Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Squeal! Good Yarns, Books, and Friends

If you read this blog even semi-regularly, you know that it's been a tough school year for me. And I know I'm not special; there are lots of articles out there about teachers struggling and leaving the field. But things have let up a bit on me (outside of the paperwork!), and I'm enjoying some breathing room.

And even having fun. I started my annual Black History Month unit on roots music today, and my students loved learning about Robert Johnson. Usually, they are not impressed by the scratchy recordings of this iconic bluesman, but this morning my students listened raptly.

And I'm happy with my knitting. The Winter Ridge Poncho is coming along nicely. As promised, I took a photo to show the edging at the bottom, where you start. I had to cast on 488 stitches and figure out how to cast-off without knitting, but it was totally worth it. There is a lot of stockinette in this project, so I caught up on Downton Abbey Sunday night. I am loving it even though I suspect it going to have a ridiculously happy ending.

Then, this arrived in the mail:
I am the lucky winner of Bridget's giveaway. I cannot send enough gratitude to Bridget, who blogs at The Ravelld Sleeve. There are few things I love as much as wandering around a bookstore with a gift certificate in my purse!
I had a couple fabulous hours at Barnes & Noble and decided to treat myself to these two novels:
Satin Island is a very literary novel, the type that requires concentration and thought. A Reunion of Ghosts is the story of three Jewish sisters told against the history of the 20th century, and the author lives right here in Madison.

Thank you so much, Bridget. These are the dog days of winter (if there can be such a thing), and your sweet gift means so much to me. You are an awesome blog friend and I love following your life.

Now my only problem is deciding which to read first.

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Short Time in Knitting Heaven

I was lucky to spend Friday evening and all of Saturday at the Sun Valley Fibers January Thaw, knitting, laughing, and buying (a reasonable amount) of yarn.
Sun Valley Fibers is run by Jeanette and her husband George, who have a farm in southwest Wisconsin. They dye up rich colors on a variety of artisan yarns. Three years ago they started up a retreat right here in Madison. How can I not go? No travel costs and I can drive home each night. Although, next year I'm going to spend one night at the hotel. It doesn't quite feel like a get-away when you drive home!

Isn't this sweater gorgeous? It's knit from SV yarns. I thought they said the pattern was the Hero Sweater, but I can't find it on Ravelry, so I'll have to track it down. (I just realized I forgot to take pix of my purchases and now it's dark! I'll have to post them later.)
Even with going home at night, it was a lot of fun. I met up with some of my favorite knitters and met new people from Madison, Milwaukee, Chicago, and the Twin Cities. Just spending time with so much of Jeanette's yarn is inspiring.

I had a lovely, mellow day today hanging out with my parents. But now I'm home and it's Sunday evening and I have to get ready for the week!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Slow Knitting; Fast Reading

It has been a full week since I blogged, but I have been trying to read your posts. My apologies for those of you I have missed; it is a super busy time at work. I've been at school from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. or later.  And, because Keith is skiing in Wyoming for the week, we had a real snowfall Monday night. I love snow, and I like shoveling the sidewalks -- but not on such a tough work week! Yes, I am a wimp!

I have done a little more on my Winter Ridge Poncho. The rounds are long and slow! But the yarns are so beautiful. I'll take a photo in natural light over the weekend so you can see for yourself.
Please excuse the flash photo. I'm never home in daylight.
I put Savage Girl aside after I stumbled on The Short, Strange Life of Herschel Grynszpan when I was selling books at Half Price. It's the true story of a 17-year-old boy who shot a Nazi diplomat at the embassy in Paris in 1938. Hitler used the incident to set off the night of attacks on Jews knows as Kristallnacht. It is a heartbreaking and gripping narrative.

I'm joining at Ginny for Yarn Along.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


I did a stash dive this past weekend, looking for some sock yarn that had a decent amount of purple in it. A purple-loving friend dropped a strong hint that she'd like some handmade socks for her upcoming 60th birthday. Since I usually grab onto any excuse to hit a LYS, I am feeling quite proud of myself.
I'm knitting up a skein of Regia that I bought a long time ago; the ball band is long gone. I"m knitting it up in my new favorite sock pattern, Blueberry Waffle.

I picked up Savage Girl because it got a good review from the New York Times and it's about a topic that just fascinates me: feral children, the kind allegedly raised by wolves (or some other animal). It is very, very slow to start. I'm on page 80 and the plot is just beginning to take off.

I'll be joining Ginny today for Yarn Along.

Monday, January 18, 2016

A Very Small Knit Along

At the Madison Knitting Guild a couple months ago, my friend Marsha and I decided to do a knit-along. Every month we swear we aren't going to be tempted by the vendors at the meeting, and most most months we fail.

One of the vendors  was Ewetopia, a store about an hour away, in Viroqua. Owner Kate Ashley-Wright is a talented dyer and designer, and there was lots of yummy stuff to look at and pet. One of her kits on display was the Winter Ridge poncho (she calls it a cowl shawl). We didn't think much about it until we noticed that a good number of the other knitters were wearing it.

Then we fell in love with it, and decided to knit it together in a gray cashmere/silver mohair  combination.

It's good thing that we decided to work on it together. You start at the bottom with a loopy edging with is very pretty, but also quite tricky to figure out. It took both of us to figure out the directions and get it right.

I am sure Marsha will finish far ahead of me. Not only does she knit faster -- she's a picker and I'm a thrower -- but she is retired! That's OK. I love the way this is coming out and it will be worth the wait.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Still Chugging Along

I'm mostly working on the same projects I was last week. I finished the hand of my first-ever mitten design:
As you can see, the top is way too pointy so I'll need to rip that back. I've done this type of thumb before, so I'm almost ready to knit the first "real" model. I'm excited about that.

Monday night was the Madison Knitting Guild, and the president announced that we are up to 637 members. Pretty amazing, huh? Yes, I realize how lucky I am! The speaker is a national Knitting Guild master knitter, and she talked about the process. It involves knitting a lot of swatches and a few garments. Her Aran-style sweater is amazing:
The process sounds interesting and worthwhile. I don't see myself doing it because there is much that I want to knit that I think I'd get frustrated spending my knitting time on swatches.

I'm trying to get through Outline, and I am about to admit defeat. The writing is beautiful and the level of detail is impressive, but the story is totally lost -- to me, at least. 

I'm joining up with Ginny today for Small Things.