Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dragon Girl

I blame it on studying history.  I blame it the second volume of The Story of the World, Chapter Fourteen--the chapter about the Vikings.  I cannot escape the consequences of reading that chapter to my children.

The problem is that the chapter about Vikings caught my children's attention, specifically that of my eldest daughter, Miss Bluebird.  She requested to know more about the Norsemen, so I obliged her with a copy of D'Aulaire's Book of Norse Myths.  She read it.  She talked about all the things that a child could talk about that are remotely linked to Norse Gods.

She was still interested in the subject of Vikings, so I thought the movie How to Train Your Dragon would be a good idea.  (At the time, it was not--my kids weren't exactly fans of intense movies, but they soldiered it out and then spent the next five months watching it whenever they had a free moment.)

Then, of course, she wanted to read the actual book...which turned out to be the first in a series of, as of today, TEN books.

This led to an intense need to know about all the different kinds of dragons, which necessitated the reading of various dragon encyclopedias and the like.

So, kind parents at the playground, I sense your feelings of awkwardness when my daughter corners you and launches into a very lengthy discussion about the far-reaching attributes and characteristics of the forty-eleventy-billion species of dragons and asks you what kind of dragon you would most like to raise from egg, but you must understand that I have been listening to this vein of conversation for almost two years.  I lack sympathy for your endurance of fifteen minutes' worth of the topic.

That being said, thank you for granting me those brief moments of peace.

Friday, April 26, 2013

2012-2013 Weekly Report: Week #33
Yay for Spring!

We are getting close to finish line!  Work continues along in all subjects.  Penguin has finished her penmanship book, and I'm giving her the rest of the year off because I want to wait until the beginning of next year to introduce cursive writing.

I'm making sure to have her write more letters to keep up her practice, and I'm asking her to write more in other subjects.  She received a letter back from one of her aunts this week, which was a very exciting moment!  (Receiving mail never gets old, does it?)

Bluebird read Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass this week, and Penguin is still waddling along through Oliver Twist.

Penguin started memorizing the poem, "Mr. Nobody."  She remembers it from when Bluebird came through this stage and is concentrating hard during each grammar lesson to memorize it "faster than Bluebird when she was my age."

We had a Fun Friday today with art, Girl Scouts, and lots of playing outside.  I started teaching Bluebird how to play chess, and Bluebird has started writing up the requirement for her "Design Your Own" badge in Brownies--she wants to create "Pie Baking" and "Robotics" badges.  (There was a lot of discussion of in-season fruits this afternoon.)

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Climbing Out of Winter

The view from my kitchen counter offers a glimpse of green fields and mountains with less and less snow each day.  (You'd be able to see it out that brightly shining back door if the sun wasn't shining so brightly!)  The temperature rises as the weeks go along, and this weekend we're waiting to see if the weatherman had correctly predicted the 70 degree (F) weather we would so very appreciate.
My back is climbing out of its little funk.  All the bed rest has mandated much knitting, so as to keep my wits about me.  I churned out the Chudnovsky Pi Shawl at the beginning of my prison sentence, and then took a moment to whine on one of my favorite message boards on Ravelry when I ran out of the yarn.
One of the results of that little whine session, besides the outpouring of encouragement and commiseration from my fellow online knitting chums, was that a British knitter wrote to me and offered me yarn money to help ease the burden of being stuck on my back and inwardly raging over my predicament.  I trolled about online yarn shops, my gifted yarn funds burning in my pocket, and came across this brownish-gray color and, despite not really ever having noticed a single thing in that color EVER, I took a liking to its solid drabness.
I searched through my patterns on-hand and came across Juneberry Triangle, which had been gifted to me two Christmases ago by my dear knitting friend, Kit.  Gifted yarn, gifted pattern...I liked how it all went together so nicely.
Most of the knitting has been accomplished on my back, on the couch, while I watch old episodes of Frasier.  (Goodness, I loved that show while I was growing up!)  Any time I pick this up, I start remembering Frasier funnies, which is entirely awesome to me.
I started knitting with the fifth, and final, skein of yarn today.  I have about six more repeats of the edging to go and then this will be ready for a soak and a block.  My back has improved to allow for less couch-lounging and more standing, so my knitting has relocated to the kitchen counter.  The counter is higher than any of the tables in the house, so it makes for a good surface to rest my knitting--I don't have to stoop down to pick it up, and I don't have to support the weight of the project while knitting because it rests on the counter.
So I stand, knitting away while gazing out on the blue sky and the fresh green of the fields, knowing that spring is on her way.  The washed-out brown color of this yarn reminds me of tree bark at the beginning of spring--weathered and muted from months of cold and drizzly weather, while new life throbs within, waiting to burst forth in flowers and fruit.  My back is building up strength, and I'm looking forward to a fresh spring, full of possibilities and made better with the love and service from family and friends, just as this shawl is the more dear to me due to both the pattern and the yarn being gifted from knitters who care.
It's funny how a little brownish-gray shawl can hold so much symbolism to its creator.  But not really, when you think of what lies within each of us, and how the gentle coaxing of a Creator's hand can cause beauty to bloom, even in our most humbled and weathered states.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Chudnovsky Pi Shawl

All the forced rest of the last two months has seen a lot of knitting happening.  I finished up a few random projects, and then finally allowed myself the indulgence of knitting up this little Pi-inspired shawl, which I saw being knit in a yarn shop in Calgary two summers ago.  Penguin, whose favorite color is green right now, made an immediate claim of ownership during the first hour of knitting.  She has watched, anxiously, ever since, and inquired diligently as to when "her" green shawl would be finished.  I finished this a while ago, but it took forever to get weather fine enough to allow pictures.
PatternChudnovsky Pi, by Kourtney Robinson

YarnCascade Yarns Heritage Paints in colorway #9882 (1 skein), Schulana Kid-Seta in colorway #45 (2 skeins), Knit Picks Stroll in Forest Heather (~ 0.2 skeins)

Needles:  US 10 (6.0 mm)

Modifications:  None, except some creative license with the edging, color-wise, when my original yarns ran out.

Look at that deliciously fuzzy halo!

This shawl is super soft.  Ridiculously soft, like a baby unicorn belly.  Bluebird wants a "mohair shawl" for herself now, too--so much that she gave me the last of her birthday money to purchase enough fingering-weight and mohair laceweight to make another one of these for her, but in blue.

A handful of knitters who have knit this up have complained that the yardage listed "is just plain wrong."  Seeing how I ran out of both of my yarns, I'm going to have to agree.  I substituted in some Knit Picks Stroll in a dark green when I ran out of the Cascade sock yarn...it worked pretty well until the mohair ran out as well, leaving me with a stark strip of dark green, previously softened by the bright green of the mohair.  When I knit up Bluebird's "blue mohair" shawl, I'm going to go down a needle size and see if that helps--the printed pattern listed a US 10 needle, whereas the Ravelry pattern page lists a US 9 needle.  I've contacted the designer about this discrepancy and she has responded saying that she looks forward to seeing if the needle size-down helps the problem.

I was still in the first skein of mohair when I started the ruffle.  I ran out of the second skein before the ruffle ended.  The ruffle is a yarn-inhaler!  Regardless, I loved the no-brainer aspect of the ruffle.  I'm actually looking forward to knitting the ruffle on Bluebird's shawl.  Mindless, mindless, mindless.

It's a good scooter shawl, don't ya think?  Penguin loves it and wears it with pride, lovingly folding it and placing it back in her drawer with the shawl pin placed amongst its folds.  The shawl is technically mine, but I'm OK with "lending" it to her for safe keeping.  (Let's be honest, I'll probably never get to wear it.  Ever.)

Conclusion:  Easy knit, oh-so-soft, watch your yardage, yarn-eating ruffle.
(And please ignore the wonky formatting--I don't know what is going on with Blogger today!)


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Achy, Backy Update

Thank you for the kind emails and correspondence, they've been much appreciated by me.

Life has continued along in Brooketopia, with most changes being in the form of me lying down a whole lot more, us eating off of paper plates, and "recess" finding me straining through my physical therapy on the floor.  It's a grand life, but I warn you all against pursuance.

The cortisone shot into my spine improved my pain tremendously.  However, I'm still not quite to where my doctor would like me to be by this point in treatment, so there is talk of a "booster shot" in the next few weeks--the hope is that the "booster" will get the inflammation to go down just enough more so that we can get everything to go where it's supposed to go.  I've been hesitant to go for another cortisone shot because of its side effects, and my doctor has been in agreement until recently.  Unfortunately, my back just won't "let go" and let these discs go home, so we're going to try to blast them again and hope it sticks.  Otherwise, we'll have to consider slightly more invasive therapies.  (FYI:  We don't want more invasive, so we're hoping that Shot #2 fixes ALL THE THINGS.)

Kind, beautiful goddesses have descended upon my cluttered abode and cleaned it up.  The lovely man who is my husband has taken over practically all childcare responsibilities so I can rest more in the evenings.  It would be sort of heavenly where it not for the horrible, gut-wrenching back pain.  (I'll have to plan this better the next time around.)

We're puttering along, allowing for the much-needed time required for my back to heal.  I joke that I have time now to get this all healed, whereas I will definitely NOT have time for healing ten years from now when I'm trying to get four teenagers to where they need to be 24/7.

So...healing.  On your mark, get set, GO!