Sunday, February 26, 2006

Oh Say Can You See

DONE!! I took this pic this morning. There they are, blocking on my desk. Without the challenge of Knitting Olympics, I would have probably not attempted these for months. Then it would have seemed too late to do for Christmas, so I would have put it on hold for even longer. I am excited about these stockings for several reasons. The main one, the biggest one, is that I have no pattern fear anymore. None. Today, I was leafing through a knitting book for a new project and came across M1P. I know what that means now! Even if I didn't, I would feel confident that I could figure it out. I medalled in the Knitting Olympics, and did so without running into the yarn store for coaching like I thought I would. After this, it may be a long time before I knit something square and flat. I'm hooked on newness for now.

My favorite Olympic moment: Apolo Anton Ohno winning gold in the 500 last night.
(NBC photo)

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The Knitting Part is Done

Now it only needs a crocheted cord to make the loop in the back, and it needs to be blocked. There is still another week before the Olympics are over, so I am going to try for a second "event" and make a second stocking just like this. Hopefully, the lessons I have learned with the first one will make the second go much more smoothly—i.e., without needing to frog various sections for a grand total of SIX TIMES. Ouch. But now it is done. And I love it. Photos of each step in the process are here.

Friday, February 17, 2006

So Close

At least two dogs ended up on campus this morning, across a major four lane highway from any possible origin. (I HATE when this happens, and unfortunately it happens several times a year.) One followed its person, and the other was rescued from almost being hit by a car in the neighborhood. Neither dog had a collar or ID. The first dog got walked back home by the reluctant student. The second was cradled into my room by the 7th grade girls who scooped her up and didn't know what else to do with her. I bundled her into a blanket to warm her up and immediately fell in love. I wanted her desperately. Here are some of the reasons we CANNOT have a dog:
1. We have two cats. Simon would welcome a dog, as he is very big on charity and likes other animals. Ivy would sulk, mope, and become a clinically depressed recluse (already she is not wild about Simon, and I feel we owe her some respect regarding adding even more beasts to the mix).
2. We have no yard.
3. Yesterday, we were not at home from 6:40 am to after 9pm. That is not a dog-friendly lifestyle.
I can easily forget these very good reasons when presented with a dog in need of a good home. I called d and asked him to come get the dog and keep her for the day, and if he didn't find a home for the dog on his campus, we could KEEP HER! Miraculously, he said yes. Then, a few minutes later, still wobbling between love and reason, I asked my student teacher, Frank, if he wanted the dog. (By now, first period had begun and the dog was circling the room, getting hugged, cradled, and fought over by almost every student in the room.) It is probably good that Frank said yes. My proof is that Frank's retired father never lets dogs in the house, but within moments of meeting the dog, whose name is now Harley, Frank's dad had her up on the bed with him. Harley likes her new home, and Frank's other dog seems to be welcoming her warmly. I am happy for Harley, and SOOOO SAD for me. . . .

I have done no Olympic knitting all week. But I am at the start of another three day weekend, and it is rainy outside—the perfect mix for knitting. I expect to post photos of the completed first stocking and start of second stocking by Sunday.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Birthday, Ivy

Ivy is nine years old today, more or less. We picked Valentine's Day because it was a memorable date around our estimate of her age, and duh, because she's full of love. For a few months the Spring of our wedding, we would see this little cat sleeping around/on/under the cars in one area of the apartments where we lived. We assumed she belonged to someone with a lax curfew policy. One day in September of the same year, she followed d home from the garbage bins. We offered her food, but she ignored it in favor of being petted and scratched. We were hesitant to become a two cat household—I grew up believing that cats were individualists, preferring to keep their humans and their litter boxes to themselves. Ivy kept walking up the stairs every day, several times a day. I would go out in the morning to give her breakfast, and she wouldn't touch it until being thoroughly loved up. We searched for the perfect home for her. Ok, we actually just looked for any home. Finally, we left it up to Simon, and obviously he said yes, a sister would be fine. We learned she had a chunk of tongue missing, likely from being cut on a can in the trash where she had been dining, and also that she had the most horrendous and continual farts of any living being ever. The gas only lasted a couple of weeks; the tongue gives me intense guilt that I was too distracted by our wedding plans that I didn't clue into our little homeless baby sooner. Yet here she is, the princess of the house. She no longer forgoes food for attention, but she gets pissed off if Simon gets more of either. The best way to get her to come is to call his name instead. She likes sleeping in her basket, purring with her mouth slightly open, snoring in the middle of the night, eating whenever she can now that the eating is good, and cleaning her face. She yells at her brother when he looks at her. For her birthday, I am giving her a diet. I am seriously going to take the food away at night. I promise.

Monday, February 13, 2006

So Far, So Good

I really wanted to have the rest of the foot and the toe done before going back to work tomorrow, but I'm done knitting for the night. There were 23 more rows attached, but I just frogged them because I didn't like the rate of decrease and the PATTERN didn't actually specify where the decrease should begin. So I am going to try my second guess at where the decrease would look the best. But that will be tomorrow, or the next day. It may sound like I am frustrated, but I am not. I think I wll absolutely be able to knit two of these babies by the end of the Olympics.

I have learned so much through taking on this challenge:
1. Try new things more often. As it turns out, new is fun.
2. In knitting, the learning curve is very fast. Once I figure out a pattern direction, I will always know how to do it.
3. Cursing at the pattern or its author doesn't help me figure things out faster.
4. Rereading the pattern several times does.
5. If I cannot immediately grasp the meaning of the pattern, that doesn't automatically mean there is an error in the pattern. I should not, say, google errata for the pattern on which I am working as a first response. It may be that the pattern is correct and actually readabe. It could be me.
6. When in doubt, knit it the way you think the pattern implies. If it doesn't look right, I can always rip it out and have another go.
7. Reknitting the same section takes far less time the second time through.
8. Knitting chart symbols look very similar. It is possible to think they all mean the same thing. They do not.
9. In a pattern with conspicuous cables, a section knitted incorrectly is not "not that noticeable."
10. Frogging 27 rows to correct a chart misread is worth it.
11. It would be really useful for pattern writers to specify where the foot decreases should begin. Could save me hours of trial and error.
12. Mohair sticks to furniture and clothing even more than cat hair. Darn those mos.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Day One,

Or, what I did last night before the voice of my bed became too strong. That is the stocking, 1/4 of the way to the heel. And it represents approximately an hour and a half of knitting. THAT IS RIGHT, I found the power button on the remote control and did not finish watching people dressed as flames dance around synchronously on a stadium stage. I don't know exactly why I thought it would take me 16 days to do this project, because at this current rate, I will finish much faster. Unless the heel kicks my butt. If all goes well, I can knit two and d and I can both expect gifts from Santa in wool receptacles next year.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Citius, Altius, Fortius

d said I talked about knitting in my sleep last night. As far as I know, that was a first. Must have been butterflies, because tonight is the Opening Ceremonies. This morning I spread out all the items I will be needing for the Knitting Olympics to make sure I have everything for tonight: Lamb's Pride bulky in Sandy Heather and Charcoal Heather, circular 16" No. 13 needles, cable needle, stitch markers, and pattern photocopied larger for easier reading. When I checked out Yarn Harlot's blog a bit ago, I found out I could have cast on a 2pm today, but for weeks I've been envisioning casting on while watching the events begin on the TV. It was a relief to read that caffeine and chocolate are not considered performance enhancing substances. There's no way I would have passed the random drugs tests otherwise. I'm feeling more excited than nervous; my "training" has eased my anxiety about the trickier parts of the pattern, and now I'm just ready to see the stocking take shape and to finish on time.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Josh heart Shelli

Our friends Josh and Shelli are getting married two weeks from today. Last night, we got together for a little shower to celebrate them.

Josh is one of the most real, funny, caring, gregarious and warm people I have ever met. Josh is horrible at playing games of all kinds because he cannot NOT cheat to help others win, a real plus if you are playing poker with him, but not so great if he is on your team in a team structured game. Josh gives the best hugs. He teaches kindergarten, and I bet that every one of his students feels wonderful every moment they are in his presence. Shelli has a great smile, a happy vibe, two sweet kids, and moxy. She isn't a teacher. (That is a major bit of novelty in my social landscape.) Shelli has the ability to truly focus on whoever she is talking with. I met her when Josh started bringing her around, and she's a busy mom, so she hasn't been around as much as we would all like. For all she has going on, I have never seen Shelli in a bad mood. She laughs easily and well. And Josh adores her.

It feels like the world is all right when good things happen to good people, and I am glad that Josh and Shelli orbitted into each other and decided to hook up.

Friday, February 03, 2006


I have a great job. Others may complain about how little teachers earn, or how difficult the job is, or how people dis us. Please! I work exactly HALF THE YEAR. I call the shots, get to introduce all my favorite stories to a new generation of readers, and get to be creative every single day. And while I am at work, I get to spend time with roughly 150 of the most funny, observant, interesting, appreciative, and promising people you could ever hope to meet. They listen to what I say. They laugh at my jokes most of the time. They teach me their hand shakes. They act amazed when I tell them little bits of trivia, like that the Baltimore Ravens were named after Edgar Allan Poe's poem because he is buried there, and that the team mascots are three ravens named Edgar, Allan, and Poe. Don't get me wrong. I could definitely find ways to use more money. And I think what I do is nothing short of miraculous. But all told, my job is cake.

And yet, this time of year I really love my weekends.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Crushing Their Dreams For Breakfast

Student, in the middle of class: "Do you think Tupac is dead?"

Me: (THE LOOK, loosely translated as "Is that cerebral cortex draining from your ear, or were you overzealous with your hair gel?")

Student: "No, really, do you think he's alive or dead?"

Me: "There is an entire world of old white ladies out there who still believe that Elvis is alive. At some point in time or other, you are just going to have to face the cold hard world. Tupac is dead. Las Vegas. 1996. Six days on life support. Cremation. There were quite a few witnesses to all of that."

Class (as though they have suddenly become a Greek chorus):
"But he keeps recording music."
"How could they be selling new CDs if he's dead?"
"He just commented on someone new who wasn't around until now."
"He's probably earning way more money pretending to be dead."

Yes, Virginia, Tupac is alive. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Tupac Shakur! Not believe Tupac is in hiding! I might as well not believe in fairies. . .
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