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. 

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!