Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summer: Already?

We literally had three days of spring here in Wisconsin, and now it's summer. At least, it's a pleasant summer day -- 87 degrees, but not too humid. It was a perfect day for a long walk with a friend and then a bike ride on my own. Some friends invited me to go on a long bike ride, but I haven't built up my fitness level after last year's broken leg. I've got to get out on the bike more and build up some strength!

Slippers are not a very summery knit, but I feel good about working on holiday knits. Pretty soon I'm going to have to figure out how to seam these up:

Madison is a beautiful place in the summer. I snapped this photo of our state Capitol this morning. I biked downtown and actually did some work while sipping an iced coffee at a cafe that had an outdoor area. If only summer could always be this pleasant!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

WIP: No SSS Here

Second Sock Syndrome that is:

I love the colors of this yarn so much that I cast on number 2 as soon as I kitchnered (that is a verb, right?) the first. Hermoine's Everyday Socks is the pattern. Super easy and goes quickly.

Half-way through a four-day week. Today was fun because we took a group of our 8th-graders over to the high school for a visit. I love this annual day because I always run into some former students. And they all love you when you are a former teacher. Sometimes it's sad. The first one I ran into this morning was wandering the halls during class -- clearly he's not faring well. But then I ran into Emma, one of my all-time favorites. A truly awesome young lady. Many hugs ensued.

Ten more days with students before summer vacation. I have mixed feelings. I always have a hard time saying goodbye, but I can't complain about having my days to myself!

Don't forget to check in with Tami Amis!

Sunday, May 25, 2014

FO: A Different Garden

I certainly whined enough about our cold, rainy spring that anyone who's been reading this will not be surprised that I spent much of that awful weather embroidering flowers since there were no real ones popping up.

I am quite happy with the shirt. I asked my daughter what she thought of it, and she said, "It looks like you."
"Is that a compliment or an insult?" I asked.
"Neither," she replied. "Just a fact."

Said daughter flew in for the weekend to celebrate Seth's graduation. At 26, he's earned his bachelor's degree in biology. He got there on a very unusual -- and for his mother, stressful -- path. But that just made the occasion more special. It was nice that my parents are able to celebrate with us. They played a huge role in my children's childhood, especially after I became a single mom

One of the things Rachel and I did was to take a walk in the Arboretum, where the lilacs are in glorious bloom.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Spring Has Sprung + A Book Review

Finally, spring has arrived:

We've gone for three days with no rain: Glorious! I even rode my bike to work on Thursday and Friday. The cats have pretty much taken up residence on the screen porch.

I'm waiting for Seth's graduation cake to bake, so I have a few moments.

I just finished reading this:

It's unusual for me to read anything that has a whiff of chick-lit to it, and I can't explain what prompted me to pick up The Knitting Circle. But, pick it up I did.  And I didn't dislike it. From me, that is high praise for chick-lit. Frankly, the fact that I read the entire book is a big endorsement. It's somewhat over-dramatic -- maudlin, even -- but it hooked me from the start and kept my interest. The characters are very well drawn and Hood is a very good writer.

It is certainly the best of the knitting novels out there that I have read. It would make for great beach reading.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Mukluk

Although this may look like an FO...

... it really is a WIP:
It won't be done until I sew up the seam that runs along bottom!

I am really loving this pattern, but this first slipper took me forever to finish because the yarn is hard on my hands. It is Encore Chunky Tweed: 75% acrylic, 25% wool, and 3% rayon. I don't usually have problems with acrylic-wool blends, so I'm thinking that it's the chunky-ness that is hurting my hands. It is giving me the same kind of pain that I get from Sugar'n Cream cotton yarn.

I looked up the yarn on Ravelry, but couldn't find similar complaints! Knitters gave it 4 out of 5 stars, even. So then I looked up Sugar'n Cream, and it also gets 4 out of 5 stars. Which reminds me of my issue with reader ratings on Amazon. In both cases, these are not statistical surveys. Rather, the respondents are self-selected. I've realized that romance books that I think are terrible get high ratings on Amazon because the people who choose to read them like romance novels.

I would like to point out that Lion Homespun (possibly the most hated yarn out there, though not by me) gets 3 out of 5 stars. And Red Heart Super Saver Solids gets 3 stars, too. Now that is a yarn that I cannot stand the feel of. It's the kind of material that could survive a nuclear holocaust. Still, a lot of knitters like it.

Does anyone know of a yarn that got fewer than 3 stars?

Don't forget to check out other WIPs with Tami Amis.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Not Much Knitting Going On

There wasn't much time for knitting this past week.  I attended two school board meetings last week as part of an effort to convince the school board to extend our contract. Those were exhausting but also exhilarating evenings. The camaraderie of more than 100 union members is pretty amazing.

Then I drove up to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., for the weekend to visit my niece and her parents. Rebecca is in a three-week program to help teens with chronic pain. She was diagnosed with P.O.T.S. a few months ago. (You can read about it here.)
Rebecca and my son, Seth.
This program is truly amazing. As you can see from the picture, she has energy and joy again!

The 3.5-hour drive up flew by because Seth was in the car with me. I don't often get that much time alone with him! BTW, he completed his bachelor's in biology from UW-Madison last week, which we'll be celebrating next weekend.

I had hoped to knit on the way back Sunday, but Seth got sick and slept the whole way!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

WIP: Color!

I started these a while ago:

It is the start of my second pair of Hermoine's Everyday Socks, the free, viral pattern that has been popping up all over the Web. My friend Marsha knit a pair of these a few months ago, and I fell in love with the yarn -- Regia 4-ply, color 05048. Luckily, I ran into the yarn myself and snapped up two skeins.

My first Hermoine's were gifted, but I'm keeping these for myself. I need the color given the rarity of sunny days here. It's rain, rain, rain!

Only twenty more teaching days. Not that I'm counting! Actually, I have great kids this year and I am sad about saying good-bye to them in a month. However, I am looking forward to more time for family and creative pursuits. Besides, I got my list for next year, and it's looking like it is going to be, well, more challenging.

See what everyone else is working on with Tami Amis.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Happy Mother's Day

I hope you all had a wonderful Mother's Day. I had the pleasure of hosting my mother and mother-in-law for my brunch. We had Baked French Toast:
We also had an asperagus quiche and fruit salad.

So, not too fancy, but enough for a small brunch.

I heard from both my kids and went to my drawing group in the afternoon as my treat to myself.

Weeko says: What? It's Mother's Day?

Friday, May 9, 2014

FO Friday: Not Quite Seasonal

I am thrilled to present "28's Cousin 53."

I just love this shawl. I don't always pick the right yarn for a particular project, but this time ... I did a great job (if I do say so myself). This pattern really lets the yellow yarn shine. I picked up the yarn a few years ago, but the Madison dyer is still in business: htNEVELE Designs on Etsy.

I wore it once, and then winter transformed instantly into summer and everyone had to scramble to get their summer clothes out of storage. I'll pack it away, where it will have to wait patiently for fall.

The pattern, a freebee by Lynn Ashton,  is pretty simple and would make a great first-lace project.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

WIP and Weather

(Excuse the sideways photo as I'm having wifi issues this morning!)

I will have an FO (finally!) Friday, and I have somehow resisted the urge to cast on something new. Instead, I returned to some holiday knitting I started a while ago:
Although you can't tell, at this point I've knit the bottom and sides of the slipper and have begun the instep. Not the most exciting knitting, but I think the finished product will be worth it. I'm hoping so. If these turn out to be as cute as they are in the photo, I plan to knit a bunch for gifts.

The weather this spring has been wet! But we had a beautiful day yesterday and I got on the bike for the first time since I broke my leg in April 2013!

I had grown absolutely terrified of biking -- and no, that's not how I broke my leg! I'm reasonably famous for being uncoordinated. Add to that the fact that breaking my leg made me aware of how fragile we all are. So, I am quite pleased with the 20-minute jaunt I took around my very hilly neighborhood. I need to build up my strength if I'm going to bike with my friends.

I also may need to learn to tolerate biking in the rain, as the rest of the week is forecast to be wet!

Monday, May 5, 2014

It's Even Better When It's On Sale

Friday evening I went out for gallery night with a friend, and we had a great time. It turns out that there are dozens of artists' studios on Madison's near East side, so we spent ours wandering around. Some retired professors craft exquisite etchings using a press that is more than 100 years old! One studio produces striking glassware.

And then there was this:
This adorable yarn bowl was waiting for me on the seconds table at Nstar Studio. You can see that it's a bit out of kilter, but I think it will work just fine. For $15, I could not walk away without it.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Some Weeks Are Longer Than Others

This week was longer than five days. I can't explain how. Maybe there were more than 24 hours in each day this week. I don't know, but by this morning, our 8th-grade team felt the need to jolt ourselves out of the doldrums.

It worked. We got through the day. And now I have a couple hours at home before heading out for gallery night.

I'm going to spend a few of those moments apologizing for neither writing nor reading much in the blogosphere this week. It was a grueling week: long hours, IEP meetings, and challenging students. I spent time with both my parents and Keith's -- something I like's to do more. Doing all those things means less time for blogging.

And I really, really like blogging. The best part is meeting people from all over and forming friendships. The knitters I've met have taught me so much about knitting. They've encouraged me to try new techniques, helped me out of jams, and directed me to amazing patterns and yarns.

Having been a single mom for more than a decade, time management has dogged me for ages. Am I the only one who struggles to find time for other people and myself? I could hole up in my studio for weeks at a time -- but in the long run I'd regret not nourishing relationships. I'm always trying to set boundaries at work. There is so much I could do that teaching could take up every waking moment -- if I let it!

So, where does blogging fit in? Earlier this week, I emailed a former blogger.  She hadn't posted for a long time, but also hadn't said on the blog that she was quitting. I wondered if she was ill or dealing with a major problem. She replied that she stopped blogging because she often felt that she was knitting to "feed" the blog, a feeling I've struggled with, too. My monogamous knitting of the last few weeks has made blogging hard. And this isn't the first time I've felt like the blog was driving my knitting -- which does seem backward.

I really miss this blogger -- she was one of the best -- so we'll try to connect in other ways. Still, it won't be the same. I don't plan to quit blogging any time soon, but I am going to try to not feel pressure in the blogosphere. I know that none of us want that!