Sunday, April 27, 2008

Now back to our previously scheduled program...

That's what it feels like, anyway. Drama club is officially finished - phew! I can't even pretend that teaching drama to 20 11-year-olds isn't work. I'm not even sure if they were learning anything, because keeping that many kids focused is a feat in itself. It was good, though, and the play went smoothly. The kids were so excited and proud when they were done, we were all high-fiving each other after the curtains closed. Here's some pics:

Sea monster and pirate, scared pirates in background, in case sea monster decides to munch them.

A stream of pirates getting abducted on their way to an island.

Fairy costume (remember the last minute four-inch correction?), fairy in action, in a neat play called Sibling Switch.

And finally, the entire class, at least at the end of the year, except for some that were out with the flu. That was unfortunate, since they put in all the time, but got sick just at production time. We also lost some kids halfway through, because darn it, seven months is a long time to be in a drama club. Next year, I'm going to try to meet twice a week for half the length of time. That way, we might get less kids signing up, due to other commitments, and I'm sure it would be easier to each, say, eight kids instead of twenty to thirty. I have to say, though, that it feels really good to have kids looking forward to joining our drama club. My husband and I are fairly new at this, and I'm glad we're not bombing out with the kids.

I'm spinning some more sock wool for a friend, and it's going really fast! I can't locate my camera right now, but suffice it to say that I shall be making my own Lazy Kate very soon. I was going to wait until I could figure out how to put tension on the spools, but I think I'll just make one with a shoe box and some dowels. Anything would beat trying to spin off of two spindles onto a third...

I'm also ready to start some beaded socks, but my beads are too small for my darning needle to go through. How do you thread the beads on? Can anyone help? They're not seed beads, but I don't know exactly what size they are. It just seems like the hole is about as big as worsted weight yarn, so they seem appropriate. I'll welcome any and all advice!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Updates! Don't you love em?

Here are some pics of the work I've been up to. We have the kids onstage for their productions, showing the fairy-ish (no wings) dress, and a chimney the kids helped me paint, as well as the sea monster costume. That actually came out better than I expected, since we started and cast off several ideas, and finally came up with this one the night before we needed it. I made a green poncho, put some black spots on it, covered it with green netting, and then affixed seaweed to it. It was all right =) Then we had a cap for her that I bought at a costume shop, and we were good to go. I hope a get a chance to take a picture of her when she's with the waves and the pirate ship, but I'd have to be able to be in two places at once. There's a picture of a bunch of pirates, also. For their costumes, we just cut fabrics for sashes, and then cut up t-shirts. They came out looking quite piratey. Of course, there are some excellent pirate costumes in the shops, but these came out fine, too. The fairy costume went together in one day. Then, when she tried it on, it didn't fit by about four inches! She said she'd actually taken her measurements with a piece of string and a yard stick - "Sorry." Well, me, too. So I took out the zipper, added the four inches, and had an off-set zipper in the back. It worked great, actually. We also made waves of foam board and painted them in the kitchen, but I don't have any pictures. We're quite an assembly line here.

There are so many lists of things that I should be doing. I just keep adding things I think of to my Wordpad document, then putting an X by the ones that are finished. I'm also carrying around a well-filled coffee filter, with things added and crossed off all over the place. As long as I don't lose my coffee filter, I'm in good shape. Actually, I'm having fun, but we're all very nervous about the production today. I was feeling okay until the kids started talking about how nervous they were, and now I am, too. Lol. The principal seemed totally surprised that he needed to set chairs up for parents and the community. I guess he thought the production was only for the school. So now I'm thinking, what if nobody comes?? I mean, we'll perform for the students, but we have another production Saturday night, and I'm wondering why we didn't make it for the afternoon. I guess I'd better start calling friends and making them come to my play =)

Last night I sat down and zoned out with a sock while watching the movie Juno. I liked it, and it threw me several curves. I wasn't expecting that movie to be anything like what it was, and I enjoyed it a great deal, anyway. Then my oldest and I had a good conversation this morning about teen pregnancy. I suppose she's old enough to have the talk, since her friends have MySpace accounts, boyfriends, and last week she said she was a sixteen-year-old in a ten-year-old's body. God help us. Here's a pic of the sock, just a basic pattern:

And see my arm? Heehee. Well, maybe you can't very well, but one of the kids swiped my script during the second performance, so I had to take notes on - well, on me. So even when I'm getting away from everything and knitting, I'm not really getting away from it. Three hours til we perform!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Prepare to be impressed

I know how that sounds, really full of myself. Hopefully intriguing enough to catch your interest, though, and enough of a promise that I'll have to deliver. I had an idea for a different title this morning, and the rant went something like - I hate how people use catch phrases to describe catastrophes. The first two that come to mind are, "The humanity! (Hindenburg)" and "Houston, we've had a problem (Apollo 13)". These were terrible, scary events that people lived through. And it slays me when people say, "Ahhh, the humanity!" and laugh. So I was especially irritated with myself this morning, when, getting ready to take a kid to school, after getting approximately 2 1/2 hours of sleep because of kids with the flu or having nightmares, I caught myself thinking, "Houston, we have a problem."

To explain, my husband and I have been dedicating a fair amount of time this school year to running a drama club production. Our play is this Thursday (3 days away, but who's counting?), and Saturday at practice, two kids asked for scripts. Apparently, they've lost theirs - who knows when? - and just realized we're really going to put them on stage. Ack. One of our drama club kids has meningitis, but doesn't want me to give his part to an understudy, he's determined to make it. My daughter has been sick with the flu for the last full week, which means I haven't been able to run around being detail mom. That's a shame, because I really enjoy detail mom. She's saved my bacon many a time. Then, of course, I got sick, so now I'm not only NOT detail mom, I'm resting mom. Get up a bit, make a list of things I should be doing, sit down and rest. The last four days have been like that. It's very frustrating when you've got a deadline looming.

This morning, I woke up feeling - well, better. You know what feeling better feels like, because you suddenly realize how bad you've felt. And as I came upstairs to check on my husband, he's just laying in bed. Just laying there. Like we don't have sixty things to do in three days. "Everything okay?" asks I. No, indeed. 'Twould seem he has caught the flu. Plus, he's not even trying to fake being okay to make me feel better. He's just sick.

Luckily, detail mom is back. (God bless her) I have to make a new sea monster suit today (the last one really wasn't right). I need to make a fairy costume, grown woman size. I have to make five pirate costumes (these are only cut up t-shirts). And I have to make a crossing guard sign for the second play we're performing. But I feel invigorated. I can handle it. And so I ran out to the store, bought more tulle, polar fleece and stencils, picked up some flu medicine for the husband, fed prescription flu medicine to my daughter (don't get me started on the cost, for pity's sake), and now I'm back writing a blog entry, basically promising a warping time miracle, to keep me honest. May detail mom last long enough to deliver!

If you get a chance, say a prayer and knit a stitch for me, ay? I believe in well wishes, and I'd appreciate any I could get!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Gauge is a harsh mistress.

I've finally figured out how to get the photos off of my temporary camera, onto my old laptop, then saved to a datapen and moved to the new laptop, because I can't find the camera cable, and the little card thingy doesn't fit in the new laptop. Grr. Anyhoo, the husband's sweater! I had a totally lovely time knitting it, and that was mostly because I was secure, solid, happy in the knowledge that my gauge swatch had worked out great. I knit it, I washed it, I measured it, and it was perfect. So even though I'm knitting, and the sweater is looking way skinny, I'm enjoying myself, because this baby is going to block out. The front and back each needed to be 23 inches across. My husband has a 44-inch chest, and this gives him a teeny bit of ease, but not too big, cuz he's not into the bulky, too-big sweater look. Then I washed my pieces, pressed them out so you could see the cabling pattern, and got this:

That's a 26-inch across measurement, friends. 26. That gives him, oh, an eight-inch ease. Dangit. I'm going to have to feed him pasta for every meal for a month to make this work. I have walked by these pieces for the last 20 minutes, slinging bad words at them whenever my gaze happens upon them. Rotten measurements. Rotten sweater pieces. I have been mocked and defeated by knitting gauge, and I'm pretty ticked off about it. In fact, I remember a time when I didn't know what gauge was. I was thirteen, happily knitting sweaters for myself, for babies, for my mom, and everything was fine. There was one sweater that ended up too small, and I gave it to a neighbor, much skinnier than I. One sweater out of countless sweaters had an incorrect gauge, and I wasn't even trying. Then I get a little knowledge, start swatching, measuring, protecting myself, and kerblooie. Dangit.

Oh, and another lesson: Don't drink and knit. Some friends came over the other night, and I'm knitting on my handspun sock yarn, second sock. I lost my directions from the first sock, so there's a lot of comparison as I go. That's working out okay. It is, after all, just a sock. I turned the heel, moved on toward the cuff, got up the next morning, and found - well, the photos are blurry. (Let's blame the temporary camera) One of my socks has texturizing on the heel, and the other one (let's call it the drunk-knitting sock) has no texturizing at all. I can't pull out the yarn, since it's two-ply handspun, and tends to separate if it's abused too much. Now, I know, it's just a sock, and it's for me, as well, so this is not a big deal. But right on the back of the knitting gauge fiasco, and I'm pretty grumpy.

Still, though, and to move on past the grumps, here's a picture of my handknit socks.

You wouldn't even hardly think they were from the same skein, but that must be the random love of spinning your own yarn. Neat that they both stripe, though, and they're very comfy. Once I got over being disgusted about knitting in general, I started to feel pretty smart. I can make stuff. I can make my own socks. Hah! I feel pretty clever, actually. Except for the sweater.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

April Update

April 1st was a fun day around the Cobbler house. My oldest kids are ten and eight years old, and they've gotten behind this prank-pulling thing. April Fools' morning found us with Vaseline on our toothpaste, the toilet seat, door handles... looks like I'll be replacing our tub of ointment. Rubberbands were around the dish sprayer in the kitchen, and chocolate syrup was in our coffee cups. It all would have been so much funnier if I had just gotten to the coffee first...

I wish I had some pictures of the knitting party I had yesterday morning. Mel and Arleta came over, with kids, since it's spring break, and we knitted and ate, but not necessarily in that order. A lot of food seems to be required for a knitting party. It was fun, but I couldn't find my camera. Mel was wearing a sock as she knitted the second. I find that very good motivation for overcoming second sock syndrome. Then they accused me of never sharing new purchases with them, so I went and brought out everything knew I had acquired. And it seems that I haven't acquired anything new since the last time I showed them! Good for me. I feel very upstanding about this whole Mission Possible thing. And it's hard to justify yarn when your husband packs his lunch for work. However, it's very self-sacrificing of him, and I suspect he's doing it for the sweaters he gets in return.

In spite of my camera being AWOL, I have on picture of a finished object in my photo file. I have, sadly, gotten yet another laptop that I'm working on, so I now have pictures strung over three computers. It's irritating, really. If I lose the pattern I'm working on, I'll have to figure out which machine it's downloaded at. And I just figured out the pictures I wanted to show are on the other laptop. Grrr. Now I'll have to find my datapen.

I made a baby sweater for a friend of ours who had her baby at home, with a Dula. I'm so impressed. If I didn't have nurses running around getting me stuff after my third was born, I don't think I'd have eaten. But she looks great, so does the baby, and the sweater worked out fine. I just used a general cardigan pattern I picked up for free at Wal-Mart, then adjusted the collar and put in the heart lace design. Good, basic pattern, though. And I'm lucky I got this picture, as I was wrapping the gift when I realized that I hadn't taken a photo yet. How many times have I done that, even though I know I have a blog?? Arleta made a beautiful blanket for the little girl, and Mel is working on a baby nighty, which is so cute I can hardly stand it. Gotta make me one of those for the next baby gift. It's cool.

I'm finishing the sleeves on the husband's sweater, then it's weaving in all the ends. I love the feel of the Wool of the Andes, and the price was right, but I really protest all the knots. It seems excessive, to find a knot three feet from the end of a skein. Why not just end it a bit early, folks? Nobody's measuring the skein that closely. And there were knots throughout almost all the skeins, which are small to begin with, so it's taken 16 skeins to do the sweater. If I sound grouchy now, check me out after all the weaving in. =) But it's going to be an awesome sweater, so I'm looking forward to getting it done.

Gear up, folks. If you've read this far, here's your heads-up. I'm going to do another shawl knitalong this summer. I know others are doing them as well, and I don't think you have to do two shawls to be in two knitalongs. Just get your pattern in mind or start now and take pictures, and I'll post them with the others as we go through our knitting this summer. It's a great way to share, and I've got a shawl on the needles and one on the brain at the moment, so I'll have no problem with coming up with my own project. And, of course, by random draw, there will be a winner who receives shawl yarn, and some stitch markers coming someone's way, and any other prizes I can think of and gather. So start looking through your books! I'll announce more later, in a more dedicated entry. Happy knitting, and let's collectively wish for Spring! I know I'm ready.