. I've never traveled this much, so it feels a bit weird to me.
Judy is an incredibly generous teacher.
That said, I am having an amazing time at a quilting retreat at Woodland Ridge Retreat in northeastern Wisconsin with Joni, my dear friend from California. I have wanted to take a class from Judy Coates Perez for years, so I jumped when I saw she was teaching in Wisconsin.
We have spent the week learning to dye and print cloth with acrylic inks. Here is one of my dyed pieces:
This is what it looked like after stamping and adding Thermofax images:
Today we pieced quilts. Most participants are experienced quilters making large projects, but Joni and kept our quilts small so that we'd be ready to quilt tomorrow. This is my quilt top:
The black-and-white fabrics are commercial, but I designed the rest. 

Woodland Ridge is an amazing place. Nestled in the woods at the edge of tiny Downsville, it has luxurious rooms with whirlpool baths. Breakfasts and lunches are included -- and have been healthy and delicious. I am not sure I have ever felt so pampered.

Small as Downsville is, there is a darling coffee shop where Joni and I go for coffee every morning:
It is going to be sad to say good-bye to all our new pals tomorrow when the retreat ends.



Thursday, August 16, 2018

On Travel Knitting

I didn't get a lot of knitting done on this trip, partly because I had my daughter to hang out with and partly because I didn't make good choices in travel knitting.

I chose two sock projects, starting with Bonnie Sennott's Plumtree. This is a darling and well-written pattern.
But it has two 32-stitch repeats per round, so you really need to follow the pattern. It also takes more concentration than I wanted to spend on vacation

The second project is one I'd knit before, Helen Stewart's Winter Rose Socks, which I knit once last winter.
This one has a pattern that is easy to remember, but there are three plain rounds. I'm not good at reading my knitting, so I need to have a counter handy to keep me from knitting too many rounds. 

I will finish both pairs eventually, but it would have been nice to have come home with at least one finished sock, if not a pair. Next time, I'm packing some mindless knitting!

Monday, August 13, 2018

The MOST Amazing Wedding

As you may have noticed, I am back and catching up on my blog reading. If you haven't heard from me, you will soon.

I do have to share the wedding experience because it was so unexpected and spectacular.

This Ukranian wedding started at 11:30 a.m. on a Saturday and went until 4 a.m. on Sunday. Then it continued from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday. Rachel was a bridesmaid, so we were in the center of the whirlwind. Fitting her hand-made dress was one of the first things we did in Lviv.
This wedding took place in three cities, so the bride hired two buses to drive us around.

We started with a ceremony at the bride's childhood home where the groom bargained for the bride. He began by offering a bag of potatoes. The bridesmaids bargained on behalf of the bride, and they turned down this offer. At one point, the groom did not fall for the offer of this fake bride:
Once the bargain was struck, we were bused to a beautiful old church, Ukrainian Orthodox. The service was in English, which is the couple's shared language. Stacy is from Ukraine, while Robin is from the Netherlands.
Stacy lives in Miami, where she attends the University of Miami with Rachel. They are both earning Ph. D.s in sociology. Robin lives in Amsterdam. They have been on different continents for four years, so you know this couple is devoted.
Then we were bused to a bar for snacks and drinks before getting back on the bus to head to the Rixos Hotel, where the formal reception was held.
At this point, I cannot remember the order because this was more than a wedding. There was an excellent live band and lots of dancing. I'd forgotten  how much fun it is to dance like that. There were games and toasts and shows. Professional dance shows.
And I can't leave out the couple's amazing first dance.
At about 11 p.m., where were ushered outside for a second ceremony where the couple exchanged vows they had written. The entire group teared up when Robin did part of his vow in Ukrainian.
Did you notice that Stacy has a second dress for the reception? Yes, she is just gorgeous!

And while we were outside, there was a second dance performance and a fire show!
I headed up to bed at midnight, which meant I missed a performance by a famous Ukrainian rapper and a crazy machine that spewed out so much confetti that people were rolling around in it.

We had to be ready to get back on the bus at 2 the next afternoon to attend a traditional Ukrainian party at an outdoor setting. Halfway back to Lviv, a thunderstorm sent buckets of water down. Stacy and some of the four wedding planners immediately got on their phones and rearranged the entire party to an indoor location!

There was more food and drink, as well as a traditional band:
The party wound down around 6 p.m., and I have to say that I was ready to crash!

Stacy and Robin met as grad students at the University of Minnesota at Mankato, so there were many Minnesotans at the wedding. I can tell you that Minnesota Nice is a real thing. Everyone I met was so gracious and interesting. 

Of course, I am thrilled that my daughter invited me to share this amazing  experience with her.