Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Warm Weather Colors

I couldn't help but notice that the projects that are calling out to me are either springlike or summery. I've been zipping along on my market bag (pattern unknown). These feel like beach colors to me. The yellow is just so sunny. Don't you love knitting on big needles? The stitches just fly.
My Antarktis is blocking and I am SO tempted to cast on a new shawl, but I am trying to be more organized about my knitting. Instead of starting something new, I'm going to pick up the Garland Shawl by Michele Bernstein, which is in an apple green color -- very springlike!
 As you can see, I have done quite a bit on this project, but it has been in hibernation for a long time. I started it in June 2013! I hate trying to figure out where I am in the pattern, but once I get past that, I think it will go smoothly.

Garland is also the first project I've used beads in. I hope remember how to do that!
As for reading, I'm almost done with Jacksonland. This man should definitely not be on any dollar bill! I have a stack of books from the library and I'll just have to see what sticks.
As always, I'm joining up today with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Passover Weekend

The hosta are finally peaking out, just in time for Passover.
I pulled out my Mixmaster to make this amazing chocolate cake that no one can believe is really a Passover dessert; Passover desserts are famous for being just plain awful.
I do not know how anyone can bake without a standing mixer. My mom always had one, and I was shocked to find out that there are people who bake without one. I've tried hand-mixers, and they just don't measure up. It is so convenient to let it run while you measure out the next ingredient, and they do such a good job of mixing. Do you have one?

I went to two Seders this year and enjoyed them both. One was very casual, while the other was more traditional. A nice contrast. The guest of honor, of course, was this little sweetie.
Baby M is the only grandchild among my group of peers, so she has about a dozen honorary grandparents.

There was a little bit of knitting on my Reyna.
 Saturday was World Wide Sketch Crawl, and my group went to Madison's famed Farmers' Market that takes place on the square around the Capitol. It is crazy crowded, but very festive.
Sunday was for puttering around the house and doing work. Monday came too soon!

I'm joining up with Nicole to Keep Calm Craft On.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

One Done And One Begun

We are into the fourth quarter at school. That may sound like the end is in sight. Not yet! I have a growing pile of paperwork. If paperwork was a good strategy for teaching, my students would be geniuses! Alas, that is not the way it is working out.

But there is always knitting to get my mind off work. My Antarktis shawl is ready for blocking. It doesn't look like much yet, but I'm sure it will be wonderful after blocking. It is a really fast and easy knit. I tend to drag my feet on blocking -- am I alone? This photo does not do justice to the Eden Cottage yarn.
I immediately cast on Reyna, another shawl:

It is a free pattern, quite easy and fast. And isn't the yarn gorgeous? It is Mountain Colors Twizzle.

I bought the yarn for both these shawls at the Madison Knitters Guild Knit-In in March, and I'm glad I gave way to temptation. Both are fairly difficult to get, even online!

I'm still reading Jacksonland by Steve Inskeep, and it is turning upside down the history I learned in high school. I was taught that Jackson was a president for the common people. Not! He was quite an elitist. Even more, I'm struck by how some things never change. At the same time he was negotiating with Native Americans for their land as a government official, he was buying up that same land while it was cheap. Sigh.

I'm joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along. See you there!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Finally Spring!

I had almost given up hope that the temperatures would warm and flowers would appear. But spring has finally sprung, and our backyard is filled with scilla:
Such happy little flowers!

Keith and I spent much of Saturday indoors, cooking and cleaning because we were hosting a birthday party for a friend. As always, I made THE cupcakes. The recipe, Cappuccino Chip Cupcakes, is actually quite simple and can be found in Cupcakes! From the Cake Mix Doctor by Anne Byrn.
 It's worth tracking down this book. It is truly the best cupcake book out there. And this recipe never fails to impress. It's kind of embarrassing because it is so simple.

My friend Debbie arrived at the party with presents for everyone. She had found cheap tickets to Beijing (yes, China! Who knew you could fly cheaply halfway around the globe?) and taken her family for spring break. She brought back half a dozen or so amazing tea cups. Mine features cherry blossoms:
And they all have this amazing build-in tea strainer, which drains nicely into the lid:
Pretty amazing friend, huh? Thank you, Debbie. I am so lucky to have you for a friend!

Today I took advantage of this beautiful weather by biking and sketching with a friend. Here is the view of Picnic Point from the Lakeshore Path. Not my best drawing, but it's OK just to practice, right?
 It was the first day that we could hang out on the screened porch, and Naji was the first one to enjoy the sun.
Tomorrow it's back to school. Some weekends are just too short! At least Naji will be home to enjoy the weather.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Overcoming SSS

Yes, the dreaded Second Sock Syndrome. I don't usually fall victim to this insidious malady, but something has been keeping me away from the second sock for the Bat Mitzvah girl. In the last few days, though I got strict with myself:
You can't tell, but I have just started the heel flap, so I think I'm over the hump with this sock, the second of the Rosa Rubiginosa Socks. I'm itching to try a new sock pattern, but I am trying to be more focused with my knitting.

I finished reading Evicted and I have to say that author Matthew Desmond hit a home run. This book about 8 families who are evicted in Milwaukee reads like a heart-breaking novel because the writing is as strong as the research. The daily grind of poverty creates a parallel universe to the one the rest of us live in. I see the fallout in my students, and it was hard to read about what their parents go through. One mother of two boys had to make more than 80 calls to find a new apartment.
Last night, I started Jacksonland by Steve Inskeep (yes, of NPR!). I tend to like history written by journalists because they focus on accuracy and good writing, and this one is off to a good start.  Tonight, I hope to also begin The Sellout, a satirical novel that was on a lot of the best-book lists of 2015.

It's been an eventful week at school. I don't think it's a coincidence that some of our struggling students' families have been evicted in the last few years. I'm hoping for a couple quieter days now. Friday is a staff development day, so at least that will be one quiet day!

Joining up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Quiet Weekend

I needed a quiet weekend. It was that kind of week.  Other than fish fry with my parents and a breakfast with Keith's family, we hung out.

I had a little writing retreat at a local coffee shop. It was delicious! And reasonably productive.
I did some work for school, too.  Sometimes you just have to do that.

I read. I knit. And I did some stitching, too.
Sometimes you just need a quiet weekend.

I hope you had whatever kind of weekend you needed!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Shawling Along

While it doesn't make for a very exciting photo, my Antarktis is a joy to knit. Perfect TV knitting, easy and rhythmic. It is going to be the perfect summer shawl.
As for the TV part, we've been watching Better Call Saul, the spin-off from Breaking Bad. It is good, but dark and violent, just like BB.

I finished The Prize, about Mark Zuckerberg's $100 million donation to the Newark School District. It is a great and readable book for anyone who wants to understand what "education reform" really means.
Tonight I start Evicted by Matthew Desmond, a Harvard professor who studied the effects of eviction on a group of families in Milwaukee. It is supposed to be good, but also quite devastating. Eviction is becoming a growing issue for our families here in Madison as the price of real estate and rents go up.

I'm joining up today with Ginny to Yarn Along.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Other Than Knitting

Right now, knitting is not the craft that is calling me the loudest. Embroidery has captured my attention:
This is a design that I made, possibly for use in an embroidery class. What do you think?

I wasn't feeling well on Saturday, but on Sunday afternoon I ventured out with a friend to sketch at Union South, which is a popular place on the University of Wisconsin campus. I was really happy with this sketch because I've never tried drawing anything from above:
I had a restful weekend, and I hope you did, too. I went to Saturday morning services and had coffee with a friend on Sunday morning. But mostly I sat by a window and worked on my projects for the Jewish Artists Lab. Our exhibit opens on June 2, and the artwork needs to be turned in by May 1 so I have a busy month ahead of me.

On my way home from sketching Sunday, I noticed that some of the high school football players were having an informal practice. I pulled over and sat on the hill to watch because one of my all-time favorite students was on the field. I got to talk to him during a break and was thrilled to hear that he is planning to go to college. I hope he makes it; he is a great kid.

Have a good week.