Thursday, June 24, 2010

Knitting in the Afternoon

I have been so lucky this week to knit with friends (and cats) for three afternoons in a row. After swim team, chores, extra chores, and errands, we have been able to sit in my sitting room with some relaxing tea and spend a few hours doing something we all love to do with each other--slipping stitches and bits of conversation in between the hard parts.

Jennifer is working her heel flap. She loves the stripe pattern her yarn is making and is interested to see how the stripes change as the heel is turned.

I'll take my socks to the pool this morning. I predict a small crowd of children to gather around me as a I work. Yesterday, one 7-year-old boy was amazed that I could knit socks. I let him try them on his foot, and he said, "These feel soooo good." I said in return, "That is one reason why I make them."

One mom who does not knit remarked that she didn't know anyone made socks by hand any more. "That is really a lost art, isn't it?" she said.

Lost art? Not really. Not if you take a look at all of the knitting blogs. No, I don't have to knit socks. I can buy them in multitudes for dollars. But there will only be one pair of socks like my socks with their hidden mistakes and interwoven memories of making them with friends.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Swimming & Knitting

Swimming and knitting. . . two challenging and fun activities that sum up our summer thus far. The children are participating on swim team for the first time, and I am knitting two socks on two circular needles at the same time for the first time. No, I'm not swimming and knitting at the same time! I'm grateful that all of us have coaches and friends who are helping us along the way in our gross motor and fine motor endeavors.

Swim update: Both children have participated in at least one swim meet and have started a collection of colorful ribbons. They are learning how to do the various strokes better and better every practice. They will have to teach me someday.

Sock update: We have turned the heels and picked up gussets on one side of both socks. Today, two more gusset sides, and we'll be ready for gusset decreases and toe shaping! Yeaa!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Stopping By

Stopping by on a hot and humid afternoon--
A yellow swallowtail on white butterfly bush
Close, closer, and closer still.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Knitting with Friends

my socks with Conn (the cat) as the shadow in the background

Knitting with friends is so much easier than knitting with cats, but I like to do both! Two of my friends joined me on an overcast and sometimes rainy afternoon to knit two socks on two circular needles at the same time. We are using the basic instructions from this book, and we have all pledged to help each other out through the difficult parts (heel flaps, gussets, and toe shaping). All three of us are equal teachers and learners in this endeavor.

Jennifer starts her socks. . .

Sarah knits, knits, knits . . . with Bailey (the dog)
in the background watching the weather outside

Conn the cat hung out with the ladies for the afternoon-- sometimes chasing the grape ball, sometimes inspecting our knitting bags, and sometimes scratching the furniture so that I would throw the ball for him again. After my friends left and the power went out for a little while, he assumed the same spot he had occupied before they arrived. Perhaps he stayed with us all afternoon because he just wanted his chair and cheerful, log cabin pillow back!

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Knitting with Cats

I knew it. As soon as I returned home from assembling these two skeins of yarn onto two circular needles to make two socks at the same time, I knew Conn would want to check it out. He had better not mess this project up as he did by partially unraveling a finished dishcloth! Didn't I tell you he has a thing for the kitchen table-- and textiles? Twenty seconds of sitting and knitting, and he was there. No kidding.

Rowan has a thing for textiles, too. She took an afternoon nap on a new seat quilt while Conn investigated the knitting, and I carefully made sense of yarn and needles. This project promises some challenge and some fun-- especially if I have to keep putting the project down to take a few photos.

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Blogging with Cats

Yesterday while I was preparing the post on Sewing for Cats, I was visited by Conn. Do you see what he does? He gets in the middle of anything done at the kitchen table-- homework, reading the newspaper, breakfast, blogging, writing, photo shoots. He doesn't like to be held, but he does like to "hang out" purring and inching closer to the center of whatever is going on. When my friend came over to start a knitting project yesterday, he lounged on the coffee table nearby (and he played with my water by dunking his paw in the glass). For him, the kitchen table must be like a tree with a great view of the creatures outside and goings on inside.

The cats like their seat quilts. Under the table or on the table, they are providing great company during this quiet week while the children are off catching fish, swimming, laughing, and meeting new people.

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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Sewing for Cats

one seat quilt made and one cat trying it out

Remember, dear blog readers, I've been charged with daily posts about the cats while my children visit their grandparents, so here is the second installment. It also involves sewing. Our kitchen chair seats are covered in some kind of woven fiber that the cats love to use as scratching material. Some scratching posts for cats are even made out of this same fiber, so I don't blame them. Really. But I decided it was time to take action and deter this behavior with a little sewing project.

I used some fabric from my stash with which I had intended to make cloth napkins. I drafted a pattern with newspaper and measurements (very satisfying). I didn't really want a poofy cushion, so I only layered them with cotton quilt batting. I made several mistakes and fixed some of them. The result of my afternoon endeavor is four "seat quilts" (that currently do not have ties to keep them in place-- one of my mistakes in the inside-out layering process).

The cats wasted no time trying them out. I could hardly take photos to document my work before they were all over the seat quilts and posing for photographs.

before cat

after cat

above view

above view with posed cat

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Monday, June 7, 2010

Backyard Turtle

While my children are with their grandparents this week, I promised to send them daily photos of our cats. I think they will miss the cats more than me! This little scene happened this morning before 7:00 am. My son found this turtle last Tuesday while raking magnolia leaves with his dad. He had wanted me to take a photo of it, but it hid away before I made it outside with my camera. This morning, it visited my herb/butterfly garden, and the cats watched it scuttle around and plod away with great interest.

Lately, I have seen several back and front yard residents a little more unusual than the numerous squirrels, anoles, geckos, birds, and insects. Who knows what else is around? A large garden snake (photo below) was sunning itself in the jasmine several weeks ago. A cottontail rabbit has been munching in the garden regularly. I'll be on the look-out and try to get its photo next.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Spider Colony

The lamp in my foyer is home to a colony of small spiders. It looks like all of Charlotte's babies drifted to this lamp in my home and decided to stay together in this one spot. I wonder if I could count them. There are so many. Guests may think I'm a terrible housekeeper, but I enjoy stopping to observe them as I walk by doing chores or gathering the mail. I could suck them up in the vacuum cleaner, but I can't think of any harm they are doing except to the small insects that get trapped in their cobwebby snares.

During the night, the light from this same lamp attracts our pale, house geckos to the outside foyer to snap up the insects-- also attracted to the light. Just think of the small dramas happening in this small space between these small creatures.

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Afternoon Thunderstorm

The sun was shining, thunder clapped loudly and suddenly, and large, heavy raindrops fell from the sky. When rain and sun mix, there might be a rainbow nearby!

This rainbow appeared low to the ground. It started in a neighbor's front yard across the street and arched over another neighbor's house. I ran through the house to the back windows to see where it ended.

On Facebook, I saw reports of people all over town seeing rainbows-- over a Walmart parking lot-- in another neighborhood in front of towering pine trees. With the angle of the afternoon sunlight, I suspected there were many, many rainbows all over the city depending on the vantage point of the seer. I wondered if there was one right over our home waiting to be seen by another neighbor looking out of her front window and down the street.

School is officially out for the children, and I only have today left to wrap things up in the library and with my teaching colleagues. I am looking forward to a slower pace of life not over scheduled with homework and school projects. I can't wait to read, knit, quilt, garden, cook, explore, walk, write, sit by the pool, organize and clean out. For me, and I suspect for other teachers, the beginning of summer break is a better resolution time than the new year. I am taking stock, refueling, and preparing for the next academic year and all of the challenges and opportunities it will bring.

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