Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The Good

Thank you, DH for your message on my blog - you stinker!

After Christmas, I was catching up on my blog reading and I ran into a picture of a cool felted cap in And She Knit's Too!'s December 26th post Gifts for Knitters. My DH decided that he wanted one, too. It didn't' matter that I had just lovingly completed my fourth pair of fuzzy feet and hadn't knit anything for myself in eons!

"Could you make me one like that?" he asked. "And could it be blue and gold, St. Louis Ram's colors?"

I fell for it. I mean, how could anyone turn down such a challenge? No pattern, specific color requests? Puppy-dog eyes and begging voice? Surely there would be some great payback for me! Uh-huh... well I e-mailed and asked And She Knit's Too where she got her pattern from. She didn't have a pattern. Ok. I could wing it, too! Her's looked great, so maybe mine could, too!

I dug around for a basic pattern to follow, and ended up using the idea of a felted cat bed pattern. First attempt... I increased way too often and ended up with a curly ribbon instead of a flat cap top. Rip and reknit. Second try worked perfectly. I eyeballed where the turn should be, included some rings to use up both of my colors, and then I searched for a pattern for the front of the cap. I wanted something that would use both blue and gold (turns out the color I picked was actually a tan, but it looks gold), would be a thick banded, masculine looking pattern, and have big blotches of color so that the pattern wouldn't disappear when I felted it. I found the perfect pattern in my Latvian Mitten book. After it was knit up (with about 2 feet of blue yarn left-over.. no lie! Talk about lucky!), I nervously felted it. I was so afraid that it wouldn't felt to the right size, that it would end up too small, but it didn't.

As DH said, he is getting looks and compliments everywhere he goes. The women in the LYS almost fell over themselves when they saw his cap. The kids he works with comment that it looks cool, too. Mega compliment! The only place the cap really didn't fit in was when we went to watch our friend at a bowling alley tournament. Maybe with some beer stains it would fit in better there, too.

Finished Project:

The Bad

This week at work. Terrible! Every day was a nightmare.

Monday... car problems. I was thrown all around, bounced up and down as I drove on the highway. I nearly threw up. I pulled over, and thought that I must have at least 300 flat tires. Turned out the tires were fine, but the tire wells were so clogged full of ice that when I hit a bump there was no place for the wheel to go so it threw me around and up and down instead. I chopped and chopped and finally cleaned them out. Result? 20 minutes late for work.

Tuesday.... I was supposed to go to an annual conference (which is free), but as I started driving I remembered that I had not gotten my permission slip back from administration. I called in to make sure the request had been approved. About 10 minutes later my boss left a voice mail message on my cell phone telling me that it had been denied. I had turned it in too late. She told me that I should continue to the conference anyway and we would talk about it after I got back. There have been big union issues recently regarding her, and my name has been listed as a spokesperson... I didn't tempt fate. I turned around and went back to school. Result? 1 hour late.

Wednesday.... Staff meeting at 8:00 sharp. At 8:05 I had just dropped off two bratty girls at their school and headed off to my school. It was one of those mornings.. "Where are my socks?" : I need that permission slip signed." "Where did you put my swim suit?" Result? 15 minutes late to a meeting where item number two on the agenda was?? Show up on time for meetings. Crap!

Thursday.... Received a letter from my boss writing me up for attending a conference on Tuesday that I didn't have permission to attend. I guess 1) she forgot that her voice mail message (which I have saved) told me to go anyway, and 2) that I turned around and went to school. I was PISSED! I have never been written up for anything... this is definitely because of the union issue. My principal called her and left her a message telling her that I did come to school on Tuesday. She was out for the day.

Friday... After a lot of phone tag, I finally talked to my boss and she thanked me for having come in on Tuesday. She said that she was upset that I had gone without permission and that was why she had written the letter. She said that she would rip up her copy if I would rip up mine and the principal would rip up his. I agreed, but I'm having second thoughts. She has not followed through on other issues verbally, so I'm thinking it might be smart to get her to write a retraction.

The Ugly

Cough, sneeze, wheeze, splutter. I caught the crappy sinus infection DH had, even after sleeping on the couch, and being careful to avoid anything he may have touched or spluttered on himself. Now my asthma is kicking in. Here we go again!

Oh, and did I forget to mention that our refrigerator and freezer died last Saturday? We are living out of coolers. Suddenly I'm thankful for the cold weather in Wisconsin in January.

Friday, January 28, 2005

A little Progress

It went well at first. I did a lot of work and the mitten was growing quickly. See?

The last few days, though, I haven't had a chance to work on it. Tonight looks good, but tomorrow is a marathon session of basketball games, a girl scout field trip, an AFS interview, and my mother's birthday.

Yesterday I cashed in my $20 of free products at the LYS for filling in my purchase card. I got this:

The yarn for the second mitten (the yarn for the first one was a Christmas gift), and some sock yarn for my mother.

Happy Knitting... gotta run!

Monday, January 24, 2005

In Memory

Richard Anton Nigbor
01/13/1929 - 01/24/1977

Photo taken in 1974. This is a copy of the photo that I carry with me always.

If tears could build stairs,
And memories a lane,
I'd climb the stairs to heaven,
And bring you home again.
- Author Unknown

They say all wounds heal with time, but for me each day is only a reminder that my dad has been gone from my life for so many years. Today is the 28th anniversary of his death. Even though I can look back to that day with an adult perspective, every January 24th I am a seven year old girl once again.

I woke up that morning and asked my daddy to let me eat lunch at school that day instead of coming home to have lunch with him. I have regretted that decision for 28 years. If I had come home for lunch, he could have told me that he wasn't feeling well and I could have again called 911 for him. My mother has told me a million times that she talked to him at lunch that day and he was feeling fine. She has told me that I wouldn't have been able to help him, but I know different.

After school, instead of being the first one home as I usually was, I went with my Brownies troop to a roller-skating party. As one of the mother's dropped me off, I remember telling her that I couldn't wait to tell my daddy all about the party. When I walked in the door, I knew immediately that he had died. No one had to tell me. It was obvious when I saw my mother and older brother crying at the kitchen table. He had been sick all of my life, and even at the age of seven I knew that one day he wouldn't be there anymore. Even so, I wasn't prepared. I was his angel, his little girl. I could do no wrong, and I miss him.

I will never stop missing him.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Quick Progress Report

Look at how it's growing! I love the pattern, but I have to be careful as I work it, or there it tinking involved later. Last night I had set the goal of reaching the thumb, and went to bed at 1:00am when I finally worked above the thumb.

Nothing else to really talk about... we're hunkering down for a good ol'fashioned blizzard. See?

The forecast calls for 10 or more inches of snow starting at 6pm tonight until 6pm tomorrow. Sounds like lots of knitting tonight and tomorrow!

Thursday, January 20, 2005

A Sad, Sad Day

US Deaths in Iraq as of 1/18/05 = 1,370

Bush is my Shepard

Bush is my Shepard; I dwell in want.
He maketh logs to be cut down in national forests.
He leadeth trucks into the still wilderness.
He restoreth my fears.
He leadeth me in the paths of international disgrace for his ego’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of pollution and war,
I will find no exit, for thou art in office.
Thy tax cuts for the rich and thy media control,
They discomfort me.
Thou preparest an agenda of deception in the presence of thy religion.
Thou anointest my head with foreign oil.
My health insurance runneth out.
Surely megalomania and false patriotism shall follow me all the days of thy term,
And my jobless child shall dwell in my basement forever.

Author Unknown

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

And We Have..... A BRAID!

Here it is so far, the Latvian Mitten.

I am so proud! It's almost like holding a newborn. I worried and worried about it beforehand, and took every precaution to make sure it would turn out all right. The braid turned out beautifully. I'm now like all of the other Latvian Mitten knitters who become obsessed with these patterns. I spend every waking moment wanting to work on it and see it grow. Even though I've worked multi-color patterns before, this is addictive. Is it the delicate stitches? The mathematical genius of the patterns? The intricacy of the patterns? I have no clue, but I WANT more!

Tune in next time... when hopefully some medication will ease my obsession with these mittens!

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Ok! I know that this massive Arctic blast has hit Wisconsin. I know that means cold weather is here. Bitter. Wind chills of -35. I get it. I have lived here all of my life. I'm accustomed to walking outside in winter and having the inside of my nose freeze in a millisecond.

But, last night I started waking up at 3:00am. Freezing. Cold. Our room is always colder when the door is shut at night, and with my daughter having a friend to stay, it was shut. I snuggled up some more and went back to sleep. 4:30am I wake up again. Still cold. DH also woke up to go to the bathroom. I asked him to turn up the heat.

Every 30 minutes I woke up and touched my nose to make sure it hadn't frozen and fallen off. Finally, at 7:30 I got up. This is nuts! I went to turn up the furnace, but I saw that it already had been turned up to what should feel like a sauna. Then I saw that the current temperature is... well... freezing! The pilot light must have gone out.

DH went down there, and after about 30 minutes of sounding like the father in A Christmas Story, swearing a long list of 4 letter words into an unrecognizable phrase, the furnace was coaxed into spewing out warm air again. It's still cold in here, but at least we know that it will get warmer. The coldest damn day of the year.. and our furnace went on vacation.

Thank god for pure wool!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

South Beach Lifestyle Change... an Update

First, I want to start off by saying that I really do have willpower. I gave up red meat for three years when DH had a heart attack as a way to help lower his cholesterol. We also exercised regularly and some weight came off. I kept most of it off even when we added red meat back into our diet in April 2004. We started eating red meat again after DH was put on a new restrictive diet to decrease the amount of kidney stones he was making. Turned out that the kidney stone prevention diet took out most of the food we were eating on our "no red meat" plan. The red meat came back, but sparingly.

I am 5'10" and weigh 225 lbs. I would like to lose 30 pounds as a start. I refuse to do any "diet" as I have never seen one work. I watched my mother go from one to another all of the time I was growing up, and she never kept the weight off. So, I've decided that lifestyle changes are better. The SouthBeach lifestyle change seemed the way to go. It wasn't. I have willpower! Really! But eating absolutely no carbs while filling my face full of high fat foods like red meat, eggs, cheese and butter left me feeling unhealthy. And I felt myself turning into a rabbit with all of the salad I was eating. I have learned that I like "good carbs" and I started eating them again before Phase 1 (two weeks) was over. The SouthBeach Diet went against everything I had learned was heart healthy. Neither of us felt good. We made it 9 days, with cheating almost every day.

So, I have revised the SouthBeach thing and I call it my Healthy Eating Lifestyle Change. Here is my plan..... it makes sense!

  • Eat lots of fruits and vegetables during the day. Like for snacks. I'm a fan of a fast bad carb snack, so this should be a huge improvement. (SouthBeach said NO FRUIT for the first two weeks and then add it back carefully. HUH? You can only eat celery sticks for so long.. SouthBeach also said NO CARROTS.)
  • Eat carbs, but follow what the SouthBeach Diet called "good carbs" like whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, bulgur, and whole grain anything. Not hard, this was part of our No Red Meat Lifestyle and I have thousands of great recipes. Also, don't pick carbs as snacks. EVER!
  • Eat meat like we used to, making it the "side dish" instead of the main dish. SouthBeach had us making it the main dish, the snack, the breakfast, the anytime food. It was driving me nuts!
  • Portion control. That means I should only eat one slice of toast instead of twenty! And twenty M&Ms instead of 20,000.
  • Pick lower calorie desserts.
  • Watch the unhealthy snacking... actually don't watch them - leave them alone!
  • Exercise! I have added the BeFit button from another blog (sorry I can't remember who...someone please remind me so that I can edit this and add her name) because I'm swimming. The first swim meet was supposed to be tomorrow, but financial problems kept me from entering. February's meet is on the weekend of a BBall tournament for my daughter so it looks like March will be my first meet. I now swim a 500 (20 laps) in 10 minutes and have done many flip turns. Yeah me!

I'll keep you posted as to how this plan works for weight loss. On the SouthBeach thing, with massive cheating, I did lose 6 pounds in 9 days... but eyegahvalt.... what a way to do it!


I'm swatching for my first Latvian mittens today. Size 0 needles will hopefully work. So far it looks good, but I have to measure.

I made a pair of clogs for me from all of the scraps from the others I made.

I felted DH's clogs and the St. Louis Ram's cap I made for him. They both turned out great!

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

100 new knitters for the 100th post

Well, maybe not 100 new knitters, but close enough! This is my 100th post, and I'm happy it's about passing knitting on to the "next generation."

Last school year, the art teacher, a fourth grade teacher, a retired teacher, and I taught a fourth grade class how to knit. After the 40 minute art class, most of the students had just gotten the hang of knitting. Their fingers were finally moving without much difficulty, but there was no time to enjoy their achievement. It was time to go.

This year, the classroom teacher planned a special event for teaching the students how to knit. Each student made their own set of needles. Here is a photo of the very masculine needles made by a couple of the boys.

We packed up the class and took them to our school district's forest, about 45 minutes away. Once we were there, the school forest teacher, who also just happened to be a knitter, started a roaring fire and we got down to business. After the class did their typical daily sharing, the retired teacher who also came for the morning gave a quick demonstration of the knit stitch. We then broke into groups of 3 or 4 students per teacher. This was my group after about 15 minutes of practice.

The girl in the grey sweater on the right is one of my students who has a hearing loss. I was happy that she wanted to be in my group and that I could spend the morning with her when I am normally teaching a different group of students.

There were several boys knitting, and they really got into it. See?

Check out the concentration. The boy in the white shirt has to have his tongue off to the side as he knits. He invented a new technique, the Michael Jordan style of knitting!

After about an hour of knitting, the students went for a walk with three of the teachers. Because of my recent asthmatic bronchitis and the fact that I don't breathe well in cold weather, I stayed behind. The retired teacher had to leave before the walk was finished so she stayed behind also and told me about our local spinning guild.

When the students came back, we ate lunch and then they had "free time" for about 45 minutes where they could either do silent reading, knit, or make smores. After smore fingers were washed, several of the boy's said, "Let's knit. That was really cool!"

What a beautiful sound!

I'll leave you with this picture of the woods. It was a cozy, special day!

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Still no Pics... #%$!# Camera!

Ok, what's the deal? My computer won't read the information from my digital camera anymore (I'm having it fixed on Tuesday). What a pain in the butt! I wanted to show pictures of the cap I've been working on. I have redone the top, decreased, and used a pattern from the Latvian Mitten book for the part that is most visible. It kicks butt! The pattern is so much fun! One problem. I have run out of blue yarn, and I will not buy more because I have plenty of the gold. I'm going to rip out the beautiful pattern all the way to the decreases, and add in more gold. I don't mind redoing the colorwork! Hopefully I'll have pictures after Tuesday.

My youngest daughter had her first swim meet yesterday. She did great, beating her old times and rising to the challenges of starting on the block and swimming two laps in a race instead of one. Between events she wore the fleece pants I made for her for Christmas. They looked great! My oldest daughter had a basketball game at the same time, so DH went with her and I stayed at the pool. Turns out she had the best game EVER, scoring 10 points! Figures. The last time we had to split up she also had a great game. Maybe I shouldn't go to her games anymore? For good luck?

It's been a great weekend, sitting and looking at the snow outside today while drinking coffee and tea, watching movies, and listening to NPR or jazz. There's a fire going downstairs, all ready for DH and I to watch the Packer game in an hour. And, I've finally stopped sneezing. I got some kind of cleaning bug yesterday and spent three hours cleaning a closet, four cupboards, two drawers and updating and cleaning picture frames. Today I went through DH's closet and dresser, he sorted the "keeping", "donating", and "tossing" piles; I cleaned everything out and put everything in nice and neat. Result? The six hour cleaning frenzy produced four trash bags loaded with garbage, two bags for donating, and wheezing and sneezing for about two hours. Somehow, I feel better knowing that this is done, even though no one can see what I did unless I take them from room to room, throwing open closet and cupboard doors. Then, I would be disappointed by the blank look on their face because I had never shown them the inside of my closets and cupboards before. "Ooooh, a clean closet. Ah, nice!" would probably be the response I'd get. Oh well, I have "inner satisfaction" on this one, and that works for me!

Oh yeah... wondering about the South Beach lifestlye change? Don't ask! Except that I have lost 6 pounds in 9 days and have decided to go on to Phase 2 before the 14 days are up, oh, and I won't follow it super strict. For me, it's ridiculous. Without carbs, the only reason to eat if you ask me, I'm left with eggs, which I don't really like; cheese, don't really like that either; nuts, nuts are good but you can't eat them all day; milk, I'm lactose intolerant; and meat. I thought that I could exist happily on meat. Turns out I got sick of meat, nuts and beans pretty quick. We had pizza for lunch. Shoot me!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

The Pool and some Frogging

500. I did it. Tonight. All freestyle. 20 laps without stopping. Granted, it took me twice as long as it did when I was in high school, but as my husband said, "You're also twice as old now."

I think that was a compliment.

After being sick, it took me a month to be able to swim the same workout in total laps as when I started, but I have improved. When I started, I had to switch between freestyle and breast stroke every lap. Now I can swim 20 laps in freestlye without stopping (and without puking... also a major plus!)

My first meet is January 16, 2005 and if I'm accepted (there may be a problem with a deadline), I plan to swim three events: 50 yard freestyle, 50 yard breastroke, and 50 yard backstroke. My goal is to survive and get a reasonably respectable time.

Knitting: I ended up ripping out the entire hat I had made for DH. I increased so much that it took me almost 30 minutes to do one row. I thought that it would be a good idea to size it, so I put it on waste yarn and there were so many stitches that it looked like a giant curled ribbon! No amount of felted could have fixed that! This time, I'm increasing with more caution and it looks like a better fit.

After all of that swimming and a hectic day at work, I'm tired... time for bed!