Monday, June 7, 2021

One Great Weekend

 I have wanted to take a class from quilter Heidi Parkes for years. But either she was teaching when I was working or she was teaching far away. She's based in Milwaukee, so I was looking for a local opportunity.

And I got one this past weekend. Heidi did a two-day workshop in Cedarburg, an adorable little town north of Milwaukee -- less than 2 hours from my house.

First, Heidi is an amazing teacher. As you can see, her quilts are very freeform and unique.

I love discovering indie coffee shops when I travel -- and Cedarburg has two. Sunday morning I had a lovely latte while I furiously embroidered so I'd be ready for the day. The coffee cup embroidery is from a photo of a latte in Riga. I don't call myself Caffeine Girl for nothing.

Heidi's class was quite challenging, and I really struggled. She pointed out that I chose a difficult palette. I haven't sewn any of the blocks together, so I may have to make some major changes.

It was the friendliest group I've ever taken a class with. Everyone shared supplies and tools. There were no cliques. We are going to try to get together in the fall to hang out in Cedarburg and show our finished quilts.

It felt like the beginning of retirement, even though I have 5 more work days.


Thursday, June 3, 2021

Getting Closer

After today, I'll have six days left in my career as a teacher. This year seemed endless for so many reasons, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.

I'm working to finish three of these -- for three of my students who love to fish. I'll have to model one for you before I give them away. They look pretty funny when worn as a hat.

The closing on our old house went very smoothly on Tuesday. The title company was next door to the furniture store where we ordered a sectional. We ordered it in February and they predicted it would arrive by the end of June -- and that may work out. They checked for us, and our sectional is in a shipping container in the United States. They told us that we are lucky because people ordering now will have to wait seven months or more for their furniture.

Now we can really settle into our new house. 

This week we are enjoying our peony bush. Peony's are among my favorite flowers. I'm glad one came with the house because these bushes are pricey!

Thursday, May 20, 2021

And Now for Something Complete Different

 I have been knitting -- especially because I've been binging on WandaVision on Disney -- but that isn't all. I've been embroidering this:

This embroidery is based on the book pictured below.  It was published in 1918, so it is no longer under copyright. As a child, I read constantly. When I saw this book at a flea market, I just had to buy it, knowing someday it would be an embroidery. Besides, I suffer from a nostalgia for all things 20th century -- before 1980, that is.

There were 27 Grace Harlowe books, which follow her from high school, through service in France in WWI, and onto other adventures. I'm trying to read this book, but it is pretty dull from today's point of view.

I've encountered quite a learning curve as I've converted this into an embroidery. Going from black/white to full color has been harder than I expected.  And there are no words to describe the tedium of embroidering the book's title with tiny stitches. And I am terrified I'll ruin the entire thing when I stitch the face.

I chose the passage of text as being representative of the tone of the book. Those small words aren't too difficult to stitch.

This will take me a while to finish -- good thing I'm retiring! -- but I already have the next book cover picked out!

P.S. The police arrested the person who threatened gun violence against my school. The press is describing the person as a "child," and that's all we know.

Friday, May 14, 2021

Good News, Weird News & Knitting

 My husband and I woke up to a great text this morning: All the conditions have been removed from the offer on our house and we are closing on June 1! It will be nice to own only one house.

Weird news: Threats of a shooting at my high school have been posted on Snapchat. Really? As if this school hasn't been hard enough! The worst thing is that Snapchat doesn't seem to know who posted the threatening posts. We definitely need to regulate social media.

And finally .... knitting!

I finished the first Petty Harbour sock. I was worried about running out of yarn, so I only did a 5-inch leg. Big mistake! I didn't get to the final color. Oh well. I'm not redoing the sock!

I am a huge fan of Casapinka. She writes amazing patterns, and I love ponchos. So how could I resist casting on Noncho? The red and gray yarns are from my stash, but I honestly didn't have a third color. Local dyer and store Knit Circus had just reopened, so that gorgeous hand-paint is from there. We much support every LYS, right?

I have 19 more school days before retirement. It still feels like a long time. But I will get there!

Monday, May 10, 2021

Endings and Beginnings

 It has been a sad week, with the loss of Theresa Kasner. Her warmth and grace reached across the miles. The unexpected nature of the loss makes it harder to grasp. Although death seems sudden no matter what. 

On Saturday, my friend Michael passed away from ALS. He has been declining for a year, so it should not have been a surprise. On Tuesday, hospice said he had less than a week. Still, when I got the call, it hit me hard. Michael was a world famous breast-cancer researcher at UW-Madison, and he was so kind and helpful when my mom had breast cancer. I've been friends with his wife (and thus him) for more than 30 years. 

So, there are two endings.

Of course I am thinking a lot about Michael. The enduring image I come up with is Michael walking into a party, always a few minutes late and always exuding positive energy. I am quite sure I never heard a complaint from him. He loved his family and his job. He used to say, "I don't know why they pay me. I'd do my job for free!"

Me, on the other hand, I'm kvetcher. I can complain with the best of them. But as I approach my new beginning (retirement), I have decided that I need to take a page out of Michael's book. I need to stop complaining. Full stop. I have a roof over my head, two great children, and an amazing husband. I have nothing to complain about!

And don't let me forget about my two darling cats!

I have begun thinking about how I want to spend the rest of my life. I'll have more time for my mom, more time for art, and some time to volunteer. I am very lucky to retire before my 62nd birthday. 

Thursday, April 22, 2021

The Fun Never Stops Around Here

 On Monday, I fell down two or three stairs at school. I'm very lucky that nothing is broken, but I am pretty banged up. Fun fact: Sprains often hurt more than breaks. I broke my right leg nine years ago to the day: April 19, 2013. Monday I ended up with high ankle sprain -- and that hurt way more!

More fun: Our old house is not selling quickly. We think it's because we didn't update the main bathroom. That was dumb on our part. We may need to take it off the market and do a quick update. We priced it knowing that the bathroom needed to be updated, so we're hoping that works out.

I have had time to knit and I finally finished the Adrift Shawl, which I had taken to calling the "forever shawl." It needs a good blocking, and I think it will be very long and cozy.

And I started a pair of Petty Harbor Socks with an unknown color of Knit Circus yarn. I need easy these days. 

I went back to work today and it was really great to be with people. We only have 9th- and 12th-graders in the building so it was calm. The kids were quiet and they all wore masks. I got to meet some of my freshman finally. I think the weeks will go faster now that we are back in school.

Sunday, April 11, 2021


 Back when I started blogging -- and I have no idea when that was because my old domain has disappeared -- there were two very active knitting bloggers from Australia. One of them blogged under the name of Rose Red, and she came up with GAAK -- Growth As A Knitter -- to describe those moments when you master something new.

In between unpacking boxes, I achieved GAAK. See if you can tell which fish was done before I'd mastered a new skill:

Look at the close-up:

The tail at the top is seamed incorrectly. So I watched a few videos before seaming the second one and I finally mastered the mattress stitch.  For some reason, this skill has eluded me -- until now!

I have a third fish on the needles because I realized I have a third student who is an avid angler. When I unpack my felt, I'll finish them all off with eyes. 

Keith is finishing a few things at the old house today because the realtor is taking photos tomorrow. The realtor expects it to sell easily, so I look forward to owning only one home sooner rather than later!