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

Monday, May 31, 2010

Road Trip 2010: Coast to Coast

We're hitting the road again for the summer of 2010. Hubby and I figured we bought our 2003 Eurovan for the specific purpose of being able to travel the wide open road to our hearts content. You'll remember in 2007 we embarked on our first journey to the west coast & several National Parks. Then in 2008 we launched a more ambitious trip traveling to Wisconsin and covering almost 14,000 miles.

This year we're trying to outdo ourselves by driving all of the way to Washington D.C. Should prove to have loads of fun along the way. Anticipated highlights of our journey:

1) Camping throughout Canada with stops at Liard Hot Springs, Banff, and Jasper

2) Wisconsin to visit Orion's godparents & our dear friends Jen & Steve plus their two young daughters.

3) Washington D.C. My sister and her family live about 30 miles south of D.C., so we'll use that as a home base for the time we're visiting D.C.

4) A drive north to visit my fabulous aunt in New Jersey

5) A quick stop in PA to see a friend

6) Return to Wisconsin so Wade can attend RUSH concert #1 (of 3!!) on July 3rd.

7) Drive west to California w/unplanned stops along the way

8) Trip to Toronto July 15 - 19th to celebrate my 40th & for Wade to attend RUSH concert #2 with his brother. (fly in and out of SFO)

9) Return trip home with stops in Oregon and Washington.

10) Listening to the 2010 World Cup when we can't watch the matches using Sirius Satellite radio.

Of course - I'll share our journey along the way. I'm looking for some sort of off-line blogging software (suggestions?) so I can easily keep updated with our adventures & then post when we have internet access.

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Who Doesn't need a pair of 100% wool mittens when it's 86°F outside?


Pattern: Wood Hollow Mittens (rav link) by Kirsten Kapur of Through The Loops

Yarn: Cascade 220 Tweed - leftovers from my Tangled Yoke Not-Cardigan. The irony? I still had leftovers, cast on for a matching hat & will need to buy more of this yarn if I want to finish the hat (I'm 2/3 of the way done, so ripping out in favor of a different project isn't an option). I see a very unfriendly loop of sorts in my future - buy new skein, finish hat, have leftovers still, cast on different project, need more yarn, buy more yarn, etc. Arghhhh - 2010 is supposed to be about stash reduction!

Needles: KPO US5. Should have used a US6, but since the US5 tips were already on the cable from the TYNC, I just sallied forth...

Time Frame: Not exactly sure, but I think it probably took me around a week of on & off knitting.

Overall a fun knit & great addition to the knit gift basket.


Saturday, May 29, 2010

Science Lessons For the Day

Since our family is set to embark on a major road trip in the next several days (I still need to blog about the details, huh?) & hubby is out of town attending a friend's wedding, we decided to stick around town this long weekend. The boys and I had yet to check out the new Imaginarium at the Anchorage museum. Saturday afternoon seemed a great time to utilize our membership & stimulate the minds beyond DS and Wii video games.

The photo to the left is called "String Theory". A nifty exhibit using light & motion. Many of the exhibits in the imaginarium focus on physics & boy did it remind me of how much I've forgotten since college.

O was very proud of his use of the Bernoulli Effect (Cool YouTube Video by Science Theatre here) and ability to get two balls to hover over a fast moving stream of air. You can easily accomplish this scientific feat at home with a blow dryer & ping pong balls. Kids love it (we do this as part of my science club's Elementary Science Day program) & you can use it to discuss the ideas of lift.

A favorite exhibit was the IR sensor. The kids sat in front of an InfraRed sensor & had their thermal images projected on a screen. IJ has always run at a higher temp than others - if I'm ever chilly, I just snuggle up to him & warm up almost instantly. It was pretty obvious that his temp is naturally higher. This was a lot of fun.

IJ couldn't wait to get to the bubble center. He was a bit disappointed that the large bubble wand (the one attached to ropes that you pull & envelope yourself within a bubble) didn't work very well. He was placated by the smaller versions & spent a significant amount of time creating large, long bubbles. Using the bubble wall, I demonstrated the idea of "Like dissolves Like" by soaping up my hands & placing them through the bubble film without breaking the bubble. He and other kids thought that was pretty cool. As long as your hands/fingers are soapy - the bubble will not pop. As soon as skin not coated in bubble juice touches the bubble, it will pop. Here's another fun YouTube video discussing hydrogen bonding, surface tension, and cohesion using a bubble wall like the one found in the Imaginarium. I think that's one of the cool things about being a science teacher - being able to invoke such awestruck moments in kids.

Science rules! Ciao~

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Not Knitting

I did promise to post about some crafty endeavors soon, I just didn't promise that craftiness would involve knitting. I am knitting - finishing a neck cowl, using up yarn from the TYC on a pair of mittens, and even working on a summer shrug. However, my latest endeavor involved this:
A Quilt!! I've dabbled a bit into sewing and have made a couple of hand tied quilts many, many years ago. It just so happens that my favorite LYS is within a quilt shop. So I'm constantly bombarded by beautiful quilts every time I go to look/fondle yarn or take a knitting class. I have a colleague who has shown me a couple of quilts she's made, so I guess the quilting bug is contagious.

I have a friend who will be celebrating a milestone birthday very soon. I thought she might like a little something to wrap up in on a chilly evening. I also thought a quilt would be something I could finish relatively quickly. Well - perhaps not so much. I started this quilt top several weeks ago & only finished the borders yesterday. I still have to piece together the back & then send it off to someone for the actual quilting. My machine is pretty old & simple & I've never done machine quilting before. So - I figure if I want this to look nice & get done before my friend celebrates another milestone, I should pay someone who knows what they're doing to quilt it.

While the quilt is far from perfect (I have a lot to learn & practice in regards to measuring & squaring up a quilt, I just love how the colors blend together. I used a set of batik fabric strips known as "Bali Pops". These strips help alleviate much of the cutting that's done during quilting. Now if I can just find something magical to help me with measuring accurately. The colorway of this set of strips is called "Green Tea" - a perfect color combo for my friend.

I've enjoyed this quilting process & love the colors. However, I can't foresee it becoming a passion or accumulating a stash of fabric any where near the likes of my stash of yarn. Quilting ties me to a machine which makes it very not portable. If the quilt is done before we head out on our next road trip adventure (post about that coming soon), I'll be sure to share.

Back to enjoy the afternoon sun & knitting.... Ciao!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

8 is Great!!

My youngest just celebrated his 8th birthday & has proclaimed it to be "the best birthday ever!". I can see why - the end of school year, a birthday celebration with school buddies, another birthday BBQ with neighbors & family friends; what's not to like?

I can't believe my youngest is 8. Wow. I remember when my oldest son turned 8. I remember witnessing the transformation from little kid into big kid. The sassiness, appreciation of potty humor, demand for more independence. I truly believe these changes occurred at 4:56am - the moment of his birth. I'm hoping my youngest takes a little time before the transformation takes hold. So far, so good.... he still likes to cuddle, sleeps with his lovies "Hippo & Puddles", and can charm the pants of Attila the Hun. Granted - he's only been 8 since 6:19am.

To celebrate, all he wanted to do was to invite a few of his school buddies to see the latest Shrek movie (it's cute!) & have a sleepover. Pretty simple. We were fortunate that the weather was spectacular. It helped me feel less guilty about having 5 8-year olds inside for 2 hours knowing that they could all run around outside until late into the evening. Alaska summers are great like that.

Like the goggles? We're all about safety here at Chez Arctic Knitter. During the ultimate Nerf Gun wars between adults, older siblings, neighbors & the gaggle of 8-year olds safety goggles are a must. While I'm sort of sad that my youngest is getting older and marching toward independence, I do appreciate that at this age I don't need to constantly entertain. The extent of birthday party planning involves making sure there's enough food (pizza!) and candles for the cake. 8-year old boys can entertain themselves for hours with Nerf guns, Wii, Nintendo DS, a trip to the park, and numerous outdoor toys.

We capped off the birthday weekend this afternoon with a BBQ for our close friends & neighbors. Certainly I'd have to agree with little IJ, this was the "best birthday ever!"

More craftiness soon..... Ciao~

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Tangled Yoke Not-Cardigan

Finally - a knitting F.O. to share. This project started out as my spring break knitting & knitting "while-I-recover-from-meniscus-repair-surgery-since-I-can't-do-anything else." I actually made quite speedy progress until I got to the cabled yoke pattern. Apparently I have a hard time counting to 13 (let's not dwell on the irony that I've taught math for several years) & had to rip back hundreds of stitches to fix silly mistakes.

But alas - even after starting another project (cough*tapestry cowl*cough), I finally picked-up & knit the collar, thus finishing the sweater.


Pattern: "The Tangled Yoke Cardigan" published in Fall 2007 issue of Interweave Knits

Yarn: Cascade 220 Tweed - Don't ask about the colorway - I've had this yarn for years & finally decided to do something about it. I call it "Confetti" because tiny flecks of different colors are interspersed throughout the neutral color of yarn. It was originally intended for a different sweater, but I think the pairing works quite well. Remember - 2010 is all about the stash here at chez Arctic Knitter.

Needles: US5 for ribbing & main body, US 4 for collar.

Modifications: Well, as you can see - this is definitely not a cardigan. Since I've knit a few cardigans already, I wanted another pullover. This pattern seemed easy enough to modify & I was looking to some easy, knit in the round, minimal purling, knitting. I came across a project knit by The Rainey Sisters using a similar idea & followed her modifications (for the split neck, etc).

What I learned while knitting this sweater:

#1: Swatches lie. Hasn't the Yarn Harlot warned us of this before? Here's the irony - I normally don't swatch. I just choose the size that looks closest to my measurements & knit away. Normally this works great. This time, according to the swatch & some math I needed to cast on 210 stitches to get the appropriate size. Well - when all was said & done, the sweater was a smidgy too big, especially in the bust/yoke area. I can live w/a loose fitting body, but a baggy bustline isn't too attractive. Sooo....

#2: Cascade 220 is a great felting wool. Warning: Only the strong at heart should read ahead. I let the sweater soak in the washing machine w/some Euculan. Since it was sopping wet and I wanted to somehow magically make the bust/yoke a smidge smaller, I thought I would throw it in the dryer (yeah, I know) for a wee bit. I put it on the setting using only air & no heat. After a short bit of time the sweater still seemed a bit damp (boy am I impatient), so I reset the dryer & this time used the setting w/heat (gasp!!) meaning only to leave it in for a couple of minutes. I have young children, so of course I lost track of time & the sweater stayed in for far longer than I had intended. While it didn't felt 100%, the sweater was smaller - and *Fit As I wanted it to!!*

#3: Felting diminishes the depth of cables & ribbing. I pinned out the still kinda damp sweater to get the shaping settled & could tell the cables & ribbing don't "pop" as they should. At first I was a bit sad - lots of work put into knitting a sweater only to diminish it's beauty by my stupidity. But a friend stopped by & gushed over the sweater Friday night. I thought "she's right - this is a pretty nice sweater". So - I threw it on the headless lady (my dress form needs a real name - suggestions?) & have been admiring it all weekend.

So - it's finally too warm (for Alaskans) to wear wool sweaters for any length of time, so I'll carefully put it away for the summer & be pleasantly warm come next fall. I think I might even knit this again, but perhaps go down a needle size on the yoke so I don't have to resort to drastic measures. It worked once, but I don't think I need to tempt fate.

:0) Ciao!