Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Damson

Here I am, finally ready to post my last project for the month of September. This one is special to me because it came out so well.



Pattern: Damson by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Malabrigo Sock in Abril
Mods: None



This pattern was very well written and easy to execute. Ysolda's patterns are worth every penny. It took me about a week to knit this. I was working around the clock because I wanted to be able to wear it to a dinner I was going to. I felt really good wearing it, and it got loads of compliments (after my hubby called everyone's attention to it, but still).



Two of the many things I love about this shawl are its shape and size. It stays around my shoulders without slipping off. It's also small enough to be used with casual outfits. I love knitting shawls, but I just don't have a ton of events to attend where a big lacy affair would be appropriate. This shawl is small enough to throw on over a t-shirt and jeans.



I also love the way my yarn showed up in this pattern. Abril is a really nice blend of purple, blue and pink. The variations look really nice in the FO. I was a little nervous that the colors would pool unpleasantly, but they ended up looking great!

So needless to say, I'm quite happy with this project! It's one of the best things I have ever knit. I'm ready to try more of Ysolda's patterns now - maybe an Ishbel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Dark Cowl and a Flighty Hat

Today was a trying day. I was in a middle school social studies classroom and the kids were climbing the walls all day. Little jerks. Towards the end of the day (when I was good and frazzled from the difficult day I'd been having) I made a kid throw away his paper football. His response to this was to say, "It's called paper you know. I can make another one." I think all the blood in my body rushed to my head and my vision started going all wonky. I was SO angry! I completely broke my promise to myself not to let a child get to me.

My response was to get catty and say "It's called a referral you know. I can write you one." Then I did. Not my proudest moment as an semi-educator. Oh well. All I can do is live to try and do better next time.

I have two more projects today to blog about, as promised yesterday. First up is my Darkside Cowl.



Pattern: Darkside Cowl by Sarah Fama
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Harbor
Mods: The pattern offers a choice of using size 7 or 8 circs. I used size 7.





I am ridiculously happy with this little cowl. The stitch pattern is brilliant. It's a nice and stretchy rib, but with much more visual interest than plain ribbing. It was a fast knit and the size of it is perfect. It fits snugly around my neck without choking me and has enough stretch to go over my head comfortably.


The Shine Worsted was a good choice for this project. It's a cotton and modal blend. The modal (which is some kind of fiber from wood) gives the cotton some stretch and makes it much easier on the hands to knit with than plain cotton. It's buttery soft and doesn't itch at all, which is really important in a neck accessory.

Next I have my Butterfly Hat. Finally, a chance to try Madelinetosh Tosh Merino!


Pattern: Butterfly Hat by Sofiya Cremin
Yarn: Madelinetosh Tosh Merino in Victorian Gothic
Mods: I did an extra repeat of rows 1-20 in the body of the hat to accommodate my five-head.



This is a neat little hat pattern. It would have come out a too small if I made it exactly as the pattern instructs. Adding in an extra 20 row repeat made it a tiny bit too big, but I like that in hats. My ears really hurt when it gets cold outside for some reason, so I like hats that cover them up. The pattern would probably have shown up better if I used a solid color yarn, but I was in love with this colorway, and I think it still looks great! I love patterns that look nubbly and bumpy, and this fits the bill!


I was really excited to try Madtosh Merino, because it's essentially another Malabrigo, which I love. When I saw this colorway on Eat Sleep Knit, I knew I had to order it. It doesn't photograph so well for some reason. In real life it's a mix of purple, black and brown. It is much richer in tone than the pictures suggest. I have another skein of this and I plan to make some fingerless gloves to match when I get the chance.



After knitting this hat with the Madtosh, I can safely say that this is pretty much exactly like Malabrigo. The only difference I noticed was how smelly this yarn was. My skeins absolutely reek of vinegar. It actually kind of turned my stomach. Once it aired out a bit it wasn't so bad and I'm sure that washing the hat will help it even more, but phew! It stunk! My husband even noticed the smell, and he has the weakest sense of smell I've ever seen in a human (sorry honey!). The smell wasn't enough to discourage me from buying this yarn again in the future. The colorways are too pretty!

Tomorrow I will have my final FO for September up. I've saved the best for last. That's right, my Damson will finally materialize!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Hurricane Hat!

I have been lazy and slow about posing my projects. I've got 3 FOs to post about and another project that's really close to being done. With the end of the month looming, I've got to get my act together if I want to make the House Cup deadlines. The prospect of sitting down and posting all of my projects at once is making me nauseous, so I'm going to break them up a little. Tonight I present my Hurricane Hat.



Pattern: Hurricane Hat by Andrea Goutier
Yarn: Malabrigo Worsted in Oceanos
Mods: I used size 8 needles instead of size 7 for a bigger hat

This hat is a Christmas present for my grandmother. She has been asking for one ever since I learned how to knit. I'm happy with how it turned out. The pattern would show up better if I used a solid color of yarn, but this yarn is pretty and the spiral shows up nicely enough for me. My grandmother has a big head, so I went up a needle size. The hat fits my husband nicely, so I'm thinking that it should do just fine for her. At least I hope it will. I won't know until Christmas.

I'm afraid that's all I have a picture ready for today. I should have more ready to go for tomorrow.

On a funny note before I end this post, I got requested for a sub job today. My first request of the year and it came from that bitch that nearly gave me a nervous breakdown by not preparing adequate instructions for me. Go figure. I was so afraid that I screwed that entire day up, but I guess I did pretty well since she wants me back for Friday. I was VERY tempted to turn the offer down because her students are challenging (i.e. annoying) and she doesn't prepare well for subs, but I figured that the devil I know is better than the devil I don't know. This time the job will be easier on me because I know that I must have been implementing her lesson plans correctly the first time. I'll just muddle through the best I can again and count down the minutes until I get home. Life is strange sometimes.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Report from the Field

Well, here I am again. I'm sitting in another middle school classroom on my lunch break blogging about the little cretins. I've only gone through 2 of the 6 classes I will teach today and I have already written an office referral and caught 2 kids cheating. I can only imagine how fun and exciting the rest of the day will be.

I'm proctoring a standardized test in a math classroom today. With the type of kids this teacher has, that ain't easy. There are three main obstacles in my way.

1. This is a standardized test, so I have to enforce complete silence.
2. Nobody brought a pencil to school today.
3. These kids are raving lunatics.

It's really tough to try and get kids to be completely quiet. I usually allow a low level of talking while I'm working a job because it's nearly impossible to get silence. The nature of their assignment today, however, necessitates a quiet atmosphere. I have had to threaten more kids than I can count with referrals and I'm not even half done with the day. I'm doing it though! I have to be a complete and total bitch, but I'm getting silence. Go me!

The pencil issue is my biggest problem. Perhaps you all didn't know this, but no one brings school supplies to school anymore. Kids show up with no backpack, no books, no paper and no writing utensils then proceed to act like entitled little snots that deserve to have their teacher provide these things for them. They look at you like it's your problem that they aren't prepared. I have had to waste about ten minutes at the beginning of each period letting the kids with no pencils go around and find someone to borrow from. Then they all have to sharpen those pencils, which they do as loudly as possible. Ugh. It's a serious distraction and I have no way to fix it. The teacher didn't leave me extra pencils (he really shouldn't have to, so I'm not complaining), and the kids have to be able to take this test. It's county mandated so I can't let them sit there doing nothing if I can help it. It's not like they're capable of sitting and doing nothing anyway. The havoc that a bored child can wreak is unparalled thoughout the galaxy. They all NEED to be working or they will be making trouble.

The last obstacle goes without saying. These kids are underachieving and nuts to boot. A great teacher can help kids like this to grow. A substitute can only hope to keep them from hurting themselves or others during the class period.

Well, back into the breach once more I suppose. I can't wait to be back at home, sitting with a cup of tea and watching Dancing with the Stars on my DVR. Four and a half more hours, four and a half more hours . . .

Monday, September 21, 2009

Three Things

Three things today.

1. I actually finished my Damson in time for the big dinner! I may have been dueling with Father Time until 2:00 AM the morning of, but I eventually prevailed! Fancy pretty pictures are coming soon. Let me just say now that it is lovely and it is quite possibly my favorite project to date. The dinner itself was improved immeasurably by the presence of my shawl. To me anyway.

2. I worked a high school computer class job today. It was quite possibly the most boring day of my life, but that's a good thing in my profession. The kids were mostly quiet and mostly doing what they were supposed to do (rare!). This was a day I actually could have sat and blissfully knitted almost the entire time, but of course, the project I brought decided to have issues. Actually, it was the yarn that had the issues. I was trying to finished off two half-balls of Malabrigo Worsted on a scarf for my grandma, but as I worked further into the yarn I was finding a lot of inconsistencies with the weight. I would run into a chunk that was equal to super bulky yarn in thickness, then it would taper way down into a strand as thin as laceweight. This kept happening over and over and it was making the scarf look like complete crap. The laceweight sections were holey and the super bulky areas looked sloppy. The yarn wasn't returning to worsted weight thickness either. It was averaging around dk or sport after the ridiculous thick/thin sections. I ripped out the few inches I had done and didn't have the heart to start over. I'm mad at Malagbrigo right now and I think I need to throw the two half-balls of yarn I have left straight into the trash (even after considering the fact the the other ball of it I was going to use probably doesn't have these issues). I'm just sick of looking at it.

3. I have a finished project to post! This is my DADA assignment for this month. The assignment was all about what we did on our summer break. Well, I moved over the break and bought all new Ikea funiture. I decided to crochet some coasters to prevent water rings.


Pattern: No pattern. This is a basic granny square I found in the tutorial for how to make a granny square in Stitch 'n Bitch: The Happy Hooker.
Yarn: Sugar and Cream in Ecru



As plain as these little guys are, I love them. I made a set of six, which is more than enough for my husband and me to share around the house. They are simple and clean, which matches the rest of our furniture perfectly. Proper furniture care FTW!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

From a Middle School Classroom . . .

Well, this is a first. I'm blogging from a classroom during my break. Today is bad. Very bad. I am bone-crushingly tired and I don't know how I'm going to get through the rest of the day. My head is fuzzy and I don't feel entirely mobile - like heavy weights are attached to my limbs, dragging me down.

The reason for the badness is the intense amount of stress I'm currently under. I'm in a reading classroom and the teacher didn't leave me readable notes. She left her plan book (which I'm sure makes perfect sense to her), and a listing of groups of kids on the board. This is a Read 180 class. It helps kids pass the FCAT, our state standardized test, by implementing small group instruction mixed with computer work and independent reading for pleasure. Her periods are all double long, and I'm supposed to spend them shuffling groups of kids around from station to station. I work with the small group while the rest are split between independent reading and technology. After about 25 minutes, we all switch around. I only know this because I have subbed for other Read 180 teachers that left me excellent notes about the process.

This teacher didn't see fit to leave me with any notes at all. Just her coded plan book and lists of groups on the board. No advice about how to best implement the system. No information about where I am supposed to be and how the kids are supposed to act at each station. No freakin attendance sheets. I have had to cobble together the information I needed for today from my previous knowledge of the Read 180 program, various signs posted around the classroom and the kids (who are not a reliable source of information). This lack of help has left me incredibly high strung and stressed out today. I don't know if I'm doing ANYTHING right. Is it too much to ask to be treated like a human being in these schools? Is a thorough note, addressed to me, too much to ask for on a job? This is a complicated set up she's got in this classroom. If I didn't have previous knowledge of this type of class I would be completely lost right now. As it is, I'm barely hanging on. How is this acceptable?

The one good thing about today is that the kids are okay (very needy and immature, but okay) and the class sizes are very small. I have been able to keep control of the kids so far, but my authority is severely weakened by me not knowing their daily procedures. If the kids have to tell me the correct way to do things at every turn, who is really in charge?

I have only taught one of her classes so far. I have two left to go. I don't know how I'm going to make it through the rest of the day. I am intensely beat down from the stress of trying to figure out how to run her classroom. I've done a pretty good job this year of not stressing out over the bad behavior of the kids, but the bad behavior of the teachers is throwing me for a loop.

UPDATE: I'm home now. I made it. It was one of those exhausted, heaving myself across the finish line kind of finishes, but I did it. Now I'm trying to de-stress with some tea and bad TV. Biggest Loser, here I come!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My First Terrible Day

Yesterday was the first in what I'm sure will become many terrible days of substituting. The scene was an 8th grade language arts classroom. This particular teacher left me an inappropriate lesson plan for her three low-level periods, and I just couldn't implement it. She wanted her classes to finish reading a story from their literature books and answer the questions at the end of it. This doesn't seem like such a big deal, right? Wrong. It's impossible.

What many teachers don't understand is that underachieving kids WILL NOT BE QUIET when a sub is in the room. They can't be expected to read quietly on their own, especially if their normal classroom procedure is to read everything out loud as a group. That was the case in this classroom. The kids were vehemently against having to read by themselves. They refused to do the assignment and spent the period acting like a bunch of baboons instead. They were loud, disrespectful and intensely irritating. I gave up and just sat at the desk in these three periods. It was all I could do to keep the kids from beating each other to a bloody pulp. In my sixth period, two girls almost came to blows. They were in each other's faces, screaming and carrying on. I ran to the classroom phone to call for help. The phone didn't work.

I was so incredibly lucky that they backed down on their own. I sent both up to the office after the incident was over. I shudder to think what would have happened if they had actually started fighting and I couldn't reach anyone for help. Nightmare.

I've got another middle school job lined up for tomorrow. Joy.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Curious Niffler

I have been feeling slow lately. A general sense of malaise seems to have come over me. Not good, as I have to plan my husband's birthday celebration.

I have finished two House Cup projects and I am working on a third. I really hope to have Damson finished for the big dinner at Berns this Saturday. I wish I didn't have to go, but the hubby's dad is obsessed with this trip. It means a lot to him to spend a lot of money at a fancy restaurant that is way too classy for any of us. I would be happier at a more casual dining place, but to each his own. In any case, I am stuck going with some insufferable people (inlaws) and I would like to feel beautiful and protected while I am there. Wrapped up in my knitting. It's a long project and I don't have much done on it so far. We'll see if I can pull it off. I need to make a lot of progress on it. Today.

Before I start frantically blitz knitting on that, I have a finished project to post about. Imagine that! Blogging about knitting on a knitting blog! This is a little niffler that I made for CoMC.


Pattern: Smith by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Knit Picks Palette in Marble Heather and Black
Mods: None



This is one of the first patterns I have ever used that I have had to pay for (besides book patterns that is). I bought Ysolda's Whimsical Little Knits 2, and I am beyond happy with the purchase. Her patterns are detailed and thorough. Definitely worth every penny. I have to go and buy Whimsical Little Knits 1 next weekend.



This is the smallest size Smith. I made him with size 0 dpns. It was a fiddly affair with many parts to it. See, you knit the spines separately from the body and knit them onto the body as you go. It's brilliant because you don't have to sew on a million little pieces at the end of the project, and the spines go on perfectly straight this way.



I'm extremely happy with how the face came out. He's got french knot eyes and I actually managed to embroider them on evenly. Sewing techniques aren't my strong point so I'm really glad I was able to do this competently. If anyone is interested in a really good french knot tutorial, check here.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

My First Drink

It's been a little while since I blogged last. I've been enjoying an impromptu week off. I can't find any sub jobs (probably because Monday was a holiday and the teachers aren't taking any more days off this week). I actually want to get out of the house and work a little. I feel like a jerk just sitting around while my husband is working so hard every day at his school.

I'm in the middle of knitting a little niffler (hedgehog pattern) for my Care of Magical Creatures class. I thought this would be a one day project, but it's taking forever! I'm really enjoying watching the little guy emerge from under my fingers row by row, but boy this is a long pattern. I'm using fingering weight yarn and size 0 needles, so it's going to be a really cute size when I'm done (IF I ever get done). I'm also working on my OWL, which is a sweater. I have to take it off the needles to try it on soon, and I'm really nervous about it. I'm afraid I'll twist all the stitches doing this and have a wonky row. Me and moving stitches around just don't get along.

Yesterday, I had my first drink. Yes, I'm 23 and I had never tried an alcoholic beverage before yesterday. I went through all of college at a huge party school without drinking a drop. I'm not against drinking in any way, I just have never been interested in trying it. My husband, who is the same way, decided that we need to loosen up over the weekends, so he bought some Mike's Hard Lemonades. We were supposed to wait until Friday or Saturday to break into them, but my husband came home yesterday in such an incredibly bad mood that I decided to move things up.

It didn't take very good, but it wasn't bad either. We both drank our bottles and promptly fell asleep on the couch for about a half hour. That was it.

Isn't that the worst first drinking story ever? I'm just not cut out for being cool and trendy.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The First Day

I made it through my first day back at work alive. I wish I had an exciting story to tell about how it went, but it was an utterly average day. The only interesting thing that happened was a kid broke a red pen, spread the ink all over himself and pretended like it was blood. How clever, right? He wasn't convincing with his joke at all and he had to spend the rest of the day walking around in really stained clothes. I hope his mother beat his ass when he got home for that.

In one of the classes I covered (which were all reading classes, by the way), a few autistic children were in the mix of students. They had an ESE aide with them, and she spent the whole period gossiping about them quite loudly with me. "This one (and she points to a kid rocking back and forth and trying to stuff his knees into his shirt) is just lazy! He doesn't do his work!" "And this one, (she points to another kid working quietly) is able to fit in with the other kids. He doesn't like people to know I'm here to help him!" The classroom was dead silent. Everyone heard. She was so inappropriate. How is it that people like this are gainfully employed and I can't find a real job???

I didn't manage to find work for today, but I do have jobs for Thursday and Friday already. Middle schools again. Ugh.

The new classes for the House Cup went up today and they assignments look amazing! In fact, I'm off to get started right now. It's been too long since I made a project post in this blog!