Friday, September 12, 2014


Stephen knows a little something about fighting with a brother, but hopefully he and Frederic will never go as far as Cain and Abel, or Romulus and Remus.  He's begun his studies of Ancient Rome, beginning with its legendary founders.  

Similarities between Cain and Abel and Romulus and Remus

Brothers often don’t get along well: Cain and Abel and Romulus and Remus are two extreme examples. Both pairs were brothers, and in each pair, one met a sad fate. Both pairs were looking for signs from the their god or gods. Looking for these signs caused a fight in which one brother killed the other. Brothers do not normally kill each other in a fight. The reason that one killed his brother was because each one was angry with the other brother. Cain killed Abel because God liked Abel’s gift better. Romulus killed Remus because Remus mocked his small wall. Before this happened in either pair they were both happy together. There are many similar things between Cain and Abel and Romulus and Remus, but the main similarity is that one brother killed the other.

At the Amusement Park

We recently got a great deal on season passes to Six Flags:  free parking, admission to the park this year and next, and lots of free passes for friends.  It's only 45 minutes away, so an easy day trip for us.  Here are Stephen's thoughts on the park:

Six Flags is a great amusement park for everyone big or small.  The views is great:  you can see every ride, especially Bizarro [the biggest roller coaster--Mom's edit], Slingshot and Goliath, and New England Sky Screamer.  You can hear more than you can see.  It doesn't matter where you are in the park:  you can always hear Bizarro running.  If Bizarro can't be heard, then people and other rides will be.  I did feel my throat tighten as Bizarro dropped, and I pictured myself on it.  I also felt the nice, cool water of Blizzard River.  I smelled all the junky food in the shacks.  Six Flags is a great place and I can't think of anyone who doesn't like being there.

Beatrice has this to say:

Everyone was talking.  Everyone on the Bizarro was screaming.  I tasted ice cream and cheeseburger.  I saw the Sky Screamer and Bizarro.  The seat on the Crime Wave was safe, and the bar was cold on my legs.  It was great at Six Flags.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Friday Highlights

Every week I'll be posting paragraph work from Beatrice and Stephen, cataloging their writing progress and giving others a chance to see what they're reading, studying or interested in.  Here are their first paragraphs for the year!

Beatrice (2nd grade) writes . . .

A Dog's Life is my favorite book.  It tells the puppyhood to nine years.  The dog goes through cold and winter and hot summers.  It has a happy beginning, a sad middle and a happy end.  My friend Mary might like it.

Stephen (5th grade) writes . . .

My summer was very fun and eventful.  Tennis lessons went well: it was fun and I was okay and I made a friend.  Swimming lessons were great: I moved up a class and learned the butterfly stroke.  I also got a new bike that I rode whenever I got the chance.  Of all the things that happened this summer, our vacation home was the best.  Howard and Tom came.  We had squirt guns and hockey sticks, and the beach was a few blocks away.  Summer vacation was very fun and I miss it already.

School has started and we're rolling: one week down and 35 to go!  We began with the basics--no history, Latin or Geography, but we'll add those in as we get warmed up and used to a regular schedule.

Monday, February 4, 2013

A few recent projects

Plain ole ribbed socks in Bungee
Finished a pair or two of socks and have two more on the needles.  I'm trying to get used to always having some socks to work on, there being so many people who can use them.  I won't say why I need so many pairs for my youngest, but I bet you can guess.

He may not be potty-trained, but at least he is cute
Then there is this:  a project that's been brewing in my head for a little while.  Really it didn't take that long, but I kept putting it off.  A simple quilted tote, you say?  What's so hard about that?

Nothing at all.  But it's not just a quilted tote:  it has special interior features . . .

Little pockets just right for twistables
It's a coloring tote for a special little girl's birthday, and it came out just the way I wanted.  Room for some coloring books, paper or a tablet, plus the pockets to easily store coloring tools.  Perfect for using up some bright scraps, too!

I used this basic tutorial and improvised the pocket after browsing Pinterest and finding crayon rolls.  I used 32 4" squares and about half a yard for the lining fabric.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Recently heard at the lunch table

"If it were raining Taco Supremes outside, I would run out there with my backpack and fill it up for later."

Two things:

1.  My kids love tacos, but apparently the lunch I made that day was enough to keep them from eating the raining Taco Supremes at that moment.
2.  Kids are wonderful creatures, and when I'm not pulling apart fighting siblings or cleaning up some horrible mess, I do enjoy them tremendously.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Of hats for my goddaughter


That hat in the icky acrylic wool blend?  Already ruined.  A pull or something put a hole in it.  That thing was doomed from the start, and I'm pretty sure it was just to spite me, considering what I said about its yarn before.

--not that I'm self-centered--

So emergency knitting!  Baby hat!  We interrupt your fun lace knitting to bring you an important request . . .

Did I show you that lace?  It's okay.  I'm not thrilled with it, but I don't hate it enough to pull it out.  Yet.  That's for another post.

For the past few days, I've been attempting to get a hat done just right.  At first, I was happily scrolling through patterns on ravelry.  I was thinking something easy and quick, but also warm.  And then the whole yarn issue hit.

This is the baby whose mother actually LIKES acrylic/synthetics.  She likes washable.  She even distrusts superwash, though I'm working on that.

Did I tell you that I prefer natural fibers?  That I hate synthetics?  That I won't pay money for them?  That I hate working with them?


So into the stash I dove, trying to find something that would be acceptable to both of us.  Something that would be warm.  It's New England, for heaven sakes, and that baby needs a good, tightly-knit warm (wool!!) hat.

There it is.  All balled up again.
I had the perfect thing.  One lone skein of a very baby girl-looking superwash aran.  With little slubby flecks.  Soft, warm, lofty.  Perfect.

I went to work on this pattern, which I've worked before and honestly?  Never loved it.  But I got it into my mind that it would be perfect with this perfect yarn that had been just waiting for this particular moment in time.

The gauge was wrong on attempt one.  The length was wrong on attempt two.  And thus, the yarn is rewound and back in the stash.  What can I do with 80 yards of soft, warm, lofty, very baby girl-looking superwash aran with little slubby flecks?

That, dear friends, is a problem for another day.

Onto the next disaster.

The only other acceptable yarn I could see was this crap.

Superwash, and I had a few different colorways.

What can I say?  There was a sale at WEBS and I was lured in.

I thought this cute pattern might hide the yarn's inherent flaws.  And it would be warm with all that stranding.  And stranding is fun.

Holy cow.  It did not hide any of the yarn's flaws: it accentuated them.

Bulky at one point, fingering a few inches later

You see, this yarn is spun thick-thin.  Now the only reason I can imagine you would want to knit with this yarn is because you want your stitches to look uneven.  Stupid.  Ugly.

Isn't that what we all aim for when we knit?  Stupid, ugly, uneven stitches?

And when you put those together with stranding, the combination is remarkably . . . wrong.

Terrible picture of terrible knitting

I would have given up at this point and returned to my lace, but my dear goddaughter needs a hat.
So I went once more to the stash (because I knew that I did not have enough crappy acrylic for a stranded hat) and found a wool/acrylic blend that I had been halfway saving and halfway shunning, since I bought it under the impression that it was wool and not synthetic.  When I discovered that it was a Mud-blood? --is that right?--I didn't want it for anything.  $8/skein for a dang wool-blend no better than Wool-ease.  Huh.

And yet I began to think of it for a hat for one of mine, so I was excluding it from possible yarns.

Don't you love how that happens?  You have skeins and skeins of yarn in the stash that are off-limits because you've envisioned them for projects that get pushed aside time and time again.  And when it comes to using them for something else, you actually feel a little twinge, and you hesitate.  Well, I hesitated for half a minute before realizing that I wouldn't be dropping any more cash on crappy synthetic yarn.  I settled on my pattern--and here is an admission--that took a few tries, too--I wanted earflaps and cables and something that would knit quickly.  Too much time wasted already!

The one I actually finished
I landed on this one, which I have knit before, and I worked up some earflaps.  Check my ravelry details for notes on how to do those.

A little pom, some braided ties, and less than 24 hours.  Perfect.

I even kind of like this wool blend, which feels more wool than synthetic.  It knit up nicely and only squeaked a little when I was weaving in ends.

I tried to get Henry to model--

--but he was really not amused

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pretty purses

One of my girls asked me for a purse.  I had just the pattern.  Aww yeah:  free!  All I did was shrink it down to little-girl size (75-80%) when I printed out the pdf pattern pieces, and it came out just right.

Little pocket

The best part?  Sifting through my stash with my girls:  believe me, once the project was in the works, it was very clear that I would be making two little purses.  Good thing it only took me an hour.  I finished one on Saturday and one on Sunday.  Bless my dear husband for those two hours!

I also realized that I was beginning to teach my little ladies how to sew: fabric selection, the need and use of pressing, how to apply interfacing . . . I have to admit that I felt a little connected to our mothers of the past, passing on the skill and joy of this craft.  Makes me look forward to many more sewing projects with my girls.

All the necessities that fit inside (plus a little pack of tissues)

I wish they had a little clasp in the center.  I did stabilize the fabric--it was only quilting cotton, so pretty flimsy--but I didn't think it would hold a magnetic clasp.  Also, I only had one.  I'm trying to decide whether I could sew in a snap or do a button and loop, but I may just leave them.  

And maybe I should have interfaced the straps, but I didn't.

Love those pleats!  Love the bag's shape
They were so fun to make, and they take such a little bit of fabric (maybe 1/3 yard, tops).  And did I mention that pattern is free?