Mary Oliver

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?"

Sunday, April 29, 2012


It's funny. I noticed after posting my flower photos last time that I'm not the only one fascinated with spring's flowers this week. It seems to be a thread running through many blog posts, and isn't that just lovely? We who write and take photos and share them in these spaces still marvel at the beauty around us, despite our age or location or vocation. But this is probably less about coincidence than it is about the fact that I read the blogs of people who share similar tastes as me. Whatever the reason(s), it's nice to know that there are others who are paying attention to the world around us.

This is the time of year that it gets extra busy at school due to end of the year celebrations. Last week I went to a temple to witness two of my students receive an award for a Holocaust Memorial contest. The two boys won for their musical composition. It was a sober yet amazing service. Today I attended another award ceremony for the same competition, but in the visual arts category. A student of mine received an honorable mention for her artwork, and it will be displayed at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk for a month. And this past Thursday, I attended our school's National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony, in which a number of my students participated. I love this time of year, when these amazing young people are being honored and recognized, because it reminds me of another reason I am so fortunate to be a teacher.


After the ceremony, Melissa and I went to one of my favorite coffee shops (I have three of them), and played a game of Battleship, a couple of hands of rummy, and then I taught her how to play gin rummy. We walked around Ghent for a bit, and went to a second coffee shop, just to spread the love around. Plus their baked goods are the best!


Needless to say, I did a bit of knitting on the Hitchhiker shawl. I'm up to twenty four "teeth" now.

Believe it or not, I still haven't finished the baby sweater. The button bands really slowed me down. I think this is my third or fourth attempt, but at least I'm finally satisfied. I had a problem picking up enough stitches.

I've been keeping the bird feeders full, and was rewarded yesterday by the sight of this yellow finch.

my Dutch irises are beautiful, as always. I love blue flowers!

My parents' dog, Bailee, sat on my lap when I last visited. She is a sweet old lady, and my parents dote on her shamelessly.

Hope your week is a good one!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Garden Flowers

For some reason, I haven't been down to the beach for almost a month! In the absence of beach pictures, allow me to share some photos from our garden. This is an iris that came with the house. I think it's quite old fashioned looking.

The rest of these are roses that Steve has planted. I should know their names, but I can never remember them. I do know that many are named after Thomas Hardy's novels.


An Instagram version.

Finally, two "flowers", Melissa and Stephanie, at the Susquehanna River last weekend, when we were on our way home from our trip.

What's growing in your garden?

Monday, April 23, 2012


I enjoyed and appreciated the comments on my last post about why you knit.  I started knitting when I developed high blood pressure; I have always enjoyed crafting (sewing, cross stitching, etc.), so when I read that knitting was a way to simulate meditation and therefore could help lower one's blood pressure, I was sold.  I never was able to stop taking the medication, but I became passionate about knitting anyway.  It really helps me relax and I love the connection to an age old craft.  Plus it's so portable and tactile. 

This past weekend was the first one since February that I truly had nothing to do. The gifted class took a lot of energy; even when I wasn't actively working on it, it weighed heavily on me. And as soon as it was over, it was spring break and I had numerous things to do before I left town. The weather was glorious on Saturday, and Steve and I spent some time at the garden center and our yard. It rained all day on Sunday, which meant I spent the majority of it inside on the couch. I roasted a chicken for dinner, took a nap while it was in the oven, and spent the rest of the day reading and plaing games on my iPad. Isn't it funny how industrious one feels with a chicken roasting in the oven? It's the easiest thing in the world to do and yet I always feel so wifely doing it. Odd word, but I can't really think of an appropriate synonym, can you?

I watched Masterpiece last night and almost finished the baby sweater.  I would have been done, except I had to rip out the button hole band; I hadn't picked up enough stitches and it was pulling in an unattractive way, so I ripped and redid it.  Tonight will be buttons and blocking, then back to the Hitchhiker!

Saturday, April 21, 2012


I was thinking about my knitting this morning, and how I wish I knit more sweaters, but I also love finishing small things, like cowls, hats, and handwarmers. And how I have so much yarn that it embarrasses me (first world problem). I love knitting for others, but not so much on request. I feel too much pressure if someone requests something specific, whereas if I knit something and give it away, they either like it or they don't and it doesn't bother me (as much). As often as not, I don't know who a project is destined for when I start it. One exception is this baby sweater I'm knitting for my cousin to give to a close friend of hers:

I've wanted to try a blue and brown combination for awhile and this was the perfect opportunity. I'm using Spud & Chloe Sweater in skydiver blue and chocolate milk, and while the milk chocolate looks more gray than I wanted, it's still pretty. I bought some wooden buttons for this that I think will look perfect.

As an example of how I decide who gets what, I started the Hitchhiker Shawl while on my visit to Meredith's last week and it wasn't until yesterday that I found out who is supposed to receive it. I was knitting on it at lunch and telling my teammates why it is supposed to have a certain number of teeth, and one of the teachers knew the number immediately. I didn't even know she was a Hitchhiker fan until then, but as soon as I did, I knew the shawl was hers.

What and why do you knit?


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Back To Normal

I had such a lovely, yarn-filled spring break with my daughter. It's so nice to share an interest like knitting with her. I feel very fortunate.

As I alluded to on my last post, I spent some time at the Union Square Green Market. I met Steve, Melissa, and Stephanie there Saturday morning; they had ridden the overnight bus to Chinatown.

Steve was in his glory, although he would have really loved it more if he could have had the plants shipped to him!


One of the other places we visited was the New York Public Library on 5th and 42nd. I just love those iconic lions.



I spent a little time sitting at the tables on the patio and working on the Hitchhiker Shawl.


The String Theory yarn I'm using is perfect for this project, don't you agree?


I didn't get home until 9:00 p.m. Sunday night, so needless to say, I was quite tired Monday morning when I headed into work. Luckily, I had planned a semi-quiet day for the first day back, so that was nice. Sometimes after breaks, the students are kind of tired when they return, but not this time! They were all quite talkative and energetic! It was worth it though; I haven't had such a good spring break since, well, last spring break! I'm hoping my feeling of renewal lasts until June!


Monday, April 16, 2012

Saturday, In The Park

A gorgeous Saturday in the Union Square Green Market, New York City.


Friday, April 13, 2012

Yarn Splurge

It hasn't been nonstop yarn shopping around here. There has actually been knitting time over the past two days. In fact, it's been a bit like a pajama party for knitters, which is way better than those middle school pajama parties that always had a mean girl or two.

Here is a picture of Olivia gently encouraging me to make progress on the baby sweater I'm making out of two colors of Spud & Chloe sweater yarn. And yes, I'm in my pajamas.

Progress to date: button band and sleeves left.

I had to put down the Hitchhiker, which is being knit with the new skein of String Theory and is quite addicting!

Olivia, aka Ollie, resting in a patch of sun.

And now for the yarn.


From left to right: Madelinetosh DK in bark and charcoal, Madelinetosh Vintage in worn denim and cove, a skein of Silkindian ribbon yarn, Fibre Company Arcadia in kelp, O-Wool Legacy dk, and Koigu KPPPM.

This grouping: Spun Monkey Fiber Shoppe in blackberry shot with silver, Be Sweet Bambino Taffy (white with the blue and gray center), Be Sweet Bamboo in New Grass, two skeins of Rowan Purelife in aqua, and two skeins of Blue Sky Alpaca Silk in ecru and hot pink.

And last but not least, my Green Mountain Spinnery yarn. Top, left to right: Wonderfully Woolly, in pumpkin, natural dark, and pine warbler. Bottom, left to right: two skeins of Sylvan Spirit in moon shadow, and two skeins of Cotton Comfort in shocking pink.

Crazy, right?

But in a good way?

Thursday, April 12, 2012


It's odd, but when I got up on Tuesday morning and decided I was just too tired to go into the city, I was really beating myself up about it. I chastised myself for not being in better shape and allowing that to get in the way of doing something I really wanted to do.

And yet later that same day, as I sat in a coffee shop/bookstore across from Yale University, I felt like I had spent the day doing exactly what I wanted to do after all. I relaxed in the hotel in the morning, then drove north to Madison, where first I browsed in a lovely bookstore and then visited Madison Wool, a beautiful and cozy knit shop.



I bought some yarn (surprise!) and then I drove south to New Haven, where I ate a delicious late lunch at Atticus, right off the beautiful campus of Yale University. I sat at the counter and chatted with the waitress about knitting, because of course, I brought my knitting along with me.


After walking around the gorgeous campus, I went to Knit New Haven, a cute little shop nearby, and bought a little more yarn, before driving to Meredith and Ryan's home, feeling relaxed and rested and hardly tired at all. What a waste of time and energy it was being upset and disappointed at myself. I hope to remember that little lesson, but I'm afraid I'll have to learn it over and over again. So silly.

Meredith and I went on our yarn crawl yesterday. We drove up to Putney, Vermont, and visited Green Mountain Spinnery. It was a very small but welcoming space. Even though they weren't doing tours, they were kind enough to allow me to take a couple of photographs. Of course, I bought some gorgeous yarn.

Afterwards, we drove south to Northampton, Massachusetts, and spent some time at WEBS. I was amazed. They had so much yarn, and so many different kinds, and despite the size, the women working there were extremely friendly. I didn't expect to buy as much there as I did, but the discount was fabulous! I should have come prepared with project requirements, but instead, I just wandered around and picked up whatever struck my fancy, which is the usual way I buy yarn I'm afraid. Even Ryan is a little stunned at the amount of yarn I have acquired on this trip.

I started the Hitchhiker shawl on this trip, using a skein of String Theory yarn i bought at Knit New Haven. This is my third attempt at a shawl this week, and this one is a keeper. The first two I started and frogged were with the very lovely pattern, A Simple Yet Effective Shawl, but on both tries I chose yarn that was just too scratchy for my liking. I know if I'm going to get any use out of a shawl, it's going to be used as a scarf, and neither the Noro sock yarn nor the Tofutsies yarn would feel good around my neck.

Meredith and I spent a couple of hours last night watching An Island at War on Netflix and knitting, and then continued the series this morning. If you're still missing Downton Abbey, this will help, although it looks like they only filmed the one season, so a lot of story lines are left unanswered. What a great way to spend a day of spring break!


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

On The Road

I decided to leave a day early for my trip so I could pack a little more fun into my spring break, so I threw some clothes in my suitcase, packed a little yarn and a variety of needles, and headed out yesterday morning. I pulled over at the first island of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to take this photo.


Since I arrived in Stamford fairly early in the afternoon, I decided to be adventurous, and head to Brooklyn so I could visit Brooklyn General. It took me two hours and three subway transfers to get there and by that time, I was kind of wishing I had just hung out at the hotel! I don't have the stamina I used to have. Plus, it took me even longer to get back, due to my taking the local train from Grand Central to Stamford. I did have a lovely time though, I'm just annoyed with my physical limitations.



Some photos from Brooklyn:



I did take the time to eat at a lovely Thai restaurant in Brooklyn before making the trek back to Stamford. This soup was delicious!

I also got to see parts of Manhattan lit up, which is rare for me. The Chrysler building and Grand Central Station are such pretty buildings.


My plan for today was to go back into the city and hang out at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but I don't think my feet can handle it, so I'm going to take the opportunity to drive to Madison and visit Madison Wool instead. Meredith and I weren't going to be able to fit that one in on our Thursday field trip, so this way I won't miss it after all. Yarn over culture isn't the worst trade off, is it?


Thursday, April 5, 2012

New Roads

I feel like I've gotten my life back, now that my gifted class is over. I presented my final project on Tuesday night, emailed my last assignment on Wednesday, and I've been practically floating on air since then. It's amazing how much pressure I felt during the past two months. It feels like a truck has finally moved off of my chest! Tomorrow is my last work day before spring break and it's only a half day without students, so basically I'm done. I'm planning to finish painting the kitchen, catch up on some de-cluttering, and maybe sewing some curtains for the sunroom before I leave town on Tuesday to visit Meredith. Or not.

I'm also thinking about learning a new skill. This project by PurlBee is so gorgeous, that I think I'm going to have to try to learn the brioche stitch. Oddly, the link doesn't show it in the pink color that caught my eye. Anyway, if anyone knows of a great resource for this skill, please let me know.


Yarn bombing sighting Saturday, after meeting Melissa for coffee and a sandwich in Ghent.

It's in front of a newly opened shop that is only selling handcrafted goods. I asked the shop person who did it, and she told me that someone had donated a bunch of scarves, so they wrapped them around the tree. Great way to get attention! I had to support that, so I bought a ring for Melissa and some recycled cotton "yarn" from them. It's unplyed cotton, so I'm using it double stranded and trying it as a dishcloth.



It's not easy to work with, and the colors are looking a bit Christmasy, but it will probably be a serviceable dishcloth, albeit a little pricey. Damning with faint praise. I probably should have tried weaving with it, but as I don't have a loom, it didn't seem like an option. Or at least it wasn't, until I bought the online craft magazine, CraftSanity, which has directions for making your own loom! I've been going a little PayPal crazy this week, probably in lieu of having actual crafting time. In addition to buying the magazine, I also bought the patterns for Spring Garden Tee, and Simple Yet Effective Shawl.

Hoping to upload some photos this weekend and get back to posting more frequently. Meanwhile, have a Fun Friday!