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

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Where did February Go? *Epic Post*

The original title of this post was going to be "February Funk". I can't believe I can look back on February & have no finished knitting to share. It's not like I wasn't knitting - I just wasn't finishing. So - in the interest of bringing the post 'up-to-date', I'll do a quick synopsis of what I've been up to:

FIRST Technology Challenge

5 members of my science club said they wanted to participate in the FIRST tech challenge (FTC). This is a program where students obtain a kit of parts from LEGO and design, build, and program a robot to perform certain tasks. For more information, go here. It's not as intense as the FRC (big robot), so I figured this was doable - with me knowing nothing about building robots and all. The Alaska state competition was held up in Fairbanks over the Feb. 21st weekend. Of course, our schools don't have anything budgeted for academic competitions (don't even get me started), so my kids had to fund their way ~$400 each. We flew (only 1 hour trip) & stayed at a local hotel for the weekend. The University of Alaska, Fairbanks hosted the event & covered the meals (at the student commons) for the kids - it was great! My husband also had a team competing, so we also took our munchkins along. Boy - they thought the UAF cafeteria was the best place on earth; pizza, cereal, and ice cream all in one spot - what more could a kid ask for? It'll be interesting to see how their opinions about college food changes when they are older. So - I figured we'd be all done on Feb. 22, the day we flew back to Anchorage & then I'd have 2 weeks before the start of the high school soccer season to hang out & knit (and finish???).

Yeah - not so much. Something about those best laid plans and all. Go figure - my team won the entire competition! Not just won, but dominated all qualifying rounds, won the quarter final by one point (that sprouted a few gray hairs), and won a very close final match after our robot died with a minute left to go. Our 'bot got bumped by another 'bot, the flag pole fell off - to which the POWER SWITCH was attached (hello - why didn't I notice that earlier!) & essentially fell in such a way to shut itself off. Fortunately the other robot alliance had driving issues & when they were about to score the winning pucks, they got hung up on our robot & couldn't finish.

So - with winning the entire competition, and winning the INSPIRE award, (FIRST's highest honor), we've received an invitation to compete in the National (billed as World) FTC Competition in April. Only trick is - the competition is in Atlanta, Georgia & as I've mentioned before, our district has no $$ to help out with an academic competition (robotics = applied science, math, engineering, & computer programming => extremely academic). So now we're scrambling for funds. BP has already turned us down. So now, in addition to teaching, and knitting, I'm encouraging my students to become child beggars & ask for $$ to support their trip. So much for a nice relaxing 2 weeks before soccer begins!!!

See - robotics ate up my February. Hubby has been down in Portland, Oregon for the FRC (big robot) regional competition for the past week, so I've been 'single mom' for a while. Doesn't leave too much time or energy to knit in the evenings. At least it's now the beginning of spring break. Yesterday we went to a friend's house for the annual Iditarod Breakfast. We spend the early parts of the morning eating yummy food & then bundle up to walk a smidge to line the trails & watch the dog mushers come by. The weather was glorious - nice bright & warm sunshine. Yesterday was the ceremonial start from Anchorage. Today the mushers set out on the 1049 mile trek to Nome from Willow, AK. I only took one picture of a team & one of the boys. I guess I was side tracked w/socializing w/friends too much.

Bundled up for fun!

Musher coming up the trail

Knitting Ahead!

Okay - here's the reward for slogging through this rambling post - knitting stuff! As I said, while I didn't finish anything in February, that doesn't mean I wasn't knitting.

Leyburns Pair #2:

Colorway: Carbon Dating (any knitter who is a chemistry teacher must have this colorway)
Yarn: Socks That Rock, lightweight

I modified this from the 1st pair I knit. I decided to add a heel flap / gusset construction. I first knit the gusset using the Cleopatra's stocking pattern as I thought those looked pretty cool. However, I began the gusset too late, so the sock was a bit too long. So - rip, rip, rip. I then looked up Wendy's basic toe-up pattern & used that. Of course, the 1st time through the heel didn't look right & I somehow got off center. Rip, rip, rip. Third time's a charm, right? The stitch count is only 60 stitches on the leg - makes it a bit more snug, although getting the sock over the heel is a tad tight. I've already begun sock #2 & I'm at the gusset increases. Hopefully February Finishing Funk will lead into March Madness in finished objects!

Queen of Beads - RSC January Kit

I am in no way a queen of beads! While I love the pattern & the finished product, I don't see myself working on a beaded project ever again. First - you have to pre-string all of the beads. The pattern calls for 190 beads per sock for a size medium. This assumes you are going to include beads on the instep. Yikes! I couldn't fathom having beads inside my shoes, and the fact that I began hating adding beads to yarn meant I only added 118 beads to the yarn - perfect amount (by sheer good fortune) to end the beads at the heel flap.

There are several methods for adding beads. The crochet hook method can not be used with this pattern as that method puts the beads on top of a stitch while this pattern calls for beads between the stitches. I used a Big "Eye" needle - a long thin loop of wire - slide one end of the yarn through, poke pointy end of needle into bead, and then pull down onto the yarn. Yeah - getting the beads over the double thickness of the yarn loop turned out to be a real bear. This is what I ended up with after threading the beads for the 2nd sock:

Lots of little pieces as the needle would break the yarn. Extremely frustrating - I think the wire actually bit through the yarn loop making it weak. I bought some threader floss for beading sock #2 (see Naomi's post here) but apparently purchased the wrong kind - so now I'm all set for good oral hygiene instead.
Beading in groups of ten makes it easier to keep track of numbers.

Once the beading portion of the leg is finished (I knit an extra repeat so the socks would be longer), the pattern goes rather quickly. I just seem to find knitting with beads interrupts the flow.

Pattern Detail. It is beautiful & I know I'll love the finished product. As soon as I finish the 2nd Leyburn, I'm committed to getting these done.

Okay - I do have a few more WIPs to share, but I think I save those for later - a motivation to return to blogging with a tad bit more regularity!

Until then ciao!


pdxknitterati said...

I love the beaded sock, but it does seem like a lot of effort for something that most people won't see! Can you wear them with a skirt?


Holly Jo said...

For the life of me, I have never understood knitting with beads BECAUSE it does seems to interrupt the flow of knitting. They are gorgeous though - product not process knitting, I guess.

Wow! Busy time for you! Exciting your students met such success, but still, it has got to be grueling. Made February go fast, that is always a perk, right?

Teena in Toronto said...

Good job on the socks!

Happy blogoversary!

Naomi said...

How can you be done with all this already? You are amazing! I am falling behind on the RSC.

I love how my Queen of Beads are turning out but it is a bit!

Congrats on the FTC. That is WAY cool!!