Sunday, October 6, 2013

Why Just Name Pencils When You Can Bedazzle Them. Plus Page 17 From Ms. Walker.

I know that I promised an update around September 22 but school just got the best of me.  My little munchkins are keeping me hopping.  With that being said I do have a bit of time now to enjoy myself and partake of just a wee bit of whiskey.
See, just a we bit and, I can assure you, it is just as refreshing as it looks.  As a matter of fact, I'm feeling refreshed just after a few sips.  Now the surroundings are a bit different since I am at a training this weekend at the beach.  I must be a chosen one because I got a room with this view.

It's almost like being bumped up to first class on a six hour flight except that I have to provide my own booze.  Oh and I also get to bring two of my babies.
Here are Bella and Toni enjoying the sea breeze.  Aren't they the cutest?  My girls have been very busy entertaining lots of people.  Well, except for the grumpy old man this morning.

Okay, I have to digress for a moment.  This morning, I'm out with the dogs, who were off leash for the moment because I'm  trying to coax them to pee, when this older gentleman was walking down the walk you see in the picture above.  Of course, my white one goes over to get some pets and I call her back.  I truly get that some people don't like dogs.  Toni dutifully comes back without having bothered the man and he says to me, "There is a leash law here."  To which I replied, "Thank you."  Seriously, you are going to tell me this at the Beach!  This is dog paradise.  Every dog is off leash.  If I ever become this grumpy and nasty, just take me out back and shoot me.

Schwoo, I feel better already.  Okay, now that that's off my chest, I'll continue with my update.

It's always fun traveling with poodles.  First, people stop and stare.  Second, people ALWAYS want to pet them and they are always surprised at how soft they are.  Of course, this is pretty rough for the poodle because the majority of poodles really don't want to be bothered with pets or people other than their human.  Well, except for my white one, Toni.  She's pretty much a slut for pets.  However, even she is done with it.  The two of them have attention overload and are passed out.
Here they are at this exact moment.  Poor things, it's rough being so popular. Anyway, the training has been good and it's nice to get away from the city with my babies and enjoy the beach.
Now, school has been quite interesting.  Remember my little kid Jake who was naming all of his pencils?  Well, he has been very busy.

It seems that there are certain pencils that are also chosen ones.  These pencils get to be dressed up.  If you refer to my last blog post, and review Jake's list of pencils, you will notice that one of them is named Miss America.  First, I did not really pay attention to Jake's list; so, I was amazed that he actually had a pencil named Miss America.  Next, I was surprised that he knew about Miss America because I thought that this had died out long ago.  This is just another glaring example of how I'm a loser Mo.  However, I'm sure that Jake will be a much better Mo than me because he knows about Miss America and also knows that Miss America should look like this.
As you can see, Miss America is wearing the equivalent of a Pencil Tiara.  Isn't she beautiful?  I'm just curious how she looked in the swim suit competition. 

Anyway, since I took these pictures, the pencil drama has escalated a bit.  It seems that Jake has lost a few members of his pencil family and would like to have them returned.  Now, if you are not familiar with middle school children, they lose EVERYTHING.  When they leave your classroom there is often a vast amount of debris that they have shed from their persons.  Included in this debris are coats, water bottles, lunch boxes, pencils, pens, notebooks, textbooks, backpacks, instruments and many other items.  What's even more interesting is that they never realize that they have shed these items.  Let me digress for a moment and tell you a story.

Two years ago, one of my seventh graders left their Sock Monkey hat in my classroom.  I put it at the front of my room over a box on the drafting table that I teach from.  So, in essence, this hat was right next to me the entire time that I taught class.  It was pretty much at my elbow every time I was lecturing.  Now, you would think that this would spark something in some student to say, "Hey, what's my hat doing up there with Mr. Hunnicutt?"  However, it did not.  That hat stayed up there for two weeks.  I finally decided that I was going to wear the damn thing.  So, one day I took it home and wore it out of the house the next day.  Of course, when I got to school, the kids were thrilled that I was wearing a Sock Monkey hat.  This only fueled my middle school self.  Anyway, I was prancing around my seventh grade class in my new hat when the kids asked me where I had gotten it.  I told them that some student had left it for me and that had placed it up front for someone to claim for two weeks but now one had; so, now it was mine.  It was then, and only then, that this kid says, "Hey, that's my hat." 

Now, I know that most of you are saying "WTF!  That hat was up there for two weeks and you are now just realizing that it's yours?"  Trust me, it's a normal response, however, this is how they are.  They leave gobs of stuff and never realize that it's theirs even when their names are on them.  We teachers just shake our heads and hug parents because we truly understand.

Okay, back to the pencil drama.  Now, Jake is different in that he has realized that he lost his pencils.  So much so that he has started a campaign to have them returned.  Here is one of his "MISSING" posters.
To date, Vici and Hooly have not shown up but I'm sure that I will be informed when they have made it back home.  Now, as to Jake's grammar errors, we are working on that.  We still seem to be having a bit of an issue with apostrophes.

Okay, I guess that's enough about my life with the seventh graders; so, let's turn to my life with Ms. Walker.

This week we are on page 17 of A Treasury of Knitting Patterns.
Page 17 features Basketweave, Basket Rib and Basket Welt.

So, let's dive in. First, I ran out of that Baby Ull; so, now I'm using Ella Rae Classic Worsted.  Since I'm a loose knitter, I used US 5 rather than the recommended US 7.

 The bottom band is Basketweave.  As much as the process of knitting wasn't that interesting, I have to say that I like this pattern.  There is just something very classic about it.  I'm not sure what I would use it for but I still like it.

The middle band is basket rib.  Out of the three, I like this on the best.  This I can see as an allover pattern or even in bands for a gansey.  Again, the knitting isn't that interesting but the final product is quite nice.

Now for Basket Welt.  Out of the three, this is my least favourite.  I'm not sure what I would use it for.  In my opinion, it looks like messy knitting; sorta like you didn't quite get the right translation of the Basketweave pattern but kept knitting anyway.  This might be one of those patterns that needs to go into the Historic/ Why Bother chapters

Now, here is the swatch's backside.  You can make your own decisions about this but I think that you could get away with a reversible garment using any of these three patterns.
Again, my favourite is Basket Rib.  I like how the reverse side is a series of wavy lines.  I'm thinking that in a finer yarn, say DK or Sport, this would create some interesting textural effects.  It's somewhat similar to Waving Rib but tighter.

Well, that's all I have for now.  The other teachers here are calling me to go to dinner.  Let me know what you think about these patterns or if anyone has actually used Basket Rib in a reversible garment.

Next week, Page 18!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Please! Barabara Walker, You Are Putting Me To Sleep. Plus 7th Grade Fun!

Well, the school year is off to a really fast start.  Compared to last year, this year is a million times better or, in reality -110 better.  So, I know your brain just did a double take.  Being a math teacher, you sorta need to think like me.  Truly, I know that you find that scary but it's okay, really.  Let me explain. 

Last year our school district cut 345 teaching positions.  Now, can you guess what all those cuts meant?  OMG!  That's correct; class sizes went through the roof.  See, you could be a math teacher too. 

Now I'm not going to bore you with my lecture on why we need to fund education.  Although, I will say that if you think about your average Tea Party member, you will get a really accurate picture about why education is really important.  Anyway, my class sizes definitely went way beyond just going through the roof.  Mine maybe came close to going through the ozone layer.  So, that means that my classes were in the 50s. 

Now to put this into perspective, think about your average 7th and 8th grader or even better, think back to when you were that age.  Do you remember all of the awkwardness and bad body odor?  Okay, now hold on to that image and think about 56 of those crammed into a classroom meant for 25 and you will understand how terrible last year really was.

So, that's where the -110 comes from.  Last year I had 267 students (that's not counting the extra 60 I had for study hall) and this year I have 157.  Now, 157 is manageable, but 120 would be best.  Anyway, I'm feeling like a teacher again and not someone who does crowd control with just a hint of math thrown in for fun.

This year I have two seventh grade classes and they are supper cute.  Here is a picture of them doing a measurement activity last week.  Actually, it's not really meant to be measurement activity; it's actually an adding and subtracting decimals activity.  I'm sneaking in the decimal stuff  in with the measurement.  It's kinda like your mother sneaking healthy vegetables in food that you actually liked.

Aren't they ADORABLE!  Look at them working so hard measuring things.  They hadn't gotten to the adding and subtracting decimal part; so, they were all still pretty happy at this point.

Now most of you are terrified of this age group but I'm here to tell you that you don't need to be.  They are actually pretty damn funny.  Take for instance one of my boys, Jake, who decided that all of his pencils needed to be named.  I'm still not sure why he needed to name them but he did.  They are all lined up in his pencil box with their names written on them in black Sharpie looking quite sharp and ready to go to work. 

Of course, being a seventh grader just makes you want to bring the beauty of named pencils to the rest of the world.  So, off Jake went to other members of the seventh grade class and started naming all of their pencils.  He is so proud of himself that he actually gave me a list of the names.  Here it is.

 Just so you know, I did speak to him about the missing apostrophe when he came to my class to add the name "Honey" to the list.  Apparently, he had named Tony's pencil during passing time and wanted to make sure it made it on the list.  I can hardly wait to see what Jake and all of my little darlings will do this week.

Okay, on the home front the Tomato Apocalypse continues.  Here is round five.
Yes, I now that I skipped round four.  It seems as though Jeff was busy giving away tomatoes again while I was at work.  His good friend Colleen got round four and I wish her all the best in her tomato processing endeavours. 

Now, to Ms. Walker.  This week's installment comes from page 16.  Let me just start by saying that page 16 has been the most BORING page to date.  Personally, I believe that Ms. Walker should have left these out of the book or maybe placed them in a section labeled, "Historically Interesting and a Great Cure for Insomnia." 

OMG!  It was all I could do to get through these two patterns.  Okay, enough complaining.  Here they are.
The top band is called Wager Welt and the bottom band is Banded Insertion Pattern. 

Wager Welt = Butt Ugly.  Done.

Banded Insertion Pattern = Giant Pain in the butt because you have to use two sets of needles one four sizes larger than what you cast on with.  Oh, is is also Butt Ugly.

This is about the only knitting that I have done since school started.  However, now that I am finding my stride I did cast on some fun stuff this morning using Judy's Magic Cast On.  I'll tell you all about that next week when I bring you page 17 of Ms. Walker's amazing work.

Okay, off to exercise our six standard poodles.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Tomato Time and Babs Walker and I are Becoming Tight!

OMG!  My tomato jungle is going crazy.  It's producing so many tomatoes that I barely have time to knit.  Seriously, that's a scary thing.  To give you an idea, here are a few pictures.

This is the first pick.

Most of these guys were eaten in any number of salads and also given away to the neighbours, except for the roma tomatoes.  Those bad boys are MINE!
Aren't they beautiful?  Now some of you might wonder what the fuss is over tomatoes.  Well, when you live in the Pacific Northwest, you have a small window when you get fresh tomatoes.  Some years, it has been to cool to really get any tomatoes at all.  Those are very sad years indeed.

Anyway here is round two!

My hands were stained green from picking all these guys.  Now really, this was round three.  Round two happened while I was up in Seattle for the Men's Fall Knitting Retreat.  Jeff had one of our neighbours come over and have a tomato picking fest.  I'm actually kinda weird about my tomatoes.  I have a hard time parting with them.  My friend Erica never shares her tomatoes; so, I guess I'm okay.  Besides, if I didn't, I'd be canning these bad boys 24/7.

Now, I think I hear your brain asking, "What did you do with all of those tomatoes?"  Well, let my brain let you in on one of the easiest ways to process your summer tomatoes.

First, you will need these items.
An apocalypse of tomatoes, fresh basil, a sweet onion and, of course, garlic.

Now (OMG, you're going to die at how easy this is) get a big sheet pan, cut your tomatoes in half and set them cut side down in the pan.

Cut up that sweet onion and stuff it around all those tomatoes.
Take as much garlic as you want.  In my opinion, more is better because garlic is one of those things like bacon. It's amazing!

Scatter those love cloves in and around all those tomatoes and then go for the basil.

Do exactly the same thing with the basil.  You don't need to cut it up just tear off the leaves and stuff them in there too.  Throw the seeds and flowers in there too.  They taste just like the leaves and no one will know that they are there.

Now, drizzle all over with some nice olive oil.  I get my oil from a guy in Pensacola, Fla.  If  I remember correctly, his family owns this giant olive grove on the isle of Crete and they produce this oil.  It's really good for cooking and salad dressing.  It's about thirty bucks for three liters shipped to your door.  You can find him on Ebay, Shoreline Foods.  What???? your brain was talking.  No, I don't know him and I am not getting a kick back.  Although, free oil would be fantastic.

 After you have put a healthy dose of oil all over the goods, sprinkle the tomatoes all over with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Isn't is beautiful?  Now seriously, you haven't even broken a sweat making this have you?  

Okay, now pop the whole thing into a 400 degree oven and bake for about 30-40 minutes until the skins on the tomatoes are brown and puckered.

This is what you're looking for.   Mmmmmm, roasted tomato goodness.

When the tomatoes have cooled, pluck off the skins.  Some of them might stick a bit to the tomatoes.  Just squeeze out the pulp when this happens.

Okay, here it is. the black looking stuff is the basil.  Don't worry, it's supposed to look like that.  Now, get out your food processor and and scrape all of this into the bowl and pulse the mixture about seven to 10 times.  You want to blend the ingredients but still leave a little texture. (Sorry, I forgot to take pictures at this point.)

And now you have some amazing fresh tomato sauce.  Here is mine all tucked away in the freezer waiting for a cold day in December.

Okay, now that I have gotten that out of my system, let's move on to Ms. Walker and all the fun that I'm having knitting up her stuff.

So, here we are on page 14.  This is the last of the missing installments.  Of course, my swatch is backwards from the pictures in the book.  The bottom section is Ripple Rib Stitch and the top one is Escalator Pattern.

Time to get down and dirty on these guys.  Let's start with Ripple Rib Stitch.  I wasn't wild about this at first but I think it has potential.  In its present form it's a pretty mediocre pattern; however, if you off set the diagonals at the point where they change direction you would add more interest.  Also, it might be fun to offset the the diagonals at the same point but keep them going in the same direction.  I'm adding that to my list of interesting things to do to Babs' patterns.

Now, onto Escalator Pattern.  I'm going to give my impression in four words, "Can you say yawn."  There you have it.  So, let's go back to the Ripple Rib Stitch

This is the back side.  Hmmm, I just heard your brain.  It's just like the front side!  I really like that when that happens.  Every time I come across a pattern that is reversible, my brain starts talking about cardigans.  For some reason, brain thinks that a reversible cardigan is what I should be knitting.  Well, just so you know, I have already purchased yarn for a cardigan.  Just don't tell my brain.  It will start hounding me to get busy creating the damn sweater.

Anyway, that's it for this installment.  I actually have to go and pluck the skins off of a batch of tomato sauce that came out of the oven whilst I was writing this.  YUMMM....


Monday, September 2, 2013

OMG! It's Almost That Time Again and Me and Ms. Walker

As my profile states, I am a math teacher.  Yes, I am actually one of those people who likes to do math.  I am also one of those people that likes to do math and show seventh graders how to do said math.

Wait....I can hear you from here, "Seventh Graders?!!"  Yes, I know that's what you said.  I can also hear what your brain is asking.  Your brain is asking, "Is he sick?!"  It's okay.  On some days, my brain asks me the same thing.  However, I think that my brain has gotten used to it.  Mostly, because I teach high school students too.

What?  You're confused?  Don't be.

I have one of the best jobs in the world. (Umm, I just heard your brain mention summer vacation.)  However, it's not due to summer break.  I get to teach at a small arts based public school, that has grades 6-12 and it's almost time for me to go back.

Now, most people out there really don't get teachers and why we do what we do.  Hell, I don't understand elementary teachers.  I mean really, who wants to work with little kids who want to hug you all the time.  ICK!  Plus, the little ones cry and barf way to much.  (I just had a little internal shudder thinking about them.)

I am SOOO excited to start school again.  (Umm, I just heard your brain again.)

Maybe I should explain what I call, The Life Cycle of The Teacher.

We teachers have a very dysfunctional work life.  You see, at the beginning of the school year, we all think that we are going to change the world, become a students role model or inspire the next great inventor.  Teachers also get all tingly and moist thinking about all the new lessons that kids are going to LOVE!

Now, this euphoria lasts until about winter break.  It's at this time that teachers become really tired and are at the "I still love you but you've bugged me enough that I'm just tolerating you until I get my two weeks away from you" stage. 

We then come back from winter break a bit more refreshed and teach for a month when we realize that it's just the end of first semester.  "What, I have to teach these kids for another five months!" 

Of course, the other side of the coin is the group of students.  "What, we have to deal with Hunnicutt and his math puns and mean problems for another five months!"

This is the beginning of the end; the downward spiral to the end of the year with teachers and students loathing each other and counting every day until the end of school.

It's at this point that we really can't stand them any longer and we are thrilled to see their backsides as they walk out the door.

As soon as school ends, we generally just sit and stare at the wall for about two weeks and allow our partners to dab the drool off of our chins.  As soon as this semi comatose state ends life starts back up again and we get through summer only to have the entire process start all over again. 

See, we truly are sick people.

Oh and about that summer vacation.  A lot of people seem to think that teachers get paid in the summer.  I'm not sure how that came about but I can tell you that it's not true.  We, like most people in the world, only get paid for the days that we actually work.  I only get paid for the 193 days that I work each year.  What school districts do is prorate your salary over 12 months.  This allows them to hang on to the money longer an earn interest on it. 

If you are still having trouble understanding it, try this.  Take your annual salary, lop off two and a half month's salary and then prorate the final amount over 12 months.  That's what teachers make.

Okay, enough about school.  Let's move on to Knitting!

So, you may remember from my last installment that I had accidentally skipped a few pages of Ms. Walker's book.  Well, I have backtracked and have one of those missed entries here.

For today, we will be looking at page 13.  The three patterns involved are Roman Stitch, Roman Rib Stitch and Ripple Stitch.  Same drill as last time with the yarn and needles; however, I'm running out of the stuff pretty quick.  Fear not though, being a good knitter, I have an awesome stash of left over yarn.

Okay, here is the swatch.  The stitches actually follow the pictures in the book this time; Roman on top, Roman Rib in the middle and Ripple on the bottom.  This isn't blocked at all.  The stitch count remained the same so that you can see how loose or tight the finish fabric is.

Now, I'm just sorta non committal about these three stitches.  They really don't do much for me.

Let's take them one at a time.
Here is Roman Stitch.  I'm really not getting the connection to anything Roman in the design.  Did Caligula wear this while he went crazy or did they drape Caesar's body in a cloth with this motif? I mean really, who comes up with these names.  Okay, confession, I'm not an student of Roman history; so, I may be missing something.  I'm just saying it doesn't make sense to me.  Plus, I have to also confess that I'm not a huge fan of Rome itself.  I'd much rather hang out in Assisi.  Oops, digressing again.

Back to the swatch.  It's a nice little seed stitch thrown into the mix.  I think it might look good on a gansey, maybe at the bottom of a sleeve near the cuff.  Other than that, kinda snoozey.

Okay next up Roman Rib.

Now, this one probably would have benefited from blocking.  (Hmm, maybe I'll start doing before and after blocking pictures.)  The pattern shows up better in the complete swatch picture.  Out of the three, I think this one has the most merit.  I like how each row is offset from the one before it.  It's very subtle and can give the illusion of a spiral or diagonal pattern.  I'm thinking that it would look good in a worsted weight and might actually be an nice overall pattern.

Here is Ripple Stitch.
This was a lesson in gritting your teeth and bearing it to the bitter end.  I really did not like knitting this.  To many different, uneventful things to do on the wrong side.  Plus, it just reminds me too much of a 70s afghan.  Yuck!  I'm sure you agree.

So, I have actually finished the swatch for page 14 but you will have to wait.  I have to get to bed so that I'm in a good space for the first day with my students tomorrow.  Oh, and an added bonus, I'm going to share my roasted, tomato sauce recipe.  YUM.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pumpkin Plants Drive Me Nuts and More Loser Mo vs. Barbara Walker

Well, the weather here in my beloved Pacific Northwest is still just amazing.  We have been having highs in the low 80s and our night time temperatures are in the high 50s (that's 28 and 14 to all of you metric people).  Now, because of this fabulous weather, my garden is going crazy.  (By the way, did you notice that I used the word "fabulous"?  I RARELY use the F word, mostly because I'm a loser mo but also because most mos use it WAY to much.  You just can't have that much fabulousness in the world.)

On with the show.  Here are a few images of the craziness in my back yard.

This is my tomato and pumpkin jungle.  It's hard to tell by the picture but these tomato plants come up to my nose.  Now, to put this into perspective, I'm 5', 11".  These guys are so big and so loaded with fruit that they are bending and breaking the tomato cages.  Also, please note the giant green leaves at the bottom of the picture.  These are my pumpkin plants.  More on them in a bit.
Look at these crazy plants.  They are insane.  It's going to be a huge pain when all the fruit sets.  I'll have to pick them all and can/freeze them.  However, there is nothing like a vine ripened tomato.

Okay, now on to the pumpkin issue.  Last year, I decided that I was going to make pumpkin pie from scratch.

Looks good doesn't it.  You know you are totally craving some now.  YUM!

Now my goal was very different from getting the can of Libby's and making a pie.  I do that every year.  What I had in mind was to go out and get the pumpkin, carve it up and turn it into a pie.  I mean how totally New England Thanksgiving is that.  I was so channeling our Pilgrim settlers until I discovered that they didn't make pumpkin pie.  They actually took the pumpkins and filled them with cream and sugar and the baked them in the embers of the fire.  Sounds kinda nasty doesn't it.  Well, I guess all good things have humble beginnings.  So, after I discovered that factoid, I decided that I would channel Martha Stewart because she would Totally make a pie from a whole pumpkin.

Actually, the process isn't too bad.  All you have to do is cut open the pumpkin, clean out the seeds and roast it until it's soft.

See, wasn't that super easy!

This is what you would do with any other squash; although, I really don't like squash.  It has a really nasty texture and then people always cook it with butter and brown sugar.  So, if you have to make a dessert out of it to get people to eat it as a side dish, then you shouldn't cook it at all.  Eat a real vegetable like a Brussels Sprout.  Sorry...digressing again.

When the pumpkin is soft, let it cool and then scrape the flesh into your food processor and give it a whirl until it's nice and smooth.  You are now at the "what you get from the Libby's can" stage.

So, simple enough you say?  Well, too true; however, you can't use just any pumpkin.  You have to find one that is grown for baking.  Those lovely huge jack o'lanterns are for crap when making pies.  The reason being is that they are grown for carving and not for flesh.  Therefore, they make really stringy non-tasty pies.  Who would have thought???

Anyway, after much research, I settled on this pumpkin.
This is actually called a Cinderella Pumpkin.  It's the pumpkin that they modeled Cinderella's carriage after.  Of course, it's original name is Rouge Vif d'Etampes.  I think that it translates to red stamp but my French is not the best.  But who cares; it's an amazing pumpkin.  The one that I had made five pies.  AND....they were the best F'n pies EVER.  That's right Martha!  My pumpkin made FIVE pies that were better than any of your pies.  Take that!!!!  I totally want to take Martha on and show her what a real loser mo can do.  Ooops, digressing again.

Well, thanks to this great pie experience, I decided that I would grow my own Cinderella Pumpkins this summer.  They must be a pretty popular pumpkin because I didn't have to order the seeds from a seed company.  I found them on the seed rack at my grocery store.  Lucky me!

Now, why do they drive me nuts you ask?  Let me tell you.  It appears, that somewhere along the evolutionary track, pumpkins decided that they wanted to have two very different flowers; a boy flower and a girl flower.  Yup, two different flowers on the same plant.  Okay, so really, no big deal; the boy flowers pollinate the girl flowers and you get pumpkins.  Oh, but if it were that easy.

Let me tell you what's really going on from the gay guy perspective.  You see, pumpkins produce a ton of boy flowers and very few girl flowers.  Everyday I go out to the garden and I'll have ten or more boy flowers and not one girl flower.  What the hell?  Why can't they just be like the tomato, one flower equals one tomato.  It's really crazy making.  For this entire season, I have only four pumpkins from five plants.  Ugggh!  How am I supposed to be a good mo and make 8,000 pumpkin pies from my own home, grown pumpkins that can feed all of Christ's soldiers if I can't get enough pumpkins!  AHHHHH!

Damn, I hate it when I go down that scary path.

Okay, back to the gay guy perspective.  The other morning, I was out in the garden lamenting the lack of pumpkins when it dawned on me what they are doing.  (This is really amazing1)  Pumpkins are really just replicating the population at a straight bar.  That's right; pumpkin patches are really the straight bars of the plant world.  Here is my thinking.  At straight bars, there are always way too many guys and not enough available women.  So, what do straight guys do?  They go to another bar where, again, there are way to many men and not enough available women.  If a guy is lucky, he actually meets and girl and they strike up some sort of relationship, e.g., too many boy flowers and not enough girl flowers.

This is my pumpkin patch, five straight bars with with too many men, not enough women and only four viable relationships out of the whole evening.  Damn, I almost feel sad for straight guys, only, I wish they would stay the hell out of my pumpkin patch.

Okay, enough about my garden woes and on to my throw down with Ms. Walker.

Now, I was going in order; however, I seemed to have had a bit too much wine one night and got mixed up as to what page I was on.  So, we are going to jump ahead a few pages to page 15.  (Don't worry; I'll go back to the missed samples.)

Okay, page 15, same sport weight Baby Ull on US 3.

Here we have the Waving Rib Pattern and Quaker Ridging.

The bottom section is the Waving Rib Pattern (I still cant figure out what they are waving about) and the top section is Quaker Ridge.  Oh and yes, those ARE the most adorable poodle salt and pepper shakers.  They were helping out with all of their cuteness.  Actually, I have them there to hold down the edge.  I didn't want to block this sample because it's easier to see how textured knitting can really affect your gauge/tension.

For this sample, I cast on 46 stitches.  The stitch count stayed the same.  As you can see, just a simple combination of knits and purls can really tighten up your fabric.  Just so you know, I am a very loose knitter; so, for the tight knitter, this can be a huge issue.  REMEMBER, always do a gauge swatch, and YES, I know that it is a total pain.  Just do it, damn it!

Okay, now to the merits of the patterns themselves.  First up, Quaker Ridge....mehh, why bother.  It's super boring.  While you will see lots of ridges in gansey knitting, they are always a border to a more interesting pattern.  This is just bumpy lines in my opinion.  Again, mehh...

Second:  I actually like the Waving Rib pattern; although, I would give it a very different name.  What I like most about it, is that it is totally reversible.  Look at the back side!

Isn't that the coolest basket weave pattern.  I'm having visions of a reversible cardigan here.  Think about it.  This pattern makes a nice dense fabric that is really awesome on both sides.  You can't get better than that.
 This one is definitely a keeper.  I have a ton of bamboo, merino yarn that might be begging for this as its pattern.

Well, what do you think about his pattern?  Wish me luck with my pumpkins. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

Barbara Walker and being a Loser Mo in Santa Fe

My birthday present this year is a trip to Santa Fe, NM, to see opera and visit my home state.  Why such a nice present you ask?  Well, it's one of those years that mark a certain point in life.  I prefer to think that it didn't happen; so, we will just say that I'm still 39.  However, Santa Fe is definitely happening.

I had forgotten about the Super Mos here in this city.  Wow!  They wear perfect blazers with crisp pressed shirts and pants and VERY expensive Italian shoes, while sipping cocktails and talking about some one's nice home but how it "tragically" has no view.  OMG!  I don't know how many Mo points I need to catch up to these guys.  What I can say, is that I was wearing VERY expensive Italian shoes that I actually bought in Florence.  You have to have some street credentials here in Santa Fe.

The operas have been great.  We saw La Traviata first.  Of course, this opera brings out ALL the Mos.  If you don't know it, Violetta represents the gay man's biggest dilemma, whether to fall in love or party and fornicate forever.  Truly, this is such a struggle for us Mos.  Speaking of Mos, here we are at the opera.  I'm the cute one with the sexy smirk on his face.
This is the view from our seats.  This was the set for La Traviata.  Yes, it's very minimalist but it worked.  My friend Pat wouldn't have cared for this set.  She's old school.  If there isn't a velvet chair and a chandelier, it's just not Traviata for her.

The second opera was The Grand Duchess of Gerolstein.  It was a very cute operetta.  I highly recommend it if you want something light.  For you beer fans, you might think of it as the Hefferveisen of opera.  Unfiltered, fun but not appropriate for all seasons.

Last night we saw Rossini's La Donna Del Lago.  This is a rarely performed opera but it seems to be making a comeback.  It was the BOMB although the first act drags a bit.  It takes place in Scotland during some war between the clans and the king.  Of course, there is a beautiful maiden that the whole story revolves around and she ends up saving the day.  Don't get you hopes up for opera and bagpipes; it's not happening here.

Opera isn't the only thing we have done.  We have been hiking and site seeing.

 This is Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch New Mexico.  The base of the trail is at 6500 ft.  You hike about one and a half miles and you end up here..... 7000 feet and with some incredible views.  Now, when you come from 600 feet and try to hike at 7000 feet, you suddenly feel very, very out of shape.

This is the Sanctuary of Chimayo about an hour outside of Santa Fe.  If you are not familiar with this church, I will tell you about it.  There are many stories about the miracle that led to the building of the Santuario. The most common tells of a villager named Bernardo de Abeyta, who was a Penitente, the brotherhood that kept the Catholic faith alive in New Mexico when priests were few. On Good Friday, in 1810 or 1811, Abeyta was performing the rituals of penance when he saw a light bursting forth from a nearby hillside. Upon digging at the source of the light, he found a large crucifix, which he called the Miraculous Crucifix of Our Lord of Esquipulas
Bernardo de Abeyta and other Chimayo villagers formed a procession to carry the crucifix to the nearest church, 8 miles away in Santa Cruz. But the next day the crucifix was missing from the altar, to be found back in its original place in the hills of Chimayo. The procession was repeated two more times before it became clear that el Señor de Esquipulas wanted to remain in Chimayo, thus prompting the building of the original small chapel on that site. Then the miraculous healings began, growing so numerous that the chapel had to be replaced by the larger adobe mission which is the current Chimayo shrine. Named el Santuario de Nuestro Señor de Esquipulas, the shrine was finished in 1816, and is now commonly known as el Santuario de Chimayo.  
In a small room next to the chapel is the well of Holy Dirt.  Yes, I said Holy Dirt.  There are many miracles that have happened attributed to the Holy Dirt.  People leave their crutches there as well as testimonies about miracle cures.  It's a very powerful place.  Anyway, being a good Catholic boy I got some of the dirt to bring back home.

Now, being that New Mexico is such a large and very sparsely populated state, I bought along my knitting for the long drives between destinations.  I decided that I would continue on with my Barbara Walker throw down.  So here we are on page 11. Same drill as last time, US 3 with what I believe is a sport weight.  Also, my sample is backwards from Ms. Walker's.  The bottom is Seed Stitch; the middle is Moss Stitch and the top is Double Seed Stitch.
I'm a HUGE fan of textured knitting.  I like it almost as much as stranded knitting.  The big thing for me here is that I like to knit sweaters and I really like ganseys.  Traditional ganseys are made of  many different combinations of knit and purl stitches and maybe an occasional cable thrown in for fun.  While I like all of this three stitches, I'm least fond of Seed Stitch.  It doesn't do much for me. OH!  Sorry, I'm at a hotel and I didn't want to iron anything so none of these is blocked.
Okay, turning to page 12, we have Sand Stitch, Dot Stitch or Spot Stitch, Broken Rib and Double Broken Rib.
So, I was really lazy on this one.  Sand Stitch's pattern shows up on the even side rows, which to most of us, is the wrong side.  That is why I am showing you the wrong side of the work.  The bottom section is Sand Stitch.  I have to say that I really don't like it.  It just looks like really messy knitting on the wrong side to me.
Now, the reverse side of Sand Stitch is Dot Stitch.

It's the bottom section again.  I really like this one.  It has lots of different effects.  One that I really like, that you can just see on the far left, is that it has the illusion of little diamond shapes.  I can definitely see myself using this on a gansey.  NOTE, if you do this pattern, keep track of where you leave off.  I forgot what row I was on several times and had to rip back a few rows to fix things again.

Now the next two are Broken Rib (middle section) and Double Broken Rib (top section).  I like both of these quite a bit.  My favourite of  the two is Broken Rib.  I have used this on a gansey and it looks really good over large areas and sleeves.  In one of my gansey books, the Broken Rib is called Moss Variant and Double Broken Rib is called Betty Martin Pattern.  Who knew Ms. Martin was so famous?  Okay, enough for now as I have a plane to catch to get me back to my beloved Pacific Northwest.