Friday, October 29, 2010

Foreign Friday

Snoozing toddler at Fall Festival parade in Misawa, Japan
Autumn 1979

Children are precious in every culture. These little guys in their holiday attire captured my heart. The mother's demeanor clearly radiates the love she has for the sleeping toddler.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Patch I

Pumpkin Patch I  is a West Coast/Central Oddball blanket. I used the Andalusian Stitch and Caron Simply Soft (Forest Green).

The orange section was knit by Janet (Washington); the white, by Carol (Hawaii).

Update: February 7, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Foreign Friday

Enjoying the nightlife in Singapore
December 1979

Nothing beats riding in a rickshaw on busy streets, absorbing the activity, and feeling the warmth of the night air. Starting at Raffles Hotel, we visited local markets, ate dinner, and saw a show. The evening was topped off with a Singapore Sling, which was invented at Raffles. It was a magical time.

My first Christmas away from home was spent traveling - Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, Hong Kong. Singapore was definitely one of the cleanest cities I have ever seen.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Here's "Hers"

"Hers" was finished on Monday evening and immediately prepared for blocking. 

Hers is a bit more lacy than His

Thus, the set is complete. For some reason the stocking on the right looks larger, but they are the same size.

The pattern was in Knit 'N Style, December 2007.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sweet Pea

Sweet Pea, a new West Coast Oddball blanket, was knit with Simply Soft (Pistachio) on size 10 needles. This first section was knit using Garter Stitch Steps.

Update February 2, 2011:

Sweet Pea is ready for its border.

Update: February 7, 2011

Monday, October 18, 2010

Oddball Spotlight

In a comment, Judy D asked, "How many Oddball blankets have you worked on?" I didn't have a clue, so I checked.

To date, I have worked on 70+ Oddball blankets. Here is how it breaks down.

Based only on my blog posts since 2008, I've knit on 54 blankets (listed below) in conjunction with the Oddball Knitting Groups. In 2008, I knit a 4-inch section on 25 blankets; in 2009, 15 blankets; in 2010, 14 blankets. Click on the "Oddball Knitting" tab in the right column under "Posted Topics" if you want to see photos of these blankets. I probably knit on blankets prior to my blog, but the forum posts on for 2007 have been deleted, so this cannot be confirmed.

In addition to the Oddball group blankets, the group inspired me to complete 16 blankets on my own, which were then donated to the group. They include:
Bubblegum  (2008)
Lime Sherbet  (2008)
Crayon Box  (2009)
Creamsicle and with a border  (2009)
Arctic Ice  (2009)
Chutes and Ladders  (2009)
Eagle's Flight (2009)
Little Princess  (2009)
Snowdrop  (2009)
Lily of the Valley  (2009)
Berry Parfait  (2009)
Ballpark Diamonds  (2010)
Blueberry Pie  (2010)
Snowdrift  (2010)
Snowflake  (2010)
Tranquility Base  (2010)

Oddball blankets on which I have knit

Neon Fun             Happy Crayons
Berry Bliss           Summer Blossoms
Cotton Candy       Summer Fun
Easter Basket       Just Ducky
Firetruck Lane      Rainbow Blocks
Speed Racer         Lavender's Green
Red Roses            Neon Rainbow
Pastel Rainbow     Desert Sand
Rain Forest           Grand Canyon Sunset
Tropical Plantation
Purple Mountain Majesty
Lemonade Stand    Strawberry Shortcake
Puppy Love           Pumpkin Pie
Pacific Blues
Little Blue Boy (knit two 4-inch sections)       

Flower Power        Jewel of the Nile
Kiwi Surprise        Neon Rainbow #2
Summer Sky         Chocolate Covered Cherries
Lemon Drop          Eagle's Flight
Mother Goose        Tranquility
Jelly Bean              Velveteen Rabbit
Orange Sherbet       Pattycake

Holiday Magic        Green Acres
School Days            Bubble Gum #2
Jack Frost                Nemo
Purplicious              Olympic Rings
Snow White            Betsy Ross
Banana Split            Hokey Pokey
Beach Ball               Sweet Pea

I never grow tired of working on these delightful blankets.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Foreign Friday

Visiting After School
Misawa, Japan

Japanese school children of all ages wore uniforms to school, and if I remember correctly, they attended school six days a week. Older boys wore basic navy or black suits with long pants; younger boys, shorts. The girls in the photo have sailor tops on with red scarves. While it was common to see bicycles on the street of this small town, many school children walked to school.

One of the biggest adjustments that I had to make while living in Japan was learning to drive on the left side of the road and adapting to a car with the gear shift on the left. Every time I got into the car I had to remind myself that I was supposed to be seated near the center stripe on the road. 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Beach Ball

Beach Ball, a West Coast Oddball blanket, 
is ready for a border

I haven't worked on an Oddball since June, so it was a real treat to knit the last section and cast off. I will start a new Oddball on the empty needles. Now, Beach Ball will be mailed to someone who will add the border.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Foreign Friday

Character on a Fall Festival parade float 
Misawa, Japan 
Autumn 1979

I didn't learn a lot about these festival parades, but I loved all the color and the pageantry of the events. The floats were huge - some on motorized flat beds and others hefted on the shoulders of men and boys. 

This particular parade was one of my first exposures to the Japanese culture after I moved to Japan to teach on an Air Force base. Base housing was tight, so I had to find a house off base. Much more on that experience in future posts. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

"Someday" Realized

Every once in a while I go through the bulging notebooks on the bookshelf and dream. These books are where I file my "someday" projects, projects that I collect but rarely knit. I have similar files on my computer in copious folders, categorized and labeled. Someday, they may be used, someday.

Recently, one of the projects actually made it out of the notebook - an Aran knit stocking "An Aran Christmas for Him and Her,"  Knit 'N Style (December 2007)

The yarn is 100% wool which I reclaimed from a thrift shop sweater several years ago.

Even though I rarely knit cables, I enjoyed knitting this project. In fact, after finishing "His" stocking, I cast on the "Hers." The cuff is more lacy on Hers and the inside of the cables is also lacy.

 The finished stocking is large - an 8 inch long foot, and 20 inch long leg.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Classroom Reality

As a retired teacher (33 years in all sizes of classrooms in three different schools), I am not impressed with the new series: Teach - Tony Danza. In fact, as a professional educator, I am insulted by this "reality" series. The show gives the impression that anyone can teach, and that is simply not true.

Danza says that he considered being a teacher several years ago when he attended college, but he "went down a different path." In my opinion, he should have stayed on that path. His background in education was not addressed in the pilot, but if it was Language Arts/English, the subject he is teaching in this reality series, he has forgotten a lot of the information.  

Perhaps, I am more critical of his efforts in the classroom because I was an English teacher. I cringed when Danza had to read the definition of "omniscient" from the textbook rather than actually explain it to the students and when he presented the lesson on story elements. Another time, a student answered a question which Danza declared incorrect. When the class stared in silence (a very pregnant silence), Danza was clearly puzzled and hesitantly stated the student was correct. Even when the observer/mentor explained the boy's answer to Danza after class, I don't think Danza understood why the student was correct.

The interviews with the students and with Danza are candid, and I applaud that aspect of this show. The students quickly identify that Danza is nervous and is performing rather than teaching. 

It appears that Danza has only one class in this reality series. If that is correct, then the series is anything but realistic. In most schools, true teachers prepare and present lessons to a minimum of six classes, resulting in nearly 100 students a day in an average school. The work load is immense, especially for an English teacher who must grade lengthy essays, and at times it is nearly overwhelming.  

I remember very well my first year of teaching. Even though I took several semesters of education classes and completed a semester of student teaching, I was scared to death. It appears, however, that Danza did not have any training and just jumped in to the role. I am glad a teacher is monitoring the classroom to mentor Danza and reviews notes and suggestions on the lessons after the class departs.

Danza may grow into this role and become more comfortable, but are the students actually reaching the standards and not wasting a semester. With the recent emphasis on education and excellence, I am not sure this was the appropriate time to produce and to air Teach - Tony Danza. 

I hope viewers of this reality show realize teaching is difficult work, both physically and mentally. Teachers work long after the school day ends - grading papers, preparing lessons, sponsoring school activities - often for inadequate salaries.

Teaching is a passion not a career. I don't think many people realize that fact, and I'm not sure it will be covered in this contrived reality show. 

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Wrapped in Love

Six pillowcases for Alycia's Quilt of Valor project. She places the quilts she receives in a case for presentation.

Marilyn gave me several yards of the flag fabric in May. I saved six yards for a future quilt backing, but used the rest for Operation Santa stockings and five pillowcases. Thanks, Marilyn.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Unity Project

Spearheading the Unity Project for the International Day of Peace (September 21) was a local fiber artist - Kathi M, and she did a fabulous job of inspiring, coordinating, and planning the week-long display. What resulted was fascinating and moving.

The participants could bring their own sweater/shirt for the fence, but they had to hang it in such a way that it connected with the other items. I'll let some of the displays and the written explanations speak for themselves. To read the explanations, you may have to click on the image to enlarge.

Who knew that a shirt/sweater could convey peace in such a quiet yet overt way. It's time to reach out to others in peace. 

Several years ago, Kathi challenged the entire community to recycle old clothing in numerous ways. She collected clothing the local thrift shop could not use, rented a storage facility, and distributed the discarded items to anyone who wanted them. I picked up some jeans, men's shirts, and sheets for the rugs I twine. Church groups gathered polyster clothing for their charity quilts, and numerous others picked up clothing to make items for the Recycle show Kathi organized to showcase the articles made from the castoffs. The canopy in the photo above was fashioned by Kathi completely out of denim. You can see a small percentage of other items in the display. It was amazing to see the variety of useful objects made from the discarded clothing.

Kathi deserves a lot of recognition for encouraging the community to recycle. Bravo, Kathi, bravo!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Foreign Friday

Nature Trail near Towada, Japan - Autumn 1979

Beginning today, a photo taken during the two years that I lived overseas will be featured on Fridays.

I loved the area around Lake Towada, but I didn't get there often. This photo was taken on a Saturday in late Autumn 1979.

A friend and I parked and walked the trail toward Lake Towada without thinking of how we would get back to the car. Fortunately, we arrived at the visitors center just before it closed and managed to wrangle a ride back to the car some five miles away.

Project Record #2

Baby Surprise Jacket * (2 for Father's House, using 12.8 ounces of Rena's yarn)
Knit Hat * (8 hats for WR elementary, using 12 ounces of Rena's yarn)
Oddball Baby Blanket * (Hokey Pokey, using 1.5 ounces of yarn from stash)

Oddball Baby Blanket * (using 8 ounces of yarn from stash)

Garter-stitch Bib * (9 bibs for Abba's House, using 14.4 ounces of cotton yarn from stash)
Scrappy Baby Cocoon * (1 cocoon for a local charity, using 5.2 ounces of scrap yarn)

Wool Socks * (1 pair for afghans for Afghans, using 2.6 ounces of scrap yarn)
Scrappy Baby Cocoon * (1 cocoon for a local charity, using 5.2 ounces of scrap yarn)
Hanging Kitchen Towel and Scrubby (2 towels and 1 scrubby, using 5 ounces of cotton yarn)
Dish Scrubby (12 scrubbies, using 1 large roll of tulle, 12 scrubbies, using 5.6 ounces of cotton yarn)
Quilt of Valor * (Sand Boxes, made from scraps and 8 yards of fabric from stash)
Quilt of Valor * (In the Wind, made from 12 yards of fabric from stash)

5 pounds of yarn
1 large roll of tulle
20 yards of fabric plus assorted scraps

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