Thursday, February 19, 2009

Lastest Christmas knit

G's sis, my soon to be sis-in-law, loves Ms. PacMan. She loves her so much that she has a handheld game that plugs into the TV and whenever we go out to the pizza place in Wilmar, she plays and plays and plays- and that's with only one quarter. She's good. I mean really good. I don't think I know anyone better at Ms. PacMan than she is. So, when I saw this pattern I knew immediately that this was the gift for my ever so slightly obsessed future sister. It was fun to knit but I have to admit that I had to start both Ms. PacMan and the Ghostie twice because I began the chart at the wrong spot. They ended up facing the proper direction but they didn't begin that way. This scarf is reversible so there are actually two Ms. PacMans and two Ghosties on each end. It is knit in the round so you have the option of carrying the yarn all the way up the scarf. I cut the yellow after each dot was completed but then chose not to weave in all those ends but instead tied them together. This scarf will not be abused too much so there's no need to get all crazy with the ends. The fringe on the ends does a great job of hiding all the yarns on the inside. A great knit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More Christmas fun.

If you knit for one, you must knit for all. I learned this the hard way. It only took me one time to make the mistake of knitting a hat for Noah and not Alice. In October, I knit Noah a pumpkin hat  but new socks for Alice. This was not ok. Alice was very dissatisfied with her socks so the learning curve was quick!!! For Christmas, I made Noah a pillow and so naturally, I made Alice a pillow. Or rather, five pillows. The pattern can be found here for free and was super easy so I decided to make a bunch. The finishing is a bit fussy but I've knit loads of little items with lots of finishing so it wasn't anything too complex. Alice enjoyed them and they are all different shades of purple, so of course they were a hit!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


You know when you just have one of those days. My one of those days quickly turned into a week. Public school funding is going down the tubes, administration isn't acknowledging our student population is becoming more difficult, and I'm planning a wedding with a man who lives two and half hours away from me. I keep repeating my new mantra "everything will be fine, everything will be fine." But will it? I've had meetings everyday this week before and after school and I'm busy preparing for a district wide art show that includes, gathering artwork, handing out and collecting permission slips, preparing the artwork, and delivering it all to the district office. Busy, busy, busy.... But when do I get back to my students? That is the reason I teach. My students keep asking me, "When are you staying after? I want to get caught up on my work."  I know, I know. Less meetings, less bureaucracy, more student time, more STUDENT TIME, MORE STUDENT TIME! Today was different. Today the students celebrated Valentine's day. All the chocolates, paper hearts, teddy bears, secret admirers, and all that stuff that makes for a crazy day at school. Generally speaking, I'm not a big fan of holidays celebrated at school because the students are so distracted that you can't teach. But today, today was different. I needed a reminder about why I teach, why I spend so many hours preparing meaningful lessons, why I pour my heart into school, why I force students to create two sketches and choose the best one for their final work when they barely want to do one, why I struggle with kids to do their best work, all kids, not just the ones who like school. I was reminded today why I teach, because I love it. And today I was loved back. I was loved by my students, not just the ones who like school but by a lot of students. A lot of students loved me today. I got chocolate, I got gum, I got Valentine's cards, I got high fives, I got hugs, I got to go on a field trip to Minnesota Center for the Book Arts and made a book with my art club students.  I got so many answers about why I teach. Now, I just have to remember all those reasons the next time I have one of those days.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Christmas Review

Christmas this year was loads of fun and took many months of careful plotting and planning. My brother and I grew up with a very crafty grandma and despite the fact that for most of our lives we lived too far away to learn all her great skills, we still were the grateful recipients of the infamous latch hook projects. I received a rainbow theme and my brother got a great 1970's orange and brown owl. I spent many afternoons trying and trying to complete the latch hook but eventually gave up and asked grandma to complete it and make it into a pillow. I still have it today... I think. My brother, on the other hand, tends to hide things that he doesn't want and then years later, they always seem to show up in my boxes of things at mom's. To date, I've found a boy scout's handbook, all the stinky moldy children's books (whereas all the good ones are in his basement for the kids to read), his old rusty Tonka trucks, his Ken doll (mom believes boys and girls should play with Barbies and trucks), and, that's right, you guessed it... his owl latch hook project. I ended up with an entire box full of his old crap that mom had been storing for years. Well, I thought, I'll show him! HA!
Guess what Noah got for Christmas this year???

He played with his pillow and a cardboard box for the better part of the afternoon. You should have seen Jamie's face when Noah opened the owl. It was so worth all the months of planning and shopping on ebay for the exact fabric and asking mom to help me sew the pillow case and adding the velcro so the owl can be removed to wash the pillow... it was all worth it. Not only does Noah love his owl but Jamie got his "reject" project back in his own house... hee hee hee.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Ms. Purple and the Mouse

Alice had a birthday in January and a birthday is always a great opportunity for some special knits. My goal in life is to be known as the auntie who knits and in support of this aspiration, I did not break tradition. For the past three years at every Christmas, birthday, Easter and sometimes just because I wanted to, I have knit both Noah and Alice a special something. This birthday celebration was sponsored by the color purple and the number 2. Alice is crazy about purple. I'm not sure if this is because it is so much fun to say or she really wants to be a girlie girl, much to mom's satisfaction and great encouragement. I wanted to experiment this birthday and tried two new patterns- both using the all important color purple and some pink for accents. The first is Zoe Mellor's Colorful Mouse. I used some left overs from her Christmas socks in Rustic Wool and some pre-made felt in pink. It was a simple knit with a bit of finishing but nothing too complex. The second knit is Katie Ahlquist's Top Knot Hat. This pattern has an interesting twist to it as it is knit in the round and the colors are picked up across the center of the hat and held on the opposite side while knitting on the side closest to you. Difficult to explain but the graphics in the pattern are a big help and after a few rounds it becomes obvious plus it's free, so you can't beat that. I used Mission Falls Cotton for this hat so that she could use it into the spring when the weather is a bit warmer. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

More on series

As I've looked through my knitting projects, I realized that I've worked several projects in a series fashion. There are always some sort of alterations but knitting the same pattern more than once, is really enjoyable. I learn so much the first time that the second time I am able to relax a bit and enjoy the knitting process rather than the learning process. And by the third or fourth time, it's like making chocolate chip cookies from your mom's recipe ... you know it all by heart.

Noah's 1 year-old hat

Noah's 2 year-old hat

Noah's 2 year-old socks

Noah's 3 year-old socks

Alice's 1 year-old socks

Alice's 2 year-socks

Monday, February 2, 2009

Knitted Series

At school I often talk to students about artists who work in series. I discuss the benefits for artists to create a series: the repetitive nature offers an opportunity to improve a skill or experiment with a new media and the slight changes in every piece create interest and document your experimentation. Well, I thought I should experiment a bit with my work as well. A knitted hat series is the result. In September of 2008, I needed to make several baby hats for my friends. I am at that age where all my friends are getting married, are married, are having children, or have children already... you know, those early middle years where everyone is sleep deprived because so many things are changing in their lives and they just can't seem to keep up. And thus, the knitted hat series was born. One for Baby Sylvia, One for Baby Gabrielle, and One for the Little Boy yet to be born. Knitting a series is great. I made each hat a different size and color and I experimented with a new technique called jogless color change. My goal was to make the stripes exactly the same all the way around the hat- meaning no seam showing where the one color ends and the new color is picked up and knit.
In order to do this, work one round with the new color (B), remove the marker, lift the previous color (A) stitch below the first B color stitch onto the left-hand needle; knit 2 stitches together (lifted stitch of color A and first stitch of color B), replace the marker. Note: The beginning of the round will move 1 stitch to the left at each color change. This is important to notice when you begin decreasing for the crown. Be careful when you get near the marker and make sure to follow your decreases from previous rows so that they are consistent. The end result, no stripes with ugly jumps marking the beginning of each row where you change colors. Nice neat rows. Amazing huh?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

For the first time...

Every Tuesday for six weeks in January and February, my brother and I go skiing at Afton Alps. It's a great place to ski for beginners and intermediate skiers. The only draw back is that I miss my good friends at Tuesday Knit night. I'm sure they can survive without me but I find when spring arrives, I'm excited to get back to my peeps at Borealis.
Last Tuesday on my way home, I saw it for the first time.... my SUV. My old SUV. My poor dead SUV. Of course, it wasn't really mine, it was someone else's and they were happily driving along without a care in the world. Little did the female driver know that I longed to trade cars with her.
You see, on New Year's Eve day, I was in a terrible, horrible car accident. I lost control of my sweet little SUV (ETA: on some black ice) and rolled that sucker twice. It was quite traumatic, however I only realized this after I was safely out of the car with chocolate cheesecake in my hair and all over the inside of the car. Mina was along for the rolling and was none too pleased with her final resting spot under her broken tote wrapped tightly in her t-shirt but I'm sure she enjoyed the chocolate cake. I am thankful that I was not hurt and was able to climb out of the car safely with my little hedgie. I told myself and the 20 or so bystanders as I was crawling from the wreckage that I wouldn't cry, but let's be real.... I had just filled up my tank with gas. What a waste! My good friend Renata picked me up from the hospital. (The nurses were very interested in Mina and gave her the last warmed towel.) G and his entire family came to get me after visiting the remains at the towing company. They were able to get all of my stuff... I was so thankful I didn't have to see my poor SUV in its new state of disaster. I really loved that car. Strange how I became so attached to my sporty little truck..... I have searched and searched but I have no photos of her. I owned her for 5 years and all I have left is a fruit box full of cds, maps, and an ipod charger, all covered in Mina's liter and chocolate cake. But I'm alive... and things are good.