Sunday, December 30, 2012

Hot Heads

First, some non-knitted hot heads.  Just before the big vacation and the snow started coming, Mr. Sophanne and I had the pleasure of playing with da brudders at the local mall.  While we are not fans of the local mall 2 weeks before Christmas, there is an indoor play area. Woot.

Here I am with two of the 3 brudders- getting all three in one picture facing the camera is next to impossible.  This is as good as it gets.  Mr. Sophanne picked up these reindeer lids at the local Claire's and you can imagine the sight we were to behold with 2 twins and older brudder on our way to see Santa Claus.  As a side note, isn't it always the case that the man disappears from activities and returns with surprises such as these?

The next hot head comes in the adorable form of Mr. Sophanne's granddaughter who happens to be with all of her cousins in Paris.  Note last year's Christmas hat on her head.  That hat has likely seen more of Europe than I have. I am so proud.

All scarves seen (and not seen in this picture) were knitted by her mama- who took this summer's knitting lessons to heart and knit no less than 10 scarves in 3 months.  Socks are next for that girl!  Again, I am so proud.

Hot Head the Next:  CousinofSophanne has a birthday coming up and wears a purple coat.  Enter Charlene Schurch's Hat's On and the standard stockinette with ribbing thing.  The colors match her coat perfectly and it was yet more destashing.

Hot head the most- Knitnightmarc made a balaclava that I accidentally stumbled upon on Ravelry this week.  They kind of creep me out.

And yet with the recent shoveling of snow I've been obligated to do, I began to see the advantage of such head gear.  Enter this pattern called "from Russia with Love.

The cables and lighter color make it look less criminal (I'm guessing that few criminals or ninjas are sporting  malabrigo balaclavas)  but alas, it is not as finished as I had hoped.  The proclaimed advantage to a balaclava is the fact that it can be worn as a hat, a cowl or a full on ski mask thingie.  Note to self.  When it says "bind off loosely, just bite the bullet and do a sewn bind off.    The business around the eyes, while lovely is nothing less than form fitting and will not stretch over my head.

Hopefully I can solve this before the "G" storm arrives!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The magic of my knit night friends.

KnitnightTara's homemade Christmas card from last year.

KnitnightMarc's homemade Christmas card from this year.  Why yes, it's and embroidered ornament done on "go away paper" or whatever it's called.  And sewing machine on paper.  Crazy amazing.

This is the envelope for KnitniteTara's 2012 card-

This is the front.  She doesn't take full credit because she purchased a laser paper cutter this year.  I would be taking full credit.  That laser paper cutter doesn't design and cut alone.

Open up and turn the card and then there is this:

So much glitter, so much glue, so much thread, so much talent.  Next year I'm tempted to join the "card making club" just because by seeing my anti-handiwork, the creators of this magic will be even more grateful for their own skills.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

To wrangle and continue.

As was all of the world, I was devastated on December 14.  Unstoppable crying for 5 days.  A day and a half of school missed.  The following things did not make it much easier, but it helped.

When I finally returned to school and taught students, I realized that every child I see is really "one of those babies."  Only they are here.  And alive.  It is my job to cherish them for all that is sacred and magical in them- just as I am grieving the loss to the world of all that was sacred and magical in those innocent victims.  I hope that for the rest of my life I am able to pause with that perspective always.

I spent last week reading the book Columbine by Dave Cullen.  We are all still striving to understand Newtown.  We won't be able to.  Columbine is a work that Dave Cullen took 10 years to write as he (appropriately enough) "culled" all of the information from other books that were written, police interviews, the journals of the perpetrators,  etc., etc.  All that was available.

 What I got from that is that we can not find reason in insanity. I realize that I do not need to know who or why this most recent shooter was.  He is scarily similar to those who have gone before him and until we find a better way to identify and treat sociopaths (and I use that term clinically- those without the capacity to feel empathy), there will be tragedies both large and small.

I have opinions on mental health but they are not informed.  I have opinions on guns but they are not informed. Although the headline Studies show that countries that have more guns have more shootings sort of cuts through any confusion for me.

I find it ironic that those who so heartily support second amendment rights permitting gun ownership ignore and dispute the fact that our country's creation was based on the separation of church and state.

It has been hard to watch the earth continue to spin.  But it is all anyone can do.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The shared pain and remnants of fear wash over us all like a giant tsunami.  There is no relief, only wave after wave.  I am holding everyone in my heart.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Random Random

It is what it says. Random.

For your continued Zombie Nutcracker amusement- rather than the traditional Santa's shop for kids to buy junk for themselves their parents, our PTO chose to buy a craft of some sort to make and gift for the holidays. Ironically enough, the 5th grade students received wooden nutcrackers to decorate. They've mostly all already seen the google image page of zombie nutcrackers. I may have some 'splainin' to do. Oy.

Epic Mickey 2. New game for Mr. Sophanne. He defeated the first monster, went back to add "player 2" and erased all progress. I mention this not because it matters a whole lot to me but because of the effect Epic Mickey has had on my life.

In the game, you paint things blue to fix them and paint things green (paint thinner) to make them disappear. Mr. Sophanne continues to buy ice cream drumsticks. I continue to search for ways to avoid them. This evening when he asked me if I wanted one, I said no and then imagined as he ate his, that I was making it disappear with paint thinner.

News on something I hate the most. Self righteous and mildly proselytizing Christians in my general circle of life who regularly behave contrary to the Golden Rule. There was one today who snapped like a firecracker at me. As a rule, I am not someone who gets snapped at often. In fact, more than once I've been complimented for my ability to facilitate calm and level-headedness. When snapping happens, I take umbrage and while I know I need to let it go, it's much harder when the snapee takes such pride in being a good person. And now feel better for being able to "tell on her" on the blog.

Finally, I finished the Vertigo vest at knight night and the awesome Gina took probably the best picture I'll manage to get. Sometimes I am so lazy. I am pleased with the results. It will get blocked this weekend. I am hoping that someday the weather outside and in my building will allow me to wear it more than from the house to the car in the morning.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Another episode of life inside my brain.

Every year in December the k-2er's listen to, act out portions of, and watch George Ballanchine's New York City Ballet's version of The Nutcracker. Nothing unusual there in music teacher world.

Today a pile of 2nd graders were particularly lethargic in their reenactment of the opening party scene. I suggested that they looked like zombies.

And then, I couldn't stop myself from playing "what if." Out loud. What if the ballet were made of all zombies. What if instead of the little brother breaking the nutcracker's head, just ripped the little zombie sister's head off. And then, when Dad goes to scold him, little brother pulls Dad's arm off.

Oh the laughter. Oh the inappropriateness. Oh the hilarity. As you may suspect, 2nd graders love me.

And then, just now, in case it was a been there done that sort of idea, I googled "zombie nutcracker" and got a page like this-

Bwah ha ha ha!

Sunday, December 02, 2012


That's the only word I can think of to describe my inability to read directions.

I spent all day today working on the top front panels to finish that vest.

At about 5:30 p.m., reality paid a visit and I snapped into realizing both were all kinds of wrong.

I think I leave the comfort of socks, hats and lace just so I can laugh at myself.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Size 8 Needles, an outburst, and some sad

Size 8 needles knit items much more quickly than size 3.  The beautiful Kathy Zimmerman cable sweater is slogging along.  Slogging mostly because I can concentrate for approximately 2 rows of cabling before I know I have to stop.

That I might have something to turn to, I matched stash with pattern and found Vertigo in some malabrigo  in the colors dusty rose and pearl ten.  Pearl ten? It must be secret code for "matches dusty rose in a cool way."  As always with wintertime pictures, colors appear less vibrant than in real life.  Some of the colorwork is a little bunchy- if blocking doesn't fix it, I really will rip and reknit.  I like this vest that much.  Does this really make 3 knitting posts in a row?

Confidentiality prohibits me from going into detail but let me just say that my Monday morning after a week of vacation began with a student banging limbs on thunderously resonating metal bookshelves and cabinets screaming (not at me) 


One would think that would be a terrible way to start the week and, in fact, it sort of was.  BUT, after that first thing on a Monday morning, no matter what happens the rest of the week, it's a good week.

What makes me sadder than sad is that I can't share the story with my blog friend Nicole Stanger McMaster at Throwslikeagirl.  Nicole lost her battle with breast cancer this week after an aggressive form of mets popped up seemingly out of nowhere and took her from this planet entirely too soon.  

I found her knitting blog and later found out we shared professions as well.  It's pretty strange and horrible to lose an internet friend.  While playing with internets friends, you feel so connected and yet when you grieve, no one in your physical space (only fellow ethereal bloggers) really understands the extent and significance of the loss- and there is the fear that expressing too much sorrow to and for family members makes you seem kind of creepy.

So, HEY NICOLE out there in Spiritual Internet World, I'm glad I got to know you.  I'm glad you're no longer in pain, and I'm sad that you're no longer here.  

And that my friends, with tears in my eyes,  is all a memorial can really say. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

c'est finis

MountainMama is going to get someone she knows who sews to line these.  There are so many mistakes and small oopsies, that I don't even want to think about it.  These definitely fall into the HANDMADE category and I'm not sure that they're as built to last as the actual John Deere tractors,  but it will do for a few years.  Fortunately, they look pretty good from a distance.  Fortunately they are for little boys with small hands that can actually fit inside the top.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

What else I did over Thanksgiving Break.

They need a little finishing at the top  but right now they're blocking with plastic bags.  To this I say, Dear Intarsia, we are getting a divorce.  Love Sophanne.

Heading to Aunt of Sophanne's for some Bob Evan's pre-prepared meals, Yahtzee, and if cousin has her way, Monopoly!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wherein I have a new friend and we had an adventure.

It never ceases to amaze me when that happens.  This new friend wants to learn to knit better, taught at nearly all of the same schools I have in my career (just a year or two ahead of me), shares my political inclinations (unlike many in my surrounding area) and laughs a lot and sometimes laughs at inappropriate things.  She has more driving phobias than I and so today we had an adventure.  In the "things always happen for a reason" category, I met her at one of the new schools I have this year.

We picked up the "T"  about where knit night meets and rode it all the way to the North Side of Pittsburgh. We saw this sign when we disembarked.  Not sure  about what "area of refuge" really means but there was one there in case we needed it.

When we left the station, we saw this.  And, as it turns out we were in the same parking garage that Mr. Sophanne and I parked in when we went to a Pirates game this summer.  No traffic for us today though.  The Light Rail did all the work.  (note the green T sign.  I love the T)

After walking a mile we found our way here:

The National Aviary.   It should have been a half mile walk but one has to expect some misdirection in life.

Once inside, we saw some birds.  These two birds remind me of the story of Ulysess visiting Circes Palace and a bird warning him of danger ahead.  

These two were just adorable and photogenic.

We signed up for a Pirates of the Caribbean Parrot show but somehow got locked out of showtime and they don't let latecomers in.  I was thrown off for a good 15 minutes or so.  I was a little surprised at how attached I had become to the idea of seeing that show.

The flamingos are always fascinating as were the penguins.  The penguins begged to be anthropomorphized and I had a most excellent voice and dialogue going on for them.  (think Henri le chat noir except more of an Art Carney kind of voice)  It was perhaps that activity that distracted me from noticing that it was in fact show time.

Back on the T to the Wood St. exit where we found a place called Ewe Can Knit.  I was suspicious when the only reference on the web to them was their facebook page.  It was a pen and stationery store that had yarn on the second floor as an afterthought.  There was some yarn that could have been purchased but it seemed like it was there mostly for decoration.  

The thing is, I have always wanted to have this adventure and feel comfortable doing it.  I plan it in my head every summer and wonder why, at the end of the summer, I haven't done it.  And I realized that you don't hear of many solo adventurers.  Usually they at least travel in pairs.  And really, I can count on one hand the number of people who have the time, energy and desire to have the same kind of adventures I like to have so today was a lucky lucky day.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Awesomeness of Tara v. 8.2

By now you know that knitnightTara is amazing.  If you need a refresher, you can look here and here.

It's time for yet another episode in the series The Awesomeness of Tara.

She knit these lovelies for someone to take to  a "redneck" baby shower.  Camo sweater, bright orange buttons, and cowboy boot booties.  What you can't see is that the booties are fleece lined.

The person she made them for has offered payment and she doesn't know what to charge.  I have offered to be the financial consultant of All that is Tara and said $50- she thought that was high- she has $15 in materials.  I'm saying you'd pay AT LEAST THAT for the cuteness of the boots alone in a high end store and these are better made.

And yet, while these are amazing and adorable, they do not properly give tribute to awesome.  This evening instead of knitting, she was putting together her homemade Christmas card list.  You may remember the knitting penguin from last year.  She was talking about people that she has no real work/family/knitting relationship with that she regularly sends them to and I said "You could send one to Aunt of Sophanne"- knowing the meticulous time and care that go into these cards I was mostly just joking- kiddingly adding names to her list where none were needed- also knowing that they've never met.

She then pulled out the list, passed it to me and said "She's already on there."

That. Girl.  She is something else.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Impish Little Trickster Knitting Fairy

is hired by the knitting goddess to do her dirty work.  Her magic powers include promoting self doubt and suspect vision among knitters.

Case in point:

This is about 43 rows of the back of Kathy Zimmerman's Welcome Back, Friend Sweater.  It's about six inches long right now.

Case in point.

Sunday Morning I had 41 rows.  Sunday evening I had 43 rows.  Monday afternoon I had 47 rows.  Early Monday evening I had 41 rows and now there are once again 43.

The way to avoid the impish little trickster knitting fairy is to CLEARLY mark where you are in the pattern when you stop knitting.   On Monday evening I believed that I had started knitting in the wrong place and tinked 6 rows (WITH CABLES and using a cable needle to uncable).

When I began to start what I thought was the correct place, I realized that the tinked rows were actually correct and previous tinking was an unnecessary.

The bonus is that I love Louet Gems Sportweight.  I also love the chia goo goo(something like that) needles which are as delightful as addi turbo lace at half the price.  I've learned my lesson with over purchasing and managed not to order some more immediately because I love it and more has to be better. At least I've learned that lesson for today.

Friday, November 09, 2012

What I wanted to ask my neighbors but didn't.

When I came home this evening the neighbor kids were burning leaves that were next to a tree and under a tire swing. One cherub was swinging over the fire as the others fanned the flames.

Did I miss the sale at the stupid store? And by that I mean the store that SELLS stupid!

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Happy Birfday!

It's been 5 happy years since we've had the Liza girl.  We both are a little bigger and a little happier. (except I think she's sticking her tongue out at me in picture number 2)

Sunday, November 04, 2012

Barely Knitting? Knitting a Bear.

One of the yarns that came home with me at the knit night trick or treatwas some bulky Tahki Primary Baby- from Knitnight Marc

Knitnight Tara and Knitnight Alison were hoping for a unicorn.  I knew if I didn't jump in on it, I would forget what I was going to do and the yarn would marinate until the next swap.

He's pretty adorable.  I do get anxious assembling.  Watching Knitnight Gina do it the last time helped, I feel much better about his facial features.  His arms went on pretty well too.  It's the legs and the ears that aren't my favorite but when you get to that point, you just want him done. 

Name him anyone?

Clutter Wars

You may recall that 2 summers ago I did some serious book culling.  I was proud and felt lighter after the process.

After last months trip to the yarn store, my yarn/book room was overflowing with stuff.  Good stuff, but still stuff.  I decided I'd see if there was any more culling to be done.

As a result I probably donated $400 or more worth of books to the school librarian and three plastic bins (not the biggest but the medium size) to the used book store where I bought most of the books in the first place.

I cleared the shelves of about 5 bags of knitting yarn for the Trick Or Treat exchange at knit night.  I also finally parted with several of the Namaste bags that weren't my favorite and took the financial loss as a lesson in how many knitting bags any one person actually needs.

And then I decided.   No more new hobbies.  No more old hobbies that I don't do anymore.

Knitting and reading are officially my hobbies.

The dried up painting supplies will be thrown away.

I have a fabulously wonderful plan for all of the sewing fabric and notions that I buy every time I see an awesome seamstress on the blogs.  Better still, it does not involve me sewing. (in fact won't that master seamstress be surprised when all of her inspiration shows up at her doorstep?- but sometimes we need other people to either use or throw away our stuff for us)

I don't need to go visit that lady at the quilt store who forgot to call me when classes started.  I don't need quilting classes.

While I am glad to have the computer programs that play with film editing and video, I don't have the skills, time, computer memory, inspiration, or motivation to really dig into it.  Ditto with photo editing.

I can admire a craft, skill, hobby, whatever, without throwing myself into it and imagining that I will become the undiscovered superstar of that medium.

There is still some work to do when it comes to digital information- my new place for reading.

I had another episode of iTunes insomnia that brought all of the early music of The Police back into my life.

 It takes a good bit of restraint (sometimes unavailable) to prevent myself from online purchasing every book  that I've read a good review about.

While I am finally letting go of a notable amount (for me) of the physical clutter I have, I still have no system for monitoring and managing and preventing the digital clutter.  I'm thinking that time will come when it's time.

However small my uncluttering steps are in this lifetime, I am proud.  I know people who do not ever have "enough" in spite of everything new they acquire.

And while I am not really a comment whore (I know you're out there reading and for that I'm grateful), I am truly interested in how other people manage "stuff"- both the digital and the physical.  If you have time and are so inclined, it would be interesting and helpful to discover other people's secrets of stuff.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Because what's a knitting blog without knitting?

The field trip to natural stitches yielded quite a stash of Louet Gems sport weight.  Pictured below is a poorly photographed start of Kathy Zimmerman's Welcome Back, Old Friend.  It's a slow knit, mostly because I am not at all interested in trying to frog cables.  I'm hoping the sport weight wool will make this wearable some day.

Re: that field trip to Natural Stitches.  The first time we went (a year ago) I had no plans. Actually my only plan was to pick up whatever yarn happened to strike my fancy.  I got some nice yarn.  I used most of it (except for the 5.000.000 yards of Lorna's Lace Helen's Lace)  Occasionally I buy laceweight yarn as if you could rip one of those out in a weekend.

This time I was quite smug.  I spent the week before the trip taking note of which patterns I knew I wanted to dig into, and the amount and type of yarn I would need for each.  While I would say that I was mostly successful (the Louet Gems a prime example), something happened when I was looking at the Madelintosh sockweight (by the way does anyone EVER make socks out of that?)  

Somehow I convinced myself that I really needed to make not one but three different versions of Color Affection, so I purchased 9 different fabulous skeins of Madelinetosh sock yarn.  Hello allowance- goodbye allowance! (and then some.)  The truth of the matter is that I neither have nor had any intention of making Color Affection.  It was merely the vehicle for purchasing more of that gorgeous yarn. Bad Knitter.  Bad Bad Knitter.  Someday you'll see this yarn but it deserves more than a crappy nighttime photo.

Also regarding purchasing yarn with the planning process.  It's more than a little ridiculous/hilarious that while in the midst of that great store I was convinced that I would have time to knit 2 vests, a severely cabled sweater, several pairs of mittens, three color affection shawls and three intarsia Christmas stockings before I made it back  next year (or sooner.)  Let's just say that if that really happens, I am one Bad Ass Mo Fo Knitter.

And finally in the category of "Welcome to Middle Age,"  My favoritest KnitnightGina brought me an early birthday present last week.  Two pairs (varying strengths) of reading glasses.   She says she looked for the ugliest ones she could find for which I am grateful.  The more garish (I prefer that to ugly) they are, the less likely I'll be to lose them.  So far I only need them for dark yarn and lace weight but I felt like it was an initiation into the "hey you're like us club."  And also a fabulous early birthday present.

As for the birthday, it is still a week and a half away and that Mr. Sophanne cracks me up.  The trip to the symphony was the Best Present Ever.  I have no need for anything else. HOWEVER...

Mr. Sophanne didn't want to go to the casino alone last weekend.  He said "here's $100, it can be your birthday money, let's go to the casino."  And by birthday money he secretly means "birthday money so that you will gamble at the casino money."  I was not a big winner but I didn't mind so much, I had no attachment to that cash.  Spending it at the casino was almost a present to him. 

He handed me the same amount last night (after he had his name drawn and was a winner) and said "you shouldn't spend your birthday money at the casino." So I'm "up" again and instead of going to the casino, I'll be going to a ceramic painting place tomorrow that is donating 10% of the proceeds to a breast cancer fundraising team which is money MUCH better spent.

Because what's a blog without adorable dog pictures

I've got some catching up to do.  So I thought I'd start out by distracting you with some gratuitous but adorable dog photos.  Every now and then the girl likes to pretend she's still puppy sized and she cuddles up to Mr. Sophanne while he's working on his laptop.

This moment is less special and more usual.  Under the covers with her ice cream cone.  Just like me after an episode of Sleep Eating.  Why oh why does he continue to buy drumsticks? I love the left eye leering sideways and the paw over the cone.

We were experiencing difficulties with our camera and Mr. Sophanne wanted to take a few test shots.  Mostly I wanted to edit out the fact that we don't have a mattress pad on the bed and the fact that the sheet is always undone  but I yam what I yam and that's a pretty adorable picture.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Devoted Husbandry

Here we see Mr. Sophanne watching the third quarter of the Mountaineer Game, dressed and ready to leave IN THE MIDDLE OF IT to go hear the Pittsburgh Symphony.

And here I am in front of Heinz Hall, waiting for things to begin.

What a performance.  

I don't listen to much music.  When you hear the sounds I hear all day long, it's necessary to sort of "clear the palette."  By the time the palette is cleared the evening/weekend is usually over and it's back to work.

The thing that makes music music is that you can't express what it says or does with words.  If you could, there would be no need for it.  The part of me that wants to share the experience with you is piling words upon words of boring description.  The part of me that has any sense at all knows I might as well just say, "It was Awesome." and leave it at that.  I will add though, that tears fell uncontrollably from my eyes for the first five minutes because the sounds were so beautiful.

And, while we did have directions to get there, I managed to navigate Mr. Sophanne in and out of the city without any back tracking, illegal u-turns or traffic citations.

Friday, October 12, 2012

I wouldn't mind it if only...

the doctor would believe me and there was something I could do about it.

I've been having weird physical responses to the world lately.  The worst of which is a "just below the surface" itchy skin but also includes, sweating all day, hands trembling, dry mouth, brain fog that includes impeded ability to multitask, and more.

The general practitioner says "you're too young."  I say "hey buddy, just because I look so youthful and just because YOU'RE a man and older than me does NOT mean that I am too young.

If you wonder what might be causing such physical symptoms, you need only to go here.

All of this stuff is on the "it's personal, you don't share that shit with people" side of life but that boat's done sailed and I'm glad for it because I could really use some psychological support here.

I know many of you women blog friends are older and wiser than I- or have mothers who are older and wiser.  If you'd care to share what you know of the experience and how you managed or didn't manage in the comments, maybe someone will be directed here and feel comfort and compassion.

It's hard to write clever posts when your skin is crawling, which mine has been for the last month.  There was some temporary relief with prednisone (alas it had issues of its own) but as soon as I was done, the skin crawling began again.

As for the brain fog and multitasking, I take comfort that while I was once brilliant at that, I am now within the standard deviation which likely makes a lot of the people around me who think slower than I do most content.

Next month I will be 47.

In other news, the tickets are purchased and tomorrow night we go to the Pittsburgh Symphony.  While I am incredibly happy to be hearing Mozart's Requiem performed live, today I am primarily concerned with sitting still through the itchies and not having emotional overload as a result of the beauty of it.

If ever you knew something and were thinking about commenting and sharing what you know, today would be a great day to do it-


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Things that make me happy today

There are 2, no wait, 3, no wait, FOUR FIVE things making me happy this evening.

Thing #1- the weather.  I am so glad to have cool air surrounding me.  It's the first time in 2 months that I haven't broken into an unintentional sweat.  TMI?  Well, it means a lot to me.

Thing #2- My birthday present from Mr. Sophanne. Next Saturday we are going to hear the Pittsburgh Symphony do Mozart's Requiem.  This piece moves me like no other.  Mr. Sophanne was not excited about going to the symphony.  He was, however, glad to be making me as happy as happy can get.  Aunt of Sophanne says he'll fall asleep and snore.  I am crossing my fingers that he is moved by the experience and wants to do it again but I am not holding my breath.  If I get comfortable driving, Aunt of Sophanne and I will go to future events instead.  If driving means I get to go then comfortable I will get.  Aunt of Sophanne is hoping he'll snore.

Thing #3-  Knitting friends gathered for dinner and a trek to Natural Stitches, my favorite yarn store.  This time around, I looked at patterns and didn't buy as many random skeins of yarn.  That did not stop me from random skeins of Madeline Tosh sock yarn that I pretended to be gathering to make a couple of Color Affections.  Also garnered was enough Louet Gems sport weight to make Welcome Back Old Friend by Kathy Zimmerman and some chunky Lamb's Pride to try another Meg Swansen  Shawl Collared Vest.  I've made two and maybe this time I can get it "just right."  Can you guess which of these last three patterns is the most self-deluding?

Thing #4- The progress of the stockings.  The first attempt using fair isle ended up being a clumpy mess.  I switched to intarsia and things seem to be a little smoother.  Based on what I've seen online, blocking will work small miracles and this sample is pre-blocked.  I went for duplicate stitches on the tractor details.  It looks a little rough but I think it will look great from a distance.

Thing #5- As I was remembering the things I was happy about today, I had to keep adding on to the list and I completely forgot about the fact that the DMV (which was supposed to be open today) was closed because they get TWO days off for Columbus Day?  Seriously?  I'm thinking it's a right wing conspiracy to keep Pennsylvania voters from getting those i.d. cards- thankfully we don't need them this year.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

What to do while avoiding conflict...

Conflict? Not a big fan. Doesn't matter if I'm involved or not. Right wing rhetoric? Also extremely opposed. I thought I wanted to watch the debates but I was mistaken. Mr. Sophanne refused to repeat the good/bad lines but I have a feeling it will be harder to miss the salient points than it will be to see them.

Wanting to make the most of the evening, I swatched cascade for the stockings. Option a was a single strand with a size 4 needle. It's pretty sturdy fabric but likely wouldn't stand the years if it accidentally becomes an heirloom. Option b, Double strands on size 8 needles may be not so easy on the hands but makes a much sturdier knit.

I had to create my own tractor graph after all. The Finnish one was too large. Not interested in getting off my arse to look for graph paper, I bought a cross stitch design app and went to town. The only thing cooler than graph paper is an app with graph paper. I'd like to pretend that I'll now become rocking out stranded knitting mitten designer but as Chris Farley said in those SNL skits, that's another one of those things I'm never going to do.

The picture below is the top of the stocking. The red below the tractor is place for the little fellers names. The rest of the stocking will be like the green at the top with a yellow toe and heel. I'd really like for them to have that braided thing at the top ( the cross the strands business that has an alternating herringbone in green and yellow look) but the idea of doing that on three separate stockings sends chills down my spine. (but it could be a family treasure she says to herself...) hmmm... Maybe I can trick one of the knit nighters who have more patience to do it for me., or at least give me advice.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

More things to know

I have no essay in my head.  I learned some stuff at knit night.  If you want to skip the funny stuff and go straight to the "I know knitting I can help" section of this post, jump down to ***

1.  Armadillos are the primary source/carrier of leprosy.

2.  Necrotizing fasciitis (flesh eating disease) is treated with penicillin which is sometimes hard to come by when there is a syphilis epidemic.

3.  While herpes is more prominent in the northeast, syphilis is the main STD in Florida.

4.  There is a reflex test that doctors give to newborns which involves lifting a baby resting on a table up by the arms and letting go of them to watch their arms flail to be sure they have the instinct of catching themselves.  (the baby is not completely lifted just up at the arms.)

5.  It's fun having a friend in medical school.

6.  Trying to pick up provisional stitches in laceweight yarn sucks.

7.  When a knit night friend suggests a pre-field trip adventure, you feel like Sally Field- she likes me, she really likes me- so busy being happy about the possibilities you remain blissfully ignorant of how pathetic your life must seem.

Some school adventures for anyone who might come here for that.

My favorite moment this week occurred in 5th grade where we sang The Lion Sleeps Tonight and accompanied ourselves on xylophones.  There really is no way to describe the looks on kids faces when they hear chord progressions/harmonies that they are making (presumably for the first time for most.)  I can only imagine that it is something similar to the cavemen discovering fire.  For real.

My most hilarious moment of the day was all about me not remembering names.  When we get this far along in the school year the progression usually looks something like me calling a kid by the wrong name and immediately realizing I was wrong (often by the crestfallen look on a kid's face) and then immediately calling her by the right name.

Today, however I was given a break.  After I inadvertently referred to Emily as Elizabeth and corrected myself, Emily said, "you probably called me Elizabeth because we have the same shoes."  I felt like I dodged a bullet on that one when I said, "You're absolutely right."

And hey- if I haven't said it lately, thanks for reading my blog.

***the stocking is in the design mode.  The tractor pattern dictates that I have 80 stitches around.  As I see it, in order to make the sturdiest sort of stocking I can either a) use worsted weight on a size 5 or 6 needle, or b) use two strands of worsted weight on say a size 10 needle.  I will eventually test out both of these methods but if you have any opinion or knowledge to share, that would be great.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Awake and designing

So my schedule is all out of whack from last week's round of prednisone ( for some sort of itchy thing that wouldn't quit) and my usual, hey let's sleep all weekend routine.

Now I am awake and using the sketch pad app to design tractor Christmas stockings for MountainMama's chilluns'.

I have a basic stocking pattern for the bottom half (detailed on Ravelry) and if I could speak Finnish, I'd be able to thank someone for charting a tractor so I didn't have to.

At least it's only October. And what with Steeler and Mountaineer football and knit nights, this should be no problem. I think they're going to be adorable. And now i have a reason to buy yarn on the knit night field trip! I'm so happy when my brain combines things in rational rather than ridiculous ways.


...the ultimate butter delivery system.

That is all.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The things you learn...

Did you know that an B-25 bomber crashed in the Mon River in Pittsburgh in 1956, never to be found again?  All six crew members survived the crash but 2 died as a result of exposure in the water.  Soldiers descended on the site and suspiciously closed all access to the accident site.

That's just crazy.  Here's an official report if you want to read about it.  A more interesting account  seething with speculation and mystery can be found here.

Apparently if you grew up in these parts, you know all about it but it was news to me (56 years later)

Also there's a field trip in our future but it involves a yarn store rather than any underwater searches.  Maybe we can go looking for the plane next time.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Proof positive and this weeks Episode of the Avante Garde

This is the left front of Sanderling- a sock-weight vest I really believe I might wear in Noro.  To the right you can catch a glimpse of Stitchjones' latest yarn treat.  It's amazing what 10% cashmere will do to enhance the quality of some merino.  Between work days, I do indeed knit.

It's just that lately much of the funny has come from kids under the age of 8.  To preface the latest funny, in first grade we've been paying attention to high and low sounds and the related fact that instruments that make high sounds are generally smaller than low ones.  Right there you'll notice two obvious opposites (high and low, big and small)   Also to  preface the following exchange; prior to the conversation you are about to read, we sang a song that had puppies, kitties, ducklings, baby donkeys and piglets.

After singing and making long and short animal sounds, I played a triangle (not only did they experience the sound lasting a long time, they also saw my arms stretch as the sound continued.)  Then I played a short sound on the scraper.  Then I said,

"We've been thinking about high and low.  What other opposite do you think these two instruments show?"

Student 1:  High and low.

Me:  yes, the triangle does sound higher than the scraper and we have been thinking about that, but remember how I said we are looking for a NEW opposite?demonstrate instruments again.

Student 2:  Puppy.

Me:  Puppy IS in the song we just sang, but it's really not an opposite. Listen again and see what your ears notice.  demonstrate instruments again.

Student 3:  High and low.

Me:  well, yes, high and low is an opposite- still not the new one we're trying to figure out.

Student 4:  Donkey.

At this point I am forced to pause momentarily to prevent myself from shouting WHAT THE F*%&# at the top of my lungs.  As I am ready to smack myself in the head with the fish shaped scraper,  one student says "hey, that triangle plays for a long time."

Feel free to continue the surreal by creating and sharing your own opposites and if this sort of play intrigues you, I strongly recommend the book Runaway Opposites by Richard Wilbur where the opposite of of a riot is "a lot of people keeping quiet" and the opposite of Doctor is anyone who makes you sick.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

knit night sweet knit night

Things were cruising along at knit night last night when all of a sudden knitnightGina said, hey, they're going to knit the bridge.

Which bridge?  Can we do it too?

It's the Andy Warhol bridge- here's the info  knitnightJustine is looking into it and now when we have our "trick or treat" yarn exchange- (bring all of your "I don't want to look at it anymore" yarn and go home with someone else's "I don't want to look at it anymore" yarn) no one will be embarrassed to bring and dispose of that acrylic yarn hiding in the basement.  Instead it will go into the Knit the Bridge pile.

I said, "It feels like an adventure, like a field trip!  When we don't have field trips for a while, I feel like we don't love each other anymore."

KnitnightTara said, "Sophanne, even if we didn't love each other anymore, you love us enough for everyone."

If I had to be someone, that's the person I like being.

Also another shout out to Stitchjones' Yarnageddon Yarn club 2012.  You can get in on the 2000 and thirteen action here.  I don't share this with you for any personal gain.  I share it because it works so well for me.  I love to get yarn, I hate to make decisions, I love the way Sharon dyes things, it feels like free yarn in the mail.  None of this yarn will be going to trick or treat night or on a bridge- that's for sure.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Today's Ear Worm

is brought to you by Symphony #40 in gm by Mozart.

Who gets orchestral pieces as earworms?  How is that even possible?

I found the "next thing to make."  It's called Sanderling (rav link) and it's a laceweight vest.

I'm doing it in some Noro sock yarn.

Wonder of wonders... it's something I might even wear over a black shirt.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Bang a Gong

I bought a gong for my classroom this year. It's a great gong. I love it. The kids Really love it.

Today in 4th grade we were discussing how we could make our class created piece better the next time we gathered.

Matthew said, "we could add the thong."

Seriously, do you know hard it is to swallow that laugh and gently say, " yes, the Gong might be nice there?"

Worse still is the idea that last week this kid went home and said, "Mrs. Sophanne has a new thong and next week she said we could play it."

Really, there is no making this stuff up.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

Still more surprising...

I managed to take a slightly better picture.

Not Suprising/ Suprising the second

Not surprising is that I finished my Juno Regina Scarf/shawl with several more holes than called for.  Also not surprising is the low quality of photo.

Surprising is that  I am actually in the process of blocking it- immediately after finishing it- go figure.

Attention Class...

Kids tend to like you more when they see you less.  They hang on to the vapor trail that you leave as you pass them and are always reaching for a high five and a hug when they get close enough.

While K-ers are still participating in avante garde theater, (I was sick last night- my mom is picking me up- it's my dad's birthday)  some first graders have really got things figured out.

Granted, the beginning of class usually begins with "can you tie my shoe"- "What are we doing today?"- "Can I play that gong?", but it's all pretty much relates to what has just happened or what might happen next.

Yesterday I had a surprise in first grade.  As all of the above questions were zipping through the air, Zach raised his hand, patiently waited his turn, and then announced, "I have something I'd like to share with the class."

My head may have done that confused dog look for a split second but after recovering I said, "o.k." hoping that I wouldn't hear of his plans of running away to the circus.

He stood up, walked to the front of the room- everyone got quiet, and he said, "Music class is the best class ever."  Then he walked back and sat down with an air of a job well done.

After a brief moment of stunned silence and some "I'm glad you think so's" and "thanks for sharings" we went on with the tasks at hand.

All I can think is that maybe they have class meetings in their regular room and this is the format they use- I still have to investigate that.

At any rate it was surprising, sweet and hilarious and the highlight of an otherwise annoying day.

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

The Adorable and The Ridiculous not necessarily in that order

First the ridiculous.  As recently inducted head teacher (long time followers- don't ask.  I know they told me I could never do it again but here we go) I got to say the essence of this sentence today.  "Seems to me that the cleaning up of bodily fluids (body fluids? someone help me) takes priority over taking the garbage out."

And now the adorable- (well yes, I did list them in reverse order but who wants to leave a blog with the above thought in their head?)

Mama posted the picture on facebook, so I'm pretty sure I'm cleared to show this fabulous photo of the knitted hippo Milton in action with his adorable keeper, Eli!  Oy! What A Cute Baby you two made!

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Not Surprising/Surprising

Welcome to the Not Surprising/Surprising feature of this blog brought to you by inattentive knitting (and/or living depending on if it applies.)

Not Surprising:  

When I knit through the long sloggy part and was near the end of my Juno Regina scarf, you may recall that I dutifully knit chart 7, 8, 9, and 11- skipping 10 altogether.

Juno Regina was promptly relegated to time out just minutes after I tried to tink those two pesky rows.  The yarn overs and knit 3 togethers were more than I could undo.

I thought that certainly it would go into the UFO pile as "unfinishable."


It's only been in the "shame on you" knitting pile for 3 weeks.

I ripped back to the easy to "read" part.

I managed to get the correct number of stitches in the right order.

There is a small possibility that this will indeed become a finished knit.

I vacuumed the house today.

::End of Not Surprising/Surprising::

Do not attempt to make any logical connection with the sequence of surprising events.

The thing is, I've been hanging out with kindergarten age kids this week.   They're just beginning to understand the whole school thing- as in- we talk about what we're talking about and not so much what we're thinking about.

Teaching Kindergarten music in August and September is like attending avante-garde theater. A meaningful conversation on what things keep a steady beat can turn into what's in their lunch box IN a steady beat.  I'm certain it's a much more interesting way to have a conversation-hence the vacuuming.

P.S.  I think one of the reasons that I was determined to correct the knitting problems was because I was using a gorgeous alpaca/silk deep magenta laceweight yarn that came from Stitchjones' Yarnageddon.  She's doing it again in 2013.  I can't recommend it enough.  She "delivers the goods" and more than once, knowing that I was expecting a quarterly delivery, I refrained from spontaneous and frivolous online and yarn store purchases!  Need a yarn diet?  This is like having a diet that includes ice cream at every meal!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Shopping for Clothes.

I have a husband who is happy to tell me when clothes are not complimentary on me.  Some might find this distressing.  I do not.  The man has good fashion sense.  He knows what I want to look like.  He knows when I look good.

When he's had an episode (as husband's will) of being a complete and utter jackass (unrelated to the above topic), so much so that he is too embarrassed to either acknowledge or apologize, he finds another way to do it.  (For the record, this happens less than once a year so there's no need to worry about my marital health)  Yesterday he decided that we needed to buy some clothes for me that I looked good in.  He knows how I hate doing this.  He agreed to browse racks, stand by the fitting room and "be there" the whole time.  (this will give you some indication of what a jackass he was last week.)

Here are some things he learned about shopping in women's clothing stores.

There is a subtle difference between "Ladies" clothing and "Women's" clothing.  Ladies clothing runs from size 4-12 (18 if you're lucky)  Women's clothing runs from 18 and up.

His wife is a woman.

Designer clothing outlets (american outfitters, old navy, calvin klein, etc) NEVER carry Women's clothing.  In fact, in the outlet mall where we were shopping, there are exactly 4 stores that do.

This did not prevent him from walking into every single designer store looking for "plus" sizes.  I refused to join him after receiving two "what the hell do you think you'll find in here?" stares.

You do not yell "Honey, WHAT SIZE ARE YOU?" across the store floor, no matter how nice the help has been.

Younger sales clerks are surprised and delighted when seeing a husband take interest in his wife's clothes.  They help him and join his banter and smile a lot.  As do nearby customers.

Older sales clerks are surprised and not at all delighted by the same events.  In fact, they will ignore him likes he's a girl in a used car lot, and when he actually looks at the clothing in the racks, you will see them checking to make sure his hands are clean.

These older clerks appear to be convinced that said wife is being squashed under the power of a controlling obnoxious man and will presume to know what his wife should wear better than he does, saying to him "let me just go pull a few things from the racks for you" without hearing what will and will not work.

When his wife  suggests to the clerk that the 3/4 length sleeve clingy sweater will not work for her for several reasons (one being that her workplace is occasionally 75 degrees or higher), she smugly looks at her and says "I'm wearing it and it looks fine on me."

His wife has enough self control to NOT say "well, yes, if by working you mean I can see the entire contour of your ample belly,"

End of lessons.  Further thoughts.

Looking around while shopping it became clear that many Plus Size women do not mind clothes that are loud, sparkly, and show every curve and roll that they have.

I am not one of those women.  I will not be wearing a see-through tunic that gently gathers right below my girth to accent it's breadth.  And really?  I don't need to try it on to discover that.

Clerks who suggest that the reason they are unable to find something I like because I don't like the right things should be punched in the head.  Hard.  More. Than. Once.

If you are (or know) one of these clerks, might I suggest a simple and polite "I'm not really sure what you're looking for.  Feel free to look around."

Two hours and 3 shirts later I was actually more anxious and annoyed than I was when he was acting like a jackass.  I just wasn't anxious and annoyed by HIM.  Well played, husband, well played.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hill Air a Bus

It's fuzzy, it's grainy, it looks a little like bumper cars from a distance.  But... there aren't words enough to express gratitude when your friend sends you Live School Bus Demolition Derby videos on the day before school .
Oh how I love that crunching sound!

Show me the funny- knit night edition

KnitnightTara has been featured here several times.  Really, for as much as I've been posting, or been funny, this could really be her blog by proxy.

Last night at knit night was no exception.  She was accounting to us her recent slightly OCD cleaning spree.  I asked her if she dusted her vacuum cleaner (I once knew someone who did that)  She said,

 "no, I take my vacuum cleaner apart and vacuum it with another vacuum cleaner. I LOVE cleaning my vacuum cleaner."

She also said that she sometimes gets freezer burn from using compressed air to dust with.

The rest of the conversation (with different people participating) went something like this:

Some people really get addicted to that propellant.

Yea, they're probably not addicted to air.

I'M addicted to air.

Quick!  We need an intervention!   Hilarious.

Later that evening Tara told the story of a couple who were distressed about the fact that people were abandoning kittens at their home. (It had happened twice)  The husband said, "I'm going to put up a sign that says I'm going to call the police if it happens again."

Someone else at knit night wondered aloud, "what could they be arrested for?"

KnitnightMarc replied, "LITTERING!"  It was HILARIOUS!

Moving on...

Today at school I learned about the reward system at one of my more difficult schools.  I was told there are 6 kids in the class and if they receive 8 reward tokens (EACH) by the end of class, they will get a reward when I leave.  In addition to teaching a little something I will somehow (hopefully) be giving 48 reward tokens in a period of 40 minutes.  I was informed however that if a student was being restrained for physical aggression by one of the other instructors, I was NOT to give a token- even if s/he was participating.

Ten years ago this would have left me slightly nervous and on edge for the first day at this school.  While getting old and fat has done nothing for my personal self-image, I can tell you that having 25 years of teaching experience behind me makes me feel GREAT!  In fact rather than being nervous about it, I think it's all, once again, HILARIOUS! (which also happens to be my new favorite word.)

And finally a knitting report.

I finished the boring repetitive part of Juno Regina with my gorgeous Yarnageddon alpaca silk laceweight yarn.  I began the ending diamonds.

I knit chart 7 (reading the chart rather than the typed out version- I'm getting that good)

I knit chart 8. as above.  Yeah, buddy!

I knit chart 9 go the heck out of me.  Awesome knitter is my middle name.

I knit chart 11- I am so good at seeing and remembering the symbols for all of those knit 4 and knit 3 togethers.  Look at all of those yarn overs!  This will be the best lace EVAH!

The observant and knitting-Goddess afflicted among you (I'm looking at YOU Yarnhog) will immediately recognize the problem.  Not only did I skip chart 10, I went to chart 11 which included a hairy ass pile of knit togethers and yarnovers in LACEWEIGHT.  Who can see that shit to fix it?

It's been tinked (both the first row of chart 11 and the purl row that followed it).  Where once there were 89 stitches there are now 84. Juno Regina's got some splainin' to do and I've got some bifocals to get so I can get things back in order.

The Knitting Goddess, however, thinks this is HILARIOUS!

ETA- In still MORE TARAWESOMENESS, she just emailed me video of the School Bus Demolition Derby taking place at the Washington County Fair Grounds!  Hi-damn-larry-bus!
p.s. throwslikeagirl, I AM STILL THINKING OF YOU!

Friday, August 10, 2012

When in doubt,

Buy Ice Cream.

Actually, I didn't buy this ice cream.  Mr. Sophanne did. 

 You see, my schedule has changed. For the last few years, population and principal pull allowed be at one school all the time.  With a change in population and pull comes a change in my schedule.  I am only there 3 1/2 days.  The other day and a half I travel to other schools.

This makes me sad.

Yea, new faces, new people to impress, new students to teach blah blah blah.  Yea, it'll all work out.

My students used to have music 5 times every 3 weeks. 60 times a year!  Now they will have it once a week.  I will see them 36 times this year.  It's not enough.  And it's a little harder when it's been so good for so long.  

Mr. Sophanne understands the degree to which this has caused me distress. 

It's a three ice-cream emergency.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

And so it goes...

I have been knitting with a beautiful silk/alpaca laceweight from Stitchjones' Yarnaggedon and the Juno Regina Stole pattern by Miriam Felton.

It's been in my queue for quite some time and yarn, time and pattern all came together at once.  There are about 60 rows of the boring part (out of 324)  and then the patterning at the end.  A better picture will hopefully be forthcoming.

I watched the Mars landing live on Sunday night/Monday morning.  That's about the coolest thing ever.  I mean, they are WAY out there.  I was keyed up after watching and ended up Netflix-ing Star Trek for 2 hours afterwards.

Dog and I must enjoy our last few days together.  I will try to keep the school nightmares dreams to a minimum with positive thinking.  Good luck with that.

Monday, July 23, 2012


It is good to be home and almost refreshed.  One of the best parts about returning home were seeing these.

You may remember the spot as the location of last year's rubber corn.  There are dinner plate size ones growing behind these cuties- they take a little longer.

In other back to normal goings on, last night  Mr. Sophanne made one of his fabulous roast beef sandwiches on french bread for dinner.  Let it be known that I get a sandwich like this every day for lunch during the school year.

In his continuing run of things not working exactly like they're supposed to, it took eating about 3/4's of the sandwich to realize that he used this (tartar sauce) instead of horseradish sauce.  Having eaten so many differently condimented cold cut sandwiches in Switzerland (they like their sweet pickles) I couldn't quite place the difference right away.  

I'm in charge of dinner tonight- I'm going to try to make some chicken parm.  Hope I don't accidentally use fish!  bwah hahahaha

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Dogs at home and abroad

The Swiss love their dogs.  The dogs ride the buses, ride the trains, go to restaurants and climb mountains.  A landlord is not permitted to deny renters based on whether they have a dog or not.  As long as you are applying to live somewhere and keep the fact that you have a dog on the q.t., you will have a place to live.  Below are some of the dogs of Zermatt- mostly because we couldn't help ourselves.

As for dogs at home, Liza had a great time at Brother of Sophanne's.  When we returned, she was confused as to what she should do when we went to bed.  Stay with brother watching t.v. or go with us.  

When we arrived at brother's house with LIza two weeks ago, we went on and on about how she liked to play and whether she had pooped or not that day.  Brother and Sister-in-law looked at us like we were wacky.  When we returned, brother and sister-in-law showed us the games they played with her and when I took her out for an extra walk, were concerned about her lack of pooping later in the evening. 

 The transformation was pretty hilarious.  We knew they were "dog people."  Come to find brother was a little bit stoic early on because he was missing a former dog.  Liza weaseled her way into their hearts and I believe, after the first 10 minutes, barely knew we were gone.

And finally- here is a picture of Buddy who was at the top of the Gornergrat Mountain next to the Matterhorn.  He's working as a photo op for families rather than a rescue dog but he was adorable none the less!