Thursday, July 31, 2008

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. (Marcel Proust)

This isn't a very good picture, but this is our Boca Knitting group. We meet on alternate Thursdays at a Starbucks. And yes, that is my spinning wheel. At our last meeting we decided to try spinning. A couple of us brought along drop spindles and roving, and I brought along my wheel (it is a traveler, after all). Surprisingly, we didn't get many comments or strange looks -- although one guy did go outside and take pictures of us through the window when he thought we weren't looking.

I really enjoy getting together with this group. I missed hanging out with friends -- with everything else that goes on in my life, I just don't make enough time for that. I'm especially grateful that the group is meeting tonight. The past few days have been so stressful; my son said this morning I'm turning mean, but I think I'm just too tired out by everything* to be nice about any of it. [*"Everything" should really be read as the males in my life.] Tonight I'm going to drink a few too many mocha lattes and relax with my knitsters. If I'm lucky, we might even discuss a little S.E.X...

...Stash Enhancement eXpedition. (What did you think I meant?)

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Determine never to be idle...It is wonderful how much may be done if we are always doing. (Thomas Jefferson)

It's been two weeks since I did a WIP Wednesday and yet I really don't feel like there's been much progress, despite my always having my knitting or spinning at hand. I did manage to ply half of the navy/white corridale roving. So far I have a little over 350 yards that is 12 wpi, probably DK or worsted weight. (Wow, I sound like I almost know what I'm talking about!) I've been debating what to do with the yarn. I considered giving it to my daughter, since she likes the worsted weight. But I think I've talked myself into using it as striping in an Adult Surprise Jacket.

I also spun the first of my PJ batts (from Sugarbee Studios). I'm wishing now that I had waited until I had finished plying my first attempts. I wanted sock yarn, but I didn't get the ply thin enough.

On the knitting side, I've managed to finish two more charity baby hats. I like this project: they're easy to do; they're super quick (I can knit one start to finish while watching a movie); and there are so many adorable patterns. The apple hat came out especially cute. In fact, my youngest has decided that she wants an apple hat to wear to school. I hope she meant it, since I've started one for her!

I still have the Something Shady Socks in my bag. I really, really hate afterthought heels. Mainly because the directions say "knit until heel is deep enough." Huh? How do you know when the heel is deep enough? The Hippy Ripply Retro Socks are also in my bag, just being ignored until I finish the Shady socks. I have done a bit of knitting on the third pair of socks (The Mystery Socks), and I'm finally starting to like these. It took a while for the pattern to really emerge. (Sorry, I haven't taken a picture of these recently, and I don't feel like setting one up now.)

That's about it for the knitting update. Hopefully I'll be able to do some finished object pictures for next week instead of just works in progress.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thought: Why does man kill? He kills for food. And not only food: frequently there must be a beverage. (Woody Allen)

I received a complaint today that I haven't been posting regularly. There's been a good reason for this. And the person who complained is probably going to regret saying anything because even though I've decided it's time to put my big girl panties on, I'm still feeling very whiny.

I know the house rule is that the person who cooks, also cleans up. I happen to think this is a good rule, which is nice since I'm the one who made it up. It comes from the days back in my childhood when my sister would make dinner using every pot, pan, and dish in the house because she knew it was my turn to wash the dishes. However. I don't think it's fair that the person who buys (as in the only person in the house with a job and therefore the only person in the house with money to pay for) the food is also the person responsible for cooking the food and cleaning up after. I think that the new rule should be that a person should only be responsible for, at the very most, two of the three steps (buying, cooking, cleaning).

I would also like to point out that the only person with a job who can pay bills seems to also be the only person capable of noticing that there is laundry to be done or vacuuming needed or that the bathrooms should be cleaned. But since it isn't nice to whine when there aren't even any pretty pictures offered as a distraction, I'll resist from indulging any further.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

If you would thoroughly know anything, teach it to others. (Tryon Edwards)

Last week I attended a knitting group. I had a good time, and I haven't decided whether I'm going to make that group a regular thing. I do plan on going to the Boca group regularly, so two knitting groups might be overkill.

I wasn't the only visitor that week. One of the newbies was just learning to knit. She said she had tried to learn before, but had never been able to pick it up. Her friend was determined to teach her. Casting on, which is the first thing you do in knitting, was an immediate roadblock. Friend showed her how to do it, and then the woman tangled up the yarn trying to do it. Friend showed her again, and again the woman got her fingers tangled. Friend showed her again, being extremely patient at this point, and again the woman was confused. I suggested that maybe another type of cast on would be easier to learn. "No," said Friend, "this is the way I do it."

I left it alone at the time, but it's given me something to think about. I've decided people who are the best teachers are the ones that are flexible. I know that it's especially true in my field of teaching, but I think it's essentially true in any teaching situation. You have to be able to "think on your feet;" to accept that not everyone learns the same way; and that there is always more than one way to do get a result.

I have a tendency to think that my way is always the best way. But the truth is that my way is only one of the best ways. My way works for me. But someone else's idea might work just as well. (Wow, that was even difficult to type. I kept wanting to put "almost " instead of "just" in that sentence.)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way. (Jane Austen)

I've gotten a lot of knitting and spinning done this week. Some of it's been good, and some of it's been disappointing.

I finished two baby hats for the Boca group. They're fun to make! It takes me about 2 1/2 hours, just long enough to watch a DVD. Right now my intention is to do one a week. I figure I usually watch a movie on Friday nights, so that should work out nicely.

After I posted about the Something Shady socks last week, my daughter asked me to leave them white. She was cute about it. She didn't want to say anything because she knew I was looking forward to trying to do the Kool-aid dye, but she's really been wanting white lace socks. So of course I'll be leaving them white. I can do the dye experiment on something else. I have decided, though, that afterthought heels are not my favorite thing.

I like the July mystery socks much better in the Knitpicks Gloss. You can see the pattern so much better. I haven't gotten as far as I had hoped. The third clue is out, and I'm just starting clue two. Plus, I only have one set of size 0 needles (which, by the way, feel like you're knitting with a piece of grass - I just know that I'm going to break one of the needles in half as I knit) which means that I 'm only able to knit one sock at a time. I ended up ordering another set (but I was good and didn't get the circulars I've been wanting) because I prefer to do both socks together instead of finishing one and then casting on another.

I would have been farther along on the Mystery Socks, but I was trying to finish Becci's Bag. And I did, just not in time for her to take it to her grandmothers this week. I'm really disappointed. It felted much, much smaller than I expected it would. I thought it would be maybe 25% smaller. It's more like 75%. And that was using cold water! It's a nice, sturdy bag. And it would be a great size for me. But Becci wanted a larger, bookbag-size messenger bag. I'm almost ready to give up on felting things. It just doesn't seem to work well for me.
I've been trying to spin a little bit every night. Which is my excuse for being so tired this week at work. Once I get started, it's easy to lose track of time. Spinning is so mesmerizing. And it's fascinating to see how much yarn you get from the roving (it just grows, and grows, and grows).

My son and I went into Lowe's to get a key copied, and I picked up some PCP piping. I even got a couple of really nice guys to cut it for me. So for $6 (which includes the house key we needed), I'm the proud owner of two niddy noddys. And that's all I'm going to say about that, for now.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

If someone is going to kill me, they are going to kill me. (John F. Kennedy , 1962)

We live in one of the country's largest tourism areas, and yet my kids and I seldom take advantage of all the wonderful places around us. Peanut Island is a great example of that.

Peanut Island is actually a man-made island, the result of dredging the shipping channel when they created Lake Worth Inlet back in the early 1900's. It's been developed into a county park, and is a wonderful place to spend the day. There are paved walkways all around the island, places to picnic and swim, and even a small camping area. Of course, the only way out to the island is by boat. On the weekends, the island is surrounded by boaters who weigh anchor and swim to shore. You can also catch a ride on the ferry boat for a small fee, if you don't have a boat of your own.

If you're a history buff, try to get in on one of the tours of the Kennedy Bunker. Back in the 1960's, during the cold war, the government built an emergency bomb shelter to protect President Kennedy in case of a Cuban missile launch. (Kennedy had a vacation home in nearby Palm Beach.) I took the tour a year ago, and would love to go again.

Friday, July 11, 2008

An entrepreneur is someone that steals office supplies from home and brings them to work. (Auren Hoffman)

Welcome to another episode of My Favorite Things!

It's harder than I thought it would be, deciding on what is my favorite item for the week. There's so many things I love, or use all the time, and I think I tend to take them for granted. (That's probably true for all of us, that we often take for granted the things/people we love. Now I'm going to have to pause for a moment to track down and hug my kids...)

My favorite thing today is my pen. Or rather, the brand pen I use. I love Pilot Easywriter clicktop pens. I'm actually obsessive about this pen. It fits my fingers perfectly, even with my arthritis, so that I can hold it comfortably and write all day long. Other pens are too thick or thin, causing my hand to cramp up after a little while. (Of course, I much prefer to type and bypass the hand use entirely but that's not always feasible.) I provide my own pens at work so that I can have this particular pen, and heaven help a co-worker if she (or he) is caught with one of MY pens.

For a while, it was difficult to find my pens. All my usual stores were out, and I panicked, thinking that Pilot had discontinued the Easywriters. I had several people out searching all the stores in the area and buying up all the packages they could find. I now have a stockpile set aside, Just In Case.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away. (Phyllis Mcginley)

This has been a really fun week, knitting-related. I had gone to Boca to meet up with a group of knitters last Thursday, and had a really wonderful time. They meet every other week, and I think I'll be going down that way as long as I can afford the gas. (It's difficult to wanderer at over $4 per gallon!) Saturday I met one of the girls from that group for lunch (after a "quick" stop at the local yarn store, naturally). And Monday was another knitting group; this time out west in Wellington.

Being with so many yarn-motivated people inspired me to really work on my projects. I actually cast on and completed a new project - a baby hat for a charity group. I actually did the entire hat while watching a DVD one afternoon. Quick, and really adorable. I forgot to take a picture for today's post, so I'll have to show it off some other time.

I finished the Something Shady socks. Well, I finished the foot portion. I'll be dyeing these with Koolaid on Friday, and then doing an afterthought heel. I really like them in the white, so I'll have to get more of this Lois Gems yarn to do another lacy pair.

I finished the first clue of the July Mystery Socks from Sock Knitters Annonymous, and started on clue number two. I absolutely love this yarn (Jojoland's Melody). It feels soft and smooth, and the colors are incredible (even if the two skeins are patterned differently). Unfortunately, the pattern isn't showing up very well with the variated color. So I think I'm going to frog this, save the yarn for something else (probably Monkey socks), and re-knit it using the Knitpicks Gloss that I have in my stash. A new clue comes out on Monday, so if I work on these all weekend I should have time to get caught up.

My final project this week has been spinning. I think I have it figured out, so I've started on the blue & white roving (instead of the ugly practice stuff). It's amazing how quick it goes (compared to spinning it on a drop spindle). I still need to work on getting more control over the drafting (this is probably going to be a thick-to-thin skein of fingering/DK weight). And I don't quite "get" the clip-thing yet; I know you're supposed to use it to fill the bobbin evenly, but I keep forgetting to stop and move it. But spinning is wonderful, and I love my wheel! (If I could fit it in my purse, I'd probably carry it with me along with my knitting.)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

There was a definite process by which one made people into friends, and it involved talking to them and listening to them for hours at a time.

(Rebecca West)

Yarn, friendship, laughter, food, and a little sewing project to keep it all together.

It's been a really great day. (I'd write more, but it's my daughter to use the computer.)

Friday, July 04, 2008

Good communication is as stimulating as black coffee and just as hard to sleep after. (Anne Morrow Lindbergh)

I had difficulty picking out my favorite thing for this week. (Which is pretty sad, when it's only the second week I'm doing a favorite thing.) But it's like with my kids; my favorite changes depending on which one is around me at that moment.

But since I have to pick only one thing to say today, I'm going to pick a venti zebra latte (3 and 3) from Starbucks. This is what I was drinking last night during knitting group (which, by the way, was the most fun I've had in a long time!) and I've decided that it's just about the best drink ever.

I didn't start drinking coffee until after my divorce. (Have I told this story before?) Anyway, I worked with a couple of ladies who got me hooked on cappuccinos. That's what I always order when I go to Starbucks, because I don't know anything else. And it can be a little intimidating, with the talle/grande/venti and the skinnys and double shots and I don't know what all else they're talking about. People in line near me will give this odd, complicated order with such confidence that I'm tempted to just say "yeah, what they just said" when it's my turn.

So recently I decided it was time to get adventurous and learn a little more. Or at least try a few different things. Lime and Violet talked about caramel macchiatos on their podcasts, so I ordered that a couple of times. They were good, but I'm not sure what I was drinking. Then Meghan (Stitch It!) suggested the Zebra Lattes one episode and these are wonderful! I actually had two last night, and I was tempted to run out today for another. So this is currently my favorite thing.

If anyone has other suggestions of yummy drinks to order at Starbucks, please feel free to comment. But you'll have to be extremely specific. The first Zebra latte I ordered, the barrista had a question regarding the shots. Apparently a venti normally would have 5, but to do half mocha and half white chocolate, which is what Zebra means, they could either do 2 1/2 of each or add an extra shot for 3 of each. I just there and looking stupid trying to figure out what she was talking about. Finally the girl next in line advised that the 3 shots each is better, so I was able to finish ordering.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Knit on, with confidence and hope, through all crises. (Elizabeth Zimmerman)

This is going to be a real fast update tonight. Especially since there isn't much to tell. I ended up casting on Becci's bag with double strand yarn, and I like it so much better. (This is a horrible picture -- the colors are way off! But it's late, and I don't feel like taking any more time trying to get it right.)

I played around yesterday with a pattern for an ipod necklace. I wanted to use my handspun, and I thought that would be a good project for it. But the pattern I liked is written for an ipod classic, and I have the smaller nano. (I think that's what it's called.) I just couldn't get the gauge and the stitch pattern to go the way I wanted it. So I ended up frogging that, and I'll wait until the next time inspiration hits.

I still have the same socks on the needles, but I think I'm going to cast on another pair. One of the groups I'm in, Sock Knitters Anonymous, has started the July Mystery Sock and it sounded like fun. Each week you get a clue (a couple of lines from the pattern) and you don't get to see what the sock looks like until you have it all knitted up. It sounds like fun. So we'll see.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

What Washington needs is adult supervision. (Barack Obama)

It started with an instructor who was very active in the democratic primary. It spread throughout the program like a virus in flu season. We tried to fight it off by feeding lots of bipartisan information to our students. After all, this was the first time a lot of them had been exposed to politics and we needed to keep the exposure as even as possible.

But the left wing was just too strong. And now Obama can be found throughout the building -- peeking into classrooms, greeting visitors at the reception desk, and supervising in the office.

Personally I find him to be a bit stiff necked, although he does seem a little larger than life.