Monday, December 24, 2012

Happy Holidays!

My family does their big Christmas gig on Christmas Eve, and tomorrow morning we're leaving our house at 5:30 a.m. to catch an 8 a.m. flight down to Florida!  I'm not going to update on the snowflakes until later (oooh boy...) so for now, I'll simply wish everyone that reads a very Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Finals Week

It's the beginning of finals week for Lake Superior College, and it's finals week for me in more than one way.
Sunday was the Holiday Concert for the dance studio I teach at, and I had all of my tap dancers onstage at once to perform the "Shim Sham Shimmy"!

Ages ranged from 4th grade through adult tappers, which was fantastic to see.  I love a big tap dance number, and this is the one time a year I can have everyone do one at once.  I participated as well- you can see me in my red dress and Whoville-like hat on the far right.
This week is the final week of dance before a two week break, which gives me some much-needed time to do some hardcore choreographing and lesson planning.
Besides dance, this is my final week for grading.  My students will be turning in their final research papers on Tuesday, and I'll be spending the rest of the week grading and submitting grades.  Today I'll be grading any late work my students turn in before the barrage begins tomorrow.
This is also my final week to really nail all the snowflake backgrounds before I head off on my vacation.  I'm 7 3/4 snowflake backgrounds in- a little over halfway, and behind schedule (surprise surprise).  Scott's brother and girlfriend came down to visit us this weekend, and besides a trip to see "The Hobbit" in theaters (really well done, in my opinion!), Kim and I were able to hang out and knit while the boys did their boy things together.

It was fantastic to get Kim addicted to knitting with squishy and amazing yarn, and we had fun absorbing girl movies and hanging out!
I'm going to work my butt off on getting as much of these snowflakes done as possible over the next week.

My goal is to complete ALL the snowflake backgrounds (ALL- seriously.  Really.) before I head down to Florida.  This is mostly because after I return, I'll have only two days to graft the snowflakes together, knit the giant edging on, and block the whole thing before the wedding on January 5th.  So the only way to avoid a complete breakdown is to have the bulk of the work finished NOW.  I'm not going to think about what would happen if the snowflakes weren't finished, because that's not an option, time-wise.  Really.  (Well, it is if I don't sleep, but that's probably not a great idea...)
Between the snowflakes, dance, packing for FL, and grading finals, I'm going to have my hands very full.  Here's crossing my fingers that I can get everything DONE before Sunday.
Who knew that finals week would still be this stressful?

Thursday, December 13, 2012


Sunday was a great day for the Snowflake Shawl.  I got caught up to where I wanted to be, and I even picked up the stitches for the sixth snowflake background, saving me a headache when I started on it the next night.
Then Monday came.  A doctor's appointment in the morning, Christmas shopping, then work to teach, and straight to dance at night.  I had hopes I would get halfway through the sixth snowflake, but I didn't even touch it when I staggered in the door at 10 pm after 4 hours of dance.
Tuesday night was open- in theory, I would have completed my grading, and would only be distracted by a delicious burrito dinner with Scott.  Instead, after dinner we snuggled under Christmas lights with Big Bang Theory and a couple of beers (for him) and a mug of hot chocolate and Bailey's (for me).  We slowed down, got to actually talk a bit, laughed, and enjoyed each other's company without the distractions of homework or grading or anything else.  It was very much needed, considering how busy we've both been with finals week.  But again- no snowflakes.
I was going to do some last night- really, I was!  Yoga was finished by 7, I was home and showered by 7:40, and instead... I choreographed.  I went on Pinterest.  I played with the cats.  Then at 10:30, I went in to bed and read Anna Karenina.  I was completely and utterly unproductive in relation to the snowflakes.  No- I failed at the snowflakes (Even typing that gives me the willies- I don't fail anything if I can help it, but I need to be harsh in these desperate times).
Even worse, that puts me farther behind.  I need to have 4 more snowflake backgrounds done by Sunday night to stay on target for my timeline.  A timeline that was made for my own benefit, so when I get back from Florida I'm not in total snowflake hell for the 3 days prior to Kim's wedding (3 days in which I'm supposed to graft the snowflakes and knit the edging of the shawl, so 3 days that are already planned out).
I push my students to make timelines, deadlines, and work with them- and then I guiltily don't follow my own (good) advice for my own projects.  Fail.
I'm home from dance tonight around 9:15.  I will stick in Gilmore Girls (my ultimate weapon for intense knitting) and knock out at least half of the next snowflake before bed.  My will be done.  Come ye, come ye.    Determination of steel.
All right, enough of that.
But seriously.  It has to happen.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Winter Hath Dumpeth

It was a busy end of the week for me.  After dance, working on grading the presentations for my comp students, and a stint up to Tofte to visit Scott's Mom for some Tofte Christmas fun, it was nice to get back on Saturday night to get groceries and prepare ourselves for the promised snow.

We woke up to the entire world glowing white in the morning, and coffee in a warm mug with pajamas and slippers never felt so good.  While it continued to snow the entire day, we holed up in our little apartment, happy to occasionally meet up for hot chocolate throughout the day.  
Scott's projects and homework and studying for the last week of class and finals week kept him busy all day, while I enjoyed the calm before my storm of end-of-semester grading that looms for me very soon.  I was able to really dig in to the snowflake shawl project, finishing the not-so-nice fourth snowflake background and pounding out the fifth before I called it a night.
Albert kept me company the entire day yesterday, snuggling right up next to me and interrupting his naps only for food.  The difficult life of a kitten...
I'm (barely) on schedule for getting these backgrounds knit.  I have to make four this week and four next week in order to have all of the backgrounds done before I can leave for a week in Florida with a good conscience.  Today after teaching I'll cast on for the sixth background, and hopefully get nice and far on that before running off to dance.  
I couldn't help but to stop and lay them all out this morning for a happy little admiration session.  Trying to imagine a little over twice as many snowflakes laid out gave me a scary urgency feeling in my stomach, so I put them away and tried not to think about the looming deadline...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Snowflake's Chance in Hell

Snowflakes have been super slow going, which is incredibly not good.  Part of the problem is the amount of grading that has increased as the semester heats up to a close:

but part of it is the incredible amount of time I'm having to spend on each snowflake, which is not a transportable project with seven needles and white wool that must stay pristine.
Luckily, I have an aid as I knit.  Scott and I finally took the plunge to buy a TV, and it couldn't have come at a better time!

I've been hoping to knock off several snowflakes a week since Thanksgiving, but I've only just finished the third of 13- 10 more need backgrounds.  Each snowflake has a different background depending on the snowflake, which can result in confusion, frustration, swearing, and in the case of last night- napping.  Luckily, I finished up the third one this morning and kept going, determined to make headway.
Thus, tonight I attempted to knit the background of snowflake 4.  It seemed to be going well, until I got to Round 9, close to the halfway point.
Attempted to knit the first time- looked stupid.  Pulled it out.
Knit it again picking up different points.  Looked worse.  Pulled it out.
Laid snowflake out on the couch to concur best points and sides of pointy snowflake sides to knit in to background.  Knit according to plan.  Realized it looked even worse.  Ripped it out.
Knit it for the fourth time the same way I knit it the first time, hoping it would look much better compared to times 2 and 3.
Made hot chocolate, stretched, sat back down.
Knit again with one of the few combinations left I haven't tried.  This time, it twisted the knitting around.  Pulled back yet again.
Added Bailey's to hot chocolate.
Tried to use pattern to go backwards and figure out ideal grafting of snowflake to background.  Thought I had it figured out.  Knit.  Didn't even get halfway before realizing not only was it twisting again, but the snowflake was bunching up.  Pulled back.
At this point I went to Scott's man cave, fuming.
"It's not working!  I hate it all!  The stupid snowflake with the stupid little points with the stupid needles all over and it has to stay white and I need to take it in the backyard and burn it all!"
He raised his eyebrows, then asked, "Will anyone but you know it's wrong?"
"Probably not, but I'll know!  I'll know and it'll drive me nuts!"
He hugged me, but I could feel him smiling (smirking, probably.  Not being helpful).  He pulled me back and asked, "Why don't you just do the way that looks the best, and stay with that?  It's one snowflake."
All I could do was shake my head at him, walk out, and try and make another plan of attack while wishing I had more Bailey's to refill my hot chocolate.
Silly boy.  Only one snowflake?
I'll get it right.
I'm just going to take an 8 hour nap first.  Maybe the solution will come to me then.

If there's a little bonfire behind my house late tonight, don't be surprised.