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Big Island Wrapper

Summer vacation…it is so wonderful.

I’ve been splitting my time up into chunks — working out — running errands — reading — knitting — napping — watching TV.  Not necessarily in that order either.

My knitting.  Oh my.  I’m working on something for Rooster and his girl, but I had to order a skein of yarn for it, so I cast on a new project, Big Island Wrapper, on June 18th, using Knit Picks Billow yarn.

First of all, can we all give a big hallelujah for Ravelry?  I always research my projects beforehand…looking for errata and suggestions from others to make knitting each pattern easier.  I found out that there were several mistakes in the pattern.

Whew!

The connection sections can be knit a couple of different ways.  I didn’t like the look I was getting with the original way, so I tinked back and reknit, using the suggested changes posted by others.  You can read more specific details on my project page on Ravelry.

The yarn was easy to work with, although I didn’t like that it was thinner in some places than others.  It’s cotton, which I don’t usually knit with, so it’s heavier, but I like the way it slid through my fingers and off of the needles.

It was a fast knit, and before I knew it, I was giving it a bath.

Then, I blocked it.

I love the look of the netting stitch in the orange section.

I bound off using a picot edge…a lovely touch that beats adding fringe any day.

This is not the usually airy shawl that I’m known to make.

The heavier cotton gives it a solid drape.  It will be warm in the fall.

I am pleased with the way it turned out and the color scheme.  The palette is appropriate given my proximity to the ocean.

This shawl will probably be another favorite!  I look forward to wearing it in a few months.

Laminaria Shawl

A lot of things have gone by the wayside this school year.

I’ve been an inconsistent blogger.

My housekeeping has gone to pot.

My knitting, though, has not ceased.

In January, I cast on for this term’s OWL…a three-month project that reads almost like a dissertation when a proposal is submitted.  We’re hard-core on Ravelry!

I love to knit lace, so the Laminaria Shawl fit the bill.

I used Malabrigo yarn I’d purchased some time before (I didn’t have to use the pink, but it was there as a backup plan in case I ran out of the purple), but it wasn’t long before I hit a snag.

Thank heavens for Ravelry.  Folks, if you want to make this shawl, DO YOUR HOMEWORK!  There are some issues with symmetry in the pattern.  The KAL (knitalong) forum for this pattern proved invaluable and helped me figure out how to adjust the stitches on the left side in the first couple of charts.

I used a lot of lifelines and about halfway through quit counting stitches.  It gets old counting out three to four hundred stitches.  Relying on my ability to hit the end of a section with the right stitch was scary, and I often tinked back to fix mistakes.

Still, I persisted.

Mom’s health crisis nearly did me in at the end.  Deadline knitting can be stressful, but it’s also a motivating factor when I knit.  That’s been a big bonus since joining the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup.

I took this project with me during both trips to visit my mom.  I knit in her hospital room by the light provided by the bathroom during the times when Mom’s headaches were so bad that she couldn’t tolerate any extra light.

I knit in the car when Super Sis drove the second trip down.

I knit when the Mr. picked me up and we traveled to Orlando for a Spring Break vacation.

I knit on the way home and then the day after that.

Blocking went much quicker than I’d originally expected, and I was able to take pictures the next day.

I do love my picture taking, although I sometimes fear that my neighbors will one day commit me to the loony bin; the sight of a camera on a tripod and me running back and forth to set the self-timer must be hysterical to behold.

A special thanks to the Mr. who did snap a few photos for me.  He grew aggravated, snapped a photo of my rear end for laughs (husbands…sheesh), but tolerated my request for help…to a point.

I wound up using nearly both skeins of yarn (935 yards), more than meeting the 800 yard requirement for this Charms OWL.

I tried to figure out a way to show off the lace work.  The purple yarn was difficult to photograph.  I hit upon an idea…using the shawl like stained glass.  My front window provided the perfect backdrop.

I’ll let you peruse the rest of my photos.  It’s a smorgasbord, that’s for sure!  If you want more details about the project, visit my project page on Ravelry!  I’m Auburnchick over there!

Candlepower Socks

My strategy for getting lesson plans finished before the weekend is beginning to reap dividends.

Yesterday, I finished another project!

I present my Candlepower Socks…the second pair of three proposed socks for this term’s OWL.

It took me thirteen days to complete this pair.  I could have done it in a week had it been summer (aka no responsibilities).

The yarn is Gypsy Girl Creations, Transitions, and the colorway is Evening Solitude.  I used 316 yards (almost two skeins) and size 0 needles.

This pattern was less tedious than the pair I finished a couple of weeks ago.  The pattern was easy to understand and just made sense, if you know what I mean.

The only thing I wish is that I’d gotten to the yellow part of the yarn.  I had envisioned starting with this color but didn’t wind my yarn that way.  Oh well.

I have one more pair of socks to complete before the end of November and hope to cast on sometime this week.  It may be the weekend, though, because I know how zombied out I get during the week…especially with me working so hard early on to make my lesson plans…staying up into the wee hours of the night to meet my goal.

Stay on the lookout though.  You know I’ll share!

Hitchhiker Scarf

As you saw when I posted pictures of my Vernal Equinox Shawl, I’ve spent a good portion of my summer knitting.

About a week ago, I finished another large project…my Hitchhiker Scarf.  The pattern is available on Ravelry.

I knit it for the final round of Quidditch in my Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup group on Ravelry.  You might recall that I’m a Hufflepuff.  We complete projects that fit into prompts…all in the hopes of accruing lots of points to help our respective houses win the Cup (just like the books).

This final round of Quidditch was brutal.  In fact the entire term’s Quidditch matches were challenging.  You had to craft for certain teams and could not proceed to the next round unless you had crafted for the previous rounds.  Thus, the number of people making things went down each round.

Also adding to the challenges of each round were yardage requirements.  The final round’s rules stipulated that crafters use a minimum of 450 yards of fiber.

Oh word!

Hence, my Hitchhiker Scarf.

I dug deep into my stash for the yarn and selected Regia Silk.

I bought the yarn so long ago that it’s been discontinued.

Ahem.

What drew me to this pattern and the yarn was the casualness of it.

I love the color of the yarn.  I think that will make this scarf pair well with a pair of blue jeans and blouse or button down shirt.

I was only able to knit 37 pattern repeats and bound off on the 38th.  The pattern was super, super easy, and I had it memorized after only a few repeats.

As I played with the scarf, I tried out different ways of wearing it and discovered, to my delight, that it can be worn as if it is a shawl.  This pleases me.

If you’re looking for something to whip up as a gift, I highly recommend this pattern!

Vernal Equinox Shawl

Although it has seemed as though I’ve been sleeping the summer away, I have, in fact, kept myself busy…reading…watching many, many episodes of Alias, AND knitting.

“Sid, Sloan is here,” Marshall mutters in a barely-audible voice. heehee

The Harry Potter group I’m involved with on Ravelry encourages “students” to propose and complete OWLs.  An OWL is a larger project that requires more time to complete.  It’s a fairly big deal to propose and must meet the specifics of the prompt a student selects.

I set my sights on a Runes project…one that required multiple charts.  Enter in my Vernal Equinox Shawl, a free pattern you can find on Ravelry.

Here’s my swatch…

I’d purchased Cascade Alpaca yarn for it during Spring Break.

I cast on May 25th.

The project grew…and grew…and grew.

For the first time in my knitting career, I used lifelines.  A lifeline is what you create when you run thin yarn or thick thread through a row of stitches.  I used quilt thread and ran it through the live stitches on my needle after I finished each chart.  Thank heavens because there were a few times when I had to tink back to fix mistakes, and because the yarn was so thin, stitches dropped.  Fortunately, the lifeline caught the dropped stitches, so I could put them back on my needle easily.

I finally got to the bind off row and got stuck.  I wanted to do the crochet bind off but wasn’t sure how, despite visiting YouTube.  I contacted a sweet friend, and she invited me to her home on her day off.  We spent a wonderful hour and a half together while she helped me figure out the instructions.  Note to anyone doing this pattern…TRUST THE INSTRUCTIONS.  They work out in the end.  In other words, don’t overthink them (ahem).

I began the cast off the next day.  It took me over NINE HOURS to finish.

I kid you not.

I had 652 stitches on the needle and was freaked out that the stitch count wouldn’t come out right.

I had created a chart to keep track of what I was supposed to do…

Fortunately (and surprisingly), I reached the end right on track with the pattern.  God had mercy on me!!!  😀

It took me a couple of hours to block it (pin it out).  I ran my blocking wires through the decrease stitches, making points in the process.

Here’s what it looked like when I took it off of the wires…

Here are close-ups…

On Sunday, the Mr. acquiesced to my request for photography assistance.  It was simply too humid to be running back and forth between the tripod and self-timer on the camera, which is how I usually take my knitting pictures.

I’m quite proud of this shawl, so please forgive my crazy number of pictures.

I’m not sure if I’m going to propose an OWL for the Fall term.  The beginning of school is crazy-busy, and I don’t want to stress myself needlessly.  However, I do like the challenge of a larger project.  I also think that an OWL would help me take time out for myself…something I feel guilty about doing because of my teaching responsibilities.  Guess I’ll just have to pray about it.

Either way, I hope you enjoyed the photos!  Thanks for allowing me to brag a bit.  😀

Showering in the Hodgpodge

Can you believe that it is the last day of April?????  I sure can’t!  In fact, as I am getting ready to tear this month off of the calendars in my room, I am absolutely amazed.  We have four and a half more weeks of school left.  I have no idea where the time went!  But alas, I do still have four more weeks, so I must hurry along so I can focus on my lessons.  Let me answer Joyce’s questions before returning to education-minded tasks.

1.  April showers bring May flowers or so the saying goes. Are you blooming where you’re planted as we begin the month of May?

Bloom where you are planted.

This was on a plaque my high school English teacher’s kept on her desk, and it’s always stuck with me.  I blogged about the motto, and her impact on my life, here.  I also blogged about this theme as I was getting my very first classroom ready nearly five years ago.

So, am I blooming where I’m planted?

I can answer with a confident YES!  In fact, it’s been the motto for my life.  In every job I’ve held, I have excelled.  That’s not because jobs have come easily for me, but because I’ve worked very hard to learn how to complete my responsibilities to my fullest ability.

My mom was never happy with shoddy work.  It didn’t matter if I was cleaning the house or fixing my hair.  Perfection was her goal and, thus, mine.

I have found teaching to be a difficult skill to master.  I’m not sure that I’ll ever quite master it, but I am most definitely blooming as my roots grow deeper into the soil of professional development, gentle nurturing by the mentors in my life, and a personal demand for excellence.

I can see the results on my students’ faces as they enter class each day…when we have discussions about their learning and my teaching…when they share their deepest concerns with complete trust in me.

Yes, I am blooming, and I give God all the glory for His sustenance and love that fertilize my soul every day.

2.  On a scale of 1-10, with 1 being no big deal, and 10 being full scale panic, rank your fear of spiders.

A picture paints a thousand words…

3.  May is National Salad Month (who knew???)…besides lettuce, what are two must-have ingredients in your favorite salad?

I really like almond slivers, for the texture, and tomatoes.  I just love salads, so pretty much whatever you put on one (vegan-friendly), I’m good to go!

4.  I mentioned on my blog last week that my Daughter1 will be moving to Washington State after she is married. Of the following sites in the Northwest, which would you most like to see in person-Crater Lake (Oregon), Seattle (Washington), Vancouver (British Columbia), San Juan Islands (Washington),  Mt. Rainer (Washington) Oregon Coast (Oregon), Mt. St. Helens (Washington), or Olympic National Park (Washington)

I’ve seen Mt. Ranier, from the air, and it is gorgeous!  I’ve also seen Vancouver and Seattle.  Lovely cities!!!  I think I’d enjoy seeing Mt. St. Helens…especially after wondering about it many years after the volcanic explosion during the 80’s.  I remember reading stories and seeing news reports about the mountain’s healing.

5.  This coming weekend marks the 140th running of the Kentucky Derby…when did you last race (literally or figuratively) to cross a finish line?

This past Sunday, I worked feverishly to finish a blanket for a coworker.  We had her baby shower on Monday.

The blanket, hats, and wash cloth were much appreciated.

6.  What is something little you love?

I love my little Ravetar…my robes, so to speak, for the new Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup term.  Remember that I am a knitting nerd.  This term (the next three months), I’ll be one of two moderators for the Eye Candy thread.  I was asked to do this after someone noticed that I’d been giving positive feedback to the finished projects people had been posted.  I guess that’s just my teacher self coming out…wanting to kudos whenever possible.

7.  Would you say you are more of a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner? Elaborate.

I am definitely a kinesthetic learner.  I learn best by doing, as evidenced by my many how-to posts.

8.  My Random Thought

Need further proof of my HP nerdiness?

Take a look at the picture I edited using pixlr.

I’ve also decided that I MUST have the following pair of shoes…

Sorry.  The new term officially starts on the 1st.  I’m overworked and desperate for some non-teacher fun!

Balancing Work With Play

As you know, I tend to be an overachiever and a workaholic.

This often leaves me feeling extremely burned out by May.

One thing that this past summer did, with all of my self-indulged pampering, was remind me that I need to carve out time for myself on a regular basis so I don’t have to play catchup later on.

With that in mind, I joined the Harry Potter Knit/Crochet House Cup (HPKCKC) on Ravelry.  This forum is a friendly competition where students are sorted into houses, complete “classwork” according to themed prompts, participate in Quidditch, and enjoy the company of other fiber fanatics.

Participating this summer did WONDERS for me.  I don’t have a local knitting group, so people kind of look glassy-eyed when I try to talk about my projects.  Getting to know fellow members has, once again, stretched my horizons globally, and I’ve grown to love these sweet people who are trying, like me, to find balance in their lives.

A few days ago, I got sorted into Hufflepuff, and I am thrilled!  I’ve been scheming…trying to figure out how to fit projects into prompts…submitting a proposal for an OWL…

That’s how I spent Saturday and Sunday.

Today is Monday…a holiday.

It’s back to reality and a long to-do list that did not get any smaller with my self-imposed “time off.”

It’s long.  I probably won’t get everything done.  I’ve listed the items in the order of importance…at least the top half.

Feeling rejuvenated from my days of play, I am ready to attack this list.

Maybe that’s the secret…getting energy from being rested.

Hmmm…an interesting thought.

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