Tuesday, December 21, 2010

I Can Breathe Again!

Took my last final today, and my first semester of grad school is now history! I'm just glad that I can relax for a couple of weeks, do a little knitting (still have a mitten to finish before Christmas, a scarf to finish for my husband's aunt before January, and a second sock for myself that I started back in September), read a few trashy novels, and maybe organize some bookshelves. Not too ambitious. Oh, and put together my clinical portfolio. Can't forget that.

I'm not even going to stress over grades (although I do know that I did not 4.0 this semester - I have at least one B+. I'll live.

I think I want to make some cashew brittle tonight, after the boy and I decorate the Christmas tree (which we still have to buy). And I need to make sure that his big gift actually works. (Don't tell him, but his cousin in Phoenix sent us his Wii, because he never uses it anymore, so that's the boy's big gift this year and I didn't have to spend $200. My nephew totally rocks!) Other than that, Christmas will be light this year.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Another school year, another head bump...

At least this year's call wasn't nearly as bad as last year's! There I was, sitting in the basement of the Rackham building with my group, working on our presentation for our Neuroscience class next week, when my phone rang and an unfamiliar number popped up. Turns out it was the school nurse at my son's school, calling from the clinic where the boy was sitting with ice on his head. Apparently, his head collided with another student's knee while the class was gathering for reading time. Tears ensued, as did a trip to the clinic for ice and the requisite call to Mom.

I told the nurse that it was much better than the call I received from school the previous fall, when the boy couldn't stop in time while playing freeze-tag in gym, and crashed face-first into a light switch. That time there was a nosebleed, and a light switch-shaped cut on his forehead, and bruises. He has a sort of mini-Harry Potter scar now, only it isn't quite shaped like a lightning bolt - more like an upside-down T right in the middle of his forehead.

This is a tradition I can do without!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Yes, that light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train...

Okay, it's been a couple of months since my last post (again!). I finished Tour de Fleece pretty well, with 5 finished skeins of yarn:
That's two skeins of BFL on the right, spun on my wheel; the pink Romney next to them is my first-skein of spindle-spun, so I am inordinately proud of it, even though I find it a bit scratchy; next to that is another skein of spindle-spun from a mixed batt of Falkland, merino, alpaca, and mohair - it was a bear to keep even, but turned out really pretty. The last one is a skein of Lisa Souza Wensleydale that I spun on the wheel, and it is lovely (maybe a tad overspun, but lovely nonetheless) and almost laceweight. Here's one more picture collage of all of them:

In other news, the boy and I drove to Grand Rapids a couple of weeks ago to visit Fredrick Meijer Gardens with my mom. It's a pretty cool place, and if you live within reasonable driving distance of Grand Rapids, Michigan, it's well worth the trip - especially if you have kids. The children's garden is really cool, and the other item well worth seeing is the Da Vinci Horse. The boy loves it.

They also had an exhibit of glass sculpture by Dale Chihuly while we were there (that was actually the primary reason I wanted to go - we've seen the horse before, but the glass was a limited time exhibit). It's there through the end of September, 2010. Very cool.

Close-up of that towering thing up above.

These reminded me of pitcher plants
. . . . like these.
Also, since it's September, my son started 5th grade last week, and I started my master's program the week before that, and I already feel like I've been hit by that train! I shouldn't even be taking the time to post this, but I needed the break from studying and reading and taking notes and filling out forms, and the semester is only two weeks old.

Whine, whine, why yes, I would love some cheese to go with it.

And yet, I know I will really enjoy it, once I get the time management thing down. I've never been very good at that.

Just needed to vent for a minute. I'm okay now - going back to studying, since I have two quizzes this week and I still need to make a grocery list to go shopping tomorrow and do laundry. G'night.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Tour de Fleece 2010

I've decided to participate in the Tour de Fleece - yeah, it's a last minute thing. I'm all about the last minute. Anyway, my goals for the Tour are pretty modest, but I think they're attainable
  • Finish a couple of spinning WIPs I have going

  • Get more consistent with my drop spindle

  • Finish my first skein of spindled yarn (2-ply)

And that's all of them! I would have added one about spinning the dog fluff I have from last spring when my niece's dogs were staying with us, but I don't have any carders to process it yet.

So, here is my first progress picture:

I've been working on that pink Romney batt since last August, when I got my first drop spindle in a swap. It's been sitting for months, and I hardly ever pull it out because I'm so comfortable on the wheel that I almost always turn to it when I want to spin. But I can take the drop spindle with me, so I really want to get comfortable on it as well for traveling.

I got 4 oz. of the undyed BFL in a swap last summer sometime, and I just started spinning it up last month, but its been sitting for a couple of weeks and I don't want to let it sit too long. So this is 2 oz of it (I think - I didn't weigh it before I started, but there are about 2 oz left). I'm going to spin the last 2 oz on another bobbin and see how close I can get to even with them.

I'm really enjoying spinning both these fibers - when they are going well, they go really well! And the BFL is especially nice!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

I Think I Forgot to Post These!

I finished my Olympic socks back in April, while I was house/dog sitting for my sister-in-law and her husband. I believe I've mentioned them a couple of times - back in February when I started them (here), and a couple of weeks later when I failed to finish them by closing ceremonies.

Anyway, I finally did finish them, and they are every bit as cool as I thought they'd be:

And look at the nifty way the heel works up (not a great pic, but it was a very awkward angle, considering I was taking the pictures of the socks on my own feet!)

Tonight, I'm dying some yarn for a swap I'm doing on Ravelry. I'll post pics of that when I see how it turns out.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Pattern posted on Rav

I got the distaff pattern typed up last night, and posted the PDF to Ravelry this morning. It's a free download, for anyone who is interested, and you can find it here.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A New Pattern

Not too much going on right now - I'm taking a couple of summer classes, which are not completely overwhelming, and I'm finally finding some time to do a little knitting a spinning again. Which is what led me to this new pattern, because it has been hot and awful already this spring (it won't even be summer for another week and a half!), and the wool roving was sticking to me and making me miserable. So I made myself a wrist distaff. I've been wanting one anyway, and I had looked at a couple of patterns on the web for beaded ones, but they always seemed so heavy and overly busy, so I just took the tail end of a ball of kitchen cotton and a crochet hook and made one that seemed practical to me.

Then I made another, to make sure I remembered what I did and could be consistent with it. I could, so I wrote it all down and then made one more following my written directions, and it looked just like the first two (but a different color). So, I now present to you the Mayday wrist distaff (yes, that's "Mayday" from "M'aidez" - French for "Help me." Did you know that was where the word came from?). I'm working on getting a PDF of the pattern typed up and posted to my Ravelry designer page, but that will have to wait until I have a couple more pictures.

Mayday Wrist Distaff


  • Approximately 24 yards worsted-weight cotton yarn (I used Lily's "Sugar 'n Cream")
  • US G/4.25 mm crochet hook (yes, it's a little small for this yarn, but you want your gauge tight, or the distaff will be too floppy)
  • Scissors
  • Yarn needle


  • ch - chain
  • sc - single crochet
  • sl st - slip stitch
  • dec - decrease
  • rnd(s) - round(s)
  • yo - yarn over

Wrist Strap:

Chain 5, turn.

Foundation Row: Sc in second ch from hook, sc across row, ch 1, turn (4 sc).

Row 2: Sc in each sc across, ch 1, turn (4 sc).

Repeat Row 2 until wrist strap is long enough to make a loop that slips comfortably over your hand (approx. 9 3/4 ")

When wrist strap is the right length, fold it in half, keeping the foundation chain to the back of the work, and keeping your working loop to the right. Insert your hook through the top of the 1st sc, then through the 1st st of the foundation chain.

Here is a picture to make this clear:

Draw up a loop and complete the 1st sc. Repeat this across the row, making a closed loop of the wrist strap. Ch 1, turn.

Next Row: Sc across row, ch 1, turn.


Increase Row: 2 sc in each sc across the row (8 sc). Do not turn. At this point, you will begin working in the round. The spindle and button are worked in a spiral.

Closure Rnd: Sc in the sc farthest from the hook, then sc in each sc across the rnd (8 sc).

Rnd 2: Sc around (8 sc).

Rnd 3-5: Repeat Rnd 2.

Rnd 6: (Dec rnd) Work dec by inserting hook into 1st sc and drawing up a loop, then insert hook into 2nd sc and draw up a loop (3 loops are on the hook), yo and draw loop through all 3 loops. Sc in next 2 sc, work dec, sc in next 2 sc (6 sc).

Rnd 7: Sc around (6 sc).

Rnd 8: (Inc rnd) *2 sc in next sc, 1 sc in next 2 sc; repeat from * once more (8 sc).

Repeat rnds 2-8 once more, then rnds 2-7 once (ending with 6 sc).


Rnd 1: 2 sc in each sc around (12 sc).

Rnd 2: *2 sc in 1st sc, 1 sc in next sc; repeat from * around (18 sc).

Rnd 3: *2 sc in 1st sc, 1 sc in next 2 sc; repeat from * around (24 sc).

Rnd 4: *2 sc in 1st sc, 1 sc in next 3 sc; repeat from * around (30 sc).

Sl st in next 2 sc, cut yarn and finish off. Weave in ends.

So that's it - Happy Spinning!

Friday, April 2, 2010

I'm In!

As many of you (as if I actually have readers!) may already know, I got into the graduate program at Wayne State! I got my acceptance letter on March 3rd, and I was so excited when I opened the e-mail that I screamed! My son and husband were in the kitchen, and they thought I had seen a mouse or something to make me shriek like a like a little girl. When I told my son that seeing a mouse wouldn't make Mommy scream, his response was "It would if it ran up your leg." So, I stand corrected.

Did I mention that they only accepted 37 students out of 240 applicants? Oh, yeah.

I had to tamp down my enthusiasm for a couple of weeks, however, until my friend Joyce got her acceptance as well, because I didn't want to rub salt in her wait-listed wound. But her acceptance came last week (as I kept assuring her that it would), so we will go through the program together. That will be fun!

This semester is almost over - only 3 weeks left, plus finals on April 29th. Our group presentation in Speech Science was yesterday morning, and I was a little stressed about it, but it actually went pretty well (we ran about 15 minutes longer that we should have, but the professor didn't seem to mind). I believe I've mentioned my opinion of group projects before, but everyone in the group really pulled their weight, and even though I volunteered to put together the actual slide show and type the handouts, Joyce printed and stapled and bought the candy for the prizes (we had a quiz and game after), and I didn't feel like anyone was overly put upon to complete it. It was a good balance of work and a great end product!

In other news, my grand-niece turned one a couple of weeks ago, and we went to Lansing for her birthday and my mom's birthday (I won't mention what age she turned!), and that was really nice. My niece will be going away to graduate school soon too, probably to U-C Santa Barbara or University of Texas at Austen. She hasn't decided yet. And I'll miss her when she goes, even though I don't get to see her often as it is. She lives only about 1 1/2 hours away, and it feels like I can see her whenever I want now.

And, for my little sister's birthday at the end of February, I put together a digital photo album, by scanning in all the old pictures I had of her when she was a child and teenager. I inherited all my dad's old photos, and she has none of them, so she has no pictures of her childhood. It really brought back some memories, I have to say. I had a little trouble dating some of them, but for the most part, I remembered when and where they were taken, and recognized most of the people in them. So, in honor of spring, I bring you my little sister and me in our Sunday best, circa 1973 or '74:

Happy Spring!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Olympic Fail

Well, I picked a small project, and I still couldn't finish it in 2 weeks! Socks! And plain stockinette socks at that! I finished one, and got through the toe of the second, but it's closing ceremonies, and there is no way in Hell I'm going to finish the second sock by the end of the night. Oh, well. Life gets in the way, sometimes.

Pics later.

Oh, and the new boiler is leaking. Have to call the plumbers back out. Joy.

On a bright note, I did better on the two tests I was so worried about than I had any right to expect. 94% on one, and 92% on the other. I was shocked, but happily so. I can work with that. Yay me.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The week from Hell and the Knitting Olympics

Well, this has been a rough week! I'm only now relaxed enough to come here and write about it. I had 3 tests last week - was supposed to be 2 on Tuesday, and 1 on Thursday (so, naturally, Wednesday was the designated study day for the Thursday test, right?). But, of course, the weather was bad on Tuesday, and my last class was cancelled by the professor, so the test was postponed until Thursday. So far not a problem, right? I should be prepared for it anyway, since I had studied for it over the weekend. Except that I wasn't really prepared for it, and was stressing out about it, so this just gave me two more days to stress about it.

Then, after a drive to my mother-in-law's to pick up my son (who spent the day with grandma because his school was closed so all the staff could attend the funeral of the 18-year-old son of one of the teachers, specifically my son's kindergarten teacher) and then home that took about 4 times as long as it normally does, I walk into my house to the smell of hot metal and a thermostat that reads about 58 degrees. I go into the basement to see what is wrong with the boiler (we have an oil-fired hot-water heating system), and find water all over the basement floor with the burner going full blast but no hot water being circulated throughout the house (because it was all over the basement floor!). I immediately turned off the system, because the burner was so hot I was surprised it hadn't already burned something down. Then I called my husband (who was out of town until Thursday night) to tell him the happy news. Then I put in an emergency call to the plumbing/heating contractor, who said they would send their "oil guy" out as soon as he was done with call he was currently on.

Dug the two electric space heaters out of the attic and went about getting my son ready for bed and tucked in, then went out to shovel the driveway (that part wasn't actually so bad - I enjoy shoveling snow in the dark. It's very soft and quiet and peaceful). Oil guy got there around 9 pm, when I was trying unsuccessfully to pump some of the water off the floor. Seems the only pump I had available to me was a submersible pump, and because 2" of water wasn't enough to submerge the motor, it kept overheating and cutting out, so I was reduced to using a mop, which was very slow and frustrating.

Anyway, it took him about 20 minutes of looking at various things and trying various things to determine that the reason I wasn't able to see where the water was coming from in the first place was because it was coming from the bottom of the boiler (which was under water, due to the constant flow of the system trying to repressurize itself), where it had cracked. We don't know why it cracked, since it was only 9 years old, and there was obviously water in it, but crack it did, and I needed a new one. Which wasn't going to happen at 9 o'clock at night in a snowstorm.

Thus began night one of no sleep, because I was afraid the electric space heaters were going to burn the house down. But at least we would be moderately warm before they did, and no pipes would freeze.

Fortunately for me, they were able to find an oil-fired boiler in stock with one of their local suppliers, and came out the next morning before 10 to install it (in fact, they began arriving just as I finished shoveling the driveway for the second time, since most of the snow we got - which was only about 10", not a horrible amount - fell overnight). And, of course, because of the snow, my son had no school, which made him extremely happy. So I spent my study day with workmen tromping through my house all day taking out and removing the old boiler and installing the new one, and trying to keep my son busy, and not getting much in the way of effective studying done whatsoever.

And then, to top off a perfect day, the burner controller on the new unit wouldn't fire, so I still didn't have a functioning boiler, and spent another night with the electric space heaters whispering that they were going to roast us in our beds as soon as we relaxed our guard.

Suffice to say that I didn't do as well as I would have liked on either test Thursday (I don't have the grades back yet, but I know - I didn't feel good about either one). My mother in law was able to come to my house to let in the workmen, when they were able to find a new burner unit locally, so as of Thursday night, I had heat again. But by then my week was pretty much a wash.

And the Knitting Olympics? Well, I had thought about joining in the knitting madness, but never signed on for official sanction, either with the Yarn Harlot's crew or on Ravelry for the Ravelympics. It would probably have been setting myself up for failure anyway (that's just my attitude right now, sorry), but I thought I might give it a go. So, I did cast on a project, nothing monumental, but enough of a challenge I think, given that I don't have a lot of time to work on anything lately. I am making myself a pair of "Skew" socks from Knitty.com. Yes, they're just socks, but they're really cool socks, and I have some lovely Fibranatura "Yummy" sock yarn I got at a now closed LYS, and I don't really think I'd have time for anything much more ambitious if I'm not going to tank this entire semester. So I cast on Friday night, and I hope to have them done before the closing ceremonies, in the spirit of the season. I'll post pics when I have more progress (I hope).

Thanks for listening - I needed to rant!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

My How Time Flies!

Wow - hard to believe that it's been 6 weeks since I posted here! A lot has happened...let's see...oh, yeah! I finished last semester with 4.o's in all my classes (I guess I wasn't thinking about A being from 96%-100% - I just assumed that if I didn't have 100% I wouldn't get the A. Silly me!). Took the GRE and scored 720 on the verbal and 570 on the quantitative, with a 5.0 on the analytical writing. Not quite as good as I might have liked (yes, I have really unrealistically high expectations for myself!), but pretty darned good nonetheless. I've put in one application for grad school that was due on January 15th, and have another due on February 15th, for which I just received one of my recommendation letters.

The new semester started on January 12th, and so far it looks to be just as interesting as the last one. I think I'm really going to enjoy Phonetics! (Although I may be in the minority there among my classmates.) Also have Intro to Speech Science, Organic and Neurological Communication Disorders, and Language and Phonological Disorders. Should be a busy semester! Of course, I have group projects due in 3 of the 4 classes, but we're starting early on 2 of them, and for those two, we got to pick our own groups so that won't be so bad. I'll reserve judgement on the third until I see how the group works together.

On a family note, I flew to Colorado Springs for a couple of days over New Year for my little sister's wedding. It was really fun - she didn't want to make a big deal over it, so it was a small family affair with just me, her daughter, her son and his girlfriend, her fiance's parents and his brother. And her fiance, of course, and the officiant. They rented a room with a view at the Broadmoor, and got married on the balcony overlooking the Rocky Mountains at sunset. It was lovely, and we all wore our pajamas. Yup, that's right, she didn't want anyone to spend money or have to worry about dressing up, so she decided to be comfy rather than fancy and asked everyone to wear jammies. I bought new ones for the occasion. Then we all went to Macaroni Grill for dinner. It was very low-key and actually quite touching.

I suppose that's it for now. I should have more to say, but I've been in class all day, and I'm tired and my furnace isn't working properly so it's really cold in here!