Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My year of spinning

So, for the annual Spinner's Home Lottery, I am asked to recap my year of spinning.  From a personal stand point this year has been marked with periods of excessive work (and by excessive I mean that work has sapped all my energy and taken all my time) and other periods of freedom and lots of spinning.  The highlight, undoubtebly, was my first participation in the Tour de Fleece. I took part in the first two weeks and absolutely loved it.  Because I was spinning so much I made great progress and just thoroughly enjoyed the companionship and the amount of fiber I produced.  The weather was lovely so I had the windows wide open, the television on and the wheel was spinning and spinning away.

Here is a picture recapping those two weeks:

I finished the big project with the fleece from Australia (the thre muted rainbow coloured skeins), spun some Cheviot, BFL and Romney for the first time and learned to Navajo ply.  I have since been obsessed with Navajo plying and have not plied any other way since.

What I learned from all this is that I still have a lot to learn, but also that I am "good enough" to try anything and make a decent yarn out of it. I've enjoyed all the new fibers and learning about them. What I have learned about myself during my spin-a-thon is that colours matter.  I just love watching the colourful fiber run through my fingers, and I get bored very quickly when I don't like the colours. This is slightly worrying as my big challenge of 2013 is to spin about 1kg of undyed Shetland to make a blanket. We'll see if my patience holds up.

Also, during the Olympic Games I knit a hat with my handspun.  I have since knit another hat and I am knitting a dress for my daughter with the rainbow yarn:

The biggest disappointment, which is simply a delay, is that for my birthday I received a WooLee Winder, but have been so busy, and then sick for so long that I have not yet used it.  I have something on the wheel which I need to finish and it has just been sitting in a corner staring at me...  It is for someone else, and the colours are really not mine and I'm finding it hard to motivate myself, even though I know I will be able to use the WooLee Winder when I'm done. 

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Sunday, March 18, 2012

I am thankful for: being a mom

Yes, of course I'm thankful for being a mom, that could be the title every day's post, but today was extra fun. The toddler had a gymnastics show (videos are in a previous post) and I was certainly a proud mommy. There were a couple of crisis, as can be expected in an afternoon in the life of a toddler, an emergency sandwich eaten right before the show, and lots of enthusiastic clapping in the end. And in between all that was lots and lots of fun, squeals of joy and laughter and even some gymnastics!

Just a day in the life of a busy mom, but in fact, a very special day for the family as we got to spend it together and enjoy it thoroughly.

I am thankful for: flowers, strawberries and a project bag!

Today I had a meeting of the knitting club at my place and I just had a wonderful afternoon. We talked about cuff-down vs. toe-up socks, bamboo yarn, our projects, kitchener stitches, mothers-in-law, the Department of Non-Immigration, vitamin D deficiency, tea, 900 guest weddings, straight vs. circular needles and spinning wheels.

It was a relaxing, fun afternoon with wonderful guests and was just thankful to have been able to host the meet. 

There was also a feel of spring in the air yesterday, and it was amplified by the lovely bouquet of tulips that one of the guests brought. She also brough strawberries which were delicious. There will be no pictures of the strawberries as...well....they are all gone :-)

Another guest made me this lovely (LOVELY) project bag, which is now holding my Spectra scarf, and very cute stitch markers which are already in use as I cast on another La-la-love-you cowl last night. 

So a wonderful afternoon with wonderful guests. And for a very very long time I always thought going to other people's places was more fun than having people at my place, especially because I thought having guests was just a hassle, with all the cleaning and the prepping and the stress of making everything look good, but hubby did an amazing job on the cleaning, and I really enjoyed making the muffins and cake in the morning (experience now allows me to bake completely relaxed, in the company and with the help of my toddler) and hosting the afternoon. I'm not the hostess with the mostess, but I really enjoyed it and I believe my guests did too.

I am thankful for: control

(I needed a bit of a break from blogging, so I'm now writing for the last three days, this particularly one being for Friday. I have found that even the days when I don't actually write the blog, I still think about what I'm going to write, and therefore what I am thankful for.)

Today ended my crazy period. The intensive university gathering which included two tests is over, a plan has been made for the classes I'm subbing for, I've created projects that will keep the students busy for a while, I've gotten hold of the official school calendar so that I know exactly what's coming up (exams, prep exams etc) and uni papers will only come one at a time from now on. 

I haven't felt like I had any kind of control over what I was doing for the past month or so (mostly because the subbing situation was so uncertain, and because I was so exhausted from working that my studying was lagging behind) so now I feel quite relieved. I made a list of everything I have to do, and I have a lot (A LOT) of correcting and grading to do, but at least now I know what I need to do. 

So thanks to all that I've had a very relaxing week-end, and I even look forward to going to school early tomorrow morning to work on that to-do list.

Gymnastics Show!

Today the gymnastics club had a show for all their classes, including the "toddler and parents" classes. Despite some pre-show nerves and a short dip in concentration during the first part we all had a great time and were ready for more!!

Warming up before the show

 Entree des artistes

First part of the show (not her favourite)

The second part of the show (for that group). Now we're having fun!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I am thankful for: relief and fun

I'm equally thankful for two things today. First, I took the second exam in two days and think I did ok. Both exams are pass/fail and I think I did enough to pass both. So I'm obviously relieved that I'm done with those and that I can now focus on my teaching duties which I have somewhat neglected in the past couple of weeks. I have a mountain of corrections to do and a bit of planning to think about, and now I can just sit down and do that without the added stress of the exams. 

Also, as I posted earlier I won a prize from a draw on the Knit One Heart Too podcast and the book arrived today.  It's New Knits on the Block by Vickie Howell, and it's a whole bunch of projects for kids, either costumes or accessories. Some of the projects Lilia is too young for, but there are quite a few that are just so cute, including a bowling set!  Yes, you can knit bowling pins and a bowling ball!!  Just adorable. So I'm thankful for this gift, first because it's very generous of Sheila and Wendy to give their viewers prizes, but also because the projects are so much fun I had a great time going through the book. It allowed me to relax after a rather stressful day and boosted my creativity.

I am thankful for: not being a perfectionist

Today I had a test I was 'somewhat' prepared for, then I tought a class during which I had to kind of wing things because they had had a substitute the week before and not really done what they were supposed to do, and then when I finally got home and was able to relax I realized I had made a mistake in the Spectra I'm knitting and I don't feel like going back, so it will just have to stay there.

And even though nothing I did today was done great, or even very well, I'm still very happy. I've been very tired lately and had so much teaching that I haven't been able to study as much as I wanted. Sometimes "good enough" is really good enough, and I'm glad I can sit back and just relax and feel good about the day, because even though nothing I did was great, I did my best and that should always be fine.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

I am thankful for: Skype

I live away from my family and we use Skype quite a bit to stay in touch and so the grandparents and other relatives can see the toddler (yes, after you have a child no one wants to visit or even less see you, they just want to see the baby and thank you for making dinner...). Today, however, was special because two family members, whom I see rarely and almost never respectively were visiting my father and we skyped a bit in the middle of their hectic visit. We just talked for a few minutes, and the picture and sound quality weren't great, but it was still very nice to see them and hear their voice. 

Since are visits are sadly few and far between I'm sure the Skype call will be something I will cherish for a long time and I'm thankful for the technology that allowed me to see them and talk to them.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

I am thankful for: multiculturalism

Today we went to The Nepalese Cultural Evening organised by the Nepalese Society in Trondheim. While we were there we met a Spanish friend, Dutch/Italian friends, a Thai friend and yes, a Nepalese friend. It was like being back in Geneva, or Montreal, or New York and it was wonderful. The toddler was very tired so we left right before the food was served (which was heartbreaking as we walked by the area where they were preparing it on our way out and it smelled absolutely delicious). The show had dancers, musicians and videos of Nepal which convinced us that we want to travel there at some point.

So I am thankful for a bit of internationalism and a nice show.

Knitting update

As you probably know from my other posts, I've been super super busy these days, but I have still gotten a bit of knitting done.  These are the two projects I'm working on now:

Here is sock number 1. I am about to cast on the second one. It's really soft and I think the colours are just fun. If I had to do it again I would do it longer and I'm not sure I would have the patterning. I don't think the colours need it, but it's ok. 

And here is my Spectra by Stephen West knit with Malabrigo Sock. I just love, love, love the colour combo. 80 more wedges to go :-)

Friday, March 9, 2012

I am thankful for: inspiration

I'm not the kind of person who is always very well prepared. I don't plan well ahead and I don't spend hours planning and plotting my teaching. I have come to trust my inspiration. And no, it's not a good idea, I know, and I can see how it may seem as though I'm just covering for being lazy and setting myself up for stress and chaos, and it's all true, but the problem is that so far, it has always worked.

When I was a health teacher in the US I went to the supermarket before going to school, and as I was paying (and rushing to school as I was not completely prepared for that day's classes), I noticed the newspapers for sale. I grabbed three of them and decided I was going to make my students read the paper that day. I divided the class into three, gave them each a paper (one was a local one, one was a regional one and the third one was a national paper) and asked them to find at least one article for each of the five areas of health (physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual). They went through the newspapers and found rather creative solutions to compensate for the lack of actual information (death announcements which relate to mental or social health). The unfortunate part about being spontaneous that day was that when I arrived in class, I had actually not read any of the papers and didn't now what to expect. Needless to say that having three classes give a presentation on a two page spread dealing with bunions was not my idea of an uplifting lesson plan, but it worked. I got the students to read the paper, I got them to think of health in as more than a subject at school, and I got them to discuss issues that we had talked about before, but that were brought up again in real-life situations.

Today I had the same experience. I came up with a lesson plan in one of the classes I'm subbing for that got all the students involved and excited. We had read and see Of Mice And Men so I divide the class in four groups and each group had to come up with a type quizz or excercise that tested the other students' knowledge or analysis of the novel. They came up with very good questions or quizzes and had a lot of fun competing to see who got the most answers right. I did almost nothing except give them the instructions and direct traffic, they did all the rest.

And before that I had my Spanish class, where students are to find a restaurant in a Spanish-speaking country, look at the meny, decide what they would want to order and describe the dishes. Then they have to calculate the bill and convert it to Norwegian Kroners. One of my groups called me over and told me there were no prices on the menu, so I told them there was only one thing they could do. I saw from the pleading look in their eyes that they were thinking and hoping I would tell them they could just hop over that part of the assignment, but instead I just had this idea pop in my head and said: "you have to e-mail the restaurant and ask them!!!"  "WHAT?????  IN SPANISH????  ARE YOU SERIOUS????  WE HAVE TO WRITE A REAL E-MAIL????" was their reaction. It was so hard not to laugh, but I stayed serious and told them that yes, absolutely, they had to write an e-mail and I was looking forward to getting the answer! Not only did they write the e-mail and send it, but another group was inspired and also sent an e-mail to the restaurant they were working with!  Spontaneous authentic learning! 

I just love being inspired. For me it beats planning every time!! 

I am thankful for: responsability

(this post is for yesterday)

Today the regional group for adults with congenital heart problems had its first board meeting, and it was my first meeting as its head. There were very few members, but we had important and lively discussions about everything from our relationship with the national organisation to what we want to offer our members, and I loved having the responsibility for it all. I've been on boards before, but had seldom had the real responsibility for an entire board and so far I have really enjoyed it. Soon I will have much more time to dedicate to doing lots of work, but I'm enjoying having that extra pressure to deliver. I'm thankful for the opportunity to help other GUCHs (grown-up with a congenital heart problem), for the trust others that shown me so that I can be in this position, and for the opportunity to just experience doing things I've never done before.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I am thankful for: student enthusiasm

I don't know if it's just me, but it seems as though most students are not very enthusiastic. They are when we prepare good lessons, when we give them exciting projects, when we project tons of energy, but very few are naturally enthusiastic when they sit down for yet another lesson of this or that, so that it requires a constant effort to motivate them. 

I have been subbing for an English teacher for a bit over a month and one of her classes has been working on a project which she had developped with another teacher last year. The students have just handed in the written reports, and I have not had time to read them, but yesterday and today they had their oral presentations. 

Since the class is rather big (31 students) and they each had to give a 3-4 minute presentation I decided they would give it only to me, not to the entire class. I couldn't see them sitting there quietly listening to one presentation after another for two double periods and I hate when students talk while other students present. (I hate when they talk while I talk, but talking when a fellow student is presenting is, in my books, one worst offenses I can think of. It drives me crazy).  

So I sat in a room close to the classroom, having given them an assigment to work on, and listened to one fantasting presentation after another. I couldn't believe the quality of their work (in most cases), but what struck me most was how much enthusiasm they showed. Of course it is a testament to a very well thought out project, and it was inspiring to see how much it had motivated them. And in all honesty, I thought it was hard and really long, but clearly they took it to heart the results were amazing. So I am thankful for having learned from my fellow teachers, and for being lucky enough to witness so much positive energy from students.

(For those of you who are teachers or just curious, here was the project: Work or Study Abroad. They had to pick an English speaking country, and then decide if they wanted to study or work there. Then they had to find a school/job, look a the requirements, write the application essay/job application, a CV, write about the country/city they were going to, the geography, social conditions etc, look into visas, scholarships, English tests, any paperwork necessary, make a budget, look at the cost of living, plane tickets and anything else, and then they had to explain why they wanted to do this, what would be the challenges etc.

It was a huge amount of work, but even though it was "pretend", quite a few students were really inspired by what they had seen and realized that they had actually done most of the work, so some of them are really considering applying after they graduate from high school (next year).)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I am thankful for: a happy toddler

Today we went to get our toddler together, and when we got to day care she was giddy. She was running around trying to escape getting dressed, but in a laugh and squeal kind of way. Then she was charming at dinner and loved the mellon we had for dessert, and then was sweet and fun until bedtime. I guess that's how it should be all the time, but often after a day at day care she's tired and we do get a bit of crankyness, either when we get her or around dinner time.

Today she was smiling and charming and babbling away and it was just so much fun to be around her. She's the sweetest reward at the end of yet another long day. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

I am thankful for: pretty yarn

I ordered sock yarn from Gnome Acres in the There is No Place Like Gnome colourway, and though the skein is lovely, the yarn looked a bit so-so to me when I made the ball. Still, I cast on to make myself a sock, reminding myself that I had picked that colourway for all the bright colours and it would just be a fun and light coloured sock. Well, I just finished the first sock (pictures when I have time...) and I must say, I love it. I improvised a bit on the pattern, though it's a simple top-down, afterthought heel sock and it just looks lovely on my foot. It fits perfectly too.  

So three cheers for lovely yarn which makes simple projects look special, instead of having to use dull yarn and being forced to work cables or lace with it to make it look nice. There is more and more fun yarn (variegated, self-striping, gradient) out there so knitting will just get more and more fun, without getting more and more complicated. I'm not against complicated, but when I'm tired and I'm knitting to relax, fun and simple is quite ok with me.

I am thankful for: witnessing a challenge

Today (Sunday) we went to a park so our toddler could play a bit and get some fresh air. We had seen the park from the car but never been there to play and we wanted to try something new. Because it's winter most of the swings and structures were not there, but there was a climbing set that requires children to climb up a wall with the help of a rope (and Mommy and Daddy), army boot camp style (though the wall is not completely vertical, it's still very hard), then walk across a long bridge which is just a log with chains on the side for stability, and then finally the child can enjoy all the work and come down a cork-screw slide.

Our toddler isn't fond of heights, so I wasn't sure how she would deal with the long bridge, but she held our hands and did very well, and then absolutely loved the slide which motivated her to do the whole circuit again and again. I was tired and a bit cold, but I was amazed at how she persevered. Not only that, but she got better and better at crossing the bridge and walking on the log. 

I think so many of us are hard on ourselves and challenge ourselves all the time, but the problem is that we are never happy. By the time we have achieved what we had set out to do, we have already set ourselves new goals and new challenges so that we don't even take the time to consider how much we have achieved. It was nice to see her do all the work, and to see how much progress she made in just one session. It was nice to challenge someone else and to see her succeed. I know I do it as a teacher all the time, but the results are usually mixed and not always clear-cut.

I'm not sure how to explain this properly, but there was something about seeing HER accept a challenge and keep at it and then witnessing the progress that was hugely satisfying. I was a proud mom on the playground and it filled me with all kinds of amazement for my (not so little) baby, and I'm very thankful for that.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

I am thankful for: a breath of fresh air, and raw fish

I spent a good part of today working on a paper for university, so it was nice to get out of the house for some sushi. I hadn't had sushi in a while, and because of the toddler we don't go out as often as we used to. It was nice to be downtown a bit, eat in a restaurant in good company and generally forget about teaching, papers, tests and anything that has to do with education. 

I'm thankful for that breath of fresh air during the day which allowed to clear my head. I needed it.

I am thankful for: compliments

Today I received two compliments at work. One from a colleague (via another colleague) and one from the head of my department. So I am thankful for the first colleague for talking positively about me to others, to the second colleague for taking the time to tell me and adding that she agreed, and for the head of my department for slipping in a compliment in an otherwise very business-like discussion which didn't require any.

Compliments are very easy to give: they are free, require very little energy, can be quick and simple and yet always hit the spot. 

I don't know why we don't give each other more. And I'm as guilty as anyone else. Maybe this blog is all wrong. Maybe instead of saying what I am thankful for each day I should make sure that I give at least one compliment a day to someone. I was just thinking it would be a good idea for 2013, but maybe I should start right away. Maybe we should all start right away. 

I probably won't, but I should.

I am thankful for: the job I have

(I'm behind again, so doing a bit of catch up)

Today I had four hours with a class. They have this once a month, four hours in a row of their "specialty" subject. Since they are working on a project, I used the time to talk to each student individually (except for those who disappeared...) about what they were doing and how far they had come, and I tried to give each one of them encouragement and, for those who needed it, direction or a bit of a kick in the ass because they are behind.

I wasn't sure if I needed to have these four hours but was told by the head of my department that they were necessary, so I weathered all the student complaints (their argument was that since they had a project due, couldn't they just work at home instead of at school, which is a rather good one, but not enough for the department head. In hindsight she was right, the time I spent with each one of them was worth it).

I thought it would take me about an hour and then I would read or do paperwork, but the one-on-one discussions took a lot longer, and I enjoyed each and every one of them. It's amazing how students lose the attitude when they have to talk to you alone, and you get to really see who they are, what interests them and what they are all about. I thought I was able to give useful advice to each of them and really enjoyed each and every discussion. 

We spend so much time dealing with classroom issues, paperwork etc that sometimes we lose track of the kids. At least I do, especially when I'm subbing because I come in the middle of things and have to deal with entire unknown classrooms. And to have the opportunity to talk to them individually is just wonderful. I'm thinking of ways to do this more often and for more classes, but either way, it was a great afternoon and I went home feeling like I had been surrounded by real people instead of hormone-driven ignorant lazy monsters they often look like.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

I am thankful for: money

Yesterday was long and rather painful. The students were ok, and I actually felt like I did a good job subbing and teaching, but it was just so long that I came home exhausted and remained exhausted throughout the evening. So the one good thing about yesterday is all the money I'm making. I would rather not be exhausted of course, but if I'm going to be exhausted, I might as well get something out of it, and yesterday it was a cosmic pat on the back for doing a good job, and a less cosmic but more useful contribution to my bank account for just doing my job. I'll take both and then a nap.

Will I buy yarn with all the money you ask?  Mmmmm, I hadn't thought of that... but now that you mention it, I think I just might!!  ;-)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cardigan and buttons

Ok, this is a bit misleading because the buttons are not sewn on, they are just placed there to show what they would look like, but I will sew them after I have died the yarn.  I sewed the arms and started weaving in the ends. 

I love the buttons!  They are from Epponie on Etsy.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I am thankful for: a walk home

I don't like walking to work because it's a 20/25 minute uphill walk that always leaves me completely breathless, which is not ideal right before I have to teach...  But I enjoy the walk home, which is a short 15 minute downhill. As I don't like the way up, I often take the car, which means I don't get to walk home, but today I took the bus up and got to walk down. The temperature is more clement, the ice has become less-lethal snow, and after a long day at work and a lot left to do in the evening and the rest of the week it was nice to get a bit of fresh air. 

Of course I could just go out for a walk later, but after we have cooked dinner, eaten and put the toddler to bed, I'm usually very happy to settle down on the couch. So the walks come once in a while, and on those days when it's not raining, when I'm not hurrying home and when I can just enjoy the music in my ears and the fresh air around me, I really enjoy them.