Wednesday, May 31, 2006

It's Just That Time


It's the time of the quarter (2 weeks to go) when fewer and fewer students are showing up for classes, and my interest in being inspiring wanes.

It's the time of their summer vacation that my children have been alone together just long enough to start sniping at each other.

It's the end of May in the Southeast, and it has been so hot lately that no one, not even a pet, would consent to modeling my finished scarf. (Look familiar, Elaine?) So, I draped it oh-so-fashionably on one of our "guard lions." This project marks the end of my May Stashalong work. I actually got through the entire 31 days without buying any yarn! I get a one day pass in June!

It's the time of year, of the day, when I thought I'd be able to come up with more "it's that time of year" examples, but have fallen woefully short. 'Scuse me while I check my ego. . .

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Instant Gratification

Don't misunderstand --- I am thoroughly enjoying my Scrap Afghan. Maybe a little too much. My Sock Scarf and mohair poncho are woefully neglected, as it is so much easier to pick up the afghan and a couple of odd balls of yarn, not having to worry about color or pattern, and knit for a while. A long while.

Today, knowing I'd be plopped down in front of races for hours and hours, I decided to start something that I could finish. Hence, the "Ruby Rust" set you see above. Made from some Jo-Ann yarn from one of my stash boxes, much redder than the photo shows. (I shouldn't have put them on a mauve blanket, but it was dark outside, and there were pets on most other photographable surfaces.) I'm thinking they'd make a good Secret Pal gift, but I don't think my SP likes red too much. Have to check that.

Otherwise, this long weekend has found us watching movies and reading. B & H both have books assigned to them for the summer (he has 3, she 2), and I just bought this, so all three of us go silent for a bit every day. (Yes, Rox, there are pictures!

And to all the knitters whose families include service members, thank you. You have given much, and we are grateful. Happy Memorial Day.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Lost in the Swaps

OK, I asked for it. No one signed up for the swaps but me. But I am in just enough now that I can't keep up with what needs to go where when, whose tastes are whose, blahblah-blah-blahblah. Have I sent out the Tea Swap package? Do I have what I need for One Skein? You get the picture.

Not that I won't keep signing up and signing up. These things are spectacularly fun. And I've made some wonderful, wonderfully good friends through them. True, there was some sort of communications problem this time around between the Secret Pal hostesses and me which almost got me blacklisted, but I think everything has righted itself there.

Katie recently sent me a very pretty little butterfly stitch marker as a blogiversary giveaway. She makes these little sheep stitch markers that make you gasp at their cuteness. She's making them in all the Project Spectrum colors, which is brilliant. Check out her website if you doubt me.

Speaking of Project Spectrum, what is next month's color, anyway? Suppose I'd better check up on that. And the next Knit the Classics book is Wuthering Heights, which I have been carrying around with me for at least 2 weeks. Haven't even completed the first page. So I may or may not being knitting along for the second straight month. (This month, Pride and Prejudice didn't stir any creativity in me at all.)

And my priceless Heather surprised both Hannah and me a few days ago with a box of goodies: yarn for me, dozens and dozens and dozens of anime cards and stickers, plus a Japanese pop CD for her. Heather and Hannah "met" when I spoiled Heather during Secret Pal, and I realized they had a whole lot of common interests. Hannah, as "The Secret Daughter," enjoyed shopping for the packages even more than I did!

It looks like, for the first time, I'll be teaching a summer class. I talked it over with the kiddos yesterday, and have decided to try it out. 2 hours a day, 4 days a week, for 8 weeks. That quarter won't start until about 3 weeks after this one is done, so we'll still have some time to travel, do some "vacationy" things.

Still adding on to the Scrap Afghan. It's so much easier to pick up than the other things I'm working on. A fairly mindless rib pattern from Kniting Over the Edge doesn't have to be fully concentrated on, and the mystery of what color will come next keeps it interesting. The Sock Scarf is my second choice, while the mohair poncho probably wonders what offense it has committed to be left in the bag day after day after day.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Take a look at this simply beautiful little drawstring bag that I just received from Katrina as part of my gift in Jennifer's Knitting Vacation Swap! Now, mind you, this is only part of what she sent. For some reason, the photo of the box's complete contents won't load. But this little delight was so pretty, and so soft, and the bow so perfectly tied, that I couldn't bring myself to open it for a while. (Even after eating a few of the onion & garlic macadamia nuts, and sampling the white chocolate/coconut candy bar that also made the trip. . . Both supremely delicious.)




Well, I eventually saw my way clear to open this divine little bundle, and look --- look --- what was inside! Foot cream, hand cream, Lindt white chocolates (heavenly) and YODA!!!!!

Yes, I'll admit it, I squealed. Katrina, you darling! Thank you, thank you, thank you for Master Yoda! No matter where I go this summer, no matter what form my vacation may take, he will be there with me. How great are these swaps? And how wonderful are other knitters? She also sent gardenia bath products, notecards, gel pens, bags of tea . . . Thank you so much!

And, finally, a peek at my Scrap Afghan, taken in the car this afternoon, as I worked on it while Briton was taking his vocal lesson. As you can see, I work until I run out of one color, then tie another one in, without any real strict regard for color matching. Several people have offered to send me yarn for it --- I'm open to anything! I don't think I've used anything lighter than DK weight yet, but, maybe I haven't reached deeply enough into the bag!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

She's a High Schooler Now!

And I just love her to death. Way to go, Hannah K!!

Friday, May 19, 2006

Secret Pal Answers

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? I honestly can't think of any that I would flatly refuse. I did fall crazy in love with banana silk lately. Come to think of it, all the silks and silk blends I've worked with have been nice. But I am a widowed mother of two --- not too much room in the budget to be a snob!
2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have a tall blue glass vase right next to my bed for my straights. My circulars and double-points are in a plastic box, as they are used less.
3. How long have you been knitting? At least 18 years. Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? As I cannot use double-points, do intarsia nor Fair Isle to suit myself, I still use the label "Intermediate."
4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? Yes, I have a list on Amazon. With surprisingly few knitting-related items.
5. What's your favorite scent? (for candles, bath products etc.) Gardenia. But I also like honeysuckle, rain/ocean/thunderstorm-type things. And virtually anything from Mistral.
6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? Favorite sweet is caramel, followed closely by toffee. Creamy, buttery stuff that sticks in your teeth. ;)
7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? I am going to cross-stitch again over the summer; that was my obsession before I began to knit in earnest. I also paint and decoupage wooden trays. Do you spin? No, I don't.
8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) Bee Gees, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Maria McKee, Everly Brothers, Blind Boys of Alabama, Bessie Smith. Lots of others. No, I can't play MP3s.
9. What's your favorite color? Purple. Or--do you have a color family/season/palette you prefer? A look in my closet shows mostly purples, blues, grays, black, cream, a sprinkling of browns. Scarcely any red, few yellows. Any colors you just can't stand? Orange. Not no way, not no how.
10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I live with two teenagers, 2 dogs, 3 cats, a hamster and a fish.
11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? "Yes" to every one.
12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? Fingerless gloves.
13. What are you knitting right now? A pair of socks, a mohair poncho, an alpaca pullover.
14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? Most definitely!
15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I still prefer straights, though I can now knit socks on two circulars. I do not like plastic needles, and don't have many bamboo. But I do like the ones I have.
16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? Do my knees, or the outstretched arms of my daughter count? (Frankly, winding is one of the pleasures of knitting for me. Part of the process. I don't think I want a winder just yet.)
17. How did you learn to knit? My mother taught me. (She used my outstretched arms as her winder. . .)
18. How old is your oldest UFO? I don't keep them. If I see I won't finish something, I rip it out.
19. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas.
20. Is there anything that you collect? Loads! Lions, lions and lambs, Yodas, Fozzie Bears, Nativity scenes, bookmarks.
21. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? I enjoy going to bookstores too much to subscribe to magazines. As for patterns or books, this time 'round, I do have some! The "Bohemian Tunic" from KnitPicks, the Spring/Summer 2006 Filatura di Crosa book, Not Just Socks by Sandi Rosner, and Options: Accessories by Margie Morse Pulley.
22. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I really must learn how to knit multicolored projects, but just haven't given myself the time. Getting comfortable with the 2-circulars sock method made me very proud.
23. Are you a sock knitter? Yes. What are your foot measurements? Well, I wear an 8 1/2 - 9 shoe, so . . .
24. When is your birthday? (mm/dd) February 12th

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Light a Candle for Me

I now have two high schoolers in the house.

Hannah's graduation ceremony was lovely. Four students were chosen to speak, and one gave a particularly moving account of her going from not-so-great academically to Honor Roll, without sounding boastful. Another was a young man we've known since elementary school, and, well, he has turned into A Cute Guy!! I still picture this skinny, ultra-quiet boy with crooked glasses, but he is a doll now!

I got teary a couple of times. Once when one of the teachers got choked up --- one of those teachers who really makes a difference in the lives of his students, but is very low-key and cool about it. The other time was when, at the end of everything, the group was presented to us as "Your middle school class of 2006, and your high school class of 2010." And they all whooped it up, and I got all goosebumpy.

Then went to a nice lunch with Hannah, a couple of her best friends, and their families. There is a party for her to go to tonight, and my gift to her is a trip to Atlanta tomorrow, just the two of us, to see a museum exhibit called "The Bodies." Briton thinks we're being morbid and/or macabre, so he's invited to stay home.

I did manage a new camera, and I did get some digital pictures today, but all the software isn't uploaded, so there will be a delay. No photography of any kind is allowed at The Bodies, or I'd have an interesting collection to share: finished socks, a completed sweater, my Baby Girl and a circulatory system. . .



Monday, May 15, 2006

Getting There

Counting the pennies, and I should be able to get a new digital camera tomorrow. Not that there will be pictures tomorrow, as it might take a day or so to master, but pictures there will be.

I've finished my "Lime and Lines" socks, my last Cirque du Socks pair. Thought I'd do an anklet, and they took forever. I'm also very, very close to finishing the chocolate sweater, so maybe I'll put off a photo session until I can include both.

Children are through with school this week: Briton one day ahead of Hannah. Which means he'll get to attend her graduation. I'll have to cancel classes to attend. Much weeping and gnashing of teeth from my students, I'm sure.

Had a nice Mother's Day, topped off by a trip to Barnes & Noble, where I had a slice of Bananas Foster cheesecake. (You can't even begin to imagine how extraordinarily, sinfully fantastic that one piece of cheesecake was. I currently salivate at the memory. . .) Also bought a new knitting book, called Funky Knits, or Hip-Hop Knits, or something hip and cool like that. Most of the patterns are too young for me, but Hannah, who was in the same aisle looking at manga, got crazy over a couple of the patterns, and there were a couple of things that I could modify for myself, so . . . Since Stashalong is prohibiting me from buying yarn, I purchase patterns instead!

The weather has turned nice and cool here --- I was able to break out a shrug today, and plan on donning a pair of cowboy boots tomorrow. If it would just stay like this year-round --- I do hate the heat.

I've sent my Knitting Vacation Swap package out, which leaves my Knitters' Tea Swap bundle to be done. I'm still tinkering with the exact contents, but I should be able to get it off before too much longer. Oh, and I also have the One Skein Swap to think about. But since I'm finishing projects, I have to dig through the ol' yarn anyway, so several tasks can be completed at once.

(And to those who have offered yarns for my Scrap Afghan --- send anything that you don't want, or are positive you won't use anymore. I've already knit up about four quarter-size balls my mother gave me last time we were home. I'm not looking for large amounts. When I say "scrap," I'm being literal. Thanks very much in advance!!)

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mutter, Mutter, Mutter. . .

This entire phone surveillance plot has me livid. I can't even speak, much less type, about it coherently, I'm so angry. "Trust us. We won't tell you what we're doing, but it's lawful." Please. "And don't ask any questions. Asking questions means you're a doubter. And disloyal. And putting all kinds of people into harm's way." Sure.

Not a good week for authority-types in my world.

On a much lighter note: two new buttons to your right: one for Secret Pal 8 (no spoilee assigned yet) and one for a good, good friend's blog, Tea Leaves. Melanie and I began as pen pals, and have become close over several years --- she's smart and deep and an entertaining read. If you need a password to let her know I sent you, try "Chthonic Crayon Woman."

(Inside jokes don't play well in print, do they?)

I've looked at the checkbook, and think I'll be able to manage a low-price digital camera in a couple of days. Something has to happen: Hannah graduates from middle school next Thursday. And then, can you believe it, school is over for them? She and Briton begin their summer vacations a full month before me.


Knitting-wise --- I am back to getting things done. Though my chief remaining complaint about being sick is lack of energy, not having been able to knit follows closely behind. My arms just ached too much to hold the needles. But I've made sound progress on the chocolate alpaca pullover. It looks and feels like I'll be running out of yarn, and, since it was a Secret Pal gift, buying more isn't an option. Fortunately, I've used a contrast for the roll hem and neck, so I can cheat and finish out the sleeves with that. I don't recall having ever worked with alpaca before, and this is sumptuous. Thank you again, Bethanie!

Also have a sock languishing at the bottom of the bag --- the end of my Cirque du Socks involvement. (Button taken down; very sad. Kudos to Elaine for getting us all motivated.) And, speaking of Elaine, a scarf being made from what was left of a gi-normous ball of top-notch sock yarn bestowed upon me by the Pink Purl Grrl. I'm almost in the mood to take on another Scrap Afghan, which is my best way to finish off odd bits of yarn, and have something to wrap up in to boot.

I'd call friends and ask for donations, but I wish to stay off LISTS. . .





Wednesday, May 10, 2006

This Helped

So in the mailbox was this issue of Vanity Fair, with AC looking sho 'nuff serious. What's the deal about the spoonful of sugar and the medicine?

Got back to school yesterday, albeit without a voice. (As an adjunct, I don't get the big perks like sick days --- no work, no pay.) Fortunately, the two rooms I'm in have computers and screen hook-ups, so I could just type out what I needed to say. Then I showed a video. Which fit what we're discussing. Really.

But I was completely wiped out by the time I got home. How can 3 days in bed leave you so exhausted? I fell into bed, woke up a couple of hours later, and found my clothes, the pillow and the quilts soaked in sweat. Guess my fever finally broke. And my voice was back. Limbs still pretty achy and weak, but they'll come around, too, I guess.

Also back yesterday was the parent of the missing daughter. I was given more details of what happened, but in confidence, I'm sure. Suffice to say there is at least --- at least --- a kidnapping charge pending. As if worrying about all that is ahead of them as yet weren't enough, now some instructors are making it nearly impossible for the missed work to be made up. What are teachers for if not to help their students? This is not some 20-year-old coming in and trying to beg off because of a hangover. What is wrong with these people?? It makes me crazy. Crazy. Go boost your ego on somebody else's time, bub.


Knitting soon. Our digital camera is acting weird; thankfully, all the green pictures had already been taken and saved. I may not be able to show you anything, but I can tell you.

Of course, there are always more pictures of Anderson inside the magazine. . .





Monday, May 08, 2006

The Green Deans

May is the month of green in Project Spectrum. While it is true that I am in the process of finishing a pair of lime green socks, I don't recall any other green yarns being at my disposal. But look at all the greenery around:

Master Gable's eyes, for example. And that splash you detect in the right one is a gorgeous topaz. Very unique and mystifying, rather like him.



Miss Erin also has green eyes --- a definitive Granny Smith Apple green.



Briton has had to wear green costumes; here he is as an unknown soldier in "A Piece of My Heart."





Hannah has a green thumb. Literally! As part of her "graduation" from Junior Master Gardeners, she was given the soap in the foreground. All the plants are hers.




This lush greenery is my mother's patio, from last summer. But I've no doubt it will be as beautiful and comfortable this year. See my big foot propped up there --- what I wouldn't give to be sitting there today, knitting. . . Instead of here, missing school because I still have no voice, and my fever just won't give full way. Does that constitute green with envy?

Saturday, May 06, 2006

By Any Other Name

A weekend spent under homemade quilts, nice beverage at one hand, TV remote at the other, books and knitting and dogs and cats close by --- sounds lovely, doesn't it? The kind of lazy, no pressure days I long for.

BUT, when you're stuck in bed because your throat is searing/aching/throbbing, and your arms and legs, from their ball sockets downward feel like pain-filled lead, and you are shivering with cold while sweat drips down the back of your neck, THAT, my dearies, is another thing altogether.

And yet, after my last 2 entries, and all they've made me consider, I wonder what in the world I'm doing complaining.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Relief

I've just gotten word that my student's daughter has been found, in Augusta. Not too many more details than that, but that's the only one that seems to matter just now. No reports of her being harmed physically. More as I find out, and feel like I can let the information go.

So many of you stepped up with remarkably kind words. My student will be informed of your concern. Thank you all.

Seems so trivial, but, I can get back to knitting news now.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hug Your Children

So, this post was going to be about completed projects and yarn lust. . .

But I just found out that the 14-year-old daughter of one of my students is missing. What do you say to her? What can I do?

My 13-year-old daughter just walked in the door, and I don't think I've ever wanted, or needed, a hug from her so desperately.

If you have children, hug them tonight. And hope and pray that my student has hers back to hug very soon.