Tuesday, June 30, 2009

how my garden grows

the first tomatoes

squash blossoms*


*Question: I know you can eat these, but if I pick them, will I still get squash? I'm thinking probably not, but if you know better - let me know!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

cupcake pattern

These little guys are a lot of fun to make. They are pretty simple, but with a few knitterly details to eliminate seams and also make the knitter feel smart. And, they are just perfect for using up small amounts of yarn.

Yarn: Any worsted weight. So far I've used wool, superwash wool, a cotton/wool blend, and cotton. They all work well, though the cotton is a little tough on the hands with the tight gauge.
Needles: US size 3/ 3.25mm double-points or long circular for Magic Loop. You know which way I knit them. :)
Gauge: Will vary with the yarn. Any worsted weight will produce a tight enough gauge so that stuffing doesn't poke out. And they're cupcakes, so who cares if they're a little bigger or smaller?
Notions: Tapestry needle, stuffing, any embellishments you choose. I used felted beads for the cherries, but there's plenty you could do with these. Cupcake cookbooks are pretty trendy at the moment, and have lots of fun decorating ideas that beg for translation in yarn!

Using your color for the bottom of the cupcake, CO 32 stitches. Distribute evenly over double-points or circular needle, and join for working in the round. Be careful not to twist.
Work k2, p2 ribbing for 15 rounds.
Purl 1 round.
Knit 1 round.
k2, k2tog all the way around (24 st remaining).
Knit 1 round.
k1, k2tog all the way around (16 st remaining).
Knit 1 round.
k2tog all the way around (8 st remaining).
Break yarn. Thread through remaining 8 st and pull tight.

Using your color for the top of the cupcake, pick up and knit 32 st around the cast on edge. Distribute these stitches on your needles and join them for working in the round. Twisting them is pretty unlikely with the bottom of the cupcake hanging off them, but be careful anyway. :)
Knit 3 rounds.
yo, p2tog all the way around.
Knit 3 rounds.
On the next round, go back and pick up the original cast-on stitch (which will now be 7 rounds below the round you're working on) and put it on your needle. Knit it together with the first stitch. Repeat all the way around. (Here is a tutorial with some pictures of how this is done. There's a little bit of a difference; this person did the extra step of picking up a stitch in the cast-on edge, then putting it on the needle and knitting it together with the first stitch in the round. Feel free to email me with questions if you want!)
Knit 2 rounds.
k6, k2tog all the way around (28 st remaining).
Knit 1 round.
k5, k2tog all the way around (24 st remaining).
Knit 1 round.
k4, k2tog all the way around (20 st remaining).
k3, k2tog all the way around (16 st remaining).
k2, k2tog all the way around (12 st remaining).
k1, k2tog all the way around (8 st remaining).
Break yarn and thread through remaining 8 st, but don't pull tight yet. Stuff your cupcake through the little opening. Don't overstuff or the bottom won't be flat and the cupcake won't stand up. Once you're happy with it, pull the yarn tight and tuck in the ends.

Glue/sew a felted bead or ornament of your choice to the top. Or don't!

Enjoy - and I'd LOVE to see some pictures of finished cupcakes!

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Alternate title: The Blog Posts I Mean to Write Will Take More Time than I Actually Have

That about sums it up, I think. There will be an arts festival recap, a cupcake pattern, and something about the RI Great Outdoors Pursuit soon. Well, eventually.

But in the meantime, I have to admit, I love getting tagged for memes. So here goes:

What Is Your Current Obsession?
Finding a job for next year! And knitting for myself, after months of craft-fair projects.

What Are You Wearing Today?
Well, I'm at work, and I have a job interview today (!), so I'm wearing Real Grownup Person Clothes. Khaki pants, a blue wrap sweater. I wish I could say a handknit one, but no.

What's for dinner?
I actually remembered to defrost some drumsticks this morning! My husband, with his fabulous cooking creativity, will figure out something to do with it. If it's sunny, that will probably involve charcoal.

What Would You Eat for Your Last Meal?
Indian food. Samosas, and that potato-and-spinach thing I don't know the name of.

What's the Last Thing You Bought?
Sunscreen. Because I am an optimist.

What Are You Listening To Right Now?
Absolutely nothing. It's very quiet here.

If you could go anywhere in the world in the next hour, where would you go?
Hmm. Well, at last night's knitting guild meeting, our speaker was a woman who works in textiles at Old Sturbridge Village. So now I kind of want to go back there.

Which language do you want to learn?
Arabic; some of the older members of my family still speak it. Also it looks beautiful when written.

What do you love most about where you currently live?
The history. Can you tell I've been visiting Slater Mill a lot lately?

What is your favourite colour?
Yellow, and orange.

What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own wardrobe?
Probably my jeans.

What were you doing ten years ago?
I had just finished my sophomore year of college. J had just graduated, and we were planning our wedding. Sam was a little over a year old. He may have been sleeping through the night by then, but probably not. We were living in a 3rd-floor apartment near my mom's house, and thank goodness it had air conditioning.

Describe your personal style.
Comfortable? Not as crazy as it used to be? (Jess, no comments from the peanut gallery.)

If you had $300 right now what would you spend it on?
Books for everybody. Games for this kids - they've become obsessed with cribbage and high-low jack recently.

What are you going to do after this?
Get back to work. :)

What inspires you?
Colors, textures. The speaker from last night's guild meeting! (I'll link to her website when I get home.)

What are your favourite films?
I am a big nerd fan of Lord of the Rings. I know there are others, but I just don't watch that many movies. Hmmm . . . we rented The Assassination of Jesse James recently and that was very good. Visually stunning, and with more of an emotional wallop than I expected.

Whose work/designs are you inspired by?
Oh, wow, I don't think I could narrow that down. Norah Gaughan's designs are consistently surprising, beautiful, and interesting. There are others, but I'm drawing a blank here.

Your favourite books?
I like the warmth and humor of James Herriot's books. Bel Canto by Ann Patchett. Of course, Lord of the Rings, and Tolkien's other books, too.

Do You Collect Anything?
Not really. I have a good bit of yarn and fiber, but those are raw materials more than they are a collection; I certainly don't plan to display them and keep them forever.

What makes you follow a blog?
Well, if it's written by someone I know. :) Also, good writing, humor, and feeling like I have seomthing in common with the writer. Beautiful, inspirational photos, especially in knitting blogs.

What was the most enjoyable thing you did today?
Hopefully I haven't done it yet. The good stuff usually comes later in the day, when everybody's home. But so far - drinking my coffee.

What's one thing you dream of doing?
Hitting the lottery and staying home with the kids. And some sheep.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

the only constant is change

I started blogging about the same time I started the process of going back to work after Jane was born. While this wasn't intentional, it probably wasn't quite a coincidence either. It's not an easy process - especially when you, frankly, don't want to do it - and the chronicling of it has been a help.

For those keeping track, I have had three different jobs in 2.5 years of blogging. I taught a couple of physics classes at Moses Brown (a fantastic place, btw, I'll totally send the kids there when I become independently wealthy), I taught some SAT prep classes for Kaplan, and I've worked here at Sylvan, first full-time, then dialing it back to part-time. And now, I'm looking again.

No, I haven't lost my job or anything, but it turns out that working part-time here just isn't enough. I could switch back to full-time, no problem, but that was the evening schedule that did not let me have enough time with the family - not an option.

I've been sort-of looking for a little while, at lab-based jobs or something like that, but I had been shying away from the idea of going back to the classroom full-time. For one thing, my RI certification has expired, and getting it back would require taking some courses, and I can't really do that right now. But also, the last year I taught high school was very hard. And I know, intellectually at least, that there were other things going on at that time that are resolved now, but that really does little to make the idea less scary. I started thinking about it, though, when J (casually - he's a wonderful husband; he doesn't push) showed me an ad for a local Catholic high school looking for a physics teacher.

And I applied. They turned me down because I am not affiliated with a church. As an aside - WTF?? Not to paint all religious school with a common brush or anything, but seriously? My lack of professional certification is a-okay, but my lack of religion - that's a dealbreaker. And they wonder why they are rapidly losing enrollment. All right, rant over.

That seemed to break the stalemate, if you will, and I started looking into it. I found that I can get certified in MA by passing the MTEL exams, since I had already held certification elsewhere. I signed up for those - I'll be taking them in July - and I started sending out resumes.

So far I've heard back from a couple of schools, and I had an interview last week. My timing, as it turns out, sucks. I started looking into this just in time to miss the April job fairs, and I won't get my MTEL results (and hopefully certification) until August. The interview on Friday went really well, and she said she'd like to hire me, but nothing can go forward until I have certification. She is looking to fill four science jobs, though (which is not easy - luckily for me), so she told me to let her know as soon as I get my results. Good news, I guess, but also an ominous harbinger of things to come. I expect a nervous summer capped by a busy August.

And in September, maybe a whole new adventure.