TGIF

Woohoo! Today is the last day of the semester! Of course, summer school starts Monday, so it doesn’t feel like a real ending. On the upside, today will be pretty slack, just finishing up books and returning work to the students.

It’s been an unusually work-intensive few days for me, but I’ve done everything on my previous list except the chapter books. The final tally is a dozen.

In other news (I use the term loosely), I dyed some more yarn last night. I’m starting to think/ realize/ accept that I was first time lucky. First, I had to prep the yarn twice because I dyed two balls together and there was a huge difference between the two, I must have pulled one ball taut to wrap it. Second, the dye came out MUCH lighter than I expected. I used the same kingfisher that I used with the brown, but I used a gold for the contrast color. I used the same brand, but I used white yarn instead of overdying beige. I’ll take pics when it’s completely dry, but even soaking wet it was several shades lighter.

Obviously this needs more experimentation. No problem, Mama will be here one week from today(!) with 12 balls of white Knitpicks. It feels like Christmas in July! (Knitpicks is so cheap it doesn’t matter that I bought the “Christmas present”.) The workshop we’re attending next weekend better be killer or I’ll be daydreaming in class.

In not so good news, I finally got around to reading the new articles in Knitty and there was one about publishing designs. So, I looked around at the linked sites and… the pattern that I *thought* was so unique (for wristwarmers) has a similar design for sale on one of the sites. Similar in the aspect that I thought was brilliantly original. Perhaps my brilliance is only in my mind.

And the hits just keep on coming. An addendum to “Why lament?”

After staying up way too late doing my homework (the “book” not the progress reports or mountain of essays, all of which are due Friday), I woke up not so refreshed this morning, checked my email and… got a reminder, a gentle nudge if you will, that I have a stack of conference proposals that I am supposed to vet due tomorrow. I may jump out a window. My current to-do list is now:
1. train two new teachers and give them their books and schedules before class today
2. read and comment on, I think, thirty conference proposals for tomorrow
3. complete a “book” of a brief history of the 50 states for tomorrow (so the office staff can get it printed and bound for Monday)
4. complete about 50 full-page handwritten progress reports by Friday
5. mark about 25 essays (1-2 pages each) for Friday (marking includes correcting all grammatical errors, making style and content suggestions, and of course praise for what they got right)
6. read about 10 chapter books (average 200 pages each) for Monday
7. Make a series of writing prompts for each class (about 10 levels from first grade, phonics-level English to middle school native-level ability) to use to create a writing portfolio during the summer camp

Perhaps sitting here making lists is not the wisest use of my time.

Why lament?

As it turns out, I was more foolish than I realized to have so frivolously frittered away the long weekend. When I got to school today, I got a note asking if I could “just put together” a book of brief history facts about the 50 states. Oh and it must be printed and bound to distribute to students MONDAY. No prob, I’m a loser with no life, right? Can you guess how brief this brief history is going to be?

While I toil away on something the students will throw away in a few weeks, I will console myself with this :
I have no idea why that worked once on two identical batches, unless there was something wrong with the red dye. That sounds good. I’ll blame the dye. It couldn’t have been user failure, right? So, I’ve got about 100g of rescued yarn and another 100g of partially resuscitated yarn.

Back to the salt mines.

Third time lucky

In leiu of completing my chapter book prep and progress reports, I dyed the second batch of that crap baby blue yarn. WTF? I did the same thing that did not work the first time, because it was ever so slightly mottled and I wanted the effect to be similar in case I end up using the yarn for one project. This time, using the same methods and materials just with purple dye, it totally worked. Even though a crap load of dye washed out, the end that was stuck in the dye is deep purple, the other end (which NO dye siphoned up into) is very pale lavendar, because I briefly put it in the dye. I’ll post pics when it’s dry.

Remember that first batch of yarn I dyed? Scroll down to see the beginning of a project. Well, I finished it and submitted it to Magknits. REJECTED. Yes, I’m a loser. I may try Knitty before I post it as a free pattern. Speaking of which, I haven’t forgotten that I’m supposed to post that sock pattern. However, I am having trouble posting the chart, so I’m going to have to type it out. But I digress, I’m trying, in my female way, to disect and analyze every word from the editor of Magknits. She said it was creative, but she already had commissioned several wristwarmers. so now I must determine if she is damning me with faint praise or not.

Fortunately, I haven’t been a total slacker the past few days. I’ve knocked out about forty progress reports, so I’m knee deep in faint-praise damnation (“your child’s youthful exuberance keeps me on my toes” = “Ritalin. Seriously. Heard of it?”). I’m just kidding about the ritalin, of course, so don’t start with the lecture about non-parents telling parents how to raise their kids. I rarely take an aspirin, so I would be unlikely to pump the fruits of my womb with catatonia-inducing pharms. However, I would be likely to send them outside to run, bike, rollerblade, something, anything which help burn off some of that youthful exuberance.

My little students don’t have time for physical pursuits, though. Most of them don’t get home from after-school school until well after dark, anyway. I’m not going to tell parents how to raise thier kids, but do they really think their child is actively learning for fourteen, fifteen hours a day? Some of my students go to classes on Sundays now. At least some of the lucky ones go to classes like craft school (formerly called “playing with mom time” or “Scouts”) and science experiment school. The majority go to the usual suspects, plus memorization school (to get the most out of the other schools, of course). Secretly, I think most of the schools could be any subject, because they are really “get out of the house” school. To which I would simply like to point out that the park is, technically speaking, out of the house. Okay, now I just have to find a way to work that into a progress report. I’ve got about a quadrillion more to write, so I’ll keep working on my phrasing.

In other news, as a result of my newfound love of dying yarn, I ordered 12 balls from Knitpicks for my mom to smuggle over for me. Is 12 balls enough to need to pay duty? Hahaha. I’ve lived in Korea since 1998. In probably 20 trips into the country, how many times have I seen a customs agent at his post? One. On that momentous occassion, as soon as he was free, the next passerby was sent to him. Everyone else? Waved through. Wouldn’t want to create a line. Every now and then the paper prints stories about foreigners smuggling in drugs. Shocking, what with the ace security and all.

First time out the gate… We have a winner!

I knit up a little something yesterday with my very first skein of hand dyed yarn and here’s a little peek:

A little out of focus, but check out those stripes! There is about a two to three stitch overlap of color from one row to the next but I’m giving myself an A. Now I understand why people sell those weird color combinations on ebay– it’s really cool to watch the contrast develop from one row to the next.

The second batch I did, the crap baby blue wool/ acrylic blend did not turn out so happily. The baby blue is now baby lavender. The red completely bled out and the part that was in the dye is no darker than the part that the dye siphoned up into. There was a huge contrast before I washed out the excess dye, but it’s almost all gone now. I’ve still got two more skeins of that crap which I was planning to dye purple the same way I dye the first two red. I may still do it, just to practice the process on yarn that would be gathering dust in the stash forever more otherwise.

I hand painted yarn!

I realized one reason I have a sizable stash but no compunction about buying more yarn is that most of my stash sucks. So, I took a ball of beige sock yarn and dyed half of it turquoise and half red-brown. Okay, those were not the colors I expected, but it still turned out cool. Cool enough that I actually went to the trouble of “rescuing” some yarn to dye it. I have an entire pack (4x90g balls) of this wretched baby blue fingering weight yarn wrapped with a blue-green variegated eyelash yarn. I have no excuses. Anyway, while watching an episode of Midsummer Murder on late-night, I separated two skeins and this morning I dyed one of them. It is still finishing up, but so far I can tell a couple of things.

First, the wool/nylon yarn I dyed yesterday has very little siphoning (where the dye seeps up outside of the part soaking in it), to the point that the two were in shallow bowls which were touching and there is a one-inch section that did not get colored. The crap wool/ acrylic blend, one the other hand, I did in a jar, because I wanted one end to have deep color and the other to have light color (one dye). Within one minute, the dye had siphoned about three inches out of the dye and within twenty minutes had gotten all the way to the bowl of undyed yarn. So, my plan of moving small sections into the jar for short periods was moot, but the part that was in the dye jar is darker than the rest. Second, the wool yarn held the color better. Even though tons of it washed out, the color is very bold. However, I can see even while it is still wet that the color is going to be much lighter, even the part that was soaking in the dye.

This was was lots of fun, though. Certainly way more fun than the thirty or forty progress reports I wrote in between checking on the yarn’s progress. And probably lots more fun than my reading list for the next few days. I rather foolishly told the academic director that I would rather read ten chapter books a week than teach vocabulary. How my words have come back to haunt me. The next day (Friday), I received half of my reading list for the summer session:
The Pearl, A Wrinkle in Time, Lord of the Flies, Maniac Magee, Hoot, When My Name was Keoko, and Small Steps. I’ll get the rest on Tuesday (Monday is a holiday in sunny SK)All fine books, no doubt, but I haven’t read all of them and the rest I read when I was in school (looooooooong ago). Did I mention that this is for a five week program and that the chapter book classes are only one of three subjects I’m teaching?

I also have to prepare daily writing topics for all of the classes (not just mine), for a portfolio the students are going to create to show their parents how hard they worked in summer school. I found this out on Friday when I got the books. I have one week to prepare. That’s why I get the (not-so) big bucks. I’m the head teacher, so that kind of prep work is my job, but I like warning. I also have a slew of new teachers to train. So, part of my Power Procrastination Plan (P3) is to dye yarn and shop online for my mother’s impending visit. Oh, and after yesterday’s dying success, I went to get more dye- an hour away. While I was at THE (as in only) mall, I also had dinner and checked out the English language bookstore. Total time expenditure- why just a shade under six hours round trip. Not bad, if I do say so myself.

Here’s a shot of the turquoise and brown yarn:

She’s back!

Not my mom, Brenda Dayne! Series 3! Oh, happy day! (Yeah, I said it.) Should I go to work and finish preparing for the teacher’s workshop I’m giving today? Should I work on my mountain of progress reports? OR Should I listen to the new podcast? Hmmm… I don’t think I need a poll to decide that one.

Happy listening!

My Mama’s Coming!!!

In exactly two weeks, I will be having dinner with my mother, fondling the wooly goodness she is bringing me. My shipment of Helen’s Laces, etc. is in her possession. Unfortunately, knitpicks was a bust (maybe). I want some needles in sizes I can’t get here (smaller than 2.5mm) in addition to the yarn, but they are backordered, or something. I may still get the yarn. I’m thinking about it. On the other hand, as it nears the 20th (my bank’s payday, as it were), I realized that I have spent about US$500 this month on things one (such as my husband) may consider frivolous. Perhaps I should show some restraint for the rest of the month.

I was planning on posting a sock pattern, but so far I haven’t quite figured out how to post the chart. I think it may have to be a jpeg, in which case, it will probably just end up being miles of written instructions. I’ll give you a sneak preview. Here’s a pic of one of the pairs I’v made with this pattern. It’s so easy, I’ve made several pairs using it, but the others are looking a little peaked. Just so you know, I don’t have giant feet or microscopic wood planks on my floor. I was sitting on the couch with my feet hovering off the edge. I’ll try to get the pattern up this weekend, but I’ve got about a hundred progress reports to write (by hand+ full page= more fun than should be legal), so we shall see how productive I feel.

Wherefore art thou, Brenda Dayne?

Okay, I know where she is, taking a well-deserved break, but I’m ready for series 3. I am suffering from CastOn withdrawal in a bad way. I am so in love with podcasts. I would like to have my own. That is, I would like to deliver intelligent, witty content with a rich, lovely voice. However that goal is not likely to be realized anywhere except in my own little mind. So, I have to settle for listening to Brenda’s intelligent, witty content delivered with a rich, lovely voice. Such is life.

I am consoling myself with a frenzy of online shopping. My mom is coming to visit in a few weeks, so I’m taking advantage of the opportunity to get yarn without paying more in shipping than for the yarn (if the company will even deliver here.) So far, I’ve ordered some Helen’s Laces, Noro Silk Garden, and Cherry Tree Hill Supersock. Today, I’m going to order some Knitpicks wool to try Kool Aid dying. Which means my mom will have to bring the Kool Aid, too.

I’m plotting out projects in class. Fortunately, I’ve used the same textbooks for so long, that I know when the students are likely to have trouble, so I only need to pay moderate attention. Multi-tasking, in other words, is not a problem. My school caps classes at seven to eight students, but this close to school holidays (they start next week), many students have already started their break from our school (we provide extra lessons after their regular school), so most of my classes are half full for this month. It doesn’t take much mental effort to keep three or four students under control.

I’ve got about a year or so’s worth of projects in mind. That is, if I give up reading and weekend activities that don’t involve knitting. Fortunately, my husband is not embarrassed for me to go to a pub with him and knit. The staff generally find it amusing, especially at Three Alley’s where pairs get stuck in small tables in the center of the room.

Take your knitting in public day (or whatever it was actually called) was not really an unusual day for me. I’ll knit just about anywhere I have to sit with nothing else to do. I learned to knit when I was an exchange student in Germany. All the girls in my class would knit instead of take notes. I had already graduated in the States, so I was quite amenable to that idea.

Okay, that yarn is not going to buy itself. More shopping, then I suppose I can prepare for class. You know, it really is a shame how work cuts into my knitting time. Next time, I’ll post a sock pattern I came up with.

The last person anywhere on the planet to get a blog

Yes, that’s me. I’ve had to think about it for a few years and now, in the fullness of time, here it is. Well, I don’t really have anything to say. It’s Sunday night, which means I *should* be marking essays from Friday’s writing classes, but I don’t want to. So far, in order to procrastinate tonight, I have watched Underworld 2, sort of. It was pretty crap, so I lost interest about halfway through. My attention was diverted to a lace square I’m *trying* to knit. It’s from an antique pattern which I’m either reading incorrectly (highly possible) or has mistakes. It’s an old pattern that has been translated, so I would say that either possibility is equally likely. I’m planning to knit my mother some lace for Christmas, so I’ve been trolling the internet for patterns or pieces of patterns that I can adapt. I’m going to splash out on Helen’s Laces, so I figure the pattern should be worthy. None of those crap “easy lace” ones which can all basically be summed up as:

5 rows garter followed by alternating:
knit one row
knit two together yarn over across
until you want to poke your eyes out with a DPN, then finish with 5 rows garter.

Why would anyone go to the time consuming effort of knitting lace for that? So that’s where I am- looking for something that looks good but isn’t so complicated that I’ll be constantly frogging it. I may have to break down and get a book of lace knitting patterns. The selection here is limited and I just hate to pay nearly as much in postage as for the book to get it shipped from the US to sunny S Korea. It may have to be done.