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

Friday, February 29, 2008

Happy Leap Day!!

Just when I was wondering what to blog about, the answer revealed itself! When I got home from work today, my Scavenger Hunt Swap package was waiting for me. Thank you Wendy!!!

The premise of the swap was to find items related to themes. At least 4 items had to be fiber-related. Here's the run-down:

Something Hard: The book, "Arctic Lace" - Knitting projects and stories inspired by Alaska's Native Knitters. Hard indeed! I've only started to tackle a lace project & oy-vay! I think that let's you know how the Secret of the Stole project is coming along. (Can you say only row 26 on Clue #1? I think I'm now 6 clues behind)

Something Round: A retractable measuring tape. I can never have too many of these.

Something Local: A coffee mug depicting the Cherry Blossoms in Washington, D.C. - Wendy is supporting my coffee addiction.

Something related to the letter "T": Yummy Chocolate/Coffee Treats! All dark chocolate + coffee - Can't forget the cool coffee bean stitch markers. Most excellent.

Something Funny: One of those toys that when you turn it upside down it makes a mooing sound. I think the sound is supposed to be a sheep (sheep are in the picture).

Spoiler's Choice: Yarn Yuminess! Last time I checked, sock yarn doesn't count in the stash, right?

Something Green: A knitting pattern for a dissected frog! Isn't that too cool? It is absolutely perfect & so clever. I have just the right yarn to use. As an anatomy teacher this is so fantastic! I think I know what my biology teacher friends are going to receive for Christmas gifts next year. :0)

I'm still waiting on my 'something funny' to arrive so I can send of a package to my downstream pal. There was a mistake by the vendor, so they are fixing it.

Well - the kids & hubby aren't home, so I need to sign off & take advantage of the quiet.

Ciao ~

P.S. - I think it took 5 times to get the van up the driveway today. Some good the new tires designed in Finland for ice & snow did.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

How Many...

... times does it take to drive a vehicle up an icy driveway? Due to the recent freeze/thaw/freeze cycle we've experienced, our driveway has become a glacier.

Our driveway is a bit steep. Perhaps this spring I'll go out & actually do a wee-bit of math & calculate it's slope. Trust me - it's steep.

How steep? Well - so steep that once you start backing down the driveway, there is no stopping until you hit the bottom & potentially the ice/snow berm on the other side of the street.

So steep that I did a 180° turn when I was coming up the driveway today. Yup - that means I spun around & then was pointing down the driveway. It's during times like these that I regret not putting the studded tires on the car. After 3 tries, I made it up.

So steep that walking down the driveway to retrieve the mail is placing your life (or integrity of your bones and joints) at risk.

Hmmm - me thinks it's time for some ice melt (calcium chloride or something equivalent) & a date with an axe. Yeah - I'll get right on that. (as soon as I finish knitting sleeve #2)

Ciao ~

Saturday, February 23, 2008


In 4m 4s

Click here to Play
Wow - I thought I'd do better than that. I focused on the West Coast - those small East coast states were off the screen, so I kinda forgot about them. Hmm - I think I can do better, but must resist. :0)

Okay - I really mean it now - back to knitting! (My competitive nature just couldn't let me stop). Oh - and now I know you don't have to capitalize the states, or hit return - once it's typed in correctly, it automatically moves on.
Back to knitting if I ever hope to finish a sweater.

Edited Post @ 9:47pm: Okay - off to bed now. This is really getting ridiculous. :0)

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Madrona = Husband of the Year

Wow - what a great long weekend! I have to dedicate this post to my fantabulous hubby. In case I hadn't mentioned it earlier, (yeah, right), I spent the last 5 (yes, 5) days down in Tacoma, WA. My fab-friend, Winston's Mom & I headed south to visit Sandy & attend the Madrona Winter Retreat. This wouldn't have been possible if DH hadn't been so cooperative & understanding about my desire to spend a long weekend & Valentine's Day away from home & knitting. Now, he's pretty darned cool about these things (considering I've been to Europe twice for 3 weeks each while he stayed home w/the boys), but this weekend he truly went above and beyond. You see, President's Day weekend is the final weekend he and his Robotics Team have to finish their F.I.R.S.T. robot. They spend hours (and I do mean hours - I dub myself the "Robot Widow" during this time) putting on the finishing touches to their robot. So, to have me go & leave him to single parent-hood for 5 days speaks volumes about what an incredible husband he is. Please remember not only was he busy w/robots, but he also had to get the boys up & ready for school, make sure they were fed, and get them to their various activities (Jr. Nordic, Youth Soccer, & a birthday party). Wow...

On to Madrona. One Word - WOW! My head is full. It was incredible - to be among such creative and talented people! I'm constantly amazed at how someone can come up with some of the most incredible and creative ideas. Here's the run down:

Thursday, Feb. 14th, 2008

• Took an all day class entitled "Art Socks" with Sue Ewens. Fantastic. Essentially I learned how to do Intarsia for a sock. Pretty darned cool. Sue was an incredible teacher with tons of energy and enthusiasm. I was most impressed when asked about her favorite sock/knitting books she replied she really didn't have one since relying on a book might stifle her creative side. Me - I totally need the books & patterns. One day I'd love to learn how to design, but I don't think I'm quite there, yet. I understand the construction of a sock, but haven't felt the need to dabble in designing my own sock. However, after this class I have a better idea about how to use all my extra sock yarn! Here's a photo of my day's efforts:

Can you say, "end management"? Holy Schnikey - them's a lot of ends to weave in.... Sue didn't want us to weave as we went since we were just learning a new technique. However, in the future - in order to maintain my sanity (????) I think weaving as I go is the safest choice.

After dinner at the bar at Sea Grill (we kinda forgot it was Valentine's Day & that getting in for dinner might be a tad bit difficult), we returned to the hotel for a presentation about knitting & charity. Stephanie spoke about Doctors Without Borders / Medicines Sans Frontiers, Ruth Sorenson spoke about how the internet links knitters together, Melinda and friends (sorry, forgot their names) discussed a project to save a culture knitting on the Shetland Islands, and another woman discussed her efforts to use fiber arts in raising awareness over the war in Iraq, specifically about the number of women (over 2,000) killed while serving our country. Pretty intense. We were asked to give to any of the charities - knitters tend to be generous folks.

Ruth is also the designer of "Ruth's Cardigan" which uses Kauni yarn and was an internet hit after Stephanie and Melinda posted about this fabulous sweater on there blogs. So, as expected , several knitters showed up wearing 'the sweater.'

Back Row (L to R): Unknown knitter, Ruth, Naomi, Melinda.
Front Row (L to R): Unknown knitter, Stephanie, Unknown knitter.

Friday, Feb. 15, 2008

No Classes for Me today. The registration for Madrona was such a technological cluster, that I wasn't able to enroll in a class I wanted for this day. So, while Margaret & Sandy were busy with their morning classes, I took the time to stroll down to the local Starbucks for coffee, and then spent time knitting and shopping at the Yarn Market. OMG - man, I was like a kid in a candy store. I went into shock after I arrived home & realized how much $$ I actually spent. But, I kept in mind that what I purchased isn't readily available here in Anchorage (internet not withstanding. Check out the loot:

The infamous Kauni Yarn in colorways EF & EZ.

This is a close-up of the innards of EF. I'll need to rewind it before I knit it. As someone in my Sunday afternoon class said, the way it's wound now, you'd need a Speculum in order to see the colors. Needless to say, a class full of women thought that was pretty darned funny. For you male readers (okay - male reader - Hi, Ron!), I've provided a link to Wikipedia in case you aren't familar with this object.

This isn't some sort of towel - this is sock yarn!!! It's the "NEW concept in sock knitting" created by Conjoined Creations, llc. Essentially - the yarn has been machine knit and then hand dyed. All I need to do is remove the waste yarn, CO and knit a sock. When I get to the middle, I remove the other waste yarn (shown behind tag) and knit sock #2. No need to wind a ball of yarn. No tangles! See what I mean? Clever knitters!

Blue Moon was present, so of course I couldn't leave without a few more skeins of STR. Star Saphire in the middle, Bleeding Hearts on the right. The colorway on the far left is:

As a science teacher, I just couldn't pass it up! :0)

Margaret & I spent the afternoon going to see Juno. If you haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend it. So funny!!! I think I need to go & see it again. We also stumbled into "Hello Cupcake" this very cute shop that sells only yummy cupcakes.

Margaret with the goods. Turns out we were so busy, that we didn't get a chance to eat all of the cupcakes before we came home.

Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008

• This morning was spend with Margaret Radcliff, of Maggie's Rags learning about variegated yarns & how to make the most of them. I learned so much & came away with ideas on how to avoid pooling & wierd stripes. Remember the "Funky Monkey's" from September? Yeah - this class would have been a great help. Here is what I have to show for 3 hours of work:

A little play with slipped stitches, alternating purl stitches, mixing it up w/two colors of yarn alternating between rows, knitting two yarns at once, etc. Pretty cool. Margaret was inspired by her swatch & purchased yarn to begin a sweater. I think I'll use my creation as a bookmark. Right now it's hanging in my classroom. My students just got a kick out the fact I went away for a long weekend to knit. Kids...

After lunch, I spent more time knitting & then perusing the Yarn Market. While visiting the Knit/Purl (lovely store w/lovely people!) booth, I met Sarah of Blue Garter. I recognized her by the "Blue Thistle"jacket. I just love that sweater & would love to make something similar. I was such a dork. Sarah was very sweet & kindly overlooked my dorkiness as I gushed about her sweater & meeting her in person. Geez...

The evening was spent dining at the banquet. We had Salmon - the non-vegetarian option. It was good, but of course, not like we make here at home. The vegetarian option looked very yummy & in hindsight, I wish I had made that choice. (Didn't know it was going to be salmon until we arrived). During the evening, we spotted a Kaffe Fawcett "Foolish Virgins" sweater in person! Holy Intarsia, batman! The woman (sorry, we were so intranced with the sweater, I forgot to ask) said it took her only a month to finish. Take a look:


Ummm.. Wow...

After the banquet I finished these:

Pattern: Dublin Bay Socks
Yarn: Socks That Rock Lightweight - Lagoon
Needles: Addi Turbo Size 1
Modfications: Tons - reduced the number of stitches from 72 to 64 & knit a short row heel.

Sunday, Feb. 17, 2008

This is the post that will never end... After a free morning to drink coffee & enjoy ice-less streets & warm sunshine in February, I had the pleasure of taking a class from Ruth Sorenson. The class was about making hats using the Kauni yarn. The skill of making the hat was nothing new, but learning how the yarn works was fantastic. Learning how to match the colors, or stagger the color repeats was very interesting.

This is the cuff of the hat. The hat is knit very similar to those I knit from "Hat's On" (see Dec/Jan posts)

So far, so good. Ruth was an incredible teacher. She is so nice & down to earth. If you happen to be in the Portland area, she's teaching this class at Knit/Purl this coming weekend. Give them a call - you'll love learning how to use the yarn.

Wow - it's getting late & I have to head back into the blustery weather (it's 40°F and blowing like crazy). Our program is having our open house this evening.

If you've read all the way through - well done! Needless to say anymore, the long weekend was glorious. So much to knit, so little time! You can see why my husband deserves Husband of the Year! I know I've left something out. I'll have to fill in the holes later.


Friday, February 8, 2008


Man - I'm so glad it's Friday. Right now Alaska is suffering from a severe cold snap. As I type, it's -6.5°F. We've been waking up to temperatures hovering around -15°F. I can only imagine what it's like in interior AK - BRRRRRR!

I'm especially glad the end of the work week is here because I have a glimmer of hope there will be time to relax this weekend. Today was our last "Elementary Science Day" of the year. Our science club, of which I am the sponor, visits several elementary schools throughout the school year to share our love of science. My students lead elementary aged students through various hands-on science activities ranging from chemical changes to squid dissection. It's a lot of work for both me and the organizing person at the elementary school, but man - is it rewarding!! The week leading up to each science day adds more grey hairs and wrinkles. I'm always worried about something, but of course - my students, being the wonderful kids that they are, always do a fantastic job. Watching teenagers interact with young children is such a hoot.

Today we went to my children's school. One of the defining characteristics of this school is the role parents play. Since I'm also a teacher, my schedule doesn't allow me to spend as much time in the elementary classrooms as I'd like. Sure, I help with book orders & outside jobs, but don't get the chance to immerse myself into the school day. Coming to the school w/my science club allows me to spend the entire day in the school.

Here my students lead the younger ones on a dinosaur dig. This activity was a hit! One planned activity was to dig dinosaurs out of 'eggs' (made from plaster of paris) and analyze the 'fossils'. Unfortunately, the eggs were a bit too hard....

Orion really enjoyed the 'secret writing' at the Forensics station. Students learned about fingerprints and how to make secret messages using an acid/base indicator and windex.

More of the dino dig.

Science shouldn't be about reading a book and answering questions. Science should be about 'doing' and getting your hands dirty. Here students are looking at the mantle of a squid. After the dissection & learning about invertebrates, we made calamari - yum!

Science day is perfect for those busy kindergarteners! Here Iain demonstrates how to make ice cream in a bag. Mix the solution, surround it with salted ice (to depress the freezing point), wrap in newspaper for insulation & the shake, shake, shake! The kindys were asked to jump, shake & count to 100 - and they did! Amazing! Don't you love the tongue sticking out? I do that too when I'm concentrating - must be genetic.

All in all, a fabulous day w/fabulous kids. The next time you read about teenagers doing something stupid, please remember, for every 'bad kid' you read about - there are tons more out there doing great things that don't receive the recognition they deserve. We're in good hands.

And what does a science teacher do after a very busy day with teenagers and elementary students?

Duh... Sock #1 of a very simple, brain-less sock (details to follow later). It's a comforting knit during a cold night after a busy day.

Happy Knitting...


Monday, February 4, 2008

Fire & Ice

Just a quick note - if you don't want to see the completed January Rockin' Sock Club socks - quickly go to another page....

Here's the 'Fire on the Ice' - my socks remind me of Fire & well, to put it bluntly it's damned cold here in Anchorage. (-15°F this morning; right now it's -8.3°F)

Here they are - in all of their glory. What a fabulous 1st kit for the 2008 Rockin' Sock Club. This is my first year as a member after missing the deadline by a few days last year. Wow - I certainly was not disappointed.


Pattern: Serendipity by Adrienne Fong

Yarn: STR Lightweight in Dragon Dance

Needles: Addi Turbo US 1 / 2.50 mm - Magic Loop

Cast On: January 29, 2008 ~2:15 during SWS Staff Meeting

Completion Date: February 4, 2008 ~1:30 during SWS Teacher workday.

What a fast knit!! I blame the yarn. The Color is 'Dragon Dance' and since Dragons are magical creatures, this yarn cast a spell over me. I've never had such a monogamous relationship with a project (sans the Sock Wars socks - but that was fueled by my competitive nature). My sweater - nothing; The Secret of the Stole ii - Not a stitch (let's forget the fact I'm now 2 clues behind). I couldn't help it - all I wanted to do was finish these socks! I'm so happy I perservered. New things were learned & improved:

A short row heel. I've only knit 1 toe-up sock which utilized a short row heel & I was not pleased with the results. Looking at the photo above - I'm pleased as punch. One side of the heel on sock #1 doesn't look that great (of course - I'm not going to show you...), but needless to say I improved by sock #2. I think I just was more aware of the need to tighten up the w&t (wrap & turn).

Here is the pattern detail. The color of the yarn was inspired by the Dragon Dance - a ritual of the Chinese New Year. The dyers notes explain the lace pattern reminded her of 'little candle flames' or 'maybe a parade of lanterns.' Yes - I agree! The stripes aren't exactly like the photo - but that's what makes my socks unique for me, right? Of course - it's all about gauge. The pattern called for Size 1 / 2.25 mm needles & it seems Addi Turbos are slightly bigger, so my stripes are different. They do line up quite nicely on the feet! :0)

So - chalk up an 'F' for February credit in SAM5 . I also have a cool pair of socks to wear when I head to the Madrona Winter Retreat next week. I'm so excited!!! :0) More on that later...

Ciao - Off to work on another pair of STR socks. :0)

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Do You Remember this? - It's the Sweet Baby Cardigan that the Yarn Harlot raved about last spring. Of course - I jumped on that bandwagon & knit one up for my niece. I was so pleased with the results & the yarn - oh, the yarn. Dream in color, is just so... dreamy. Anyhow, I couldn't imagine how this sweater could get any better...

Well - now I know. Sweaters for babies are always better on the actual baby. Don't you agree - take a look... Here's my new niece sporting her new duds...

Isn't she just the cutest thing? And smart too - I imagine she read this book on her first try. Don't you just love the baby 'comb over'? Just like her grandpa.... (Are comb-overs a genetic thing? I must have missed that lecture during my undergraduate studies....)

Ooh - don't you just want to give her a big hug? Unfortunately, my new baby niece lives almost as far away as you can get from Anchorage, AK - on the East Coast. Fortunately, her mommy, my younger sister, has agreed to fly over 12 hours w/a 6 month old to visit this March (ha ha ha ha ha....). I can't wait to meet her in person & give her a big ole' Auntie smooch. Of course, I can't wait until she's a teenager & gives her parents all sorts of grief. (Said by a mother of two boys, a teacher of teenage girls, and a woman who can remember what she was like as a teenager). Oh - Niece S. and I are going to have lots to talk about. :0)

But - here is my favorite picture of Niece S. sporting her new sweater her Auntie made especially for her....

"I Don't Want to Wear This Sweater, Mommy!!!!"

Yup - it doesn't get better than that. :0)