Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Sugar Hangover

Okay, anyone else a little hungover from all of the sugar?

Actually, it isn't that bad. I did pace myself. Today has been more of a challenge as I am so tired from a late(r than usual) night. The chocolate is a convenient crutch/something to do to keep me awake. This week has been so busy! Field trip with 2nd graders Monday, work Tuesday & Halloween party with a friend of the girls, Halloween & a party with Kindergarteners (oops! I forgot to post a picture of that!) and then back to work. Tonight is homework night and then only Friday to get through. Homework will be tough, though. I'm sure I'm not the only one tired and ready for an early bedtime.

At least I hope I'm not.

Knitting has been a mere dream this week. I cast on a scarf in GGH Fee (I think it is color #13) for my oldest last week (I think) and decided that I'd make a hat as well. I have exactly two cakes of the stuff, so I thought maybe I should do the hat and than incorporate whatever is left into the scarf. You know, to make it as long as possible. (Hey, she's small. She doesn't need a long scarf.) Anyway, getting the right needle size and gauge, etc. has been a real bear for some reason. I've gone two rows in and then ripped it all back out at least three times (I'm starting version #4, in other words) and I'd really just like to git 'er done. (I'm from Texas, I'm allowed this kind of talk on occasion.)

Part of the way through the hat gauge wrangling, I picked up a book at work. sigh So of course I had to finish that right away. Another good one. I seem to be reading these in reverse order. Hmm. Or perhaps "random" is a better word. Either way. I'm enjoying Agent Pendergast, but I do wonder if I might find them boring or repetitive if I read them too close together. I'm trying to pace myself.

I seem to be struggling on the knitting side of life. I don't know if the difficulties in gauge are a symptom or the cause. Perhaps they are unrelated. I only know I'm having a tough time sticking with any one project. Perhaps it is just Startitis.

Did I mention that I cast on for a Harry Potter scarf too? The one for years 3-4 in the Charmed Knits book. I've been wanting an HP scarf for years. Once I saw this one it was just a matter of time. I think I thought it would be an easy and quick knit. I'm obviously insane. (I forget that sometimes.) This scarf will not be a quick knit, but it is satisfying. I just won't plan to wear it any time soon.

I may just be out of sorts due to obsessing about the job/stay home issue. The jury is still sort of out on that. I've got to get the budget in order and I've got a month to work it out. I'm trying to psych myself into staying home (and to stop worrying about the impact of ending the daycare family impact on the kids). I meet with variable success as the day passes. Did I mention that I'm insane? Just in case you were wondering... LOL

Monday, October 29, 2007

slipper madness

Finally! Here's the photo of the completed slippers with feet in. As I mentioned before, the girls were pretty freaked out at how big they were on their feet.

The slippers were knit with size 13 US needles (16" knitpicks circs). The pattern called for size 10, but I needed a 13 to get gauge. This was odd because I'm usually spot on for whatever the pattern calls for. Oh well. I used Cascade 220 yarn, I don't remember the color numbers & they don't do names. As you can see, one pair was red and the other was pink. LOL

If I do them again (and it is likely that I will), I'll consider making the next smaller size for them both. Unless I really need the larger size to get the right amount of felting, this size just seemed crazy big and it took forever to shrink them down.

That said, here's the finished item. Well, mostly finished. They are still a bit large, mostly in width. I'm considering another round of felting to see if I can make them fit a bit better. The straps seem way too long. If I use them to make the shoe fit better (in the width), the girls will need to button them all the way at the sole/floor. That seems a bit too much.

Of course, I could shorten the strap, but I'm just feeling that something isn't right here. Either I've got incomplete felting, or inadequate felting or I just knit up the wrong size and this is the best these will do for now. Maybe I just measured the girls' feet wrong. I did it about 5 times to be sure I was right, but who knows. I'm still thinking about it.

On Monday I went on a field trip with the second grade class. They went to the Lively property. The name is intriguing during the week of Halloween, but it is simply a property that was donated to the school district to teach children about their environment. I say "their environment" rather than "the environment" simply because it was not a big GREEN place (although it was green), it is just an opportunity for urban kids to learn more about life 100 years ago or so. There's a museum of old farm equipment, an old classroom, a spinning wheel (looked like a modern Ashford castle style, missing some parts) and about 40 spindles (top whorl) for teaching, a BIG basket of raw wool (smelled lovely- the kids thought I was crazy sniffing the wool), and an old wood burning kitchen stove, etc.

All of the schools in the district are given raised plots to use. In the spring students come out and plant vegetables, in the fall, different classes come out to harvest. This is what we did. You can see my oldest showing off a carrot she picked. We harvested a HUGE amount of potatoes and carrots, a few beets, squash and cucumbers. The kids will be making a stew/soup on Thursday or Friday with the vegetables that they picked. It was a really nice opportunity for the kids. I was surprised how many had never even been for a walk in the woods before. I mean come on, we live in the Pacific Northwest. You pretty much don't even need to drive anywhere to find a wooded area.

Good grief.

We also made a scarecrow (sorry I didn't manage to get a picture of the finished thing, they put the parts together in class rather than at the property), pressed some apples for cider (though they weren't allowed to drink it because it wasn't pasturized) and went for a walk on some nature trails. There was also a nice lop-earred bunny that they could pet & a another one hopping around the property that was a constant distraction.

It was a lot of fun. The day was a bit damp, but not too bad, and fairly cool, but not freezing. I had fun, but needed a quiet place when it was all over (about 5 hours with about 60 kids - 7 year olds). I don't know how teachers do it. They deserve HUGE salaries.

I' m just saying.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Felted thoughts

I spent about an hour Sunday night trying to felt the slippers. (No worries! I did get 'before' pictures that will be posted someday.) This was my first attempt at felting and I must say, it was not what I was expecting.

Perhaps I was anticipating the great drama of Me vs. the Machine as I fought valiantly to keep the slippers from shrinking down to Lilliputian-sized slippers. You know, checking every five minutes as the instructions, erm, instructed. Instead, it was a 30-40 minute ordeal of great tedium interspersed with moments of quiet admiration for the process. No real drama at all. Except for the fact that I was sitting in front of my washing machine in a chair designed for toddlers/small children and my back was still hurting yesterday. (I didn't notice any problem at the time or I would not have remained in the chair.)

A few things I learned:
  1. While I took measurements as instructed, I believe that the sizes I knit were, in fact, too large for the feet of the intended recipient. I may be misled, but it seems that it was a real struggle to reduce these puppies to a size that the girls can wear. I think if I'd started with one size down for them, they would have shrunk to the correct size more quickly. HOWEVER, perhaps the point is not the time it takes to shrink to the desired size, but the time it takes to reach uniform felting as well as shrinking to the correct size. Experienced feedback on this would be appreciated. I don't know anyone who felts.
  2. The slippers are not quite the correct fit. I left them a little big for both girls, you know, so they can grow into them. The slippers are pretty wide, though, and I'm not sure what I can do about that. I could toss them back in the wash and try felting them a bit more (with a different chair!) to see if that helps, but it seems like they would have to shrink quite a bit more to make a difference in the width of the shoe.
  3. I have a front-loading machine. I read (somewhere) that it was possible to felt in a front-loader, but I wonder if it made a difference in how much time it took or how effective the felting process was over all. I put each pair of slippers in a lingerie bag and tossed them in with a few towels. Perhaps I needed something more abrasive? I just didn't want to risk shrinking anything else down in the hot water.
  4. Lastly, I noticed that the "hot" water in my washing machine did not seem to be very hot when I stuck my hand in there to pulll out the slippers to check on the progress. I ended up adding some much hotter water in the hopes of helping things along. In the past, we've had some crazy hot water, but I'm wondering if they adjusted the temperature when they put in the new hot water heater this summer. I think they did. Also, maybe since the washer uses so little water, it doesn't have enough time to get really hot before it is in the machine.

So many questions! Mostly, I think I'm just not much of a felted person. I have some seriously negative associations with scratchy wool and felted things from my childhood. I have dealt with most of the 'scratchy wool' issues since I became a knitter. I now know that all of those hideous scratchy sweaters I had as a child were simply the wrong wool for a sweater. In particular, the wrong wool for a sensitive-skinned child living in the desert where it never really gets all that cold anyway.

The felted issue, well, let's just say there were numerous scratchy felted incidents that left an indelible mark on my views about felt. I can appreciate the many fine qualities of felt and felted items, I just don't have any desire to own many felted object. Though, they do have their place. I'm working on it. But it may take years to fully embrace felt in all of its glory. I'll start with a pair of slippers for me. Eventually. First I've got to find a better chair for the Felting Watch.

Friday, October 19, 2007

busy, busy, busy

There's so much to share, and none of it photographic. Sorry. (I know I keep saying that, but I really mean it.)

Last Saturday I celebrated the 17th anniversary of wedded bliss with Himself. "Celebrate" is rather loosely applied, but it has been 17 lovely years. I didn't get around to mentioning that last week since my posting has been so erratic, but I thought it deserved a mention. When we met, he was holding down some crappy job to pay his bills so that he could be a Rock Star. I was a college student struggling with severe depression. After two years of dating we decided to get married. My family was pretty stunned. While they loved my man, they did not see him as spouse material. I think they were envisioning an older, filthy rich man would would adopt the entire family and set us all up in a gigantic mansion, etc. Or something, I really don't know. It just wasn't a musician.

They freely and enthusiastically admit praise him for the wonderful husband and great father he has turned out to be. I think they misjudged us both. I also think they see that now. I hope I can remember this lesson (at least let it give me hope) in the future when my girls are introducing us to their young men.

Thanks for a wonderful 17 years, mo chroi, here's to at least another 17!

Another bit of potential change in the air is on the job front. I have been searching for a new job for the past 6+ months, with no luck. I have applied for dozens of jobs and can't even get an interview. The job market here is really tough for librarians. If you don't already have a job in the system you're applying for, you can't get an interview or the job. Since I'm trying to get into a new system, I'm pretty much out of luck.

Himself has decided that, in all reality, we can probably afford for me not to work anymore. Probably isn't really good enough though, so I'll be spending some time in the next few months looking at our budget/expenses and trying to determine if this is something we can really do. I'm very nervous about it. I've never not worked. I haven't been dependent upon anyone besides my mom since before we married. What if I suck at staying home? Although goodness knows I have yarn enough to keep me going for years!

My biggest concern is taking the girls out of daycare. I know this is a bit backwards, but they have been with the same family since they were babies. They've grown up with the other kids since they were babies. The family who provides the daycare are called 'Grandpa' and 'Auntie', etc. and are very much like extended family to my girls. If I take them out of that, they will lose people who are like family. I worry about that loss in their lives. We live 2,000+ miles from real family, so it isn't like there's something else to fill that void.

Himself thinks I'm nuts. I just want to do the right thing. If I take them out, there will be new kids in daycare and they can't go back there if things don't work out. I told Himself it would be much easier if we just moved someplace completely different where everything was new. Then it would be part of one big change instead of big isolated changes.

I guess I'm really crazy here, but I can't help worrying about this one. Maybe I'm just burying my "real" fears under this one. I don't know, only time will tell I guess. First things first. I have to find time to do the budget thing to make sure it is even possible.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Renewed energy

Wow. That sounds really, um, energetic, doesn't it?

First can I share that I have a spectacular view from my library window right this moment. There is a break in the clouds and the sunrise is shining through all rosey-gold on West Seattle and the back end of a ferry. All the rest is a very dark grey, so the bright light on the trees & windows and buildings (& ferry) is really spectacular... And now it is gone. Yep. Fall in the Pacific Northwest. It's exciting. & fast. Look! There's some pretty red/gold leaves... >gust of wind< ...Yep. They're gone. Gotta look fast around here this time of year. heh.

Okay, sorry there's no photo to go with that. It happens so quickly and then it is gone again. Such is life. Now back to my renewed energy schtick. ahem.

I've been very, very busy at work. It is the beginning of a new term at school and we have been providing Information Literacy tours like we always do, except different. This time we are making trips to individual classrooms and driving the students around out website rather than inviting them into the library and just talking about the same stuff. It is a lot more work for us. Normally, I do about 85% of the tours by myself. The school has restructured some first term classes and is now requiring all of the faculty to incorporate the library into that class. There are a whole list of reasons for the change (although technically, the faculty were supposed to be doing something like this before now as well), but the admin dept. is really threatening to crack down on it this time. (I have no idea if they will really follow up with those who do not do as they are told for this class.) At any rate, the result is that we librarians are splitting the classes up a bit more equally in order for each of us to get accustomed to the changes in this current set-up.
I have to say the students appear to be paying a bit more attention, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say, and we'll see how they do on their test and project scores.

This new presentation thing has me running all over campus giving talks and making copies for handouts, etc. It is exciting to be doing something old in a new way. I have a bit of extra energy for the whole process, and that is nice. It makes it feel like something that is totally new, even though it really isn't. Does that make sense?

One down side is that I've had very little time for email or blogging. I have had time for some knitting, though, and that makes me very happy. I have not yet felted the slippers for DD#1. I put it off until I had time to properly monitor the washing machine and hopefully enlist the girls in the process. In the mean time, I have started the slippers for DD#2 and am a little over halfway there. I've finished her first slipper and I'm about halfway up the sole for the second slipper.

I'd be done with them by now, but we had such glorious weather this past weekend, I got out and did some much needed yardwork in front of the house. (There's still an opportunity to do loads more, but I don't think the weather will be all that suppportive around here. In other words, I'm not holding my breath.) That work not only kept me from knitting, it kept me from watching any football this weekend. I was very sad about that. The pay off was nicely trimmed hedges and lots of pain in my joints from all of the unaccustomed labor. That'll teach me to try to accomplish something! ha. No, it was totally worth it, I just wish I didn't ache so much.

At least now I can knit without guilt. The yard is as good as it is going to get until spring and the inside work, well, it never really stops, does it?

I finally got my invite for Ravelry! Yippee! I'm just hoping I can get my life back on track and gets some info up there soon. See? That's the renewed energy. Renewed energy in knitting and blogging and email/web related stuff in general. I know that Spring is a renewal time for a lot of people, but I tend to get going in the Fall. At least until the holiday season runs over me. LOL If you're looking for me, I'll be Silvercat, so be sure to say Howdy!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

On the other foot...

Hmm. Well, no picture today. I'm just happy to be posting something. I'll appologize now for typos I may miss. I seem to be using someone else's hands, or maybe my feet, for the typing today. We're talking every other word takes three attempts to get it right. Jinkies!

Anyway, I'm making smashing progress with the second slipper. As predicted/hoped, I do seem to have learned from my errors on the first one. Or perhaps I just learned to count. Either way, I'm nearly finished with #2 here. Perhaps I'll get it done today at luch. If not, it will be close.

Another thing that will be close is whether or not I have enough yarn to finish the slipper. It looks like it will be pretty tight. I'm not necessarily good at gauging that sort of thing though, from what remains of a ball of yarn. We'll see. I can't decide if I'm going to preemptively get another skein, or sweat it out until it is finished (or the yarn actually runs out). Do other people do this? Freak out and buy an extra skein just in case? Even on stuff where dye lots don't matter & the yarn is easy to find?

I think I have some weird section of my brain that thinks I might be knitting at midnight and run out of yarn on a project that must be completed or else I will expire on the spot. pffffft! As if. I go to bed waaaaay to early for that, AND I've never really heard of any situation in which a knitter actually expired because s/he ran out of yarn and couldn't get more immediately.

I am really happy to be back on my knitting/TV viewing schedule. I'm happy to get my fall shows back and this slipper is going so fast. It just feels good (except for the twitching over maybe needing another skein - LOL). Work is stressful enough these days that I really, really, really appreciate the break.

Monday, October 01, 2007

One foot in front of the other

I can't believe how long it has been since I posted! Eeep! I also can't believe how busy my break was. Normally, I have time for movies & books & knitting & cleaning and maybe even a project around the house. This break I did nothing except errands. I can't believe it. The whole break gone & I didn't really have any down time. It was more than a little frustrating.

So, the first day back with all of the students & what do I do? Finish the first slipper! Yep. It is finally done. Finally. This is the first time I've knit in probably a week. I'm knitting these puppies in Cascade yarn in red (obviously). They look a bit like clown shoes, it is enormous. Maybe I should knit her a round ball for her nose. My dd flipped out when I showed it to her. "Mom, that shoe is for giants or something." Pretty much. In fact, I don't think I know a single human being who could wear this puppy as is.

I explained to her that when it was felted, it would shrink and be just right (unless mom messes up that part). She looked skeptical, but is willing to see what happens. Himself was only slightly less dubious about the whole thing.

The pink in the photo is just a note I attached to the slipper, then my dd put a Hershey's Kissable on it because she thought it would be funny. Be sure to laugh. LOL

I'm ready to start slipper #2 today at lunch. My shows are starting back up again, I finished this one with last week's ep of Bones. Today, I'll start the next one with House (also last week). See? I've even been too busy to watch the shows I record. I've really got to get back on track or else I'll have to stop taping stuff.

I feel like I've accomplished something though, so I guess I'm off to a good start for the quarter. Which is good since the job search is not going so well.