Friday, May 30, 2014

Finish it Up Friday- Sheep to Sweater, Yarn

Remember back almost a year ago, last June to be precise, Uncle Doc presented me with a Merino sheep's fleece to do SOME-thing with. Well, I had it cleaned and processed in Phillipsburg, Kansas at the Shepherds Mill. They did a great job. They washed it twice and carded it into three bags full of roving just READY to be spun. It makes me so happy there were three bags full because I can chyme Baa baa black white sheep have you any wool? Yes sir, yes sir, three bags full!!! Ooooh that makes me so giddy.

Well it arrived back just before my first year of full fledged teaching began. I knew if I even opened those bags I would not have been able to resist the urge to spin them. 
Sooooo I waited. And waited. If it wasn't one thing it was another. So on this my first week of summer vacation I went absolutely crazy. Here you can see the three bags next to the beautiful spinning wheel I have borrowed from my friend Mary. Her father made it!
 It was so thoughtfully designed! There are four bobbins so I can fill two with a single ply spin, and then use the two empty bobbins to ply the yarn. There is a Lazy Kate for holding bobbins for plying and storage built right onto the wheel! Brilliant.

Here is my first hank of yarn on the Knitty Noddy. The knitty noddy is a tool for making the big loops of yarn that are needed for setting and dying yarn. The yarn is often then twisted into hanks to showcase the yarn and balled on a ball winder after purchase or selection. 
Well I've been spinning like crazy. I've taken the wheel to two knitting group sessions and pretty much parked myself in front of the TV when I'm not doing anything else. My goal was to get about 1,000 yards to make a sweater. I've got 1,095 yards. 

I'm going to call it a worsted/DK weight but like many early attempts at hand spun yarn it varies a bit. There were 1.4 pounds of roving for spinning in this bag and I used all of it to get this yardage. (I still have two more bags to play with! Hmmmmmm.)
This project has more or less evolved into a sheep to sweater project. I will leave the yarn its natural color so that the texture of the hand spinning really shows and so that it emphasizes the whole process of taking something in its natural state and transforming it.
Here is the yarn hanging in my bathroom. Once it has been spun you want to "set" it. Before being set the yarn might have the tendency to un-spin. Much like hair in a braid, when it has been gotten wet the hair will retain the shape of the braid better. 
I have water bottle weights hanging from the yarn to kind of pull it taught and get a bit of the springiness out of it as it dries. I'm hoping this might help with the thickness consistency if I should choose to knit a sweater with work. 
I was worried too much weight might pull the whole towel rack down so I have one bottle on the floor with the weight supported and the other one is hanging down with its weight.
What a finish!!! Wahoooo!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Strawberry Quinoa Salad

We've been experimenting with quinoa this year. I've found that as two individuals who do not especially enjoy pasta salad but do enjoy all of the ingredients quinoa has made a good pasta salad base substitute. 

This morning for breakfast I tried a strawberry quinoa salad variety. 

1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 cup diced strawberries
1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 sprig of fresh mint chopped finely
1 tsp honey
1/4 cup Kefir (lactose fee probiotic shake, I used plain, vanilla would be tasty too.)

Stir together and eat! It tasted great immediately. I imagine it would also taste good after marinating for a while. This would also be a tasty desert.

The verdict: I loved it. Luke did not. He thinks it's the goat cheese or the texture. 
I may try again with a lemon juice and honey dressing. 


Let me remind everyone that I am not, nor have I ever been, good with dates. So when my dreamboat husband showed up on the last day of school toting beautiful flowers why wouldn't I thank him for the last day of school flowers. Then. When he smirkingly asked me if I remembered what the day was I scrunched my face, smacked my forehead and remembered it was our anniversary. There's one for the books folks. 
Then that chivalrous guy told me that he had help as a couple with our same anniversary had been out to eat dinner at the club the night before so he had help. I felt better. He went on to tell me of the triumph of winning a stem if hydrangea (my favorite) from the florist as they had all been designated for the next days wedding. What a guy. I should marry him.
Oh wait.  I did. On May 21st. Someone please remind me next year. Let pray it's not on the last day of school again. 

My First Year

This last week wrapped up my first official year teaching. 

7th Grade Science. 

If you had asked me 4 years ago, I never would have guessed. If you had asked my science teachers they'd be asking you if there would be flying pigs too. 

I learned so much. 

I learned which classroom management techniques work for me in middle school. (And which ones don't.)

I leaned to choose my battles. 

I learned to expect more because then the teacher and students will achieve more even if it wasn't quite what was expected. 

I learned to selectively grade. Grading everything is crazy.

I learned how vital weekends are to rest and recover. While I still created quite a bit, the blogging just didn't happen. I wonder if I will ever find a balance for that or if I will forever moving between school mode and blog mode. 

I learned the power of collaboration and professional development. 

I learned to find out what my students are  good at and give them the chance to be the expert. 

I learned the power of telling students that I don't know....but I can find out. (I also learned just how many resources I have in my phone book.)

I learned about teaching 6 of the same class a day. It gets better every time. If it doesn't, something needs to change. 
Oh and did I mention how much science I learned? 

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously. 

It was a great year. I look forward to next year and how it will all go with a year under my belt! As I wrapped up this year I couldn't help but start planning for next year!