Through the Back Loop

Adventures in knitting, fiber arts, and family.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Kicked Its Butt

That retro Reynolds yarn forced me to put on my boxing gloves and come out fight’n this past week. It was determined to make a fool out of me and look bad with every stitch I chose. First round was arrowhead lace. The combination of size 5 US needles and yarn overs with this yarn made it look like a very holey scarf reminiscent of a 1970’s crocheted afghan. Not what I was looking for. The yarn wasn’t flattered by it either. The yarn claimed victory in that first round.
Round two was another lace pattern – the traveleing ladder. I love the look of this stitch, but again, yarn overs are no good with this yarn. I should have known better after the first time. I ripped it out again and decided to put it away until inspiration would come. I was pretty sure that inspiration in the form of white wine would definitely help. In the meantime, I started a pair of anklets from Alison.
Everyone has a list of accomplishments that they wish to achieve in their lifetime. Those lists often include things like climbing a mountain, travelling to another country, scuba diving in the Carribean, etc. Most of the time the items on the list are things that can be both scary and exciting. My list also contains things that excite and scare me when I think about them. I tackled one thing off of that list this weekend. Short rows.
Now how, you may ask, can short rows scare me when I have completed almost every other knitting feat. Kitchener stitch – no sweat, cables – I work them with pencils when I lose my cable needle – HA!, intarsia – bring it on!, not to mention intricate lace – no problem. But short rows? Even the words gave me shivers, until this weekend. I sat down and re-read the instructions three times, then slowly tackled each row, kicking everyone out of the room so that I could concentrate. And I won. It looked great, AND it wasn’t that difficult!
After this victory, and a lot of wine, I felt ready to go a third round with the Reynolds yarn. I told myself that the pattern needed to be simple. Simple and textural. That would show off the fuzziness of the yarn. I decided that a basketweave stitch would be a good place to start. I want this to be an easy pattern so that I can work it while watching movies, a pattern that I can pick up and work on for a row or two while waiting in the car for the kids to get out of swim team practice without my mind going numb trying to remember the pattern. Basketweave seemed perfect. I completed my cast on and started working. After a few rows the fabric started to look yummy, and I knew this one was a winner.
So the next time I’m feeling beaten up by a skein of yarn, I will go directly to the drinking wine and working on something else plan so that inspiration will hit. That seemed to work this time. That, or the Reynolds yarn got jealous seeing me fondle another yarn. Either way, I won!

Oh, Elaine, who is anxious to see a picture of my husband's culture cap, I will do my best to "scab a pic" from someone's digital camera, or maybe I'll finally break down and buy another one. I'm anxious to show it to you!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

B is for Beannie Cap.... and for Bernice

The “Heads Up” beanie from Interweave Knits was finished just in time for DH to wear on Father’s Day. He has worn it almost every moment since then, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. The picture will have to wait until I have digital camera access again, so I’m forcing you to use your imagination. If you hear loud shouts of, “Ooooh- Pa!” coming from the Wisconsin area, that would be my husband. He was thrilled to learn that the yarn for his cap came from Greece. He’s in some turmoil, though, because he thinks it looks like a Reggae cap, and his father said it made him look Muslim. He may ask me to make baklava now, season with Caribbean jerk, or make tabouleh depending upon which ethnicity wins out with the cap. For now, he picks an ethnicity to match his mood. It’s a Reggae cap when he is lighthearted and trying to sing along with the music on the radio following his own tone-deaf technique. The cap is Muslim when he is trying to focus and deeply reflect upon something, and the Greek cap appears when he is celebrating and hanging out with family.
The idea that the cap can be multicultural pleases everyone in this family. No matter which kind of cap he thinks it is, he is proud to wear it and tells everyone that his wife made it. It will go out on its first canoe camping trip soon; that’s the reason he wanted me to make it.
Imagine Picture Here“Heads Up” BeanieYarn: Tahki Cotton Classic leftovers (from baby caps) in forest green, orange, lime green (looks more yellow), and blue. Needles: size 5 USStart Date: something like early JuneFinish Date: June 18, 2005

I’ve been a bit absent minded lately and remiss in blogging about something that happened on Mother’s Day. There’s a bit of history here, so bear with me. When I was a mere child, my lovely aunt owned a yarn shop in Oshkosh, Wisconsin (EAA fans will appreciate this reference). In the 1970’s, she taught classes in macramé, crocheting, knitting, needlepoint, and punch needlepoint. Knitting was not one of the more popular classes.
She owned this shop before I became a knitter, and therefore I wasn’t able to appreciate what opportunities were all around me at the time. I remember going to visit her with my mother. We would drive from my hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin (about an hour and a half drive) and go directly to the shop. After 20 minutes, I was bored to tears, and begging for a couple of bucks to walk down the street and poke around in some of the dime stores. To keep me quiet and enjoy her visit with my aunt, my mother shelled out the cash and off I trotted. After I spent all of the money on candy and soda, I would work off my sugar buzz by galloping back to the shop. After another few hours of boredom, my aunt would close the shop and we headed to her house. When I look back on those days with an adult knitter’s perspective, I could scream. Here I was, surrounded for hours by hundreds of dollars of yarn and materials, and I was clueless! She would have given me pretty much anything I wanted, or charged my mother very little for it. By the time I had learned how to knit (from my cousin {the daughter of my mother’s brother}, not my aunt), the yarn shop had gone out of business. Oh, the humanity!
Over the years, my aunt has cleaned out her home and found bags of yarn and materials left over from the shop. Because I am the only avid knitter in the family, and let’s face it, probably her favorite niece or nephew (sorry to the rest of the family, but let’s face facts here, ok?) she has given me a ton of great stuff over the years. The last time I got a bag from her was more than ten years ago, so I thought that she had hit the bottom of her leftovers. WRONG! When I went to my mother’s house on Mother’s Day, a bag was waiting for me from dear Aunt Bernice (pronounced Burr niss). What was inside, you ask? Here’s the list of what I kept after donating the Red Heart to my mother’s friend to use in tying quilts:
100 grams of Reynolds Kitten in fuzzy green (screams scarf!) --- made in Belgium
9 ounces of Britannia Shetland in cream
180 grams of Spinnerin Cashmere Plus in white (I melted when I found this one – gorgeous!) --- made in Italy
2 x 50 grams of Phildar Luxe 025 (one in cream, one in sage... can you say MITTENS?) – made in France
300 grams of Pingouin perle fin in navy blue --- made in France
150 grams of Pingouin coton neige in a white and blue nubby yarn --- made in France and six pairs of slipper sox bottoms
Everytime I think about this yarn I make an unconscious low, sarcastic giggle in the back of my throat. It’s mine... ALL MINE!
Aunt Bernice is now my all-time favorite aunt! Well, she’ my favorite at least until I want Aunt Carla to make her world famous raspberry jello salad. Hmmm, Thanksgiving is five months away, so enjoy the moment, Bernice!
I know I am.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Super Short Post

It's summer school time, and teaching summer school is almost more hectic than the regular school year. You would think that a half day would give you a lot of time, but with curriculum writing in the afternoon and getting the kids to swim team practice... it's still 6:00 when I start supper.

Baby Molly Elizabeth was born last Saturday, and I gave her mother the cardigan. She was thrilled. Tears and everything. Thanks again, Vicki, for saving me!

Wish DH luck on Monday morning for a job interview. It's a job 5 hours away (he would live there during the week and come home on weekends), but he still would like it. Maybe this time!

Now, back to the computer lab!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Dyed and Gone to Heaven

Well, not really, but I couldn’t resist this as a title. The truth is that I learned a lot about myself last night at the Spinning Guild Meeting.

10 Things That I Reaffirmed about Myself

10. I cannot rush a meal.
Even when my DH orders take out and tries to bring it home to fit into the 15 minute gap that I have created to eat that meal. After waiting an hour for the broasted chicken meal, I ate quickly, chomped down two Tums and buzzed off to the guild meeting. Late.

9. The harder I try to plan for everything, the worse off I end up.
Yesterday I needed to work all day at my school (I needed to get to school early in order to run through my talent show act once more – I acted and did the sign language interpretation to the song “Leader of the Pack” with a group of teachers. It was a riot!), and while working, I need to try and prepare for my summer school substitute. I had everything printed and ready to go for a sub (my regular teaching ends this Friday, but my summer school teaching in another district starts today. They have gotten a sub for me for the first three days). I left my school as soon as the final bell sounded and rushed off to summer school, unpacked, and realized that my sub plans on the laptop could not be printed in the summer school. It is a different district. There I sat, after spending over an hour setting up the room needing to waste an hour copying my plans from the laptop onto the summer school desktop computer so that they could be printed off for the sub. Idiot!

8. I sweat worse in air conditioning.
This I learned as a result of trying to copy notes from one computer to another while meeting the crunched supper deadline and making it to the guild meeting.

7. I am not as organized as I think I am.
After calling Carol from the guild and telling her that I couldn’t make it, she convinced me to come anyway. I showed up with two of the four assignments completed. Well one and a half really. We were supposed to bring our spun skein – ready to dye (mine was too huge), wear old clothes, bring cling wrap and gloves, and tools for dying.

I showed up super late (everyone was starting to steam their skeins) with my huge skein, old clothes, and that was it. I forgot everything else.

6. Cuteness doesn’t get me very far.
Seriously, how cute can a 35 year old, large, sweaty woman be when she needs everyone to get close enough to help her? One of the guild members did not seem pleased. She helped me redo my hulky skein into three smaller skeins, but was not pleased that I was so unprepared.

I started spinning in February and joined the guild two months ago. I’m a rookie, I’m just learning. Being so unprepared at every turn last night did no reaffirm my ability to make it through an average day.

5. I learn best alone.
Actually I already knew this, but yesterday clinched this for me. I need the freedom of playing at home without being rushed or having people look strangely at me for my color selections. I was rushed; I grabbed whatever was available and squirted it on my skein. I squirted too much on the first one and caught the glare of the leader for yet another time.

4. I don’t “get” color.
My odd looking scarlet and royal blue combination looked just as odd when I pulled it out of the cinnamon bun. Forest green and purple? Other people seem to pull it off beautifully, but mine looks like baby poo disguised as something pretty.

3. I don’t like to stand.
There was really no place to sit in the dying room. I went outside to sit down and cool off after my skeins were painted, but I was interrupted by the leader telling me that my skein had been steaming for way too long. I didn’t even know that she had put it in the steamer. She then informed me that it was not her job to watch the clock for me. I’m thinking that it would have been pretty helpful for me to watch the clock if I had known that I was supposed to. These instructions were obviously given to those people who showed up on time. My second skein was still sitting on the table. That one never made it into the steamer. I put it in the microwave when I got home. Did I mention that she really didn’t seem pleased with me last night?

2. Skein painting is best left for a weekend.
Seriously, who thought it would be a good idea to start dying at 6:30 at night with eight people trying to get a bunch of skeins painted, finish cleaning up by 9:00 pm and end up with something that looks decent? I don’t think it is humanly possible.

1. There are only 24 hours in a day.
No matter how hard I try to make more time, that limit is CONSTANT. I need to realize that at least 7 hours MUST be spent sleeping, and the remaining 17 hours cannot be morphed into extra time. I cannot complete 20 hours of “stuff” in 17 hours. I need to “get over” this idea already and slow down.

Maybe tomorrow, I have too much to do today.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Summer Sinuses

Last week at work, I was innocently eating my lunch in the teacher's lounge when one of the teacher's sneezed. No big deal. Sneezing is human, right? After all, I could sympathize, it's allergy season. Another teacher commented to him, "Oh, allergies, huh?"
"No," he replied. "I have this terrible cold."
I shuddered. I felt my throat starting to itch.
Then another teacher talked about how she had this cold too, and suddenly everyone in the room mentioned a person at school who had been suffering with this. Where had I been? I had never noticed everyone snuffling. I knew I was doomed.

You see, I have been cursed, since birth, with the worst immune system known to man. I inherited it from my father. As much as I love being like him, this is one thing that I could have done without. Mention the work "sick" and I catch it. It's that simple. No amount of echinachia will help.

Sure enough. I woke up the next morning with a sore throat, stuffy head and runny nose. The start of a sinus infection. IN JUNE! This is ridiculous. Sinus infection season officially ends in April, and here I am, clearing my throat, setting up lunch bags in the living room for my used tissues, and taking my temperature every 30 seconds.

On the plus side, because I'm always sick I know how to do the things I want to even when I'm suffering. If I took off every time I was feeling poorly, I would never leave my house. So, I load up on meds, drink a thousand more cups of coffee than normal, be sure to eat bready things to soak up the yuck in my stomach, and off I go. Yesterday, I went to two soccer games and an afternoon fishing in a stocked pond.

It's free fishing weekend in Wisconsin, and even though we already have our licenses, we went to the pond for a chance for the kids to catch some trout at a local Outdoor Activity Day. It's hard to cast without hooking onto another line, there are so many people fishing.

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The trout were HUGE! My oldest daughter caught the first 12 inch rainbow trout, and then her friend caught the next three. All the same size.
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They have tents set up and will clean and deep fry the fish for you right there.

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We caught our fish too late, so I cleaned them at home. My youngest daughter and her friend played and walked around (they weren't interested in the fishing). The trout bit off of wax worms and corn. Both daugthers brought friends, and everyone had a blast. We plan to go back today, so I'm loading up on the coffee and eating after sleeping in a little. The last week of school, and I'm going to have to push myself to get there everyday! YUCK.

On the knitting front, I have started a new project for DH. He loved his felted cap so much, but can't wear it in summer. Interweave Knits Spring 2005 had a cute pattern for a cotton cap called, Heads-Up Hats. I have left-over cotton from baby caps, so I'm using that up.