Monday, April 28, 2014

Time Lapse Photography

I finished my National Board Renewal and this sweater on Saturday.  The sweater is made
with  Debbie Bliss Angel yarn.  The pattern, "Peppermint Cream," is found in the
March 2014 issue of Knit Today (a British magazine). 
   I try to post to my blog every week, or at least every ten days or so, but life has gotten in the way lately.  Even with a week off around Easter, I have been bogged down with a pressing National Board teacher certification renewal deadline that has taken precedence over any of my extra-curricular activities (except knitting, of course, as that practice helps me cope with any onslaught of stressful demands).    

     While I did finally submit the many components of my renewal materials this past Saturday, my brain is still not sufficiently clear to write a post unified in any thematic way, so I’ll just share some photo updates of life lately (some of them from spring break) and hope to get back on track in a few days.  I hope to also return to some design projects in progress.


I did some of my National Board work at the kitchen table.  (I have cleaned up this mess since I took this shot.)

Yesterday, I wound this lace-weight skein I bought at
Loop in London last summer.  Hope to cast on a shawl soon.  

Alice Lace is a luscious blend of alpaca, silk, and cashmere.  

A co-worker is cleaning out her house to sell it.  A few days ago, she gave me these vintage glove driers that had belonged to her mother.  Made for ladies' white gloves, they would probably work well for hand-knit gloves.  I'm itching to cast on a pair, so I can try out these dryers.  

Easter Sunday was reserved for relaxing and family.  My older son is in the background.
These are homemade cinnamon rolls I made for Easter.  In this photo, they aren't iced yet.  

A couple of weeks ago, I took a branch from this double-blossom cherry tree
at my mother-in-law's house in the country to try to root it.  I love these frilly

This is my mother-in-law's greenhouse.  She's 88 and doesn't get out to this space much

My cat, Streaky, knows how to spend sunny spring break days.  

On one of my days off  a friend and I took a trip to a local vineyard, where
most of the wine is made using muscadine grapes.  Such a pretty

I'm usually not a fan of sweet wines but this cherry
 wine is delicious, especially when paired with dark chocolate.  

I shot this very brief video at the vineyard.  

After the winery trip, my friend and I ate lunch at Off the Square
in Albemarle.  I'd never been to this small town before and
I enjoyed exploring and eating a surprisingly good lunch.  

After working on my National Board renewal for hours on another day I was home from work, I suggested to my husband that we go for a ride.  Of course, a yarn shop was involved.  This is The Needlecraft Center, located in Davidson, NC.  Davidson is a quaint town with with an excellent liberal arts college located in its downtown.  

Even though I was enticed, amazingly, I didn't buy anything on this trip,
 as I was still involved in a pre-Easter "yarn fast."
This is a view of South Main Street in Davidson.  

I made these cupcakes for Easter with Magnolia Bakery's recipe.  

I worked some on my Downton Abbey quilt in the last few weeks but had to set it aside.  I've packed up my National Board papers now, and am excited about finishing up this project and getting started on some other sewing projects.  

One of my sister- and brother-in-law's dogs, Bettie Sue, knows how to relax on an Easter Sunday
 afternoon, although she does so on the table, instead of at it.

These pictures are sort of an unrelated collage, but maybe in a week or so I'll write something unified.  

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Time Out

When I sit down at the computer lately, schoolwork or working on my National Board teaching certificate renewal has been first on my agenda.  My brain has been spinning with educationalese for weeks now, and my past blog writing and knitwear design attempts seem like the work of some other person, as I can't fathom how I ever had the concentration or energy to devote to those tasks in any serious way.   Lately, I stay at school late every evening and come home unable to do much but plop on the couch to ply my knitting needles, in an attempt to assuage the stresses and tensions of the day.

I put several  works in progress aside, actually more than several (and way too many to confess here), to cast on this Sugar Grove Shawl found in the spring 2014 ssue of  Knitscene magazine.  I wanted to make something quickly, that I could send to my mother who recently had surgery.  This pattern calls for a worsted weight yarn.  I used Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted Superwash here and was able to finish this project in the mornings and evenings in around a week's time.   

On the weekends, I've been spending time relaxing by making trips to the knitting store, visiting with friends, or busying myself in the kitchen.  So, as this blog post reflects my life, it is a bit disjointed, with no unity of purpose.  But I'd rather post something than let my blog founder, and hope that when summer comes along I'll get back to writing something a bit more unified, or maybe actually share some instructions or patterns. For now, though, I'll just share a few pictures of life lately.  

I began work on a small quilt using Downton Abbey fabric squares.  I hope my slightly misaligned blocks (in some places, anyway) won't be glaringly apparent when this project is finished.  

This is Martha Stewart's Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake.  I've made three of these delicious cakes in the past two weeks.  This one turned out the best.  Find the recipe here.  (Note:  have lots of butter on hand and don't expect your pants to fit comfortably if you make as many of these as I did in a concentrated time period.)

I went to an antiques flea market last weekend with a friend who was in town.  These are spindles from a North Carolina mill.  These items are plentiful at such sales here as the area where I live used to be at the hub of the textile milling industry, until nearly every operation moved overseas.    

It's pretty sad when you go to an antiques flea market and realize you already own enough items of similar style and vintage to open your own booth or large store.  

I couldn't leave empty-handed, so I did spend one dollar on this pretty tea strainer.  

I have been waiting to cast on with this yarn, given to me by my friend, Mrs. Thomasina Tittlemouse, last summer when I was in England.  I finally found a pattern that will work with this quantity and weight of yarn.  I'll share pattern details in future posts.  

In conclusion, my odd array of activities sustains me when my work days grow longer and more demanding. In addition to knitting, reading always provides an escape from daily chores and tensions.  I just finished a biography of J.R.R. Tolkien and was impressed by the very human nature of this great man, as his biographer recounted how Tolkien always had a plethora of writing projects going on simultaneously and didn't always finish what he started. (Hmmn, he sounds like a knitter.)  I've also been watching some new episodes of Call the Midwife that aired recently.  I had to smile at Sister Monica Joan, the retired nun with dementia, who had her knitting taken away from her the other night as her fussing about it was disrupting a doctor who was giving a presentation to the Nonnatus House midwives about the connection between relaxation and easier deliveries. According to the the PBS website, Joan "has an eccentric, mercurial personality, and is obsessed with cake, astrology and knitting, in no particular order."  I hope I haven't garnered a similar reputation at my workplace (although British literature and BBC productions might take the place of astrology in a catalogue of my obsessions).  Anyway, having passions outside of the daily grind does make life more palatable, and when the school year is over, I hope to regain some creative energy and productivity.  

I've been on a yarn fast this Lenten season, but did
purchase this book last week.  I love the designs by Alana
Dokhas.  Check out her blog:  Never Not Knitting.