Sunday, September 16, 2012

Back at Work:(

It has been far too long since I posted anything on my blog.  This has mostly been due to a very hectic and sad summer.  Just a few days after my last post, my stepfather passed away.  Everyone knew that he didn't have long to live but it was still very sad.

My mother was a wreck.  She has been his care giver for several years and while not having to take care of my stepfather was a relief, it left a large hole in her life.

Well, the adventure began there.  I was on a plane to Albuquerque, NM, the day after school let out.  Both my mother and stepfather lived in Houston, TX, but Max wanted to be buried back in Albuquerque where we are all from.  First, I had to share a hotel room with my mother for a week....A WEEK!  Don't get me wrong, I love my mom and she only wanted to share the room because she didn't want to be alone but really, a whole week in the same room with your mom?

Of course, there was a ton of family drama.  Not from my family but from Max's.  I could go into it here but that would take forever.  Let's just say that I was shocked.

To top all of this off, I was mister nice guy on the plane down to Albuquerque and helped a woman get her stuff out of the overhead bin.  In removing her bags I strained my bicep tendon.  Now, I didn't realize this until the next day when my shoulder started killing me.  So, in the middle of all of the funeral drama, I ended up at urgent care being tortured by an evil doctor only to be told to take lots of ibuprofen.

Well, we got Max buried and I got myself and the family back to our respective homes and four days later, I was back on a plane for a series of conferences in Washington, DC.  This time, I was gone for 11 days.  Of course, I had to share a room with my good friend Karen and I was at these events with about a hundred teachers from Oregon.  Now, I'm a social person.  I like hanging out and having a good time.  However, after the funeral fiasco, I didn't need much more human interaction.  Really, all I wanted was to lock myself in my room with a dog or two and knit.

To add fuel to this fire, you also have to understand that I am not a fan of hot, humid environments which DC in the summer is.  On average the temperature was 97 with a heat index of 107.  It was vomit hot!  I just lived in air conditioning which is another thing that I'm not too fond of.

By the end of my stay in DC, it became apparent that I was getting a cold.  What fun, a summer cold!  Of course, my husband has filled my social calendar while I was gone.  Just what I wanted, more human interaction.  Actually, to be fair, he did give me an out but I was a trooper and made the appearances.

Now to add icing to the cake, we had a litter of puppies at the beginning of June.  Puppies are pretty easy the first four weeks because the dam takes care of them.  However, at four weeks, you have to start socializing them and cleaning up after them.  Ahhh, no rest of the weary.  I actually had dreams of coming downstairs to and inch of puppy urine covering the entire first floor.  ACK!

Well, the puppies went to their new homes in the middle of August (thank God) and, of course, we kept the show pick.  Her name is Libby and she is a little, black monster but I love her anyway.

Now, after all of this summer fun, it became time to go back to work.  Generally, I'm okay with going back to work.  I like teaching.  However, this year, my district cut 204 teaching positions.  This meant that my class sizes were going to go up.  Well, I wasn't prepared for what they became.  My largest class is 56, 7th graders.  My next largest is 50, 8th graders whom I see at the end of the day when they are the most bouncy.  My class sizes are F'n insane!  I'm just beat at the end of the day and it's only the beginning of week three.  I really don't know how I'm going to make it through this year and I'm actually looking at teaching overseas to escape this untenable situation.

That's pretty much the summer in a nutshell.  It wasn't fun or relaxing.  All I want to do now, is find a small village on an island in Scotland where I can live with my dogs and knit.

Speaking of knitting, I did accomplish a fair amount of knitting since this was my refuge from my summer in hell.

First, the big news.  I submitted a pattern proposal to Knit Picks for a book that they will be publishing in February and it was accepted.  I got the message while I was in DC and I started jumping up and down I was so excited.  My poor roommate thought something had bitten me and  that I was in pain.  Anyway, I can't say too much about it other than it's lace and it's beautiful.

Next, I joined a men's  knit-a-long for a pair of kilt hose.  This was my first attempt at a pair of socks.  I had always thought that socks were super hard but these were really straight forward.  I made them from my own hand spun, also a first.  Of course, not knowing about knitting socks, I followed the pattern exactly and they turned out a bit baggy.  The men more experienced in socks realized that the pattern needed some modifications like decreases at the ankle.  Anyway, I washed them in hot water and put them in dryer for a bit and, presto, they fit pretty darn good.

The next finished item is my fair isle sweater.  I have to say that I am very tickled with the way this turned out.


 I really enjoyed coming up with this pattern.  As a matter of fact I enjoyed it so much that started another sweater with the same construction and I intend to publish the pattern.  Also, I'm thinking about creating a class on seamless fair isle sweater construction.  It's really not as bad as people think.  If they get a bit of an introduction, they will be more willing to tackle a project like a fair isle sweater.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Seven More Days Until Knitting Freedom!

YES!!  Only seven more days with my charming students.  I'm counting and I know that they are too.  Their brains are probably doing something along these lines, "Math homework or daydream about what I will be doing this summer...hmmmmm...Daydream!"  My brain is doing the exact same thing.  The daydreams that I have consist of all the knitting that I will be doing and all of the Mo Points that I will be accumulating towards being an excellent gay man.

I have already started down that path.  Sunday, I was in super Mo Point acquisition by channeling my inner Joan Crawford, "I'm not mad at you.  I'm mad at the dirt."  Yes, I was a cleaning machine, even to the point of getting a toothbrush to clean out the dirt from the corners.  I also have to say that my Hover carpet cleaner is a beautiful thing.  It always amazes me how much dirt lives in carpets.  ACK!  Anyway, it's always nice to have a clean house especially before you have a litter of puppies.

My girl Trudy is expected to have a litter of 9-11 puppies any day now.  I'm hoping  that it is nine as eleven is a lot.  Most of them are already sold to happy homes.  One puppy will be going home to twin girls on their birthday in August.  I want to be there when that puppy goes home.  It will be fun to see the kids' faces.  Actually, as I write this, Trudy is getting ready to whelp her litter.  Poor thing, she's so uncomfortable.  Her temperature has dropped and she is trying to find a place to deliver.  I haven't seen any big contractions yet; so, I think that we are still a few hours away from the big event.  Here is a picture of her super pregnant tummy.

I have also been very busy on the knitting front.  At long last, I finished a blanket for a coworker's baby.  It's only a year late.  Well, actually I think of it as being six months over due as they wouldn't have used it last summer.  Anyway, her son is a year old now and I'm sure he will still get a lot of use from it.  Here are a few pictures.  I knit it in the round and steeked it.  I am all about steeking.  It makes my knitting life really easy.

 My extreme fair isle sweater is almost done.  I have completed one sleeve and I'm about a fourth of the way through the other one.

I am very happy with the way the sleeve decreases turned out.  I hid them in the main colour of the pattern and left a stripe of contrasting colour between them.

This sweater has been a really good learning experience and has brought together various skills that I have learned making other seamless sweaters.  It has actually motivated me to make another and, this time, write down the pattern.  Maybe I'll start a men's seamless sweater revolution.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Little Monsters are Killing Me!

It has been a few months since I posted any updates to my adventures.  Actually, the truth is that I really haven't had any adventures.  Of course, I'm still on a mission to become a good homo but even that has fallen by the wayside.  The reason for my lack of excitement is due to these......
yup, you got, middle school children.  Yes, these are actually mine; taking their tap class (I teach at an arts school).  OMG!  They're killing me!  ACK!  They drive me nuts this time of year.  I am so beat at the end of each day that I have been taking a nap when I get home.  I can't wait for summer break.  I have such a love/hate relationship with them.  If you are a teacher, you totally get what I'm talking about.  For those of you who do not teach; allow me to explain.

When school starts up in the fall, teachers LOVE, their kids.  We actually start to miss them in August.  During that month, I start planning out my instruction for the upcoming year.  I almost always have great units planned that will inspire kids.  I know that my instruction will save the world by giving kids all that they need to succeed in life.  My amazing wit and mastery of mathematics will keep their attention and they will produce master pieces of mathematical reasoning! (Seriously, we think this way.)

This deep emotional connection to our kids and profession continues through the fall and almost up to winter break.  It's at this time that teachers begin to realize that they are starting to get tired and that they really need a break.  Of course, the kids are in this same boat too.  They are getting done with us and our demands on their time.  Ummm, hello, who wants to do math when you have an XBox at home.  Usually, I don't love my kids too much during this time period.  I like them a lot but I'm starting to get tired.  

As the year progresses, it gets worse.  This is the major reason why....

Yes, Spring.  

Here in the Pacific Northwest, winter is a lot like Scotland, grey and wet.  So, when the sun finally arrives, we all go a bit crazy.  Now in the case of the middle school student, you must multiply the sun craziness by a factor of ten.  No less than 15 times a day, I am asked, "Can we have class outside?"  Okay, like having class outside on a sunny day would get students to pay attention.  I know that tomorrow will be really bad.  It is forecast to be in the 80s (summer temperatures); translate this to lots of children staring out of the window, wishing they could be outside and hating math.

Of course, teachers are feeling the same way.  We really wish that we could be outside playing too.  However, we must remain in our adult state and attempt to get some form of instruction into their heads.

May is the month in which teachers know that the children need to go away for a time, a long time.  Let their parents have them back.  Isn't it their turn anyway?  Besides, we teachers need time away so that we can recharge and begin our love/hate cycle anew.

Sounds awful doesn't it?  We teachers are an odd lot.

Anyway, it's because of those charming middle school students that I have been thwarted in my goal of becoming a super awesome mo.  I'm sure that this summer I'll be able to embark on an amazing adventure that will cement my place in super mo history.  However, in the meantime, I'll just have to settle for knitting.

I have actually been very busy knitting.  The first is this lovely.

This is my Leaf and Acorn stole.  I posted the first version of this bad boy a while back.  This is the Knit Picks version.  I have to admit that I like it much better than the first.  The yarn was perfect for this stole, baby alpaca and silk.  It was a bit slippery to work with but the finished piece is great.

I changed things up a bit this time.  Instead of knitting two separate halves and then grafting them together, I used Judy's Magic Cast On.  This is a great provisional cast on.  It leaves you with all of your stitches (not missing one like a crocheted provisional cast on).  When you get done with one half, just turn your work around and start knitting the second half going the opposite direction.

Next on my knitting plate is colour work.  I was deeply inspired by a sweater that Ivar Asplund Knits recently did.  So, I began work on this guy.  The original pattern is called Autumn Rose.

I really like the colour combination and the fair isle pattern, however, the scoop neck and three-quarter sleeves just won't work with my hairy body.  So, I'm making a MAN sweater out of it.  I knitted the body and steeked the sleeves and neck.  For the shoulder, I used a shoulder strap.

The front and back of the work are joined together while knitting the shoulder strap.  It's a very useful technique.  I left live stitches on both ends so that I could pick up sleeve and neck stitches.  At this point the neck band has been completed and I'm working on the first sleeve.  Also, I continued the shoulder strap pattern down into the sleeve.  It's coming along nicely.  

I also have a new design going that I'm going to be submitting to Knit Picks.  I'm keeping it secret for the moment but I'm hopeful that they will pick this one up too.

Another bit of good news is that our girl Trudy is pregnant again.  The vet thinks that she could have a litter of seven to nine puppies.

Well, off to enjoy the sun!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ughhh!! I Have a Boy Brain!

OMG!  Such a bad blogger am I!  Life just seems to have grabbed me and not allowed me any time to update my blog.  However, a few glasses of wine on a Friday night and my life has slowed down just a bit.  Of course, when I start to have time to reflect, I start to worry about my status as a true mo.
My first question this week is the actual spelling of "mo".  I have come across a few sites where "mo" is spelled "moe".  Hmmmm.....I think they are wrong.  My reasoning goes something like this..... "mo" comes from homosexual and the "mo" in homosexual does not contain the letter "e".  So, these other homos who spell it "moe" are less of a mo than me.  Any good mo knows their grammar and spelling.

 Knock up a few points for me!!!!!

On the down side, a few things happened this week to take a few homo points off my tally.

First, I came across a quiz this week called "What Sex is Your Brain."  It's actually a quiz based on real scientific tests and normed against male and female scores (basically not your stupid FaceBook quiz).  Anyone can take it, here is the link  Well, my brain said, "At last, a scientific test to prove that we are a true mo!"  So, there I sat for 20 minutes answering questions about feelings and spatial reasoning.  At the end of each section, the system reported your score.  I was super on target for all that feeling, mushy stuff.  Personally, I thought I was a shoe-in for an even brain possibly tending toward a girl brain.  I mean really, I'm a mo!  NOPE, I'm all boy.  Really, WTF, I knit, love opera and have poodles, on top of liking guys.  Am I ever going to get a break?  Well it appears not at this moment.

Second, (and to add icing to this cake) while at lunch with a colleague this week, I made some comment which prompted this response, "You are the most straight gay guy that I know."  OMG!  Just take the knife and drive it in deeper.  And to think, this guy calls me a friend.  Anyway, I turned to him and said, "Please, I knit."  I know, it's week but it's all I have at the moment.

Speaking of the moment, I have a few knitting things happening.  Here is my latest design.

I call it Acorn and Leaf Stole.  I gave a preview of this in my last post and this is the final product.  It's pretty intense for lace.  Lots of yarn overs and on both sides of the work plus purling two together through the back loop.  Ack!  However, the finished product is really pretty.  Knit Picks likes it too.  They sent me some yarn to do a version for them.  It's taking me forever, mostly because I'm so damned busy; however, it's more than halfway complete.  Only a few more weeks to go!