Wednesday, August 20, 2014

WIP Wednesday: Plain Vanilla Is Never Boring ...

... if you use the right yarn.

I never get tired of Opal's self-patterning yarn. Yesterday I started this sock:

The yarn is Opal Smile, color number 7937. I just love their color combinations, especially when they are unusual but yet harmonious. I have also found that Opal makes the most hard-wearing sock yarn around. It's a little stiff when you knit, but it softens with washings and wear. I just cast in 64 stitches, do an inch of 2 x 2 ribbing and switch to stockinette because that's the only way the pattern really shines.

I was hoping to squeeze some knitting in during my class on teaching literacy, which runs yesterday and today, but the class is engaging enough that I wasn't even tempted to pull out knitting yesterday!

Spending the entire day yesterday in a school building made the oncoming school year feel very close, so I'm trying to enjoy the last few days.

I'll be linking up with Keep Calm and Craft On today.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sunday Sketches

Happy Monday! I can say that because I don't have to go to work today. However, I have full-day trainings Tuesday and Wednesday, and then I'm working registration all day on Thursday. Yep, my beloved summer is almost over.

I made it to my sketching group two Sundays in a row.  It always takes me the entire two hours to finish one sketch (other people do two or three).  Madison has four lakes within its city limits, so we often draw lakeside in the summer.

Both sketches were done with Faber Castell pens and Derwent Inktense pencils.

Friday, August 15, 2014

FO Friday: The Lure of the Commercial

The only thing I managed to finish this week is this tea towel:

I picked up the towel and a book of iron-on embroidery patterns at Jo-Ann Fabrics last weekend when the store had its annual teacher sale. I saw the pattern booklet and just kind of grabbed it. It seemed like a perfect gift, one that wouldn't take weeks or months to finish. And the patterns really are cute:
Using 6 strands of DMC thread, I was able to finish this in two days. It went fast and it was fun. But it isn't original. And more and more, I want to spend my time on my own original work. (Knitting, for some reason, is an exception. I am totally happy to knit from other people's patterns.) It isn't that I think there is anything wrong with using patterns, but since I like to draw, it seems like I ought to be embroidering my own designs.

Still, these towels (yes, there will be more) are fun and easy. Very relaxing. I find it hard to resist the occasional plunge into commercial patterns.

 Along those lines, I found this book at Half Price Books earlier this week.

I am supposed be getting rid of books, not acquiring them, but I couldn't resist this one. It tells the history of the paint-by-number craze. Thanks to my iPhone, I was able to check our public library and confirm that it does not own this book. I've only read the introduction so far, but I can already tell this is my kind of book: art history blended with social criticism. Here's a taste:

"What is striking about paint by number's popularity is the speed with which it became a vessel for anxieties about mass culture's instrusion into the well-cultured world of taste and social class."

Yeah, I know, I'm a geek. And I'm fine with that.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

WIP: Wishbone Socks and a Discovery

I haven't knit lace socks in ages, so I decided to cast on these for last week's vacation:

The pattern is Wishbone Socks from Interweave Knits Accessories 2009.  I knew the pattern would be well-written seeing as the designer is sock maven Nancy Bush. She doesn't call for ribbing the cuff, but I'm a firm believer in the necessity of ribbed cuffs, so I added a half-inch of 2x2.

I learned something that I should have figured out a long time ago. When I started the lace, I could not find a counter (the click type). I own quite a few so it's embarrassing that none of them were available. Since we were about to leave for our getaway, I figured I'd have to use paper and pencil.

But once I got knitting, I realized that I can read this pattern! I don't need the numbers for something this simple. I found that I make fewer mistakes without the counter. Because I'm constantly tracking the pattern in my mind -- instead of letting the counter do it -- I'm on track all the time. (Note: I'm not giving up the counter for more complicated patterns, but is is very freeing on this project!)

I am probably the last knitter on Earth to figure this out. Better late than never!

Don't forget to check in with Ginny's Yarnalong and Keep Calm and Craft On.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Global Nomad Moves Along

I would love to be a global nomad, roaming the world, but I'll have to settle for knitting the Global Nomad Cowl.

This is one of three Helen Stewart patterns I'm planning to knit in the next few months. It was the main thing I worked on when Joni and I were vacationing last week. I have tons of gift knitting that I should be doing, but I felt like indulging I did!

It is a super easy pattern that would be perfect for a first lace project. Lately I've been doing mostly easy knitting. The class I took this summer was intense, and I think I just don't have enough brain power to take on something complex.

At the same time, I do miss challenging knitting, so -- also on vacation -- I started a pair of lace socks that call for a little more attention than this cowl.  But that's another post!

This is my last week of real "vacation," and I plan to spend it organizing and cleaning. It would be so nice to start the school year feeling that my house is under control!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Vacation Rocks

Our pier.

Joni loves the boat.

I love the knitting.
Breakfast in the north woods: simple but satisfying.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Are You Sisters or Friends?


Joni and I are just old-fashioned good friends! But we heard that question all day yesterday!

We are up in Northern Wisconsin, just relaxing. She lives in California so we treasure our time together.

We have no wifi is I can't comment on your blogs until I get home, but I will catch up when I get home.

Blogging from my iPhone is hard!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Sad When School Ends

I have never, NEVER been sad to have a class end before, but this morning I woke and wished I was going to meet up with my pals at the Greater Madison Writing Project. If you are a teacher, see if the National Writing Project has a program in your area because this is incredible. You won't find a learning experience this profound anywhere else. And you won't find a program that is more fun! BTW, the program reaches out to teachers in every area, K-college. The diversity is part of what makes it so awesome.
So, you're probably wondering what these photos are. One of the assignments asked us to share ourselves with our colleagues in a multi-genre presention. What is multi-genre? Well, it's hard to describe, so let's just say that it includes any mode of communication you can imagine, from poetry to personal ad, from essay to poster, etc.

I wrote an essay that told my biography in the form of a bibliography. Then I altered a book as a way to present it. The essay itself is cut into section and mounted on the cards, which fit into a niche that I cut.

If you haven't cut a niche in a book, you just haven't lived. At first it feels like a sacrilege, but once you get going, it is freeing.

All the artwork and lettering is hand-done by yours truly

I will always treasure this book because it captures the inspiration and spirit of the Writing Project. It reminded me of summer camp, where you forge deep friendships while learning new things. It was an adventure right here in Madison, with teachers from around the state. The philosophy of the program is that teachers have a lot of expertise and we are the best teachers for one another. I'm sold on that idea. The 16 other teacher-participants taught me so much.