Thursday, June 25, 2009

Conference Handbook Cover

I have been spending a lot of time lately on the handbook for a homeschool conference I co-coordinate with a friend. It is a NC statewide homeschool conference, The Love to Learn Homeschool Conference, and this will be our third year. People are loving this secular alternative to the more religious conferences found in our lovely state.

This morning was dedicated to the cover, among other things. And I just love our cover this year. A wonderful artist allowed us to use her artwork and we are so fortunate. I wanted to share it here so everyone can see it.

To see the real thing you will just have to come to the conference.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Knitting Socks #1

I want to get the steps for Knitting Socks into a series of blog posts, so when I show others how to knit socks, I have a reference. It is hard to show people how to knit socks unless you see each other frequently or spend a few days together.

I am not going to get into the details of knitting and purling, so you really need to know how to knit before this pattern will make sense, but I am trying to explain in some detail because the first time I looked at a sock pattern I was a little stumped. :-)
Here is the first step, and I am taking pictures as I am making socks for a friend. :-)

I am using 4-size 000 - 7 inch double pointed needles. Fingering weight yarn, which is the thickness of most sock yarns. My gauge is 7 stitches per inch, and 9 rows per inch. I knit loose. Most people will use a size 1-3 needle for knitting socks. Thicker yarn-larger needles and less stitches. Thinner yarn-more stitches and smaller needles. You can adapt this sock pattern by increasing or decreasing (whichever you find you need) but do it in increments of 4 stitches.

1. Cast on 56 stitches
2. Divide stitches evenly (as possible) onto three of your needles, 20-20-16

3. Join to form a circle. Needle one is the needle with the tail of yarn hanging down. Needle three is the one with the last stitch cast on, that has the yarn you knit. Using your 4th needle you will K2, P2 around the circle starting with needle one. This will join the ends together to form a circle.

You may have a little gap between needle one and three, I usually try to make the first stitch a little tighter to decrease this gap some, but if you have a little gap, as you can see I do in the picture, it will disappear in a couple of rows. So don't worry too much about it. This first row is the hardest. Try to keep your needles from twisting, the needle you are working with should be closest to you.

4. Continue to K2, P2 each row until you have 1-2 inches of work. This is the ribbing so it really is up to you how much ribbing you want at the top of your sock.

5. End the ribbing after you finish needle 3.

6. When you have the length of ribbing you want continue to knit using a K stitch, this will be the body of your sock.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Men's Socks

I just finished my first pair of men's socks. My husband has said he would not wear a pair of hand knit socks so I have never really thought of making any men's socks, until a friend asked for a pair. It did take me a few trial socks to adapt my pattern to accommodate the differences of men's feet. Which is funny, my first thought was just to make a bigger women's sock, but that did not work. So I adapted my sock pattern and came up with my own men's sock pattern. I jotted down notes but want to write out my notes here so I won't lose the changes. At my house my notes for knitting end up scrunched up in the bottom of my knitting bag and eventually thrown out or forever lost.

My next endeavor is to photograph and write down how I make socks. I have been asked so many times "how do you knit socks". It does take a little time, more time that I usually have to show someone in one sitting. So my thinking is, if I have it all documented somewhere I can help people when we are together but I can give them my blog resource to look at when they are home. Just writing down directions doesn't always help. Sorry if the following pattern doesn't make sense. Maybe after I document how I make socks, the changes for a men's sock will make more sense.

Anyway here are the changes I have made to my women's sock pattern to create a men's sock.

I use a size 000 double pointed needles, and a fingering weight yarn.
-cast on 68 stitches
-2-3 inches of k2-p2 ribbing in the round.
-then continue with straight K stitch in the round for a total of 4 inches.
-Start decreasing 1 stitch next round, then knit 4 rounds (4 times) so a total of 4 stitches decreased with 64 stitches remaining.
-Continue knitting until sock measures 9 inches.
-knit 15 stitches from your first needle onto your 4th (empty needle) then slip 15 stitches of your 3rd needle onto your 4th needle. So you have a total of 30 stitches on your 4th needle.
-slip the rest (34) of your stitches onto a needle holder, or piece of yarn.
-work heel for 2 1/2 inches
-work heel cup
-Pick up 19 stitches on each side of the heel cup
-Divide stitches on your heel cup and put those with the two sides (gusset) so you are back working on three needles, in the round.
-Knit to last 3 stitches of needle 1, knit 2 together knit 1; knit second needle; knit 1 on 3rd needle, SSK (decrease 1) then knit the rest of the stitches on third needle (do this step twice)
-then start alternating one knit row and one decrease row (as above) and work until you have 19 stitches on needle 1, 34 stitches on needle 2 and 19 stitches on needle 3. (end of gusset)
-work in the round until foot is 2 inches shorter than your foot, even stitches out for toe so you have 18 stitches on needle 1, 36 stitches on needle 2 and 18 stitches on needle 3.
-Start toe decrease and decrease 4 stitches every other row until you have 5 stitches on needle 1, 10 stitches on needle 2, and 5 stitches on needle 3.
-knit needle 1 stitches onto needle 3 and bind off toe.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Little House on the Prairie

I was just sitting down to knit and rest my ankle for a few minutes. Turned the TV on to see what interesting tid-bits I could catch for just a minute or two and started watching a rerun of Little House on the Prairie. It made me feel so comforted, I could remember watching this episode as a child and again on reruns prior, my parents, brother and I huddled around the one TV we had.

You may recall this episode, it is the one where Pa is away and Mary is studying for a school examination. It is a pretty important examination to Mary, where there is a "winner" and the prize is a book. Well I turned the TV on at the point where Mary is studying late one night and it is keeping Laura awake, as they share a one room loft space. So Mary retreats to the barn to study into the night. Falling asleep, the lantern is tipped and a barn fire started. Everything turns out OK, only minor damage to the barn and no one was hurt. But everyone was scared, and in her fear and haste, Ma tells Mary (after all the exchange about what happened) that she can't participate in this exam Mary has been studying for. Mary is CRUSHED.

The next part is where Ma visits the preacher and talks about what happened and how horrible she feels, that she knows Mary is sorry and that the incident of the night had forever etched, in Mary's mind, how important safety is etc. She wants to run to Mary and tell her that it is OK, she lost her temper, spoke without much thought and is so sorry...that Mary can take that test at school. BUT, and here is the killer, the preacher (you may also remember he has no children of his own) informs Ma that children need structure, they need consistent discipline and that if Ma apologizes this time and let's Mary take the examination, the children may expect Ma to take back her punishment at another time.

I am sitting there talking to the TV, telling Ma to go to Mary, follow her instincts...apologize and let Mary take that examination. Now school is not my thing, but joy, happiness and connectedness are. You can see the disconnect between Ma and Mary, even though Mary keeps saying she understands the punishment and is ready to take it on. I can imagine the joy on Mary's face when(if) Ma runs to her apologizing. I can envision this connection that happens as the mother and daughter reach out to each other in understanding. BUT I know this isn't what happens, I have seen this episode before, at least a couple of times. I know that in the end Mary doesn't take the exam, she works in the Mercantile so she can replace the book burned in the fire. And a valuable lesson about discipline and punishment, responsibility is conveyed in that one hour TV show, with which most of society can be happy.

In the very end Ma does appologize a little, and they hug but not before Mary has missed the exam, and cries for the missed opportunity. The reconnection happens in the last 1 minute of the hour. I guess that brings it all back around to a close. But all that missed joy. Will Ma hold strong on future punishments as the preacher advises or has she learned to follow her own instincts.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Celebrating my FEET

OK that sounds corny, but I was looking at my feet this morning and just feeling so grateful they are still holding me up. My ankle is feeling so much better, I am exercising more and more, stairs are no longer an obstacle, just really feeling good. So, looking at my feet, I decided they needed some decoration. Out came the nail polish from the bottom of the bottom drawer in the bathroom vanity. Had to check them out to see if anywhere still in usable condition, and my son helped me pick a shade to match my perky toes and grateful mood. My toes have not seen nail polish in YEARS!
Don't they look cute. OK so my toes look at little crooked in this picture, and my left ankle is visibly larger than the right (that will always be the case as there are extra pieces in my left ankle now) but I think it look terrific. So everybody celebrate your feet, for all their imperfections and loveliness...I am.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Feeding Your Demons

In a recent issue of Tricycle Magazine, there is an interesting article titled Feeding Your Demons. In short this article talks about turning thing in your life that may be hindering your progress, or blocking you emotionally, physically etc, into positive, supportive, encouraging allies in your life, by feeding them what they need. (Ok so that was the very short version). Here is a better clip from the Tricycle web site:

"...Demons are our obsessions and fears, feelings of insecurity, chronic illnesses, or common problems like depression, anxiety, and addiction. Feeding our demons rather than fighting them may seem to contradict the conventional approach of attacking and attempting to eliminate that which assails us, but it turns out to be a remarkable alternative and an effective path to liberation from all dichotomies. ..."

There are concrete steps to go through and you feel what it is like to be that negative force or blockage, and turn that around, using images that are conjured up in your mind. It is truly an amazing activity. And I have been working on things in my life, using this technique for a couple of weeks not. I don't use the whole process every day. But the last step creates a way for you to access these supportive images any time you like. I can see so many areas in my life where this will be so helpful. Let me just share a little clip from step one here with the link so you can read the rest at the actual web site itself:

"step one: Find the Demon in the first step you will find where in your body you hold the demon. Your demon might be an illness, an addiction, a phobia, perfectionism, anger, depression, or anything that is dragging you down, draining your energy. So first decide what you will work with. Finding the demon in your body takes you out of your head into a direct somatic experience. Think about the issue or demon you’ve decided to work with and let your awareness scan your body from head to toe, without any judgments, simply being aware of the sensations that are present...."