Sunday, January 27, 2013


The new job has been a trial-by-fire, to put it very, very mildly.

And although the task of completely overhauling and re-inventing prescriptive, special education programs for eighteen challenging students is MORE than enough for me to adjust to...

My poor, neglected little family has had a lot to adjust to, too.

Mummy leaves the house before anyone else is up-- heck, before the SUN is up.

And, when Mummy comes to pick them up at school in the afternoon, she is, more often than not, tired, stressed, and overwhelmed by the prospect of a full night's work ahead of her.

No matter how hard I try to achieve some sort of balance in our life here at home, I always feel like I am at arm's length from my children.  If not physically (barricaded in my office, surrounded by mountains of books and a printer spitting out papers faster than I can collect them off the floor), then certainly emotionally.

For weeks, now, my new students haven't been out of my head, not even for a few minutes.  I even dream about them at night-- stress nightmares that I hope never come to full fruition.

We're scraping by.

And sadly, we seem to be eating way too much pre-made meals.  Frozen entrees from the grocery store used to be a last resort around here, and although I started out with a cheery "make-one-freeze-one!" mentality, the reality of my ridiculous schedule has gotten in the way.

Mercifully, my mother stepped in one night last week.  Not only did she bring us the most delicious almond chicken casserole...  she brought BREAD.

HOME-MADE bread.  Bread made from a recipe that originated with my great-grandfather, and handed down and perfected by his wife, his children and grandchildren.

My mother's beautiful whole-grain bread is a thing of beauty, and is good enough to bring tears to your eyes when it's lightly toasted and slathered in butter.  It's at its finest as a summertime sandwich, enclosing slices of the freshest garden tomato, still warm from the vine.

My girlies went into ecstasies over the bread that night.  (The chicken went down pretty well, too, needless to say.)

Child Number One:  (with her mouth still full)  I swear, Gramma bread has something ADDICTIVE in it.

Me:  Well, certainly.  All that whole wheat and bran...  I don't know how she crams all that good stuff in, and gets the loaves to rise up to be so LIGHT.

Child Number One:  (with a meaningful stare)  Nope.  It's not that.  I think she puts DRUGS in it, or something.  Kind of like the coffee at Tim Horton's...  Just enough to keep you wanting MORE...

Me:  (roaring)  That's hilarious.  Your gramma wouldn't have the first CLUE where to get illegal drugs to put in that bread.  Although...  it would certainly bring a new meaning to the phrase, "CRACKED WHEAT".

We chuckled until crumbs rained down onto the floor, just as Wee Three skidded into the kitchen and wanted to know what we were laughing about.

We explained in as "age-appropriate" a manner as we could.

She squinched down her eyebrows thoughtfully, and noodled for a moment, before she had her big "lightbulb moment":


Crack...  WHEAT, that is.

Whatever it is that's in there, folks...  it sure is GOOD.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Knitty new year...

My only New Year's Resolution.

So many people are posting their "Best of 2012",  I felt the need to join in the game.

2012 wasn't the easiest of years for me and mine, however, so I think it best to keep the topic on one of the things I love best--  The Knitting, of course.  (What else??!)

It was a busy year, for sure, needle-wise.  Unfortunately, the Challenging Situation for teachers in Ontario meant that I was unable to teach knitting as an extra-curricular activity in school.  But, on the up-side, instead of driving between schools on a lunchtime circuit, I was able to concentrate on making a few things for myself, for a change.

Not only that, I was able to actually begin my Christmas knitting in September, which is unheard of...  Good thing, too, since the new job that I began in December nearly put the kibosh on all my out-of-school activities (like grocery shopping, cooking, and house-cleaning, for example).  I say NEARLY, because in a feat of stealth, I managed to put the final stitches in all of my presents by midnight on Christmas Eve.


Here are a few of the things I cranked out during 2012:

A linen stitch scarf, knit from three balls of the very finest sock yarn, pattern from Churchmouse.  This one was a marathon, people...  knit length-wise, and working the delicate fringe as I went along, this scarf took me three years of on-and-off stitching to complete.  It was worth it in the end, though, as I was finally done (in more ways than one) in time for my sister's 40th birthday.  She got a very special present, and has been threatened with instantaneous death if she loses or abuses it in any way-- I don't think I'll ever have the patience to complete another one of these suckers!  You either love linen stitch or hate it, I've heard...  Although I love the way it looks, I'd much rather weave on a loom, than on my knitting needles...

After reading and watching a little too much Harry Potter this year, I developed a hero-worship of character Molly Weasley, mother of Ron, and knitter extraordinaire.  She literally DOES have magic needles, and the classic jumpers she produces for Christmas are legendary-- and maroon.  I chose this Cabin Fever pattern for a gigantic, cosy sweater of my own, knit from a beautiful tweed yarn that contains just a little bit of silk for softness.  Although I skipped the giant "H" on the front of my jumper, I love it enough to wear it at some point almost every day.

These beautiful blanket kits from Mountain Colours Yarns are such a pleasure to knit, and so interesting from start to finish, that I couldn't stop after just ONE.  The mohair and silk ribbon makes them feather-light, but divinely warm--  it's impossible for me to stay awake once I've crawled underneath my dark violet, indigo blue-and-black version.  My mother received the garnet coloured one (that you can see in the middle of the photo) for her birthday in March.  Now, if I could just figure out a good reason to knit a third one...

Another pattern I couldn't seem to quit was Lala's Shawl.  This photo is of someone else's work, as I gave the ones I made away before I thought to take pictures!  My favourite version was made out of Liberty Wool 7808 "Embers and Ash", and was made for a dear friend who had been diagnosed with cancer.  She needed an "aegis" to help her stay strong through her treatments, and is now in full remission.
 (I'd like to say something like, "Never Underestimate the Power of Knitting", but the truth is, my friend is One Tough Babe.)

I also whipped up several versions of this fantastic pattern, Runner's Watch Cap, to help her keep her head warm and cosy through the cold months last winter.  If anyone else is looking for a close-fitting cap to wear underneath other hats, or to wear to bed at night, this one is apparently the winner!  I selected the very softest sock yarns I could find...  there was plenty of lovely stuff to choose from, and we made sure the colour scheme matched the season.

A few more Churchmouse Yarns and Teas patterns, here:

This lovely wrap was completed in a gorgeous Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe by Kaffe Fasset, especially for my pal "Dr. Gummy" who landed herself a fabulous new job out there in the West this winter!  Hers is a beautiful combination of dark purple and mossy green, suits her to a "t", and is my substitute for a congratulatory hug, since I can't be there to give her a squeeze in person.

I'm currently making one for myself out of Debbie Bliss "Angel", in the most amazing sky-blue.  That should cheer me up until the warm weather arrives again...

This nice little "Anniversary Tea Cosy" was whipped up for my dear old Dad for Christmas-- which, as you may remember, fell just a few days after my parents' 46th.  I did mine in a very dark blue felted yarn, held double-stranded, to help keep the Brown Betty extra-warm.  I also found a beautiful hand-painted clay button to crown the top.

It has since been decided by my family that the cables I thought were so romantically symbolic actually look like strands of DNA during the metaphase of mitosis... But, they're all science-nerdy that way.

By far, my favourite Christmas gift that I made this year was inspired by this Pinterest image!  I've got to grab my version back from my sister one of these days, so I can take a picture of the oatmeal-coloured felted mittens I made.  I then bought a special kit, and needle-felted the images of two black cats wearing tiny purple collars on the back of each hand.  I'd never needle-felted anything before, and am now completely addicted.  It turns out that stabbing something repeatedly with a sharp object helps to work out a nice amount of frustration, and creates something beautiful at the same time!  More projects are definitely on the horizon.

Now.  I'll tell you something that you'll NEVER believe:

Remember the bane of my existence?  My Mother's Sweater.

Yes, folks.  I did it.  I finished it.

I had cast it into the Hades that is the bottom of my knitting basket three years ago, having discovered that I had created two large pieces in two completely different sizes.  There, it taunted me every, single time I went rummaging through The Stash.

Well, in September, in a fit of frustration, I finally ripped out those two pieces, wound the yarn around a frame and steamed the heck out of it so that it was all smooth and fluffy and ready to re-use.

Then, I took an almighty highlighter pen to the pattern, so that the blinding yellow flashing would ensure the proper sizing.  What's more, I made myself a clip-board of charts so as to follow the stitching perfectly, and rammed the whole works back into my "In-Progress" bag.

Late, late on Christmas Eve, I secured the final stitches.


Talk about your Christmas Miracles.

Next time:

I've been Good, people!  Time to share all the new projects already on-the-needles!

(Because, heck.  What are January Yarn Sales for, anyway??!)

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