My blog about knitting, teaching, and being a mother to two energetic young boys.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

On Your Mark, Get Set...

Friday afternoon found us at the Elementary Cross Country running Jamboree. Kids from elementary schools in the northern section of Anchorage congregate at a local high school for their culminating running event. Students in grades K ,1, 2 run 1/2 mile while the older kids run 1-mile.

The 'look' is very important to running your best race. Here we see IJ getting his 'game hair' ready.
All ready to go! Notice the hat (Duran Duran!) and turtleneck - winter is not far away! What you can't see are the first pair of wool socks I ever made. They worked their magic & kept my feet warm. The extra layers were in response to last year's frigid temperatures at the Jamboree. We weren't going to make that mistake again!

O.W. & I.J. pouring it on in the final stretch of the grueling 1/2 mile. See - they're running so fast the pictures are blurry!

The running jamboree is designed to help promote healthy futures of our kids. Kikkan Randall, a 2-time Olympian (Cross Country Skiing) and alum of East High (a former student of my program) was on hand to help get the kids warmed up & sign their bibs. Very cool! Be sure to cheer on Kikkan when she represents the U.S. at the 2010 winter Olympics. Could a gold medal be in her future? We hope so!

No new knitting news - just plugging away on my MSS3 socks. I hope to have them complete & in the mail within the next week.

Go U.S. women's soccer team - hopefully tomorrow they'll play a better game vs. Norway & bring home the bronze.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Funky Monkeys

Who'da thunk that these socks came from the same skein of yarn....

Yup - same skein of yarn...

Same needles ... in fact, the same exact needle - I knit these one at a time...

Can someone explain to me what mysterious knitting mojo was at work here?

I just don't get it.


Pattern: Like I have to tell you - it's Cookie A's Monkey Sock Pattern from Knitty. It is very addicting! However, I'm not sure the pattern was right for this yarn. I'm just not totally excited with the results.

Yarn: Socks That Rock lightweight in the Undertoe colorway. I *LOVE* this yarn. It's like knitting w/butter - smooth sailing. Knitting bliss!

Needles: Addi Turbo Size 2 US Circular, Magic Loop

Modifications: Star Toe (to avoid the kitchner thing...). I also think the heel flap is a bit too long.

These socks count for my September socks for SAM4. They are intended as a gift to my dear friend in San Diego (Hi!) since she was with me when I purchased this yarn on impulse during our Dave Matthews Band long weekend. I'm a little distressed on how the striping doesn't match at all. I ordered some sock blockers from The Loopy Ewe - so a quick soak, blocking & in the mail they go. Certainly they'll be good for hanging out at home on a cool San Diego evening. :0)

Next up: Finishing another pair of Monkey Socks for my MSS pal. The plan is to get them off the needles & in the mail within the week. Also - I've signed up for Sock Wars - my competitive nature just couldn't let it pass by. In addition I ran across Sockin' it to Maggie - a site dedicated to sending healing vibes through hand-knit socks to a seriously ill young woman.

A gift from the hands is a gift from the heart.

Speaking of good vibes - if you get this before Thursday morning 8 am EST - please send good vibes to the U.S. Women's Soccer Team as they take on Brazil in the semifinals of the 2007 Women's World Cup Soccer Tournament. Go USA!!

Monday, September 24, 2007

5 Years Later....

and it's finally done! Yee Haw!


Pattern: Rambling Rows Sweater by Cottage Creations. This is a very fun & quick knit. Now that I've done the seaming & see that the seaming wasn't as scary as I thought it'd be, I think I'd knit this again. However - I'd choose a different yarn...

Yarn: Lamb's Pride Worsted Weight 85% wool, 15% mohair. Yes - not a very baby/new-mom friendly yarn. I attribute my choice of yarn to the fact I knit this when I was just seriously getting back into knitting & I didn't know much about the different types of yarn. So... I'll write a little apology note for my sister warning her not to throw it in the washing machine. I suppose this could always turn out to be a baby doll sweater if it accidentally lands in the wash.

Needles: US 7 for body, US 6 for Garter Stitch Bands

Modifications: I added the Garter Stitch border at the bottom. The sweater looked like it needed something to make it look more polished. The additional band seemed to do the trick!

Recipient: Well... I have a confession. The original recipient was my niece, Alexa, who will be 5 YEARS old this December. The only thing that held be back was seaming up the sides & sleeves. Geez... So... Lucky for me, I have a new niece, Sydney, who was born at the beginning of September. Wasn't my sister kind to have a little girl so I could have an excuse to finish this sweater? :0)

Gosh it feels so good to actually finish something that isn't a pair of socks! Speaking of socks - the crazy, mismatched, but are really from the same skein of yarn, are calling me... Will post about them soon.

Till then... Happy Punctuation Day! (Seriously, I'm not making that up!)

Monday, September 17, 2007

On My Soap Box

Ahhh - was just going to post quick pics of my wip (scroll down, if you're only interested in knitting), but after reading an article in our local paper, I just couldn't leave well enough alone.
Here in Alaska, our state legislature came up with a brilliant idea of providing monetary incentives to schools that raise test scores. All staff members (teachers, support staff, admin staff, etc) at an "outstanding" school stand to receive $5500 from the state of AK. Schools rated "strong" or "high" will get lesser amounts, but extra money none the less, from the state, in addition to their salary.
First off, the idea that a monetary incentive will make teachers work harder or more effectively is appalling. I don't know of a single teacher who withholds their very best from their students. Being recognized for good work is great, but why don't we just pay teachers adequately/fairly for the great work they do anyway.
So - today's article "Teachers give incentive program low marks" - addressed several concerns with this incentive program. For instance, a school here in AK with only 12 students received the "Outstanding" ranking. Good for them - yee haw. Here are a few quotes from the article:

What makes Port Protection successful, he (teacher at the small school) said, is involved parents. True True True!! Parents are the 1st and most important teachers children will have. They lay the foundation for learning. I chose an alternative program for my children to attend because I knew they would be immersed in an environment where education is a priority for all. The teachers get to teach - not focus a majority of their energy on classroom management. It's no wonder that my children's school also received an "Outstanding" ranking and will receive extra money next month.

Les Morse, director of Assessment, Accountability and Information Management, said he could see no common themes among the winners.

"The results this year demonstrate the effectiveness of our scoring method," he said. "Recipients include large and small schools, rural and urban schools, and elementary and secondary schools statewide," he said.

Actually, no regular high school or middle school in the state was an award winner. Yeah - let me add on to this:

  1. The high school where I teach improved in over 18 categories being scrutinized under NCLB. We barely missed making Adequately Yearly Progress (AYP) by one category. Yet - our school was not recognized for making any improvement under the nebulous improvement calculation.
  2. Another local middle school that has a reputation for low performing students made AYP for the first time. A significant improvement! Yet - that school failed to qualify for the incentives as well.
  3. The high school where my husband teaches also made AYP for the first time. Yup - you guessed it; no improvement bonuses for them.
  4. I'd like to point out that the student load for elementary teachers is vastly different from that of a middle or high school teacher. I'm not saying elementary teachers have to work less - in fact, just the opposite - I'm astounded at the amount of work elementary teachers have to do - planning for ALL subject areas, with actually less scheduled prep time during the week. Never mind the task of teaching children how to read - ahh - what a responsibility! They have my undying admiration and respect. What I'm saying is on average, an elementary classroom teacher meets with 25 - 30 students each day. Middle and High school teachers meet with an average of 120 - 150 students each day. The sheer numbers makes it very difficult to provide individualized, targeted instruction in the time allotted per week.
Morse acknowledged that none of those schools had won, but said they could have had they changed the way they taught. Hah! I highly doubt the teachers who will receive bonuses this year vastly changed their teaching methods over the last two years.

"If I was a school principal, I could chart out every one of my students. We could do targeted instruction -- this is achievable by all of our schools," he (Morse) said.

Whoo hoo - I hope my principal read that! So, am I to assume that my principal, let's call him Mr. X, will go and chart out all 2200 students in our school so we can provide targeted instruction to all? Hmm.. I wonder how long that will take. Never mind that our school provides countless of opportunities for all students to receive the help they need to succeed at school.

Bottom line - The incentive program is unfair. If we want to level the playing field, why not award bonuses to all schools that show improvement? Just an idea.

On to more fun things....

I've cast on & begun my minimalist cardigan. I'm participating in the KAL which is just the motivation I need to keep plugging away. I also have to eat my words - mind numbing stitchery, yes - able to do it while watching t.v.? - No. While watching The Muppet Movie (LOVE the muppets!) with the kiddos last night, - I screwed up & had to rip back ~an inch. If you look closely, you can see near the top where the moss stitch just doesn't quite line up like it should. Now the trick will be figuring out where should I begin. Suggestions?


Yarn: Cascasde 220 Superwash - Navy
Needles: Addi Turbo - 32" Size 7 US
Pattern: Minimalist Cardigan from the Fall 2007 issue of Interweave Knits

Here's where I am on my Monkey Socks for the MSS3. Part of the swap involves sending along little monkey gifts. It's been fun picking up little monkey items - these are banana flavored Monkey Mints. Don't know if they'll taste good, but the tin is cute.


Yarn: Sockotta Cotton/Wool/Nylon blend.
Needles: Addi Turbo Size 2; Magic Loop - 2 at a time.
Pattern: Cookie A's Monkey Socks

Off to do another pattern repeat before bedtime. For the record, the photo at the top of the blog was taken last spring. We don't have nearly that much snow on the mountains close to home - yet.

Ciao~ Promise happier, less soapy post next time.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I'm in! I finally received my invitation to Ravelry. Oh - what more can be said about Ravelry? It is soooooo cool! I've been 'stalking' the site to see where I was on the list. One day I was at 333, and then boom! my invitation arrived! Man, it's like being the nerdiest kid in school and being asked to the Prom by the cutest, smartest, and nicest boy in town. Very cool. My name on Ravelry is "Arctic Knitter" (duh) - hope to see you around! If you haven't received your invite, yet - be patient (like I'm one to give that advice) - it'll arrive soon...

As you can see from the photo above, fall is in the air around here. For us that means - cooler evenings, shorter days, and school is in full swing. I'm blaming my lack of posting on school - even though I reduced my teaching schedule to 80% to accommodate taking my sons to school, my work load certainly hasn't seemed to decrease. 100% means teaching 5 different classes - right now I'm teaching 4. Last year, one of my classes was math - this year, all 4 are lab-based science classes. Prep work for Alg. II was much less rigorous than prepping for chemistry or anatomy. Oh well... the kids are great - certainly keeps me entertained. :0)

Returning to school also means returning to the "germ factory". Let's face it, schools are full of all sorts of wonderful germs. I keep soap and Germ-X available in my classroom, and am almost OCD regarding hand washing. Still - I can't hover over every student who enters my room & inspect their hands. Needless to say - it's bound to happen that teachers catch 'something' during the year. I usually have a pretty strong immune system, but this year the 'bug' seems stronger than usual. Couple that with the fact I was exhausted after spending a night w/200 high school students during our annual retreat, and you have the perfect recipe for getting sick. Fortunately I didn't have to take a day off from work (which is more work than actually being there) - but I did have to alter plans so that I could rest my voice. By the end of the day my voice was practically gone - not so good when you're in the teaching profession. Some of my colleagues & friends called it my "sexy, sultry" voice; my students said I sounded like a man - not very sexy, or sultry at all when your all of 5 foot 2. (Unless that man happens to be Brad Pitt, Michael Ballack, or John Taylor (of Duran Duran).


My Monkey Socks for my Monkey Sock Swap pal. I'd post a photo, but DH as absconded with the camera on his afternoon bike ride. I've worked through the 4th repeat on the leg (requires 6) and am working them via the Magic Loop Method (surprise, surprise) - 2 at a time. No Second Sock Syndrome for me! My pal lives down south, so I'm using Sockotta - a cotton, wool, nylon blend. Not my choice of yarn, but it is knitting up softly & should be comfortable in the warm environs of the south.

I've cast on for my Minimalist Cardigan. The pattern can be found in the 2007 Interweave Knits issue. I'm using Cascade 220 Superwash - quite the workhorse for knits, and a favorite of my dear friend Margaret. Although, I have to agree with Holly Jo in that the pattern is pretty mind-numbing (LOTS of moss stitch) and it takes work just to keep plugging away. I keep telling myself the sweater will be beautiful when it's done, and it'll be a good knit for in front of the telly.

Speaking of good TV - The Women's World Cup is currently underway. The US is doing well with a relatively new/young team. Abby Wambach is still playing - pretty amazing since at 27 she's considered an 'old' soccer player. For the record, let's all agree that 27 is NOT old by any stretch of the imagination. However, good ol' Abby is just amazing - during their game against Sweden, she scored one PK, and one very incredible half-volley goal from an over the head pass from Kristine Lilly (36 years old!). Just makes me want to be back on the pitch. Next match is against Nigeria, which should be an easy one for them & assure the US a #1 ranking in their group & a spot in the quarter finals.

Also - Survivor season premiere is this week (good knitting time) don't know about the return of The Amazing Race - another fave. Grey's Anatomy starts soon too. AND - big news - the new Duran Duran album, Red Carpet Massacre, will be released in the U.S. Nov. 13th - let the countdown begin! :0)

More pics next time... off to knit...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Relaxing Labor Day Weekend....

Ahhh.... shouldn't every weekend be a three day weekend? Okay - I suppose you could argue that if that were the case then we really wouldn't appreciate them. If I promised to appreciate and enjoy every three day weekend & not take it for granted, then could we have them? Please? Just thought I'd ask.

Over the weekend, dear hubby & I went down to the Seattle area to visit w/my college roommate (and Matron of Honor) & see the annual Dave Matthews Band concert at the Gorge. Wow - what a fabulous weekend!!! Not as eventful as the Yarn Harlot's Labor Day outing, but spectacular, none the less.It didn't start out so spectacular however. So picture this... On the way to drop off the boys w/friends, Wade suggested I test out our new iPod w/the new car adapter/FM transmitter. I plug in the FM transmitter, insert iPod, and nothing happens. So my DH, smart guy that he is, suggests that I read the instructions (my students would be shocked!) - so okay... I read, see nothing out of the ordinary that any college educated, sane individual couldn't figure out without additional aid. However - nothing worked. We speculated that perhaps the iPod (now being referred to as the iPoop) was lacking battery power. No sweat - we plug it in w/our fancy-schmancy new car charger, and viola.... a whole lot of NOTHING. Grrrr..... So - check iPoop off the list of items to bring on the trip.

Next... I figure, fine, I can live without the iPoop, as long as I have my knitting to keep me occupied during the 3 hour flight. I was anxious to cast on the socks for MSS3. So.... I look in my bag, and what do I discover? A whole lotta sock yarn, but NO NEEDLES!!! Arghhh.... how did this happen? Apparently I stuck an empty circ needle package in my knitting bag. What was I thinking? I must have been out of my mind. Fortunately.... Seattle has lots of knitting stores and I have understanding friends & husband. So... before setting out on our drive to central WA for the concert, we stopped at Tricoter. But... they didn't have the length circ I wanted (47" for 2-at-a-time socks), so I settled on a 32" (I already have several of these - back in Anchorage!) and a skein of Socks That Rock yarn in Undertoe. It could have been worse....

However - once we arrived at the airport, all went swimmingly (I love that adverb - back in HS my friends & I thought it was such a funny word. We loved how you could change any word into an adverb by adding 'ly'. Yeah - we were (still are) nerds....) I surprised Wade w/first class upgrades for our trip down. Yeah - it is better up front!

We took advantage of our kid-free weekend by staying out late & just having tons of fun. After we checked into our hotel (Sheraton - downtown) we went out for apps & drinks at Dragonfish. Good sushi, edamame, and drinks. Mine came w/a flaming sugar cube. You don't have one of those everyday!

Here we are (at the end of the trip - but the only group photo we took!) - George, (Hil's, SO) Hilarey (college roommate, Matron of Honor, all around great friend), me, and dear hubby. Fabulous fun!

Once we got out to central Washington, we hooked up with my friend Margaret's friend, Wendi, for a quick bite to eat. Unfortunately we left Seattle later than expected (trip to Tricoter...), so we didn't get to hang out as long as we would have liked. Wendi is wicked fun & a great hostess. Here we are when we had a brief visit last July. Wendi kindly opened up her home, offered chauffeur service to the RUSH concert, and drove me to a bookstore after midnight to pick up HP#7. She sure is swell. Can't forget Sherman - lovely dog!Since the Gorge is far from major civilization, concert goers often camp on location the night (or weekend) of concerts. Hilarey procured "Premiere Camping" (ha ha ha) for our one night stay. Essentially you camp in a large grassy field. Premiere camping means you are in a fenced-in area (keeps you away from the riff-raff) and can have a shuttle to and from the concert. Never mind that after the concert, when thousands of less-than-sober concert goers are returning to camp, only 2 shuttles are in service. Yup - that's premiere. Imagine what regular camping must be like? :0)
Here I am in our North Face Arrowhead arctic expedition tent. A little overkill for camping in Washington over Labor Day weekend. When we pulled the tent out of it's bag, Wade says, "Uh-Oh". You know that's usually a prelude to something not-so-good. Fortunately (for Wade), all that comment meant was that he grabbed the 4-season tent, rather than our 3-season tent, and NOT that we didn't have any necessary equipment like tent poles. Anyhow - it was our home away from home the evening of the concert.

Ahhh - the concert. What an awesome show! I wish I had some photos to post, but we didn't bring the camera into the venue. The Gorge is gorgeous! The backdrop of the stage is the Columbia River Gorge - spectacular! The DMB played a jammin' show - great tunes for dancing & having a grand old time. I think we hardly sat down for the 2.5 hour show. I'm convinced I need to own all of their albums & would readily attend another show. They are playing a benefit concert for Virginia Tech - great music & great guys! The downside to my concert experience was the aftermath of the concert goers who sat on the grass. As far as the eye could see there was trash. Argh - it just made me so angry! I live by the "Leave it Better Than You Found It" and "Pack it In, Pack it Out" philosophies, so I have a hard time comprehending why people think it is okay to leave their garbage around for someone else to pick up. Arghhh!!!

Sunday morning we headed back to Seattle. Since we couldn't check back into the hotel until 3, we had some time to kill. So... we:
Visited Seattle's Japanese Gardens. Not as spectacular as the one in Portland, but beautiful none the less. We were also blessed with fabulous weather.

Next up - Coffee!! Down in the University District (~45th) is a great little coffee shop that puts art into the foam of the coffee. According to a tour guide, the barristas have to train for three months in order to work there. It shows! Fun shapes & good coffee. Great way to hang out on a Sunday afternoon.

A leaf...

Nuclear Cloud? :0)


Deep Thoughts...

We topped off the weekend with a splurge at The Melting Pot Fondue restaurant. Ahh - cheese, bread, veggies, meat, chocolate - what's not to like? A great social dining experience.

Yes... Every weekend should be a three day weekend!