The Dog Days of Summer

Handsome Ace

I’m just coming off of a little unintentional knitting hiatus. To begin with, my Lomond went head-to-head with the cat, and unsurprisingly, ended up on the losing end of the battle. Fortunately, I wasn’t very far along in the pattern, but what I had knitted was a total loss. I salvaged what I could of the yarn and put it away. My mojo was gone.

I did finish my boot toppers, and started on some yoga socks from stash yarn but wasn’t feeling terribly inspired. Then, between kid stuff (a broken hand, dentist appointments, wisdom teeth removal), work stuff (meetings and training sessions), and a short trip to Broken Bow, OK for vacation, I seemed to have very little free time.

Boot Toppers in Cascade 220 Worsted Weight

After we returned from our trip I decided I’d better make the most of my last couple weeks of summer vacation. I learned that Cascade now makes their lovely 220 wool yarn in a fingering weight. Cascade 220 is one of my very favorite yarns. It is durable, has lovely stitch definition, and is surprisingly soft. However, worsted weight wool (even sport weight, really) is too heavy most of the time for sweaters in Texas. Fingering weight wool on the other hand — that has the potential to be something I’d actually wear. I purchased 6 skeins in charcoal gray. I looked for a pattern and settled upon Like a Cloud, which is a lovely, open-front cardigan. It is totally my type of pattern — simple, but clever construction, with a stitch pattern that is easy to memorize, but that keeps the knitting interesting. I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish before I start back to school in two weeks, but this may be simple enough that I’m able and willing to keep working on it once I start back to work full-time.

There is so much uncertainty surrounding the return to school in the fall. Teachers in my district return to work August 4, but they’ve pushed the start date back for students to August 26th. This is meant to give teachers some extra time to prepare for what teaching will look like this year. As of right now, the school where I teach is planning to offer both in-person and virtual learning for students. If students choose virtual learning, they have to commit to a 9 week term. We don’t know yet how many students will be choosing virtual, or how many teachers will be needed to teach those students, but I’ve applied for a virtual teaching position within my district. To be honest, I think everyone will be teaching virtually at some point, maybe multiple times over the course of the year, and I’d rather just embrace that from the start and work to make virtual learning as engaging and effective as possible. Plus, I have some misgivings about the safety of in-person learning. I know the district will do what it can to keep teachers and students safe, but the reality is that unless a large number of families choose virtual learning, class sizes will remain about the same, and I just don’t see how packing 20 kids into a classroom is a good idea.

Of course, a lot could change between now and August 26th!

“Things are not getting worse, they are getting uncovered.” – Adrienne Maree Brown

What happened to George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor is nothing new. As horrific as that is to contemplate, I think that everyone either already knows that, or is for some reason, living in denial.

For my part, I am trying to listen more, learn more and do better. Confronting systemic racism head on is the only hope we have of defeating it.

If you haven’t already seen this video of Kimberly Jones, I’d encourage you to watch it in its entirety. Her words are incredibly powerful. (Profanity alert: she does say a few “bad” words).

As for knitting, I am making progress on Flow. I’ve finished the back and am working on the front. The only modifications I’ve made to the pattern are to leave the shoulder strap stitches live so that I can join them with a 3-needle bind off, and I’m adding about 2 inches to the length.

Flow, knit in Vivara

I’m enjoying knitting with the Vivara. I love the color, and it is soft with a wonderful drape.

Interestingly, my “startitis” seems to be under control lately, and I’ve been completing one project before starting a new one. However, that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying searching through patterns on Ravelry as I plan my next project.

The current fodder for my daydreams is a single skein of Vivax. It’s 1,050 yards of lace weight bamboo.

I’m leaning towards the Flora Cardi which is a lace-edged, open front cardigan. My only reservation is that I’m not sure how this colorway looks knitted up. If I end up deciding it won’t work for a sweater, I’ll probably knit a rectangular shawl.

Besides knitting, I’ve been reading, listening to podcasts, and working on a few small projects around the house. I’m running almost every day and doing yoga at least 3 or 4 times per week. One exciting thing that happened is that I saw my first Painted Bunting! I was out for a run early one morning and saw it sitting on a fence at the edge of a pasture. I tried to take a photograph, but it flew away before I could get my phone out. They migrate to northern Mexico during the winter months, but are here in Texas during the spring and summer. Apparently, they spend most of their time hidden in brush and foliage, but during breeding season males will sometimes perch out in the open. I’ve been keeping an eye out, but so far have had no luck spotting another one.

A little retail therapy

Urth Yarns Uneek 3024

These endless days of same, same, same are starting to wear on me a bit. I am grateful that I am able to get outside most days for a run and am staying connected with friends, students and colleagues through apps like Zoom and Marco Polo. I have my knitting, and board games, and Netflix to help keep me sane too. But, this Groundhog Day, wash, rinse, repeat reality is definitely taking its toll. I saw a Facebook post from a friend the other day in which he shared that he’s been ordering little things (a silicone spoon, mixing bowls) on Amazon each day just for the fun and novelty of having packages arrive at his doorstep. I can totally relate, and I’ve turned to some retail therapy of my own.

This morning I placed an order with Jimmy Beans Wool. They are offering free shipping on all orders through the end of April, which is a great deal. I got a skein of Cascade 220 in a smoky gray to make a pair of boot toppers and then I ordered a skein of Urth Yarns Uneek in color 3024. I wanted something decadent, and soft and COLORFUL to help banish the monotony. I am planning to make a pair of fingerless gloves (probably Crown Wool Mitts).

Fingerless gloves are one of my go-to knits. I love knitting fingerless gloves for the same reasons I think most people like knitting socks. They are small and portable. They don’t require much yarn, so you can splurge on something special. They are quick to knit — instant gratification! And, they are practical. I have several pairs, and I enjoy wearing them all winter long. I also love fingerless gloves because they give me an opportunity to work with brighter, more vibrant colors than I would choose for a large garment such as a sweater.

I’m continuing to make progress on Derecho. I am almost finished with the waist shaping. Then, it’s on to the bottom short-rows and finally, the sleeve edging. I’m still loving everything about this project.

Work has been stressful lately. Our last team meeting ended with one of my co-workers (I’ll call her S) leaving the meeting in a huff. Tensions are high. It’s a lot of work to create digital content, and most of us are struggling to learn new platforms as well. We’ve been trying to divide up the work of creating lessons for our students, but things have been complicated by the fact that some of us want to use SeeSaw and some want to use Google Classroom. Our district has approved both, so the choice belongs to the individual teacher. Most of us (4 of 5) shared an understanding that the best way to handle this would be to create and share content (video lessons, anchor charts, etc.) and then leave it up to the individual teacher to port that content into the platform of his/her choice. Unfortunately, S seemed to be completely taken by surprise by this. We had discussed it at our previous team meeting and had been talking about it all week via group text, so I’m not sure why she was so blindsided. I guess she was expecting everything to be ready to go. She kept saying, “This doesn’t help me at all!” I’m wondering if she’s got stuff going on at home. I’ve tried reaching out to her since the meeting, but all she’ll say is that everything is “fine.” The governor just announced that schools will remain closed through the remainder of the school year, so this way of teaching has to become the new normal. I hope next week will be better!