Monday, March 25, 2013


This weekend it rained like the end of the world. So I sat at home with my boys. Here's how I've kept my hands busy since Friday:

Toddlers comparing handknit socks.

Applejack - ravelry details here.

Twilight Sparkle - ravelry details here.

Rainbow Dash - ravelry details here.

I've spun a bobbin worth of yarn every day for four days. It feels really good (at look at how consistent my yarn is getting! Yay!). This will all be dyed and possibly chain-plied. I'm just not sure what I want to do with it yet.

The Beast now has a *pair* of socks. He picked out color for the second one.

Now I'm working on a pair of red-and-sparkle socks for the Imp, as per his request. I love these kids and their crazy sense of style.

Friday, March 22, 2013


That has been a good word for this week - much. We've had much fun, much frustration, much success, just - much.

The Elf is doing better with his studies. We've found a rhythm for now and I'm going to enjoy it while it lasts. We had a math breakthrough today. The lovely Tracey told me about a math program that might work for us. Since researching it I've tried to find ways to incorporate their concepts into our math. It works! My goodness, it works! He was doing a word problem this morning and couldn't understand it no matter how I explained it. Once we dug out some Lego blocks he very clearly *saw* how it works. Brilliance!

So yes, my life has revolved around homeschool this week, it seems. But I've kept busy in other ways, too.

The Imp has been scared to sleep. I have no idea why, but we instituted a "magic potion" (LuSa Organics sleeping potion) every night before bed - just a dab on his chest. It seems to help. He was still reluctant so I told him about dreamcatchers and he immediately wanted one of his own. Being the mom that I am, I stayed up until 12:22am making this dreamcatcher so that it would be there when he woke up. His little brother, the Beast, of course wants whatever the Imp has. So I've told them that the two beads are for the two of them. It works, they're happy.

I finished the sock. Whee! It used up every scrap of that ball of yarn - which was the idea. The Beast has requested a pair of socks now. I've started in on my yard sale stash. I also made another "sonic" screwdriver. This is the one I made for the Beast a while ago. He and the Imp were arguing over it so I made another. Of course, now no one can find it.

Would you believe that last night I got out Dervish and spun yarn for the first time this year? I'm pretty sure it's true. My hands are cramped but it felt so good to be spinning again. I'm going to put aside some time every couple of days (if not more often) to indulge. This bobbin due to be dyed and then plied. I'm waiting until I have a couple of hanks so that they'll all be the same colorway.

The ponies. Two of three. They aren't quite done yet as they still need their "cutie marks" on their flanks. You really wouldn't believe how much these boys love My Little Pony. I scoured the internet and found some small cowboy hats that will hopefully work for Applejack. The purple unicorn is meant to be Twilight Sparkle (before she got her wings).

So yes. This is my life.
(linking up with Linda)

Monday, March 18, 2013


For a low-key weekend, this one seemed pretty busy.

Saturday was the yarn yard sale at my favorite local yarn store. My youngest and oldest went with me. For $11.50 I scored a mess of sock yarn. Much of it is in small quantities, but since I'm thinking kiddo socks, I don't care. Also, I have no intention of making matching pairs. Ever, if I can help it.

The haul (before I rewound it all neatly):

After that we ran errands - everything was done before noon. The rest of the weekend I spent knitting, watching Doctor Who, watching B play video games, playing video games myself - generally relaxing.

The purple unicorn I was working on for the Beast's birthday has multiplied (still using Linda's pattern).

I can't work on them much while he's awake - their shapes are becoming too obvious. In between horses I finished my first every *pair* of socks.

(Ravelry notes here)

These are for me and I'm told that they likely won't last very long since there's no nylon in them. Maybe I'll stick them in a drawer and save them for when it gets cold - I wear socks to bed in the winter. That should save them from too much wear.

The images in this post, I'm afraid, look terrible. I overcompensated for the overcast skies with a too slow shutter speed. Blame my laziness and attempts to hide the horses from prying eyes for me not reshooting.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Yarn Along

Linking up with Ginny.

Knitting a unicorn (as mentioned in my previous post) and a sock. Amazingly, despite following this formula, my sock seems to be a bit big. Oh well. I had to frog the toe once already because I got the crochet cast on wrong. I made the mistake of just following the written instructions rather than looking for a video. It worked much better the second time.

Reading? Well, a bunch of books for the Elf's homeschooling. I'm still setting up the crusades and an intro to biology. Listing the books and websites would be.. tedious at best. I did recently finish Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers. It was recommended to me by an awesome lady and I enjoyed it very much.

And now my monsters are demanding dinner. Whee!

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Busy hands.

This is what I've been doing:

I finished embroidering a gnome. The Elf thinks it's amazing. I think it looks haphazard. I'm still not sure which gnomes I'll swap, which I'll put in my Etsy shop, and which I'll leave around for the kids.

The Beast's birthday is at the end of April. He's currently in love with My Litle Pony (don't laugh, okay - it isn't violent and actually sends a decent message most of the time). I'm using Linda's unicorn/pegasus pattern. This will eventually be Twilight Sparkle. If I can find suitable colors I know he'd like some of the other ponies as well.

A sock. Or, the toe of a sock. I'm trying a toe-up with a short row heel. Only.. it's way too big for the littles and probably too small for B or myself. So.. it may never be a sock. It may be frogged to become a better sized sock.

I was so excited about these gloves. I'm a huge BSG fan. So finding a pattern for dradis inspired gloves was magical. I used a gift certificate given to me at christmas to indulge in Malabrigo Rios yarn (way out of my normal budget). Sadly, after knitting one glove I can tell you that it doesn't fit well and my stripes seem extremely off center. The off-centerness seems to be just part of the pattern, though. I'll be frogging this glove. Perhaps when it's closer to cool weather again I'll give it another try in something more solid colored - and with a much smaller needle. (Ravelry notes here)

Aside from that I've been trying to eek out a science curriculum for the Elf. I was thinking about having him study the human body. But then I ran into the dilemma of if I should start with biology (with an extended visit to the human body). With that in mind, I guess I'm looking for a place to start. Cells, maybe.

We're also about to hit the crusades in history. I have a particular interest in the crusades. It was a bloody, horrible time. But it is *fascinating* to me. Maybe because I don't have anything that could be called religious fervor. Maybe because it's been romanticized and some of my favorite books and movies (and games!) relate to that time period in some way, shape, or form. I don't know. But I find it most enjoyable to research. I will admit that I'm unsure of how to relate it to a ten year old and even less sure of where to start and what to skip over. I will say that he's very mentally mature when it comes to this sort of thing and he already knows some basics. Also, a friend pointed out to me John Green's Crash Course World History. The Elf has been *asking* to watch these nonstop. Score!

Anyway, that's where my thoughts have been while my hands have been busy. Linking up with Nicole's Crafting On post.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Hoodie and pegs

First of all, I want to thank everyone that read and/or commented yesterday on my homeschooling rant. The comments, emails, phone calls, Ravelry messages - they all mean more to me than I can possibly tell you. With your wonderful support, I feel more equipped to handle things today. So thank you. All of you.

On a lighter note, I finished the Beast's hoodie.

(Ravelry notes here.)

I added the wonderful buttons today. If you're in the market for super light wooden buttons at an incredible price (and from sincerely nice people), you should check out WearHouse Industries.

The peg doll muse has visited me in the last day or so. I joined another amazing swap (you still have time to sign up!) and worried that I wouldn't be able to create something amazing. And then, fiddling with some yarn and a few DPNs, I came up with these:

They're a bit like my wolf-kin from the first peg doll swap I participated in. What can I say, I have this thing for adding animal ears and tails (especially tails) to humanoid figures. I brought myself up on fantasy novels and anime. I suppose it shows.

Joining up with Linda for Creative Friday.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homeschool Woes

I don't know where to start this.

The Elf is ten. He's in fifth grade. I think. Ugh. That makes me sound like a totally negligent parent. We don't put a lot of stock in grades, we work at his level and at his pace. Which may well be the problem.

This is going to be a total ramble. I applaud you if you make it through this mess.

We don't use a curriculum. We can't afford one. Not even really parts of one. So I've been muddling through since kindergarten with him. We tried to unschool, but that didn't work for us. Not totally, anyway. He taught himself to read, mostly. But he doesn't have.. interests. I'd try to "strew" books from the library. He might have glanced at some of them but if he could classify it as "school" it was met with scorn. So I turned to ambleside and classical learning (minus all the religion). But it's literature intensive. And while he can read it - he isn't absorbing much of anything. At least not that we can tell.

So I've cobbled together this and that over the years. I don't think it's working. If something cataclysmic happened and he had to attend school tomorrow, it would be bad. And that's just speaking academically. B tells me that I focus on the negative. I do. I know that. But let me run down this list for you, just because. The Elf doesn't know the days of the week in order (he's getting better), the months of the year (or how many there are), our phone numbers, the continents (and sometimes the difference between a continent, country, and city), the alphabet in order. And on and on. No amount of memorization practice has improved things. It's not the end of the world, I know. But it might give you some insight into my turmoil. He's a great calculator (despite not knowing his times tables, either) but has no idea *why* he's doing what he's doing. Told, step by step, what to do - no problem. Asked to find the percent of a number and I'm met with grunts, groans, and half-started words.

Science is laughable. We tried using Botany in a Day and various websites. That worked for a little while, but neither of us is terribly sure how to identify anything we find (it doesn't help that none of the resources are specific to the American Southeast - and it was winter). I've gotten a book from the local forestry people about native trees. So I have that to try out. We've tried using Herbal Roots Zine but can't find many of the plants locally and can't afford to buy all the supplies and things (or the zine itself anymore). But "real" science? Not a clue.

Getting random books from the library isn't helping because I don't know where to start or what to do. He's not interested in anything remotely scientific. He doesn't care how or why things work. And science curriculum options are so out of our budget that it isn't even funny any more. We have a bunch of books full of experiments. We've done some of them, but he'll admit that he doesn't know why we did or why they work - which makes it a failure as a learning tool.

We use The Story of the World for history. I've bought the books and activity books (which is about as far as we go financially). I supplement with things from the internet and books from the library. So I think I've got history at least mostly covered. It's the only thing I'm remotely okay with (it helps that I'm a history person). But he's never written a report, researched anything. I'm lost on how to teach him those things. When I was young we used an actual card catalog at the library and had to write everything ourselves. With the internet - Google, Wikipedia - is it even worth trying to teach it anymore? Of course it is, but do you see my despair?

I've spent most of my time consoling myself with the fact that we're teaching the practical, actually useful things. But what if he wants to go to college? Take the SATs? It would be a nightmare. There are gaps big enough to get lost in.

I'm overwhelmed by the extent of human knowledge. I don't know where to start. Curling up into a ball in a dark corner and weeping sounds good except that I know it won't actually accomplish anything. Top all of this with the fact that I need to start officially teaching the Imp in two years (and wanted to try and include the Beast with him since they're only about 1.5 years apart in age) and it's a miracle that I haven't gone completely nuts yet.

So is this a rant? A cry for help? Brain vomit? Probably. All of the above. Sigh. If you do comment, please be kind. This was very hard for me to write, to admit to the world. I'm feeling insanely vulnerable.

Late Yarn Along

Linking up late with Ginny.

I'm knitting another Odette Hoodie, this time for the Beast (and upon his request, too). He wanted one exactly like his brother's. I've made this one smaller and added some dishcloth patterning (details here) to keep it interesting (also, we're all becoming fans of Doctor Who, whether we want to or not).

These pictures were taken yesterday morning. I'm nearly done with button band now and the buttons I ordered have already arrived (lovelovelovelovelove the buttons!).

I'm also working on some ideas for a peg doll swap. I highly encourage you to go and sign up for it as it's being hosted by one of my favorite people. Since this photo, I've had some new and different ideas. It's likely that two posts in one day would break the fabric of space and time, I'll try to get to it tomorrow.

Would you believe that I'm not reading anything? I was in the middle of Barnheart by Jenna Woginrich but it was due back at the library so I couldn't finish it. I'm about to spend all of my free time searching for some homeschooling solutions. A rant may follow later (time and space be damned) as it's likely to all prove to be too much for me. Maybe someone out there will have some advice or encouragement after my sorry tale is told. But first, breakfast and coffee are definitely in order.