This Moment – Eight Years

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Happy Eighth Birthday, Dancing Queen!

 

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Yellow Monstrosity

Have you ever made an ugly sweater on purpose? Well, that is what I just did, and I couldn’t be happier about it. Accomplishment. That is what this sweater represents. Another challenge overcome with sticks and strings.

Without going into details (for it is not really my tale to tell), I was commissioned to knit a reproduction of a sweater from an old photo. In the photo (which I can’t show you because it isn’t mine), a boy is wearing a yellow raglan sweater with blue stripes in the neck band. Armed with this photo and the customers measurements, I came up with this- Ravelry project page here

Okay, okay, I’ll model it for you.

This crazy yellow sweater is actually something to be proud of. I had to employ some tricky knitting, some super sleuthing, and some problem solving -problems like the impossible to identify raglan increases. I ended up making a false seam with a crochet hook. I am quite pleased with it.

 

I suspect that the original sweater was being worn inside out… So I knitted it inside out (also handy to avoid purling and entire sweater).The Man happens to be a little smaller than the intended wearer, so I used him as a living dress form (he hated it, but out of his great love for me, he let me drape this thing over him multiple times). That was really handy, as it is really huge on me!

 

I used Cascade Pacific Chunky, a 60%/40% acrylic/wool blend. Not a yarn that I could ever love, but not as bad as it sounds. That said, The Man remarked that it felt plastic-y and like he was wearing a yellow garbage bag (I have managed to turn my entire family into yarn snobs!).

Overall it was a fun fast knit, just challenging enough to make it interesting, just bulky enough to finish it quickly, and just profitable enough to make it worth it.

Besides, sometimes I just need a little comic relief!

 

 

 

A Dress for the Fraggle

I love test knitting. I get to try out a new pattern, meet new designers, and have actual input into the way a pattern is written. I am a picky pattern person – I get so irritated by a badly written pattern, but when I am test knitting, I have direct access to the designer to air my concerns before the pattern has even gone out to the general public. This most recent test knit needed none of my pickiness, though. It was well written from the beginning and the designer was a peach.

Elsie’s Petal Dress (pattern yet to be released) in Baah! Sonoma DK Chocolate Cherries, size 18 months. Ravelry project page here.

Three things about this knit –

1. This yarn was in my Christmas stocking last Christmas and has been just sitting in the stash waiting for just the right project. It is beautiful yarn, with little streaks of lavender, brown, and pink hidden in the rich red tones. I loved working with it. It is just really lovely yarn, if a little overpriced.

2. The pattern is well written and very thorough. I had only very minor input in the editing, at least for this size, because I didn’t run into any problems from cast on to bind off. I hope I get to test for Kate again in the future.

3. Considering my penchant for cloth diapers and the big bubble butt that goes with them, I probably should have done the fuller skirt option. The skirt does fit over her diaper, but there isn’t a whole lot of ease. Live and learn. As it is, I think it’s fine. This dress is for an upcoming wedding, and I will have her in disposable diapers for the traveling anyway. Plus I barely had enough yarn for the regular skirt. Like, two more rows in length and I would have been in trouble.

As I was knitting this, I was envisioning chocolate brown leggings and matching cardigan for winter wear. I might even have the right yarn in the stash.

I have another finished object to show you that is opposite of this one in every way imaginable – big, bulky, bright, ugly… But that shall have to wait for another day. For now I am happy to revel in the wonderful feelings of a job well done.

 

 

 

 

Unschooling Has It’s Limits

I am a big fan of learn-as-you-live homeschooling.  For years our homeschooling style has been very unstructured and play-centered. I believe that curiosity is the best place to start a lesson, and that if my kids are very curious and well equipped with the skills need to find the answers to their questions, then I have done my job. And so far this has been working for us. My Bigs all learned to read when they were interested and wanted to (which happened to be before they were seven years old, but I was prepared to wait longer if necessary). We do math when we cook, play, stack blocks, go grocery shopping, budget our earnings, and every time I can fit it in to our normal day. We do science when we play outside and explore nature  (we live on 5 acres in the country), when we cook, when we go to the zoo, and every time I can fit it in to our normal day. We talk about current events. We read, read, read everything all the time (for a list of good books, see amblesideonline.org). We go to the library weekly (The Boy is a huge fan of non-fiction and regularly checks out books on physics, chemistry, and zoology. Yes, he is nine years old.). We Google everything (“Mama, what kind of bug is this?” “Mama, what do emu’s eat?” “When did man walk on the moon?” and on and on and on….). We watch educational videos. And did I mention that we read, read, read together all the time?

However, I am finding the limit to this style of educating the Bigs. There does come a time when life stops presenting you with opportunities to teach what they need to know. Math is a great example of this. There is a lot of math out there that doesn’t find it’s way into our kitchen. We need to get a book and set ourselves to “real” school. There comes a day when I realize that studying is not a natural skill and writing book reports is necessary on some level and there are some things that we are just going to have to buy text books for (could these be the skills that I mentioned earlier?). There is a time for kids to be kids. A time for play and exploration.

And then there comes a time when kids should be students. I am not talking about the Littles (let them play!). I am talking about The Bookworm. She is now twelve and in the seventh grade and we have decided that it is time for her to learn how to be a student. It isn’t just her age and grade that have influenced this decision, it is also a desire to shape her schooling around her strengths. As her nickname suggests, she is a reader, a thinker, a consumer of books, and she learns best with book and pen in hand. She is not really a hands on learner so much, and while she has learned a lot and thrived under an unschooling system, she is more than ready to hit the books. She is also mature enough to handle it, calm enough to sit through it, interested enough to learn from it, and excited to try something new.

So, this year, our school day has changed a little. The Bookworm is not with us when we read a chapter of “Our Island Story”, she is upstairs writing a book report on “Little Men”. But she does join us for craft projects and she still asks questions that we can Google together. I give her a weeks worth of assignments at the beginning of the week and expect her to manage her time wisely and get it all done (and done well) before the end of the week, when we sit down together to go over it. She is doing the full on amblesideonline school year in true Charlotte Mason style, only more (because she loves to read, so I have her reading the “suggested reading” books as well). And she is doing great! She is learning some things that fascinate her (“Mama, did you know that Pakistan split off from India because….”) and she is pushing through some stuff that she is not so thrilled with (“Do I have to show my work?”). She is learning important skills like time management and that sometimes you have to do things that you don’t want to do.

I am also learning. I am learning that sticking to your homeschool-philosophy-guns isn’t always the best thing and that each kid learns differently. I am learning that I can teach in a more structured way without going crazy and that there is a time when kids should turn into students. I am learning that unschooling has its limits. And that is good, because if I am not tailoring my kids schooling to their style of learning and their strengths and weaknesses, then I am missing one of the biggest benefits of homeschooling. I enjoy unschooling the littlles. And I enjoy hitting the books with the Bigs.

What an adventure this homeschooling thing is!

Dale & Dolly – My Hero

Tuesday Funnies!

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Saffron for The Munchkin

It was just sitting there with only half a sleeve to go, abandoned in the yarn bowl, alone on the top shelf of my yarn cabinet. I had so many “must knit” things going on, that I couldn’t spare an hour to finish it up. Well, yesterday morning I finally found that hour and put the finishing touches on The Munchkin’s little sweater.


Saffron in Malabrigo Arroyo, Archangel size 3T/4T, with ribbon from the dollar store (score!)

Three things about this knit

1. The Pattern is Excellent. Well written, lots of photos, and many different options for customization all come together to make a very pleasant knitting experience. Which is great, because I bought the pattern bundle and plan to make two other sweaters by this designer in the coming months (Cinnamon for the Dancing Queen and Lavanda for The Bookworm). I should have made one size bigger and the sleeves could be longer, but those are my mistakes and not the designers. At least it will get passed down to The Fraggle when The Munchkin grows out of it. I highly recommend this pattern.

 

2. The Yarn. Malabrigo Arroyo is a fine sport weight yarn that knits up nicely and has lots of yardage, plus it is superwash, which is a huge plus when making a sweater for a three year old. But that isn’t why I bought it. The color. Oh, my! The color is fabulous! In true Malabrigo form this yarn is amazing to look at, an adventure to knit with, and a delight to behold! On the flip side (and I know this is my fault for being too lazy to alternate skeins), the two skeins that I had were not identical, so one arm is a bit lighter from the armpit down than the rest of the sweater. I can live with it. I am probably the only one who can tell. When will I ever learn to knit from both skeins?

This is not the arm that is different, in case you were wondering…

3. Three down, three to go, plus three more…. Every year I knit a sweater for each kid. I am halfway done, after finishing The Boy’s Green, The Princess’s Olearia, and now The Munckin’s Saffron. Except that this year I threw in plans for a Man sweater and two for me, too. Hey, it’s only September, right? Plenty of time.

Oh, and there is lots of yarn left. A pair of socks, maybe?

I love finishing a project. I love dressing my girlie in frills and wool.

I think that she likes it, too

 

 

 

 

These Moments – Camping

A Friday ritual inspired by SouleMama. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

So, today’s This Moment picture is actually pictures, plural. Our family camp out was wonderful, and there are too many good pictures to just pick one. 

Dale & Dolly – Taming the Stash Pt. 5

Tuesday Funnies!

“Dale and Dolly” is the collaborative work of The Bookworm and I. After I sketch out my idea in goofy little stick figures and scrawled lines of dialog, I hand it over to my twelve year old daughter who works her magic. Her attention to detail and sense of humor make this comic strip what it is and I give her all the credit for this amazing series.  

Maine Dish Mini Satchel

This months edition of the Spunky Fiber Club was an exciting adventure.


Four ounces of Swaledale in the Eating Maine colorway from Spunky Eclectic

One thing that I really enjoy about being a part of the Spunky Fiber Club is the variety of wools that are offered. This month was no exception. A rough, hairy wool that I would never have picked out for myself offered me an opportunity to broaden my fibery worldview and I even learned a few things along the way.

Another thing that I really like about the club is the people who are in it. They are cheerful, helpful, playful, and very talkative. After I spun my Swaledale (using a long draw for the first time – woohoo!), I had a severely thick and thin, very itchy, and hairy skien of singles. I decided to ply it with something, asked for some help on the Ravelry forum thread related to this months club, and Whamo! I had all the info, opinions, and input that I needed to make my yarn.

The colors are excellent, the feel, not so much. A bag it is.

After much searching, I landed on this one as inspiration and started knitting something that sort of turned out somewhat similar. Only better. In a handspun sort of way.

Call me crazy, but I love it. In a handspun sort of way.

It fits me perfectly. It will hold my wallet, keys and a spare diaper, which is about all that I carry these days.

But, knowing me, it will probably spend most of it’s life as a knitting project bag. Because that is how I roll.

Oh, and I might line it. But I might not. For now, I just want to look at it…

… as I anxiously await the September edition of Spunky fun to arrive.