31 May 2007

Summer Knitting Plans

Okay, finally getting around to listing out my summer plans, as suggested in Ali's contest, which I read about first at Tammy's blog, then at Melody's blog.

After reading Tammy's blog I set to work making a list of my plans. Of course, this was on a church bulletin...during the service...I quietly threw it out later, before anyone caught on that I wasn't making notes on the sermon (not that it was a bad sermon or anything...well, really, I don't remember much about the sermon, mostly I remember thinking about a shawl I'd like to design sometime, but, you know, it would be a shawl I'd wear to church, so it was sort of a churchy thought; and yes, I realize how wrong that whole sentence is on so many levels, both grammatically and theologically).

So, reconstructing the list:

*Finish Sockapalooza socks
*Make helmet liner for this project, which I also found via Tammy's blog
*Finish Sahara, which is currently on the needles
*Do something with other UFOs, fulfilling my UFO pledge; particularly the Rowan Calmer that has been through 2 startups and has yet to find a sweater pattern to be knit into
*Pair of socks for gift-giving
*Figure out why I bought all that summery yarn over the past year ... like the Blue Sky Cotton, was that supposed to be a Ribbon Shell? And that pink stuff I found the other day in a box downstairs, what's up with that? I vaguely remember buying it last summer, and had some sort of summer top planned for it, but what? Maybe a Ribby Shell? Did I ever buy that pattern? In any case, figure out what's going on with some of this yarn, and actually use it
*Around July I expect to buy a new knitting book (not sure yet what, just pretty sure by then I'll decide I need a new one; maybe Lace Style or Charmed Knits), at which point I'll once again lose interest in all of the above and go off on a new tangent

Note: I was going to include pics of what I'm already working on, as well as the yarn purchased for mysterious purposes, but decided it would take too long to upload. We're spending yet another day on dental issues. Did you know that trips to the oral surgeon for blocked salivary glands fall under your medical insurance rather than your dental insurance? On the bright side, I'm pretty sure all of this counts as "mulitple field trips to dentist offices" for homeschool.

30 May 2007

The Seven Random Things Meme

1. I still have a box of Trader Joe's Candy Cane JoJos tucked away. I haven't decided when I'll eat them.

2. My high school graduation present was a trip to India.

3. My college roommate and I took up smoking, but we quit after a couple of weeks because it was too much work keeping track of cigarettes, lighters/matches and ashtrays.

4. I can roll my tongue, but my mom can't roll hers.

5. I never learned all the state capitals in school. This doesn't seem to have affected my adult life.

6. I need to mow the lawn today, but it's raining.

7. I think ornamental pear trees and Stella D'oro daylillies are terribly overplanted in landscaping jobs. It really bothers me to see this when I'm out and about. On the other hand, I pay no attention whatsoever to what cars people drive. In summary, I will be quite judgmental about your landscaping choices, but I really don't care about your car. I suspect these aren't typical values.

Thanks to Heather for tagging me, as this was wonderfully mindless. Can I do this, like, weekly?

29 May 2007

More Thoughts on Testing

The nice thing about giving standardized tests yourself (as opposed to having them done by a third party) is that you can see exactly what your child is missing. So, instead of just having a vague idea that Kid2 messed up on the punctuation test, I know that she pretty much blew it specifically on capitalization. Interestingly, she did fine with any and all capitalization issues in other parts of the test.

Also, I know what she missed on the Social Studies portion of the test, and I know that I really Do Not Care. I'm confident she can lead a happy and fulfilling life, and even accomplish wonderous things, without EVER knowing the answer to some of those questions.

I had heard that CAT5 is less rigorous than Iowa Test of Basic Skills, which is less rigorous than Stanford Achievement Test. Based on what I observed so far, having used ITBS and CAT5, that's true. The ITBS math computation section was a beat-the-clock type test, the type where the child learns to answer as many questions as possible as accurately as possible before the timer chimes. CAT5 math computation gave enough time to complete all the questions, check answers, then maybe go take a quick nap on the couch. It will be interesting to see how the scoring and norms stack up.

26 May 2007

Long Time No Blog

It's been a busy week, featuring:

A trip to the zoo.

CAT5 tests, finished and mailed back for scoring.

Sewing a red T-shirt for Kid1, which should've taken about 2 hours ... but I ended up tracing out the pattern in 2 different sizes, because after I traced her normal size I realized the pattern was designed for stretchier fabric, so I traced it out 2 sizes up (it's from Ottobre 2/2006, T-shirt #1, for any sewing junkies out there). Also, it took at least an hour to figure out how to do the 2-thread flat overlock blind stitch, mostly because the instructions and diagrams in the BabyLock book are INCOMPLETE and don't explicitly tell you to take the thread coming out of the lower looper and put it through the little doodad on the upper looper. Anyway, it's done, the hems look fabulous, and it fits her perfectly. She's now ready to wear red for Pentecost tomorrow.

A trip to 6 Flags. On a school day. With about an hour or so of rain in the afternoon. We stuck it out, and the park was virtually empty be 4pm, by which time the weather was gorgeous. So for 3 hours we had NO WAITING on the rides we were interested in. By the end of the day people weren't even bothering to exit the rides -- they just sat in place waiting to go again, because, well, because you could.

Profound lack of knitting on sockapalooza socks. Some knitting on Sahara sweater.

More later ... but probably not until after Memorial Day.

18 May 2007


Yes, we test.

When we lived in Ohio we needed to have some sort of annual evaluation. After considering the options, we decided testing was the best option for us. Among other things, life is filled with times that a person is required to fill out a bubble test, and we'd rather have our kids learn to do that in a relaxed environment.

I've been on message boards with people who are adamently opposed to testing, and will go to great lengths to avoid it. I wonder what happens to those kids if they are confronted with, say, the written part of a driving test. Do the kids tense up? Mine would, given that introduction.

(By the way, if a lot were riding on the test scores I would probably have felt differently about testing. But we were in a situation that was pretty nonthreatening. And, having read through the various lower grades, my opinion of how well achievement tests evaluate a child's overall learning is fairly low.)

So, we chose the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, mostly because I could proctor it at home, which means that you can do it without having to find everyone's shoes.

Earlier in the year Kid1 asked if she could please take an Iowa Test of Basic Skills again. We've moved to a state that doesn't require testing (it does require keeping track of everything you do for homeschooling, which is a more harrowing requirement in its own way). We had skipped any sort of testing last year. So I said, sure, and Kid2 could take one, also. Kid2 was pretty excited about this, as it seems to grown up.

Alas, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, current edition, is not available in Missouri. The powers-that-be for the company do not allow it. You have to get an old version, and pay extra for hand scoring. And, although I'm pretty lowkey about letting the kids take an achievement test, paying an extra $20 a pop wan't that attractive. I had to find a substitute.

Enter the California Achievement Test. I ordered a couple of sets, and they arrived earlier this week. I ripped the package open and announced, "Hey, it's the tests! Wanna go ahead and start them?"

So, skills we are working on this week:

It isn't going to help to look up at the proctor/mommy and say, "that's right, right?" The proctor/mommy is just going to blandly reply that she isn't taking the test.

If you were in a real test situtation you couldn't read the questions aloud and keep up a running commentary, you know.

Also, snorting and laughing because you think the reading comprehension story is amusing is probably a no-no.

Especially laughing and rolling your eyes because you think a particular question is silly.
(That one is partially my fault. Back when Kid1 was taking the ITBS that I had to read aloud to her we came across a question that was so startlingly dumb that I burst out laughing. My bad.)

16 May 2007

This Post Was Going to Be Trip Knitting, Sockapalooza Edition

It was going to feature a picture of the sockapalooza sock with several inches done.

I was going to discuss how the yarn looks absolutely edible, in a sweet, caramel-y way, while you're sitting in a car on a pretty, sunny day.

The planned post was to have an amusing anecdote about a size 1 bamboo doublepoint needle flying out of my hand in an acrobatic arc into that tiny little space between the console and the seat, and how the entire family worked to get it out when we ended up stopping at the nearest Interstate Rest Stop for this emergency.

I was going to include a thoughtful commentary on the Illinois Highway Deptartment's obsession with putting those spinning-tire swings at practically every Interstate Rest Stop in the state without also providing for the necessary facilities for the natural consequences of having spinning tire-swings. Specifically, they need showers and spacious changing areas, because, let me assure you, it is entirely possible to spin on those things until you vomit all over yourself and your mother.


I continued working on the sock yesterday at piano lessons. And discovered that I had been knitting the wrong pattern for the leg.

Rip, rip, rip.

The sock is now simply a cuff.

15 May 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 125 Pick’s Theorem With the Stomachion

Another chance to integrate math with other subjects! The Stomachion appears on one of Archimedes manuscripts. Although a brief history of Archimedes and the Stomachion is in the book, homeschool moms who are on-the-ball might consider reading more about Archimedes at this time. As for me, not being particularly on-the-ball, I waited until this week to look up Archimedes and the Door to Science at the local library and discovered every single copy is currently checked out AND there’s a waiting list of holds.

We looked at some Internet information on the Stomachion, using the site that is given in the RightStart book. We clicked on some of the links and discovered a page a page in which some of the information was given in Latin with no translation. Kid1 was intrigued, and read it all aloud, but gave no indication of how much she actually understood.

Lesson 126 Pick’s Theorem and Pythagorean Theorem

“That was easy.”

(Puts RightStart book back on shelf.)

“I really like Pick’s Theorem.”

As a matter of fact, some math-based discussion came up over the weekend while we were visiting aunts and uncles. I heard her comment, “that’s like Pick’s theorem,” at one point. She’s thinking about this stuff way beyond school time!

Lesson 127 Estimating Area With Pick’s Theorem

“The size of wildfires are calculated by using this method.” Well, who knew?

I am amazed that this lesson is completed with no griping whatsoever. She enjoys working with this. Later I realize that she didn’t do the final problem, that of using Pick’s theorem and a map of our state to find the area of our state. I am pretty sure this doesn't matter, given that she understands the concept.

14 May 2007

Trip Knitting, UFO Resurrection edition

We're back from our Mother's Day roadtrip, visiting both moms (MrV's and mine) as well as sisters, brothers, and more playgrounds than you can imagine.

For trip knitting I took along my new, improved version of Cable-Down Raglan. Oh, I fell in love with that sweater as soon as I saw it in Interweave Knits. I immediately got some Classic Silk yarn (Classic Elite) in a lavender to make this most-perfect spring sweater.

I swatched it up, and my gauge was a little loose. My gauge is almost always a little loose lately, and I realize that this is because I am just about the only person in the world who knits in proper tension -- everyone else has started knitting way too tightly, and the patterns and ball bands reflect this. Y'all need to relax, for pete's sake, and stop knitting so tightly. Anyway, until that happens, I have to fiddle with gauge.

No problem, I thought -- I'll just forge ahead and knit the sweater according to a different size, and everything will be hunky-dorey. Except, of course, after I had knit into it few inches I realized the error of my logic -- since it is a top-down raglan, and every size casts on the exact same number of stitches, my large gauge made my neckline HUGE.

So, rip it back. Re-swatch. Many, many swatches later I cast on again. Oh, joy of cables! Oh, joy of silk yarn in pretty pretty color! After I had knit the first ball of yarn (that's 135 yards, so I got through the entire first cable repeat) just for fun I measured my gauge ... which was now too tight. Ack! The dreaded gauge-was-spot-on-in-swatch-but-gauge-is wonky-during-project syndrome!

I ripped. I swatched some more. I cast on again. I knit several rows, set down the knitting for a time, totally lost track of where I was in the pattern, and decided what the heck -- I'd just rip it back out and start again (at this point I pretty much had the entire beginning of the sweater memorized).

So, I ripped, started a fourth run on it ... and realized that I had totally missed spring. Spring in St. Louis lasts approximately 10 days. Just 10 short days between shivering in wool and sweltering in as little clothing as possible. We're already thoroughly into Swelter Season here. Cable-Down Raglan had missed its season.

And so, of course, I did the only sensible thing. I ripped it out again, and cast it on again. Only this time without cables. And instead of raglan, it has a provisional cast-on at the shoulder. And a deep V-neck. And little cap sleeves.

Why, yes, that IS a lot like Sahara, now that you mention it. As a matter of fact, it's exactly Sahara. I would be further along, but one of the charms of Sahara is that you can try it on as you knit and thereby customize the fit ... except when you're knitting in a car on an interstate highway, then the "try on as you go" doesn't work quite so well.

Goodbye, Cable-Down Raglan! Perhaps we will meet again in a different season, in a different yarn. For now, you have been resurrected as Sahara.

09 May 2007

My Life as a Matchmaker

Sock Yarn, meet Pattern.

Sock Pattern, this is Sock Yarn.

Now, why don't you two spend some time getting acquainted while I go look for some knitting needles.

Don't they make a cute couple?

(The pattern is Child's French Sock from Knitting Vintage Socks. I really enjoyed knitting the Fancy Silk Sock from this book, but discovered after it was done that, alas, I dislike wearing socks with openwork. So I'm using this Sockapalooza knitting to find out if this particular pattern is too open for me. After all, my sock-partner said to have fun with this, so, you know, it's not a totally awful thing to do, using her socks as guinea pigs.

And the yarn is from Lisa Souza, who I saw mentioned by some other blogger, not that I have any memory of who that blogger was or why I was blog-hopping that day. I saw this color and thought, "Bingo, that's the color I want for Sockapalooza". So, again with the guinea pig thing, since I've never used this yarn.

Are you starting to discern a pattern here? My family will assure you that this isn't a recent thing -- I've a long history of deciding I want to mess and gom with something, and using a gift-giving occasion for an excuse. I also buy books for people and immediately ask if I can borrow and read them. At least I don't pre-read them before giving them, which is a triumph of willpower. Okay, honestly, I used to do that, too, but now I'm usually running too late on getting my presents together to have time to read the books before giving them away; but let's pretend I don't pre-read due to my virtue, okay?)

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 124 Pick’s Theorem

A geoboard is optional for this lesson, although it certainly makes life easier, since Pick’s theorem has to do with using a grid. We have geoboards because we’ve done so many levels of RightStart. And I’d like to pause here and say that I really, really do not like the geoboards: I bought a geoboard directly from RightStart, and it doesn’t match the pictures in the RightStart books (the grid has fewer pegs, which sometime makes the problems in the RightStart book impossible to replicate). Also, the rubber bands drive me nuts; this is not RightStart's fault, though, as it is simply a function of geoboards and the deterioration of rubber bands.

Kid1 reported, though, that the size of the geoboard does not matter for this lesson. Frankly, she breezed through it so quickly that I’m not sure much of anything mattered. The lesson also requires remembering how to find the area of polygons, with references given to previous lessons for those who don’t remember how. Kid1 obviously remembers how.

This is the only RightStart lesson she’s done all week because we’ve been working on Challenge Math, in which we’ve worked with decimals. For the record, Kid1 reports that she will never, ever forget how to do long division with decimals now, having slogged through all of those problems (by the way, for those who have never looked at Challenge Math, it is mainly story problems).

07 May 2007

The Yarn Has Entered the Building

What I'll be knitting for Sockapalooza 4:

No pattern yet. I decided to go for the yarn first, then figure out a pattern that matches it.

So. Exciting.


I tend to prefer fairly sleek styles without a lot of frills

(except for my socks, which tend to run more towards glow-in-the-dark patterns; I used to wear gaudy earrings, too, but discovered that babies tend to be fascinated by 4 inch long skeletons that dance on your shoulders and little twinkly stars that have battery-powered blinker lights in them, so those were put into storage)

so the kids were astounded that I had anything to do with the purchase of our new dining room light:

I simply pointed out that it does NOT have any little electronic sounds or voices (I hate things that have little electronic voices or music or whatever) (except for maybe in a pair of socks).

In the meantime, we gave the kids permission to dismantle the old chandelier, and discovered that once you take all of the prisms off it looks like a space station for Polly Pocket dolls:

"Hey, it's like Deep Space 9!"

"Nu-huh! Deep Space 9 is a Cardassian design. This obviously isn't Cardassian."

"Okay, so some OTHER Federation space station. Gees."

And the prisms are now some sort of pod the dolls fly around in. I don't quite understand it all. I do realize, though, that I have a massive new mess in the middle of the family room, and we have a deep need for the little Star Trek dolls that are about the size of a Polly Pocket.

03 May 2007

History Pockets

I really thought long and hard before buying any History Pockets. You may be thinking, "How could you go wrong with coloring, cutting and pasting, especially in such a girly household?" And I would have to remind you that this is the girly household wherein the girls are using their Geomags to build bizarre cages for their Kelly dolls (the cages spin due to the magnets' polarity, so it's not just a restraint for Kelly, but, apparently, a torture device), and biting the butts off of their hollow chocolate Easter bunnies so they can fill them with Junior Mints and pretend the bunnies have diarrhea.

In the end, though, I decided to give it a whirl. After all, our history program this year has consisted solely of slapping in Jim Weiss CDs on an irregular basis. So I ordered one pocket for Egypt and one pocket for Greece.

They are a hit.

Unfortunately, that's the table I use to spread out my sewing stuff.

02 May 2007

My Favorite Socks

Just in case anyone wondered. Wink wink nudge nudge.

These are out of Cascade Fixation from the sale bin of a yarn store back in Ohio. The pattern is Broadripple from Knitty. I used size 2 needles.

They are tied for most-favored-sock status with my Girl Scout socks knit from Regia. No memory of what needle size, or even whether I knit them toe-up or toe-down.

Note how the colorways have nothing to do with each other. And they are out of different fibers. One has some pattern to the knitting, one is just plain old stockinette.

Both are out of multi-colored yarn, but I think that's probably due more to random chance than anything else.

Which is why the field is pretty wide open when it comes to figuring out the perfect sock for me.

Just sayin'.

01 May 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 123 Napoleon’s Theorem

The lesson starts with a brief history lesson (I didn’t realize that Napoleon was an amateur mathematician).

Then, on to the theorem itself: “If equilateral traingles are constructed on the outside of the three sides of any given triangle, then their centroids are the vertices of ....” Well, surprise! You get to figure it out for yourself.

Up to this point in RightStart Geometry, equilateral triangles have been constructed using a T-square and 30-60 triangle. Now we learn how to make an equilateral triangle with a compass (the mmArc compass).

The end of the lesson discusses generalizing -- first, what does it mean to generalize, then, what happens when we generalize about non-equilateral triangles.

Lesson 124 is about Pick’s theorem. Kid1 opened the book to it, looked it over, and asked if we could spend some time on Challenge Math instead. We’ve been working with decimals in Challenge Math for the past several days -- we’ll return to Pick’s theorem eventually.