29 March 2007

UFO Resurrection Challenge for March

It's taken me awhile to come up with my March UFO Resurrection because I've been trying to coordinate the UFOs with Project Spectrum, and, well, there are so many UFOs around here that coordinate with the current color, and so many of those UFOs that I would rather pretend don't exist. You know, those nasty little UFOs that you keep thinking you'll deal with later, when you're a stronger person, like maybe in 10-20 years.

And so, I present a UFO that comes with a saga that spans decades.

It all began back in ... well, I'm not sure when. Or where. I bought a bag of Paton's South Pacific so I could knit something or other, probably out of Vogue Knitting. This was probably in the early 1990s, and probably in either New Hampshire or Indiana. Who knows. I can't even find any info online about when the yarn was manufactured. A couple of years ago I found it on Wiseneedle.com, but it seems to have been deleted to make way for newer, more interesting yarn.

Then other stuff happened. We moved to Maryland. We moved to Delaware. We moved to Ohio. And the yarn was packed up and moved each time, still in its bag.

Finally, a couple of years ago, I decided to clear it out of my life. I found a great pattern for it in Vintage Knits, a long sleeved ribbed pullover. I cast on and started knitting away on pointy little size 3 bamboo needles. I loved the way it was coming out (even thought the yarn is splitty, and I can see why it's no longer sold). I loved the idea of wearing a white ribbed pullover:

And then one day it occured to me that I had loved the idea of a white long sleeved ribbed pullover so much that I'd gone out and bought one readymade:

Well. That sort of took the oomph out of the knitting, you know, discovering that I was knitting a duplicate of a top I already owned. I set the knitting aside. Eventually I packed it up and moved it to Missouri.

Then, one day recently I wanted to knit Kid1 a shrug to go over her Easter dress. I looked through the stash of white yarn. I knit guage swatches. And the winner was:

Yes, the Paton's South Pacific. So, after sitting around in bags for over a decade, going through multiple household moves, and time knitted up as the back and most of the front of a sweater, I've come up with a purpose for this yarn and I need it done in about 3 days time. It will feel good to get rid of this UFO and yarn, after all this time.

I think I might burn any leftover yarn, except being acrylic it would probably stink. Maybe I'll bury it in the back yard. In any event, it will All. Be. Gone. when this shrug is done, regardless of how much the shrug takes. Pics of a Finished Object will show up around Eastertime, we hope. If not, assume I'm burning or burying the Unfinished Shrug.

28 March 2007

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 106 Tessellating Triangles

As the title implies, this is all about tessellating with triangles. The drawing portion of worksheet 1 takes For. Ever. as Kid1 draws out jillions of tiny tessellating triangles with her drawing tools; I read aloud several chapters from a book as she works (I used to love listening to books when I was working on drafting projects, since it’s somewhat mindless work).

We pause for some whining about not understanding worksheet 2. I pick up the textbook and read it aloud, including the words “If you need a hint for the second worksheet...”blah blah blah. Oh, okay, now it makes sense. I am hopeful that Kid1 will eventually learn to re-read the lesson if she doesn’t instantly understand everything. Sigh.

Lesson 107 Tessellating Quadrilaterals

“Only 42 lessons until I’m finished with the book!”

I try to tell her that I think more lessons will be mailed out -- that the book isn’t completely written yet. My heart’s not in it, though.

And the lesson itself? Just more tessellations. Always more tessellations. “March 2007 -- Season of Tessellations” -- that’s how we’ll remember this time of our lives.

Lesson 108 Escher Tessellation

Hooray! I’ve been waiting for this lesson forever! We had a couple of books of Escher’s work that I used to spend hours and hours studying when I was in middle school. I requested some Escher books from the library, but they haven’t arrived yet (the books my family owns are apparently at my parents’ or a siblings’ house). I love this stuff.

The lesson also discusses the history of tessellations in various world cultures. A couple of Internet links are given which give examples, including this one that has some Escher.

The assignment is to make a tessellation with a more sinuous design, within the parameters of 4 corners. Kid1 isn’t happy with her results, feeling too constrained by the corners. Ah, the problems of designing/making art within someone else’s specifications ... it never ends, does it.

27 March 2007

March Books

Many Waters by Madeline L'Engle
A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeline L'Engle
The Arm of the Starfish by Madeline L'Engle
A Wind in the Door by Madeline L'Engle
Dragons in the Water by Madeline L'Engle
An Acceptable Time by Madelin L'Engle
The Princess of Neptune by Quentin Dodd
Chicks with Sticks: Knit Two Together by Elizabeth Lenhard
Witches Abroad by Terry Pratchett

Some Major Read Alouds:
The Wanderings of Odysseus: the Story of The Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff
Redwall by Brian Jacques
Little Clearing in the Woods by Maria D. Wilkes
On Top of Concord Hill by Maria D. Wilkes
Egyptian Diary: the Journal of Nahkt by Richard Platt

26 March 2007


We've been continuing our look at various animals. After finishing up rodents we moved on to owls.

Owls were not a planned stop on our tour of the animal kingdom. The local park department happened to have several owl programs, though, so we decided to attend one:

Wow! Owl pellets to dissect. Who knew? Kid2 commented that is was a little like doing a mouse dissection, given all the little bones we found.

The park department also had owl wings to investigate, owl talons, and a large stuffed owl. This was all pretty cool, given that it's illegal for the rest of us to own even a feather of a raptor. We were able to fan the wings through the air and consider the silent flight, to touch the talons and consider the death-grip, and try to match the owl's pose (our necks weren't nearly flexible enough).

Kid2 and I followed up by reading an article on owl families in the March 2007 issue of Ranger Rick. Kid1 read the book Owl Puke , which comes with yet another pellet to dissect (yippee, we're now a 3-pellet family).

Kid1 requested that our project for owls be to build an owl house. I said no, since I thought owls wouldn't be too attracted to our area. Hah, I got up at 2a.m. this weekend, thinking I heard a dog woofing nearby; imagine my surprise to realize that the animal was saying something more along the lines "Who cooks for you?". Well. Anyway, I think we're a little late on the nesting box at this point, plus I have no desire to shinny up a tree that high. Plus I think the power company is planning on digging up some stuff back there in the brushy part of the yard, and would probably cut down the very tree we'd use. Etc., etc.

We have moved on to studying cats, including our 2 resident felines. One observation we've made so far: if you play a RealAudio of a hooting Barred Owl while your cat is asleep on the computer chair, the cat will get up and leave the room, leaving you to reclaim the chair.

23 March 2007

It's Official: We All Know How to Read

Yep, another homeschooling book done, this time Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading, or OPGTR for short.

Did this actually work to teach my child reading? Hmm, well, there's a question -- just how did she learn to read? We started OPGTR a bit, using the free downloads ... she did some of the the Explode the Code books because she longed for workbooks (Get Ready, Get Set, and Go For the Code), she really enjoyed Bob Books and worked her own way through 2 or 3 sets of them, we explored the alphabet using Christopherus First Grade Syllabus ... and then one day I realized that she was reading the parent's script out of OPGTR as easily as she was reading the child's script. So, it seems she just sort of worked it all out for herself, having been exposed to a lot of reading.

It was fairly early in OPGTR that this happened (maybe around lesson 75?), so we decided to just go ahead and read through a few lessons per day and see what happened. Somewhere up in the 200s we started hitting words she would stumble on, like "cordial" and "pique". And the later lessons provided good discussion on spelling, particularly the words of French origin. We also had a chance to discuss the correct pronunciation of "Xavier", since it it imperative to pronounce it correctly when discussing college basketball (I once knew a woman who always pronounced it "Ex-ayvier", which pretty much destroyed any inkling that she had a CLUE about college basketball).

As soon as we were done with the book we applauded wildly ... then she hesitated ... asked softly, "Mommy, are you going to mail this to someone now?"

"Well..." I sort of guessed where this was headed, that she'd read my mind as I've been wondering where to post this as used curriculum FOR SALE.

She picked up the book and cradled it in her arms. "I mean, are you going to sell it? You can't! I need to practice some of the words I didn't know!"

Yow, I feel as though I've been selling her childhood memories out from under her. So, this book will NOT be sold, at least not any time soon.

22 March 2007

The Hat Is On Its Way

to Pittsburgh for the Represent! event there.

Yes, it's out of that yarn, this time used as a single strand. A single strand of it isn't tough enough for the Mongolian weather, but I think it will do fine in Pittsburgh. The pattern is the In a Flap Cap, this time sized for a child. If I had a clue what needle size I used I'd mention it ... ummm, I think it was the yellowish-green ones, whatever size they are (love this gauge free knitting!).

21 March 2007

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 103 Pattern Unit

The smallest repeating of a tessellation is called a unit. Idea introduced in this lesson: a pattern has 3 elements -- a unit, repetition, and a system of organization.

The lesson involves identifying units, and also making translatons of the units. The first exercise looks like the brick pavers that are so popular in landscape applications.

Lesson 104 Dual Tessellations

By connecting the center of each polygon in a tessellation a new tessellation is formed. The student needs to remember how to find the center of a polygon to accomlish this. The lesson is easy, but takes a long time. It’s yet another lesson that can be done while listening to a book on tape.

Lesson 105 Tartan Plaids

The book has some discussion on the history of tartans, and also some information on weaving (the difference between a plain “tabby” weave and a twill weave). A suggestion is made to go look at some plaid fabric, which we have in abundance. The assignment is to design 3 plaids. This is incredibly easy.

By amazing coincidence, Weaver is posting pictures of her latest plaid weaving project today, so we get to look at a plaid on the loom. Kid1 is pretty sure we need to get a loom to further explore this idea.

19 March 2007

Trip Knitting

We just returned from a roadtrip, with travel times carefuly planned for optimal NCAA basketball enjoyment. I took along my current knitting project, along with a "just in case" project -- you know, the one you grab "just in case" something untoward happens to the first one. Like, for instance, let's say that in spite of numerous gauge swatches, one false start on the project, followed by more, larger gauge swatches you discover after getting several inches into the project (which is, by the way, knitted in the round and features cables) that the gauge is still off and you didn't bring circular needles in the size you'll probably need, so all that's left to do is rip out the entire skein's-worth of knitting, rewinding it into a ball using the pestle of a wooden mortar and pestle (since, of course, you didn't bring a swift and ballwinder, either). That's the sort of situation where you need that "just in case" project:

Yes, another Dulaan sweater in that yarn. If I have enough of the yarn it will have long sleeves.

(For the record, the photo was taken on top of a jigsaw puzzle of a mosaic of Helen of Troy, as Kid1 is on a Greek binge lately . And, frankly, the sweater is pretty boring to look at on its own, so I wanted to jazz it up with an interesting background. And I thought the colors went rather nicely. If this mosaic needed a sweater I'd definitely knit it out of this yarn. And I maybe haven't had enough sleep in the past few days, which sort of feeds into my tendency to babble.)

14 March 2007

Pi Day

We ate Shepherd's Pie for supper.

And then we had apple pie while I read Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi.

We also got a head start on the Ides of March, since by coincidence we hit the Julius Caeser chapter of Famous Men of Rome today. Very cool.

(Of course, then I had to drag a ladder out in the pouring rain at 9:30pm to unclog a gutter, so the cosmic equilibrium of cool-to-crappy has been maintained.)

13 March 2007

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 101 Semiregular Tessellations

This is a 2-3 day lesson. It isn’t necessarily difficult, it just takes awhile to execute. It especially takes awhile when the weather suddenly becomes spring-like and we want to go outside for fresh air and sunshine.

Sidenote in the book: “If you’re finding pencil lines to be boring, here’s how to add some color to your work.” Oooh, perfect timing -- yes, it really is time to add some color. And now we have suggestions for how to use gel pens to draw tessellations. Cool.

Lesson 102 Demiregular Tessellations

What is the difference between a semiregular and demiregular tessellation? And how does the term semi-pure tessellation fit in to all of this?

Kid1 has realized that this somewhat mindless work of drawing out and coloring in tessellations can be done while listening to Jim Weiss reading Story of the World. Homeschool multi-tasking at its best! She even made extra photocopies of her tessellations so her younger sister could color some in; I think this is really clever on her part until I see that it is suggested in the book. Okay, then, it’s really clever on the author’s part. Kid2 is thrilled to be included in the “advanced math”.

12 March 2007

Our Version of March Madness

Yes, I grew up in Indiana, where basketball reigns supreme. And, yes, I went to a Big 10 school, so I'm still very in tune to what everyone else calls March Madness -- believe me, there have been several phone calls lately to discuss Who Will Get In, and then several more phone calls yesterday to discuss Who Got What Seed. And there are those in the family that believe that all of our actions next weekend should be governed by game times.

But, behold, I tell you, we are now a family defined not only by NCAA Basketball, but by Irish Step Dancing. And having The Games on St. Patrick's Day weekend, well, let me tell you, that's a real conflict of interest.

First of all, there's the hair issue:

People ask, "how long does it take to do that?" Well, it takes about one CD of Jim Weiss reading Story of the World to do 2 kids worth:

Then you have to let it dry for hours and hours and even overnight, then carefully unroll:

Then put on skirt, top, poodle socks, ghillies, headband, cape, et voila ... too bad I didn't get a picture of the finished effect in full costume. But there are plenty of photo oppotunities coming up. Everybody seems to think having some Irish dancers do a jig and a reel is quite the thing for March parties. And here I thought March was all about basketball.

09 March 2007

What's On My Mind

Snapea Crisps. Yum.

Keeping my nightstand dust free. How is it the most dusty piece of furniture in the bedroom? Do I exude dust while I sleep? Are the cats up to something?

That mango drink at Trader Joe's ... the one in the plastic bottles in the dairy case, along with the Super Cee and weird green drinks. Mmmmm.

Stefanie Japel's Fitted Knits. I can't find it in the local stores yet. This is really bugging me. Have they gotten a copy or 2 in and it already sold out? What's up? So, I end up searching google for reviews and pictures of Finished Objects (for pete's sake, other people already have the book and have finished knitting stuff from it!). And brooding about the worthlessness of having 2 large bookstores near your house if the stores don't stock the books you want.

This funny little jag in my back molar. D'you think it could be a crack? But I can't see anything. Dentist appointment in 2 weeks, anyway, so I guess I'll find out then.

Rereading Madeleine L'Engle books.

Sewing. Buying fabric. Carrying around various issues of Ottobre. Tracing patterns, sewing them up. Measuring. Altering. Creating.

Kid2's pants (in foreground) are #36 from Ottobre 1/2007, pink velour from Sewzanne's, hot pink ribbing from JoAnn's. She didn't want the tiny stripe down the side that the pattern called for. Kid2's top (fuzzily in background -- this picture was taken in the Butterfly House, and the camera was steamed up) #38 from 3/2006, fabric from the quilting section of JoAnn's.

I would try to take better pictures, but that would take time away from cutting out the next item. Must. Go. Sew.

07 March 2007

Latest Dulaan Item

Annie had this really cool idea of spending Lent knitting for others. She even came up with a cute button that people could put in their blogs ... which I would maybe do if I had any time to spend on my blog, which obviously I don't since I haven't been blogging much at all.


The ONLY knitting I've gotten done during Lent so far has been for Dulaan, so the 40 Days For Others concept has been working out well.

This vest is the Cozy in Cables pattern using 2 strands of Elann's Highland Wool in color "What Was I Thinking" (seriously, I have an entire bag of this stuff, which was pretty on the monitor but would look hideous on me, so expect to see lots of charity knitting in this color). I used about 3 skeins. I also used a US10.5 circular needle, and left the guage to chance. It almost fits my skinny 7 year old, who proclaimed it "really warm".

It was a fun, quick knit. Very satisfying, even when I screwed up the lefthand cables and twisted them the wrong way meaning I needed to unravel them back a few rows and re-twist them the other way (although by the 6th time it happened the charm had sort of worn off, if you know what I mean). And, no seams, so very little finishing -- just pop it into the Dulaan bag, and off to the next project!

06 March 2007

RightStart Geometry

The continuing saga of our adventures using RightStart Geometry and RightStart B. I have an 11yo and a 7yo who have average math ability.The 11yo has done Miquon, Singapore, RightStart Transitions, Level D and Level E; RightStart has saved her from a life a math phobia.

I try to update our adventures on Tuesdays, although sometimes it doesn’t get done until Wednesday. And sometimes we really haven’t done that much math, so I skip it entirely.

RightStart Geometry:

Lesson 99 Two Pentagon Tessellations

“Start by cutting out the 25 pentagons on the first worksheet”. It is so hard to line up little bits of paper to make patterns. The edges curl, the little bits want to float away. Kid 1 tries putting double stick tape on them to help them stay in place, but that doesn’t work too well.

She is supposed to find 2 patterns she can make with these pentagons. She can only find one. I’m okay with that, given the little-bits-of-paper issue. She is supposed to draw the patterns on the worksheet. She opts (at my suggestion) to do the drawing freehand rather than with her drawing tools. Yes, the drawing tools can be more precise, but there is value in being able to draw geometric shapes freehand.

Lesson 100 Regular Tessellations

This lesson takes a look at 9-, 10- and 12-sided polygons. The student is to find the interior angle of various polygons, ranging from 3-sided to 12-sided. In our case, the student gets a quick refresher on how to find the interior angle (so did the student's mom, for that matter). She knew the interior angles of the smaller polygons off the top of her head, interestingly, but had to figure them out for the heptagon on up. Once that hurdle is leapt, the worksheet is fairly quick.

Again, the tessellations are drawn freehand at our house.

05 March 2007

February Books

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert
Man and Mammals: Toward a Biology of Form by Wolfgang Schad

Read Alouds:

Black Ships Before Troy by Rosemary Sutcliff
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat
Little Town at the Crossroads by Maria D. Wilkes