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In My Other Life

3 Dec

Family and work really take a front seat for the next few weeks!

Dan’s working twice as much to implement a new project on Monday.  That means that means he works all day and then comes home and works all night from home!  I’m a single parent during this time. Luckily, the kids’ activities aren’t that jam-packed.  Just kind of jam-packed!

For example, yesterday I worked til 4pm. DJ had a Scholastic Bowl match in a neighboring town.  Gianna had a pitching lesson.  I didn’t go to DJ’s match because it had already started by the time I got off work and had to drive a half hour to get there.  Next week I should be able to go… I think.  They won all three rounds.  The JV team is undefeated.  They are good….  Dan wasn’t sure if he would be able to catch Gianna, so I went to the lesson with her.  Tonight, Gianna has her school band concert.  Wednesday… well, that’s my marathon day – 9am to 9pm.  You get the idea.

At work, we are a week before finals.  That means all my grading has to be done. I gave quite a few last minute projects, extending due dates.  So I’ve got a “to do” list of grading that’s a mile long.  I’m moving at work.  We built a new building and my two labs and my office need to be moved between the end of finals and December 23rd.  I have a week in January that can be used also.  So every day, I come in an hour early to pack up a little bit and clean and even move some non-essential stuff.

I am also a member of a computer group.  We don’t meet that much. We just plan conferences and give away money.  🙂  All the money we make from the conferences is given away as grants to local schools and libraries to update their computer hardware and software.   Here is a list of winners. 

I think that’s really cool and I’m glad to be a part of that organization!

Now you see why my knitting production has increased and my quilting has plateaued.  I’m never home!  You have to be home, at the sewing machine, to quilt. But I can pack my knitting and take it everywhere with me.  A row here and there really adds up quickly.



19 Nov

I’m still alive and kicking – just not posting much!

This weekend I turned 51.  It’s an awfully big number but I don’t feel 51.  I have to get my cholesterol under control and lose some weight but besides that my overall health (according to my latest TWO insurance physicals) is good.  And that’s everything, isn’t it?

What did I get for my birthday?  The kids and Dan and I jointly cleaned the house.  That’s a huge present for me!  Since my mom has been laid up and not housecleaning anymore, the bulk of it falls on me each weekend.  So to get help is wonderful.  Dan also finished this:


This is called the Dodec spinning wheel.  The wheel is a do-decagon (12 sides).  It’s made partly out of maple and partly out of pine.  The actual wheel is pine because it had to be light.  But the base is maple.  It was a learning experience to make and it took the two of us about a month.  He did 90% of the work obviously.  I helped mark pieces to be cut and read the instructions.  🙂  It still needs tweaking.

What do you do with this Dodec?  Well, the reason I wanted it was to ply yarn that I was unraveling from Thrift Store sweaters.  The cashmere in particular is like thread.  So if I can twist the threads together two or three at a time, I can get decent weight yarn to work with.  Right now I just hold the 2-3 threads together.  But plying or twisting them is a “cleaner” look – especially in lace patterns.

These aren’t the best of pictures because they were taken with my iPhone but here’s my first attempt.

Plyed yarn on the spindle.  And "plyed" is spelled correctly evidently.  It's not "plied" when we talk about this particular process.  Weird.

Plyed yarn on the spindle. And “plyed” is spelled correctly evidently. It’s not “plied” when we talk about this particular process. Weird.

After soaking it and hanging to dry it relaxed and then I balled/caked it.

After soaking it and hanging to dry it relaxed and then I balled/caked it.

I actually think I’m over-twisting the yarn.  It really relaxed nicely after I soaked it though. I’ll knit up a swatch with it and see if it’s over-twisted or just about right.  I’m only making small balls/cakes right now til I get the process down pat.

Can I actually spin yarn from fleece with this? YEP!  🙂  I bought some roving (fleece that’s been washed of all debris and combed nicely).  It’s from a breed of sheep called Blue-Faced Leichester (BFL).  It’s supposed to be good fleece to start with because it’s easier to spin than other breeds supposedly.  Roving is the last step of the process before it becomes yarn.  I bought it off eBay.  It’s soft and undyed and should be another whole experience to… well… experience.

I have to get the bugs worked out of the wheel (a few tweaks are needed this weekend) and have to get a rhythm going before I even attempt spinning roving into yarn.

My Custom Fit Sweater #2 (cardigan) is going very well.  I’m on the last half of sleeve.  I have the fronts attached to the back and the button band attached.  One sleeve is finished and blocked.  The sweater should be done entirely this weekend.  It’s MUCH BETTER than the first Custom Fit sweater I made.  I like it a lot.  Cardigans are more “my thing” than pullovers I think.


New Scarf

21 Oct

????????I like it.  Next time I won’t put a twist in it.  That didn’t turn out so well. But since I’m always going to wear it doubled like this, it didn’t matter.  Pattern: Summer Wind by Irish Girl Knits. Yarn: Unraveled sweater that was dyed with Berry Blue Kool Aid.  Needles: Size 5.

What’s next?  I’ve been taking a Craftsy course on how to make sweaters that fit. I always make sweaters that are too big for me. Amy Herzog is the queen of sweaters that fit so this class is by her.  That class led me to her Ravelry group and then to her newly launched Make, wear, love website. 

She has a new custom fitting computerized pattern solution.  I had Gianna measure me AND photograph me with just a camisole on.  That was depressing! But I learned that I was a proportional shaped person (as opposed to a top heavy or bottom heavy serson).  I look good in 3/4 length sleeves and deep neck lines. The 3/4 length sleeves point to my waist making me seem like I have one.  The next step is to pick a pattern and swatch.  I picked a scoop neck 3/4 sleeve top and figured I’d try a large swatch (Amy’s requirements) in that purple yarn that I had started the last sweater with.

????????The above swatch is after washing it by soaking and drying it halfway in my tumble dryer. It’s superwash yarn in fingering weight. And you know what?  I don’t like superwash. I forgot that. It grows so much. I don’t think I’ll like a sweater in this fabric for my first attempt.  I’m going to pick a different yarn that I have in my stash and swatch it next.

Nancy in SC asked about unraveling sweaters. I don’t have much going on this week, so I’ll put up a tutorial on how I do it.

In other news, Gianna had a scrimmage for her ASA softball team yesterday.  She pitched very well. This is the first ASA game she has ever pitched in. It didn’t seem like she was very nervous at all.  The plan was to pitch each of the girls two innings to see how then did. She started the first game.  After the first inning, the opposing coach came over to our dugout and said to our coaches, “Your pitcher has a great change up!”  So that was good.  Third inning she went to shortstop, but in the 6th inning they brought her back in pitching to close the game.  She did well again.  Second game: she played shortstop the whole game but came in during the last inning to close it out again.  Pitching was good – fielding at short; needs some work.  The whole team’s fielding needs work.  That’s what the winter training is about, right?  🙂  Her bat was okay.  She only struck out once.  The other pitcher was very good in the first game.  Gianna hit a nice one that was fielded by the second baseman and a blooper over the first baseman’s head that could have been a stand up triple!  But the third base coach sent her home and the throw was perfect at the plate so she was out.  Once they changed pitchers in the second game, Gianna hit one over the third baseman’s head. The third baseman tipped it with her glove. The shortstop was behind her and dove and caught the ball before it landed on the ground.  Amazing play.

Today Dan and Gianna are both home with the flu or a cold!  Both are coughing and stuffed up and miserable.  I have the same cold without the cough. I’m at work because we don’t have subs and classes must go on! 🙂

I’m Alive

16 Oct

Still alive and kicking and halfway through my two weeks of “What-were-you-thinking?”.  I am working or at an extra curricular function every day and every night until Friday, 10/18.  It’s been like that for two weeks solid. Then… back to normal!  Whew…

My quilt for Quiltmaker’s Scrap Squad is done – almost.  I am going to tack down the binding in the next couple of days and get the final photo taken.  Here’s a sneak peak of the back.


I thought the pattern called for custom quilting.  I was a bit rusty but overall it turned out well.  Perfect gives you ulcers – done is good!  I was concentrating on getting it done.

Funny story…  I procrastinated a bit too much on this project.  It’s a simple project but I was piecing it using templates and that takes a bit more time than my usual pedal-to-the-metal strip piecing.  So two weeks before my deadline, I had a significant amount of work to do AND I have this “other” life of teaching, holding PC Tuneup Clinics, putting on a Microsoft Windows 8 and server conference… oh, and my whole mom/wife gig!  Let’s not forget that!

So I started getting up at 5:30am to get an hour or two of quilting in before work.  On Monday, the college had classes but my kids were off and I had worked all weekend at a PC Tuneup Clinic, so I took a personal day.

I got up at 6am and headed downstairs with a full cup of coffee.  I had THREE row seams left to piece and then wanted to load my quilt and get the quilting started.  Not fully awake, I missed the first step, and WHAM!  Down I tumbled!  I don’t bounce very well at age 50.  Nothing is broken but I’m pretty sore and bruised.  I’ve been adding a significant amount of padding to my backside recently, so I think that helped.  🙂

But… the show must go on.  So I picked myself up and proceeded to piece and quilt all day.  I was actually much more sore on Tuesday.  The quilt is 90% done (three days before my blog post needs to be ready for the editor).  I am tacking down the binding during my free moments and it will be photographed as soon as that’s done.  I may have to ask for an extension until Saturday to get the photos done since I need to do those outside in the sunshine and that’s when I’m away from home.

What then?  Maybe I’ll ask what our 6th and final project will be for Scrap Squad and GET AN EARLY START on it.  Don’t want to go through this last minute stuff again!


On My Soapbox Today

1 Oct

Oh no… another rant!  Not much of one.

1) I teach computer science.  That said, I am not embracing the use of iPads and no textbooks in the schools.  I believe in the right tool for the job and the iPad is not the right tool for all things educational.  Our junior high has a 1:1 initiative.  That means that all students get an iPad to use during school in grades 6, 7, and 8.  If you pay $100 tech fee each year for three years, you can take the iPad home during the school year.  Because of this computer use, the school is no longer using textbooks – not even eTextbooks right now.  They plan on using SOME eBooks in the future.

Because our district has a large number of students under the poverty level, they can’t afford the $100 fee.  Even if they can afford a one time $100 fee, the students also need Internet access at home.  That’s a monthly fee of $20 – $60.  So the teachers can’t give homework!  No chapters to read; no hand outs – everything is online.  Math?  No textbooks PLUS he wants all work done on the iPads so it can be uploaded to Edmodo – a course management/grading site.  That’s ridiculous!  We have Gianna do her math work on scratch paper and then scan it in and have her upload that.

I’m always talking to the teachers, administration, and school board members about this.  But their minds are made up – this is the greatest thing for education – all aspects of education.  And as a result, we do more “homeschooling” than ever before.  We purchased a math textbook and sit and do problem after problem at home for 1/2 hour a day minimum.  Yes, she’s getting top grades in math as a result.  Yes, it reads a “false positive” on testing because they think that their system is working.  But what’s the alternative?  That we let her down, let her fail, just to prove a point?  I don’t think so. So we teach her at home in mathematics in particular and try to supplement the science as much as possible too.

2) Why doesn’t anyone volunteer?  The junior high band is planning on going to Six Flags Great America in the spring.  The band students and parents need to man the concession stand at home basketball games in order to get the profits and make this happen.  The band director sent home notes and sent out email for signup shifts.  Three parents signed up.  Three…  Really?  The students are forced to sign up by the band director.  But even though he has sent out numerous messages, there are a low number of responses.  I signed up for ONE shift but told him that he can put me in more AFTER everyone else gets a chance to sign up.  Some parents work – I understand that.  But others… I see them at the games.  Their daughter is playing.  Mine is too.  But I still work ONE NIGHT.  I can miss one of the gazillion games that she plays to work the concession stand.  Oh?  You have other kids?  Me too.  I work 5 days and one night during the week.  We are just asked to work the concession stand for ONE NIGHT!  Same with DJ’s high school.  I signed up to work the “fan gear” tent selling t-shirts and sweatshirts at football games.  I worked the two home games we’ve had so far.  DJ is in the band so if I work the first shift, I can still sit in the stands and watch him play at half time.  What about the other 400 students’ parents?  She has a hard time filling two workers for 1.5 hour shifts!  This weekend is homecoming.  ONE parent signed up to work!  That’s it.  Gianna has a pitching lesson during that time but Dan will catch her and so I signed up to take the first two shifts.  Oh… the other thing… the woman who runs it?  She’s nice. No personality conflicts, etc.  I don’t get it. If your child plays football – well, if he plays in the varsity game – work the JV shift.  And visa versa.

3) How’s the knitting and quilting going?  It’s not.  You have to be home to do either of those.  Or at least sitting down to do the knitting. (Hmmm… maybe that’s why I’m crabby and on my soapbox.  I need some good quality knitting and quilting time.) As you can tell from above, we had our only home cooked meal of the week last night!  🙂  Tonight: Concession stand at the 6/7/8th grade girls basketball game.  Wednesday: Work all day and night. (I’ll miss DJ playing in the marching band for the homecoming parade.  Bummer… But his two sisters will be there and maybe Dan will be able to get off work on time to see him too.) Thursday?  Gianna has another basketball game in Ottawa.  Friday?  The homecoming variety show.  If the kids need a ride there, I will take them and might stay.  DJ didn’t sign up to compete so it might end up being a night off for all of us.  And Saturday?  The aforementioned homecoming game.  Sunday?  Gianna has softball practice in the afternoon but that just involves her and Dan.  I may have some time to quilt and knit on Sunday!  🙂

Mia’s Scarf

18 Sep

I finished Mia’s scarf in record time.  I think I started this Friday night and finished it Sunday night.

Mia wasn't available for modeling so Gianna had to step in.

Mia wasn’t available for modeling so Gianna had to step in.

The pattern is Sarafina by Helen Bingham. And yes, if you follow that link, mine doesn’t look anything like the one pictured.  🙂  I used reclaimed yarn from the Petite Sophisticate sweater that I made a different scarf out of.  Beside the yarn being different (and possibly not the right weight), I had a hard time adjusting my stockinette stitch to be tighter after doing a very loose holey lace stitch.  But… it still looks good.  If Mia doesn’t like it, I’ll take it back and wear it.  Gianna wants one in light gray.  We need to get her to branch out with her color selection.

No knitting today.  It’s my marathon day at school.  I have to leave to pick DJ up from golf though so I won’t stay straight through.  Gianna has her first basketball game this afternoon and Dan will attend that.  I hope she gets some playing time.  I better get working!

What A Week So Far

12 Sep

It’s only Thursday but I’m exhausted!  Gianna has basketball beginning at 6:15am every morning!  So we are up at 5:30am to make lunches and get ready.  After dropping her off, I knit for 1/2 hour before waking DJ up and getting him out the door by 7:25am.  Then I go to work.  Monday, I subbed for an evening class where the teacher was traveling for business.  That meant working 8am-8:30pm with very little actual breaks.  Tuesday, I had a regular teaching/meeting day (8-3:30), but then went shopping for basketball shoes for Gianna. She was wearing last year’s shoes but was complaining that they hurt her feet.  It ended up that she went up 1.5 sizes!  I’ll say that her feet hurt – the shoes were WAY TOO SMALL!  And yesterday?  An identical day to Monday – day classes followed by my own night class.  Just to shake things up, we had “Spirit Day” at the college which involved my computer club setting up a table and students stopping by to join.  The club members did most of the “work” yesterday but I had to do quite a bit of setup on Tuesday and Wednesday morning.

So see?  That’s why this post is entitled – What a week so far!

I knitted the quickest scarf yet over the past 5 days.


Don’t you just love that edging?  It flows so nicely from that lace leaf pattern!  I must be into knitting leaves.  The last few scarves/shawls have been leaves.  The name of the pattern is “Spring Thaw Shawl“.   I stayed home an extra 1/2 hour this morning to get it blocking on the spare bed.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a bit chilly and I plan on wearing it.  🙂

What’s up for the weekend?  Well, Friday night I’m working the “Fan Gear” tent at the high school football game again.  Then, this weekend I plan on cleaning TWO bedrooms and my sewing room.  I WILL NOT START ANOTHER KNITTING PROJECT!  I will try to get a jump on the two quilts I have in progress (piecing) and quilt some on the Christmas quilt that’s been in hibernation!

That’s the plan at least…