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

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Summer's Over...

Summer, for teachers and students is over. While teachers returned to work last Thursday, summer's end didn't feel official until today. Today students returned to the classroom. Some teachers think today is the easiest day to plan for: hand out textbooks, go over class rules/expectations, etc. Not me. I think it's one of the most difficult, as I see today as the one day where I can really make an impression on whether or not a student is going to enjoy being in my class. So, I agonize over what I'm going to do. How is my class going to be different, more memorable, even perhaps, more enjoyable than the ones experienced earlier in the day, or yet to come. So - in chemistry I don my tie-dye lab coat, put on the goggles & sing "We Dig Chemistry" loudly and proudly. Some students joined in & others sat in bewilderment, wondering what on earth they were in for during this school year. I figure if I can take a risk and put myself out there, so can they. Success follows risk taking. I certainly find it's more fun than going over rules - I figure I can go over those later & incorporate my philosophies and expectations by examples by what we do in class. "Hi Johnny, Welcome to class - oh, back row, huh? Don't you think you'd rather sit closer to the front in the "learning zone"?" Sure enough - Johnny moves & realizes I mean business. It's all good. Hands on demos & an inquiry based lab & before we know it, class is over & I've taught (and learned) some, the students learned some, and we had fun. Not a bad days' work.

You can see from the photo above that my boys also headed back to school. My big 4th (gasp!) grader is on the left, my 2nd grader on the right. Where does the time go? These photos were a bit impromptu & quick as I'd almost forgotten to take the annual first day of school photos. I usually do this in front of our fireplace, but today - a quick jump in the front yard had to do. My kids are in combo classes (1/2 and 3/4), and loop with their teachers, so both were able to slide right back into school as if an entire summer's worth of fun hadn't taken place. I'm so impressed with how independent they've become and easily settle into the expected educational routine. Very nice and comforting to know they'll do well and be fine as I zip off to do my educational gig.

On the knitting front, I have an FO to show:


Pattern: Orion Sock (The official sock of Sock Summit '09). No longer available to download from the site, but I did notice at Sock Summit that Blue Moon Fiber Arts was selling hard copies of the pattern - perhaps you could order directly from them.

Yarn: Koigu (dark blue) and Shibui (light blue = "River Rapids") One ball each. I had to dip into a second skein of the Koigu just for the ribbing of sock #2. Can you say, Stash Busting! :0)

Needle: Mostly a US 1 (2.25mm). However, after the fair isle on sock #1, I decided to move up a needle size to a 2.50mm for the fair isle on sock #2. This made it much easier to put sock #2 on over my heel.

Project Dates: Cast on during July & knit part of the foot of sock #1. Working on sock during our Lower 48 vacation & finished up on the plane ride home from Sock Summit on Aug. 9th. Overall a very quick knit. I'd certainly knit this again.

Even though school has commenced, I plan to keep knitting away & hope to share more FOs very soon.

OTN: "Hey Teach" = only 1 sleeve left to knit & then seaming.; Jeanne shawl = edging left, In Season (July RSC kit) = finished foot of sock #1, February Lady Sweater = finishing garter portion (once needles are free from Hey, Teach, I'll be ready to pick this up again.

Enjoy the remainder of your summer & knit on!


Friday, August 14, 2009

Summit Aftermath...

Sock Summit was kick-ass. I've already talked about the classes - learned some (forgot to mention the new way to SSK taught by Meg Swansen (slip as if to knit, slip next stitch as if to purl, knit both together), but was just pleased as punch to be in a class taught by such highly regarded knitters and designers. I was surrounded by like-minded peeps, or as Mrs. Q describes them - our tribe. It was so comforting that everyone there spoke my language & didn't find it odd at all that I was knitting on a sock, or that I draped said sock over the Sock Summit sign. Love my peeps.

The photo above is my wonderful MIL holding up the little sock she knit during the beginning socks on double points class. It's adorned with a wee ribbon & filled with a fragrant sachet. Wow - she's very pleased & as you can see, 2 of knitting rock stars, Stephanie & Tina are equally impressed. That was another thing I loved about SS09 - you could approach these wonderful knitters and they would talk and interact with you. I'm sure it was quite tiring for them being constantly approached by us star-struck knitters, but they were so gracious. Somehow I doubt other celebs would be as gracious.

What else was kick-ass? The marketplace. To quote my students: OMG! I wandered through Thursday afternoon and was totally overwhelmed (I blame the wool fumes). Everything was so pretty.... I was able to contain myself & bought nothing on my first venture through the market. I don't think I even saw everything because after about an hour and a half, everything just started to blur together & I became overwhelmed.

Luckily, on Friday and Saturday I was recovered enough to buy:

5 skeins of Dream in Color Classy - a worsted weight yarn that is sooooooo yummy. I was first introduced to this yarn when I knit the Tulip Cardigan & have been on a quest to find this so I can knit a sweater for myself. The color way is "Happy Forest" - remind me of that painter guy on PBS who always painted "Happy Little Trees and Happy Little Clouds". I think this yarn is destined to be Norah Gaughan's Eastlake pullover (rav link) when it grows up.

Look what else just happened to jump in my bag....

More Dream in Color - but this time the sock weight, smooshy. However, the 3 skeins I purchased are not destined for a sock, but for a Waves in the Square Shawl (rav link) designed by Sivia Harding.

What I loved about this colorway was that it was dyes specifically for Sock Summit & it won't be available again.

But wait.... There's more!! Flashin' more stash:

"School Supplies" by Knitted Wit. I'd used her yarn in my Tessuto Socks & loved it. She also left me a message saying she'd grown up in Sitka, AK and likes to meet fellow Alaskans. So - when I wandered by her booth, I just had to buy more. The gal who took care of my house & pets while we were away always bugs me about knitted socks & likes bright colors. So.... I thought this was a perfect colorway - very timely for this time of year.

Another Knitted Wit creation called "Take Steps". This colorway is destined to become socks for my boys. I hope I can squeeze 2 pairs of child sized socks from this skein. Perhaps something simple... When asked what color socks they both wanted, they rattled off a litany of colors & started to describe something that would end up requiring intarsia to knit. I. Think. Not. Camouflage was also another request, but I didn't really like any "Camo" colorways I came across. So - this is what I found & both my guys think it's perfect.

I knew I wouldn't leave without something from Blue Moon. I just love their yarns & colorways. I think I'd have to say that STR is one of my faves. So - in honor of Sock Summit, I had to have the colorway "Sock Gate".

No self-respecting chemistry teacher could pass up a colorway called "Carbon Dioxide". I know the pictures are crap (thanks cloudy, rainy skies) - but it's a colorway that, if you could see CO2, works perfectly. A nice mix of greys, blues, and greens. Perhaps a pair of Nanner socks by Wendy Johnson are in order. Or.... perhaps I'll have to find a pattern with a very scientific name.

This is "Beached". I just liked the colors, but after 3 weeks of eating & feeling like a beached whale at times, very apropros.

Hmmm - seems I've left out another skein - a BMFA skein of Twisted in the "Jubilation" colorway. I purchased this on a whim after admiring my friend Sandy's Sea Lettuce scarf by Lucy Neatby. Other purchases include Jared Flood's new book & sets of stitch markers created by (and featured in the Fall edition of VK) knitwit momma.

Yes - a very full 4 days, and I didn't even attend the Sock Hop, Opening Reception, or the Luminary Panel! I arrived at the Rav party late due to dinner out with friends and family. But - no regrets, it was a great time & if there is another Sock Summit (which rumors say there will be - just not next year), you can count me in!

Okay - off to decompress from returning to work by knitting & enjoying a good Petite Syrah.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summit Conquered!

I'm back....

Where to begin? (Start at the very beginning.... it's a very good place to start) - Pardon me while I escort Maria Von Trapp out of the kitchen....

Sock Summit was fantastic. Of course it was - anything organized by two of the knitterati's most prominent members couldn't be anything but awesome.

The photo to the left is of the signs posted all over the convention center (with the exception of near the elevators from the parking garage....). I just had to have the Orion sock pose for a quick shot. I so desperately wanted one of these signs. At one point I thought about commandeering the sign with my great friends creating a distraction so I could make my get-away. However - at the time I'd overlooked that the sign was hanging outside the police office within the convention center. Oops. So - rational thought prevailed & the sign was left in place. Besides - how could I have fit it in my luggage?

Wednesday: Registration day! My MIL and I arrived from Sacramento late afternoon & after a brief Seinfeld moment at the rental car desk, met friend Sandy at registration - under the:

dragon boat! The realization that Sock Summit was actually occurring hadn't yet sunk in. I did run into Stephanie P.M. & got over my nervousness about being in the same room with her & approached her to thank her for all of the work she had done to make the summit a reality. I hope I didn't come off as a total gibbering idiot.

Thursday: Day 1 of Classes! :0) My morning found me taking "Moccasin Socks" with Meg Swansen and her assistant, Amy Detjen. What a hoot! I was taking a class from Elizabeth Zimmerman' daughter! I loved it when she referred to EZ as "Ma" - it was classic. Honestly I don't think I needed to take this class to knit the moccasin, but I did learn something new - knitting backwards!!! Meg explained that sometimes when working back and forth, turning the work can be such a pain. So - she examined the knit stitch carefully from the 'other side' and determined she didn't have to turn her work to knit and/or purl back. She could just knit backwards. Crazy! Of course - I was hell bent on finishing my moccasin (I didn't - just a few rows short), so I didn't give the knitting backwards technique much time. But the fact that Meg figured this out is just crazy - I'll have to try it. I'm constantly astonished how clever some people are.

In the haste to secure a class during registration, I signed up for a mini toe-up sock for Thursday afternoon. I didn't pay much attention to what this class was about other than the date, time, and that I didn't have to do any homework. I was hoping to learn how to knit a better short row heel (another class....). So - imagine my surprise when I come to find out the class was being taught by Yarnissima! Her real name is Marjan Hammink. It wasn't until after she'd passed out examples of her socks with the interesting gusset architecture that it clicked who she was. I'm so slow.... Again - nothing new learned in this class as I'd already learned to cable without a cable needle, but I'd made a new knitting friend - GoatLady on Ravelry!

I have to say probably the best part of Sock Summit was meeting blog friends in real life. On Wednesday I had the pleasure of meeting up with Naomi of gnomiejo knits! Then, on Thursday - I met Michele of PDXKnitterati. Here we are in the Knitted Wit! booth:

By chance during a bathroom break, I ran into Ms. Quimby in the hallway! We were both a bit incoherent, without cameras, but as luck would have it - we were sitting in the same row during the World Record attempt on Friday:

Here she proudly displays her bit of knitting (washcloth? swatch?) accomplished during our 15 minutes of fame. I must point out that this photo was taken after the 15 minutes - I can attest that during the 15 minutes I was actively knitting (photo later) and was not operating a camera.
Yes - we are a part of history. We were 2 of the 935 knitters gathered at the Oregon Convention Center on Friday, August 7th to knit continuously on 2 (not 4!) needles for 15 minutes. Crazy! Magic loop is my method of choice, and I didn't even bring straight needles with me. Fortunately, my BKFF, Winston's Mom came to my rescue with some BIG (size 13??) purple acrylic (yes - acrylic) needles. She's such a life saver.

Earlier in the day I was taking J.C. Briar's Bind-Off Bonanza. We'd knit 9 (yes - 9!) small swatches to practice various bind-off techniques. Most I'd tried before, but a couple were new & pretty slick. The best however was the tubular bind off. It's a great technique to use for toe-up socks & incorporates double knitting - something I'd learned at Madrona, but haven't practiced since.

Wow - I think I could just ramble on & on about Sock Summit & still not be able to put together a coherent, descriptive sentence that could do the experience justice.

I'll have to continue later.... today was our first day back at work. I hear the wine bottle calling my name...


Monday, August 3, 2009


I interrupt this 3-week vacation to present not 1, but TWO FOs:

"Rainbow Sherbet Socks"

Pattern: Tessuto Socks - The July Knit/Purl Sock Club installment

Yarn: Knitted Wit in "Saturday Market" colorway

Needles: US 2 (2.75 mm)

Comments: A great, toe-up, slipped stitch pattern. Very easy & relatively fast to knit. I really like the texture the slipped-stitch creates. The texture plus the colorway reminds me of rainbow sherbet. I'm not crazy about the short-row garter stitch heel - but I think that's more a function of my ability with the short row heel rather than the pattern. For some reason I've lost my heel mojo - I need to go & inspect earlier projects to recreate acceptable SRH. My only real issue with the socks is that they are a bit looser than I'd like. I think either a smaller stitch count, or a smaller needle size would take care of this. Otherwise, a great sock to take (and finish!) on vacation. I cast these on after we took off from Anchorage & finished the foot by the time we landed in LAX.



Pattern(s): Just in case you've been out of touch with the knitting world, it's the infamous Baby Surprise Jacket (BSJ) designed by Elizabeth Zimmerman. This baby sweater pattern is the work of a knitting genius (EZ, not me!). Again, I'd forgotten to take a photo of the sweater before I'd seamed up the arms - it really looks like an amoeba!

The booties are the Saartje's Bootees. These are just the right accessory for this sweater & helps to use up most of the skein of yarn.

Yarn: BMFA Socks That Rock, Mediumweight - "Typhoon Tina" colorway.

Needles: US 4 KPH (Knit Pick Harmony)

Recipient: My dear friend, Hilarey's baby "David Matthew" (at least that's what I've named him until further notice). I hope the weather in San Diego gets cool enough after he's born (he's due in Nov) so he can actually wear a knitted wool garment.

So I guess that's actually 3 FOs! Wow - however, most of the knitting of the BSJ was completed back in May, and the booties were finished during our June Alaska road trip (gee - I still need to post about that!) Only the socks were truly cast on & finished during our recent vacation.

Less than one week of vacation left, but plenty of fun to be had. Sock Summit begins this week! Here's what I'm working on:

Pattern: "Orion's Sock" - the official sock of Sock Summit 09. This was a pattern available through the Sock Summit swag shop. Rumor has it that it's no longer available to download. Perhaps it'll resurface during SS09. Most of the sock (gusset to ribbed cuff) was completed during our 10 hour drive from Las Vegas to Sacramento.

Off to cast on sock #2. Hope to bring the blog up to speed on San Diego, Las Vegas, and Sock Summit.