Slow and steady

Derecho

I’m at about the halfway point with Derecho. I love everything about this project right now. The knitting is simple and soothing, the yarn is soft and beautiful, and I anticipate the finished result will be a perfect summer tee to wear in the Texas heat.

I’ve been knitting mostly in the evening while listening to podcasts. I just finished The Dating Game Killer and started Joe Exotic (I already watched the Netflix documentary). I have developed a deep affection for true crime podcasts that begin when a friend introduced me to My Favorite Murder. I still haven’t found another podcast that holds a candle to the piece de resistance from Georgia and Karen (They are sooo brilliant and funny), but I do enjoy the true crime genre. Some of my favs are Generation Why, True Crime Garage, Unsolved Murders and Criminal, and I’m always open to new suggestions, if you have any!

I can’t fully explain the appeal of true crime, but I’m definitely an addict! Partly, I think I am fascinated by the psychology of deviance (I was a psyc major after all). I enjoy pondering the whys and wherefores of human behavior. But, there is definitely more to it than that. I am an anxious person, a worrier, and on some level, I think knowing about the danger out there in the world makes me feel safer. It’s hard to explain. It’s like dragging the monster out into the open in some way reduces its power. Finally, I think I like true crime because in many instances the perpetrator has been caught. It’s affirmation that the good guys do win in the end — at least some of the time.

So, I’ve been listening to podcasts and progressing on my knitting, and that makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something. In many ways, quarantine life is like treading water. We’re all in this holding pattern just waiting for things to get better, and I am so grateful to have a hobby that keeps me busy and provides a sense of accomplishment. My knitting is a way to move forward even while we are all standing still.

On the needles…

Derecho

Derecho knit in Berroco Remix Light

I love everything about this yarn and pattern. I’ve read some reviews on Ravelry that say Remix Light breaks easily, but knitted up, I think it will be fine. It is amazingly soft and has a gorgeous, nubby, tweedy look. The pattern is well-written and hits the sweet spot for me — some interesting bits, but also plenty of stockinette in the round, so it’s perfect for a Netflix binge or listening to a podcast while knitting.

I purchased the yarn and pattern at Holley’s Yarn Shoppe in Dallas during their going-out-of-buisness sale. It seems like we’ve lost a lot of yarn shops in the DFW area over the last few years. It makes me sad. If I ever win the lottery, I’m opening a yarn shop — profitability be damned. Too much yarn, lots of spaces to sit and knit. A large, helpful staff. It’ll be awesome.

Colorblock Hand Towel

Colorblock Hand Towel knit in Lily Sugar ‘n Cream

I will confess, I have a bad case of startitis. I’m not doing too badly right now. I only have 4 projects going, and one is a pair of socks, but I do have a tendency to start projects and then let them languish as I move on to the “new shiny.” I started this hand towel last spring, I think. I really like the pattern, but I’m not enjoying knitting with 100% cotton yarn. It hurts my hands and I can only knit a few rows before I need to take a break. I will finish eventually, but this one may take a while.

Felted Sling Bag

Felted Sling Bag by Two Old Bags, knit in Knit Picks Merino Style

This one isn’t technically “on-the-needles” anymore, but I still need to add grommets around the top, add d-rings to the strap, sew on a button for the flap, and add the felted cord before it is finished. Felting is always an adventure. The bag turned out much longer and narrower than I anticipated. I’m not sure I’m happy with it, but I’ll reserve my final judgement until it is completely finished.

Well, I think I’ll sign off for now. As I sit on my couch typing this, I can hear the rumble of thunder in the distance and looking out the window I see the sky is a steely, flat gray. Looks like we’re in for a stormy afternoon. This is my very favorite knitting weather. I’m going to go make a cup of coffee and curl up under a blanket with Derecho.

When less is more.

Maxine “helping” me work.

I have a lot of feelings about this sudden transition to online learning. I am an elementary school teacher, and a parent to two school-aged children, so I’m in the thick of it. If you’re interested in some thoughtful commentary on this topic, I would encourage you to read the following blog posts that explain quite eloquently why we should be lowering our expectations for our students right now.

Sound crazy? Unprofessional? Irresponsible? It’s not. Our students and their families have so many more important things to worry about right now than keeping up with school work. They are worried about whether they, or a loved one, will get sick, or even die. They are concerned about financial security. They are worried about access to necessities, like food and toilet paper. They are grappling with anxiety and depression amid extreme social isolation.

And, of course, there is the equity issue. Some students have access to technology and reliable Internet and plenty of support at home. Some students have none of those things.

This is not a time to hold students to a higher standard. This is a time to offer support. Some students will want and need a focus, a goal to work toward. Academic work will be familiar and comforting. They may enjoy a challenge, an opportunity to push themselves and grow. But, other students will be unfocused, and frazzled, and tired. Assignments, and projects and due dates will leave them feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

So what should teachers do? Contact families. See what they need. Offer support. Provide options. It is OK to call it enrichment. It is OK to make assignments optional. This is what I am doing with my families because I think it is the right thing to do.

Of course, lowering standards, allowing for some slack in the rope, means that some students will take advantage. There will be students who are not feeling worried, who do have access to technology and support and who opt to do nothing because they can get away with it. But, so what? Once this crisis is over there will be plenty of time to get everyone back on track. Will there be great disparities in students’ knowledge and skills when we return in the fall? Of course, there always are, but differentiating instruction, meeting students where they are — this is what teachers do. It will be OK.

Be still, keep knitting…

Current sweater project – Derecho

I’m an elementary school teacher. Schools here are closed at least through May 5th, so I am at home trying to teach (second graders!) remotely, to the best of my ability. Much of the time, it feels like a fool’s errand. Only about a quarter of my class is regularly completing assignments. It’s hard. For everyone. I know.

There is so little that is under our control right now. So little that is predictable. Some of my students have a lot of support and resources at home. Some have very little of either. Parents are stressed too. I’m one of those stressed parents. My younger son isn’t exactly cut out for online learning. He’s easily distracted and easily bored. I keep finding him in his room asleep.

So, in the midst of all the uncertainty and worry, I am doing my best to focus on the positive. I am fortunate that my family and I are healthy. We made a Costco run before things got really crazy, so we have plenty of food and coffee (and wine!), and toilet paper. We have more time together. We have time to catch up with friends, old and new. Time to go for a run, play a board game. Time to knit and be still.

I am still knitting…

Years ago, in the early 2000’s, when I was first learning to knit, I had a knitting blog. I enjoyed chronicling each step in the process as I tackled projects, learning new skills along the way.

I am a self-taught knitter. On the advice of a friend, I picked up Melanie Falick’s book, Kids Knitting, and worked through several of the projects. I discovered Knittinghelp.com, and learned more advanced techniques through Amy’s wonderful videos.

This was back in the pre-Ravelry days and the main way to see other knitter’s finished projects, and get ideas for patterns and yarns, was through knitting blogs. I began following several knit bloggers, and finally decided to start my own blog.

I really enjoyed blogging. It was fun to connect with other knitters. I loved having a record of my growth as a knitter. At the time, I was home with a toddler and and infant and I wasn’t working, so knitting and blogging were a way to have some “me” time and connect with the larger, outside, world.

But, then we moved to a new state. The kids started school. I went back to work. Ravelry happened. I had less time to blog, and it seemed less necessary. I could record my knitting progress and connect with other knitters through Ravelry. Part of me always missed it though. In the back of my mind I thought that if I ever had more time…

Fast forward to 2020 and #quarantine. Suddenly, I got plenty o’ time on my hands, and I’m still knitting. So…here goes.