Keeping Calm and Casting On

I don't think I'll have space to include the words "amour" on this baby sweater I'm designing, but I hope the Eiffel Tower fits okay.  (Math wasn't my best subject.)   I'll post the final instructions and chart when I'm finished knitting.  

To Do List:

1.  Write a twenty-page paper about my trip to England for the World Affairs Council (the group whose grant money funded my week at Oxford this past summer) discussing how my experience impacted my role as an international educator.  Hmmm. Do trips to yarn shops and department stores (for underwear shopping--necessary due to lost luggage) factor in there somewhere?  

2.  Scrounge up $1250.00 to use to renew my National Board teaching certification this school year.  And then write and video and collect artifacts (student work samples) and submit to review board.  

3.  Create a digital portfolio (something new the state dreamed up for teachers of honors classes this year) with evidence "proving" that I'm teaching something of substance to my students.  (One would think that my disheveled and hangdog appearance  at the end of the semester would serve the same purpose.)

4.  Somehow try to do these things within the current technological environment.  Due to "an error by a member of the Technology Services Department" (words listed on the school system's temporary website for the last four or five days), the county school's server has been shut down.  I guess I can find consolation in the fact that the poor soul responsible is probably in a lot worse shape than I am right now.  

5.  Try to hand out progress reports to my students on Tuesday, even though the digital gradebook crashed and has been nonfunctional since last Thursday. This problem is unrelated to the issue discussed above (in number four).  

The gradebook glitch was responsible for the fact that my husband and I arrived at an open house at my older son's school last Thursday evening to find that the event had been cancelled, as the school staff had  no means of retrieving and printing student schedules.  Aimlessly wandering like the walking dead through the eerie fluorescent-lit corridors, among a not-too-modest-sized group of other slacker zombies who'd also neglected to listen to their voice mails, was actually a nice cheap date where my husband and I could reconnect without interruption. 

6.  Deal with the now nationally infamous raw deal teachers were recently handed out by the North Carolina legislature:  a continued pay freeze--in its fourth year now--keeping the state ranked at number 46 in the nation for teacher salaries.  There were a few other legislative decisions that recently impacted us, too:  No more tenure.  No more additional pay for teachers with Masters Degrees. Demonstrators are urging teachers to wear red to protest. The color of my face right now should probably suffice.  

7.  Manage to juggle family obligations--such as two football games with fifteen teaching class periods and four tutorial sections every week and somehow keep up with my knitting.  (Actually increased stress prompts more knitting, so this final item shouldn't be too difficult to manage.)

8.  Somehow revisit my Midsummer Aran--the project that tormented me this summer and is now in "time out" until I miraculously regain the mental acuity and balance to finish it.  I encountered the final straw a week ago, when after a wonderful few hours spent sitting by a fountain sipping bubbly mineral water and knitting away, I realized that yet again that I had to tear out row after row after row because of a glaring error in a cable many rows down on the front.

There is something wrong with this picture.  My Midsummer Aran,
still not completed, is shown here with a recently purchased mum plant.
 When mums are in the stores for sale, it's long past midsummer
and fall is on its way.  My sweater should be off the needles by now.
I did manage to complete one project (shown here still damp), but
 my general beginning-of-school fatigue and recent stresses are reflected in
 the one mistake I made--a twisted stitch in the front!  (I've hidden it for the picture.)
I double that only another  knitter would notice it anyway, but I still may knit up some
 tiny flowers to cover it.  Note:  I haven't  added a button to close this yet.

The solutions: 

1.  Plan a field trip for my students to go to the upcoming Yiasou Greek Festival in Charlotte.  The state bureaucrats might make life miserable--but I can fight back. Drinking frothy dark coffee and eating loukoumades (sweet, round, fried cakes) is a pleasant way to pass a day at work--although maybe a job at Starbucks would provide a similar experience and be more lucrative.  

2.  Go out and buy more yarn!  Of course, I did recently purchase and experiment with a synthetic fiber.  Trying times require new economy!  The Berroco comfort DK I bought to make my Eiffel Tower sweater is surprisingly soft and pleasant to work with, though.  And maybe there will be some luxury yarn in my future . . . if I win the lottery or dig through my formidable yarn stash.  (I actually can't complain.  I even have some gorgeous blue Debbie Bliss Angel given to me by my generous blogger friend Mrs. T.  I'll post a picture when I start a project with it.) 

3.  Decide to create an original design. Sketching and then coloring in little boxes is a soothing occupation to take my mind off of my troubles . . . sort of like basket weaving, I suppose.  

4.  Take a deep breath, keep calm, and cast on.  

A half-day workshop for English teachers and following afternoon faculty 
meeting sent me hyperventilating to the yarn store, where I purchased some 
silk yarn to make this cardigan in the spring 2013 issue of Vogue Knitting. 
This yarn was surprisingly reasonably priced.  This entire sweater should
 cost less than $40.00 to complete.  


  1. Wow Liz! A lot on your plate.. The Midsummer sweater may not be off the needles yet, but it is looking very good :) The little top is cute, even if it does have a twisted stitch. I doubt anyone will notice unless you point it out. Some small flowers sprinkled over the it (with one strategically placed) would be really cute (as well as set your mind to ease a bit). I am looking forward to seeing your design when you have it finished. That is some lovely yarn for that sweater in the last pic. :)

  2. Eek! Goodness what a list! Juggling these kinds of deadlines and unexpected obstacles is a nightmare. So sorry this has all piled in on you this term. A colleague said to me the the other day, "the trouble with this job is that is never ever ends and you just have to keep having a go at bits of it and hope for the best". I found this strangely comforting so I pass it on in the hope that you, in a different job but with some common ground, might find it comforting too! I find the sheer overwhelming nature of endless to do lists can make me a bit of a rabbit in front of the headlights! Keep calm and keep knitting - your output is still amazingly productive and your lovely summer Aran sweater is so nearly there! E xx

  3. Oh dear - I really feel for you. I am currently enjoying my last school-free week and trying hard not to think about it too much as I know that once I return to school I too will be faced with a barrage of new initiatives, targets and new ideas that people at national and county level have decided that teachers and schools should be doing this year. They love to keep us busy don't they? The aran jumper looks pretty good to me and is almost there - I think you should treat yourself to a day away from it all when you finish. Take care, Judy.


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