Reading is Fundamental

I have not blogged in awhile!  We’ve been busy with days of school and work (and play!).

I have been doing some knitting but I have put aside my Hulda Holly again for just a little break while I get some instant gratification with knitting a baby cardigan!

I am also starting back into school to get my elementary ed certification so that’s going to take up a lot of time as well.

One reason I want to teach is because I feel so strongly about reading and literacy.  I hope to become increasingly involved in promoting literacy and encouraging families to embrace reading with their children. I found this video this morning from RIF (Reading is Fundamental), and I wanted to share it. Here’s the link embedded in what I think is such an important statement:

“When you don’t have access to books, you only encounter them in a format that’s work…Owning your own books gives you access to something that is personal, positive and joyful.” 



Hulda Holly: Back to it.

Back in December 2010, I first blogged about knitting a lace weight sweater.  The pattern is called “Hulda”, and it’s from a book called Northern Knits.  I am making it for my sister-in-law Holly so that’s the why of Hulda Holly. I thought about it for awhile because I knew I was going to have to knit it with size 2 needles.  I couldn’t resist trying it though because I was fascinated by the stripes and how the colors were going to be blended.


The stripes are a blend of 3 shades of red, 5 shades of gray, and black.

I started knitting it in 2011.  I know this because I checked ravelry this morning to see if I’d put the details of the project up there.  Sure enough I had – back in October 2011.

I have decided to buckle down and get this thing done.  I am hopeful that it will be “wearable” when I am finished.  I have a few worries.  First, I am hoping I have the gauge right so that it will fit my sister-in-law.  Second, I am hoping she will not want to run when she sees it.  Third, the yarn is not soft.  It’s the opposite of soft, but it’s supposed to soften up when I wash it.  We shall see.

My assistant helped me try to take a couple of pictures of my progress.


Another concern I have about this sweater is the reason I needed Davey to help me take the pictures.  He had to hold down the bottom of the sweater which is really wanting to roll up.  I am hopeful that when I block this I will be able to get the bottom to lie flat.  I will figure out something one way or the other.  Maybe some small fishing weights if necessary – that’d be comfortable.

One final thing – I didn’t have the sense to weave in ends as I was going.


This yarn should weave in nicely though.  It’s almost sticky, and I’d hate to have to try to frog it.  I need to get started on those ends.  I will do better on the sleeves and weave in as I go.

This is a fun project.  The lace weight yarn makes me feel like I am really creating “fabric”.  I love how the colors blend.  It’s all stockinette, but the stripes involve using two different colors on every other row.  I knit one strand with my right hand, and I hold the other strand continental style with my left hand.

I am knitting the first sleeve now and am able to use my favorite Signature dpns which is another plus.

We shall see how it goes.


Knitting for Babies

This week a friend asked me if I would knit her some baby booties for a friend of hers who is expecting a baby.  She gave me the yarn she wanted me to knit with, and I said sure!

I wasn’t sure what pattern I wanted to use, so I started looking around on ravelry and pinterest.  This had led to a fun week of knitting.  I keep coming across little baby patterns that I want to try out.  For the booties, I found a pattern called “Easiest and Fastest Baby Booties Ever!”.  These were definitely very quick to knit up.  I decided to add some of my own yarn and give them stripes.


I took the picture the other day when it was sunny, so I especially like looking at it since we are under gray skies once again.

These booties are knit flat and seamed up.  They are garter stitch and have just a little bit of increasing and decreasing.  They would be a great first project.  The seaming can be done with just a whip stitch with the right sides facing.  Some people don’t like seaming, but it doesn’t bother me.  I prefer it to working with dpns with small numbers of stitches.  That’s a little fiddly for me.

In the process of looking for this pattern, I found another sweet little shoe that I just had to make.  The idea here is to use up yarn that I already have.  I am diligently trying to knit away at my stash. I had some silver metallic yarn and some pink which I thought would be pretty together.   The pattern is called “Bows before Bros” and it’s a free one too.

silver-pink-baby-booty-2This was also a quick and easy knit.  I knit the shoe and then made the bow separately and attached it.


This is another great beginner pattern!

Davey was sick a couple of days this week so I had some downtime with him.  We did lots of resting which means I had time for some extra knitting.  I came across another pattern that I was fascinated by mainly because it included an interesting schematic.



It was a pattern for an elephant knit all in one piece (except for the ears and tail).  It looked tricky to me, so I wanted to try it out.  It was a little tricky, but I realized that I needed to just follow the written instructions and not over think it.  It was actually all really easy going except the trunk confused me a little.

Here’s a not very great picture of how it looked flat.


This also requires seaming up.  I used mattress stitch though and it went quickly.


I think he’s the cutest.  If I had it to do again, I’d stuff the trunk a little more to give it a little more curve.  I made him with some leftover Kraemer cotton tweed.  He was really very fun to knit.  I’d happily make him again.

Back to baby knitting!



Broomstick Lace Infinity Cowl: A little “how-to”

A few weeks ago, I discovered Broomstick Lace.


I had never heard of it before so I had to try it.  It involves these two tools:


My “broomstick” was the 35 mm knitting needle, and I used a size I crochet hook. Next, I followed a great free tutorial from  How to Crochet Broomstick Lace.  After I played with the stitch a little, I decided it might be a great stitch for infinity cowl.

The tutorial provides very clear instructions, but here’s just a brief introduction: I made a chain and then single crocheted across.  Next I pulled up stitches onto the “broomstick”.  This is a little awkward and unwieldy at first.  I wasn’t sure how to hold the giant knitting needle and the hook, but with some practice I got it.  The tutorial has great photos which explain in detail how to do this.

After I put all the loops onto the needle, I got to slide them all off!  Then I crocheted them in groups of 5 (at least this is what I did for my pattern).  The end result looks like this:


I didn’t have an exact pattern to make a cowl in this stitch, so I had to play with width.  I made a chain of 40 stitches for the black cowl, and this made a width of 8 “clusters” (about 9 inches wide).  I wanted to try a more narrow cowl, so I made the red one by making a chain of 30 stitches, and this cowl was 6 “clusters” wide (about 7 inches).

I love the way this stitch looks.  It made for a very squishy and warm cowl.

I made the cowls about 64 inches long.  I used mattress stitch to sew the ends together, but I think whip stitch would work fine as well.

So the basic pattern is:

Supplies:  35mm Knitting needle. Size I Crochet hook.  Worsted Weight yarn.  I used some Lion’s Brand Heartland that I had in my stash.  (You could of course play with different weights too.)

Follow Broomstick Lace tutorial to learn the stitch.

Wide cowl:  Begin with a 40 stitch chain.  There will be 8 clusters of 5 stitches.  Repeat the row to desired length.  I made mine 64 inches long.  Sew ends together.

Not Quite as Wide Cowl:  Begin with a 30 stitch chain.  There will be 6 clusters of 5 stitches.  Repeat the row to desired length.  I made the red one 64 inches long as well.  Sew ends together.

I couldn’t get any great pictures of me modeling the cowl so I asked Davey to help me. He was being silly because I asked him for a big grin.  I got it.

photo (7)

I highly recommend trying out broomstick lace.  It’s a fun variation of crochet, and I really love the look of the stitch.  It works great for an infinity cowl as well!

Crochet Mystery

A couple of weeks ago I was going through some of my totes of craft things.  I confess to having accumulated many abandoned projects throughout the years.  I found partially completed counted cross-stitch, embroidery, quilting and crochet.  I always think that one of these days I will return to these projects.  Maybe I will.

So as I was digging through my totes, I came across this crocheted afghan that was nearly finished.



It is a beautiful stitch that has resulted in a really warm afghan.  Here’s the problem.  I have no idea when I made it.  I don’t know why I stopped.  I don’t know where the pattern came from (maybe one of the Vanna White crochet books I had in the ’90s).  I don’t know where the rest of the yarn is. Maybe I ran out?  Is that why I stopped in the middle of a row?



I put it away and never looked back.  I wish I could remember why.

I am so happy to have it now though. Yesterday, I weaved in the ends and put it to use.  It is missing the border on one side, but that’s ok.  It is really warm, and I have been really cold so it’s perfect.

I took advantage of the fact that Davey was willing to model the blanket for me this morning, and I got some fun pictures of him.


He is King Crazy Hair right now.  I’ve got to take him to get a haircut.



He was laughing at Buster who gets all crazy when he gets into the yard.  He doesn’t look particularly crazy here, but he’d paused for a moment.



Davey found him to be quite the clown.



I’m glad to have found this mystery blanket.  I want to research a little to see if I can figure what the stitch is.  I have no idea how I did it.  I am trying to estimate when it was that I made it as well.  It was definitely before Davey was born.  I am thinking I made it when we were in Texas (and we were there 15 years), but I am just not sure.

Regardless, I think I can look at these unfinished projects in two ways.  Either I have trouble sticking with something and just abandon projects when the whim hits me, OR I am all about the process, and when the creating process is not making me happy, then I move on. I choose the second. :)

Conversations with Davey

Davey and I have lots of good conversations before he goes to sleep at night.

He likes to ask me: “Mama, how were the second graders today?”  He loves any stories I tell him about what we did at school.

He likes to hear about the 8th graders I work with as well.  The other day I was telling him about how some of the 8th graders don’t always do their work like they are supposed to.  I told him that I didn’t really understand why some of them don’t want to work.  Of course, I know that there are many factors that go into this, and I am sympathetic to that, but I also like to talk about it with Davey, because I’m always trying to emphasize the importance of doing your best in school.

He said, “Well Mama, maybe they don’t love learning like you do. Not all kids love to learn.”

I really hadn’t thought about it in that way.

Davey does love to chat, and it often takes him quite awhile to fall asleep.  I decided to try something called “Square Breathing” with him.   It is a deep breathing technique and I thought it might relax him.  I actually think it worked pretty well.  We will have to continue practicing it and see how we do.

I explained to him that you think about your breathing and you breathe in for 4 counts, hold for 4 counts, and then breathe out for 4 counts.  He thought about this for awhile and said, “That seems like triangle breathing to me.”   I thought this was a good point.  However, I just googled it and turns out that I had it a little wrong.  After you breathe out for 4 counts, you are supposed to hold your breath for 4 counts before you start again.  Can’t wait to tell him this.  He will think that makes much more sense!

I recommend it though.  I recommend it for myself as well.  We could all use a little slow deep breathing on most days.



Martin Luther King, Jr. and Davey

I work with second graders, and today they went on a field trip to CWU to learn about Martin Luther King, Jr.  Their teachers kindly invited me to bring Davey, and I am so glad that I did.   He learned so much.  The college students talked to the kids about Martin Luther King, Jr.  The kids shared what they knew about him, and they asked many great questions.  This was followed by three break-out activities where Davey made a poster, wrote about his own dreams, and talked about respect for others.

This all made quite an impression on Davey.  We talked about MLK on the way to the presentation, and I tried to explain the idea of segregation.  I gave him some examples like Black people had to use separate water fountains, had to sit separately at the movies, and had to go to different schools.  He couldn’t really understand it, but he definitely decided that it was not right.

The students were asked to write about their own dreams as well.  Davey wrote about his dream of being an oceanographer. He wrote that “When I grow up, I will help coral reefs heal”.


Then today when he got back to school, he checked out a wonderful book written by MLK’s sister called My Brother MartinAfter we read the book, he had to write about it in his reading journal.

Davey usually does not like to spend too much time writing, but tonight he was inspired to write quite abit.  He wrote:

“We are all the same.  They shouldn’t have been treated that way.”

He was also inspired by an excerpt of King’s speech, and he wanted to copy it down:

“I have a dream that one day little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.  I have a dream today.”



It’s pretty special to hear that sweet 7 year old voice read Martin Luther King’s speech and to see what an impression these words made on him.