Sunday, November 24, 2013

Broken Internet

I came back from my weekend away on Sunday night to a quiet house, since Scott was in the Twin Cities until Tuesday night.  Monday I woke up and attempted to check my school email during breakfast, and noticed the internet was having issues.  As in it didn't want to connect.
Since Scott makes our internet all sorts of complicated, I didn't touch anything, and simply told him on Tuesday night when he was back that it hadn't been working.  He spent the rest of the night Tuesday trying to troubleshoot all the layers of security and whatnot that he has for our internet. 
By Wednesday, he figured out that our modem blew, and ordered a new modem.  It won't get here until (hopefully) tomorrow, so I've been without internet at home for almost a week now.  It's been surprisingly not a big deal, as my job has internet.  The only downfall is that it slows my ability to do fun things like watch Netflix or update my blog.  
Surprise surprise. :)
It has allowed me to focus a little on the important stuff, like grading.
I collected about 125 papers last week from all of my classes.  This was the one week that all five of my classes handed in papers at the same time, and I didn't realize it back in August when I was originally planning out the schedules for all my classes.  Horrendous idea.  I have to make sure to never do this again.
It has helped out that I'm not the only stressed individual in the English department.  One of my colleagues and I had a long discussion about how we snack non-stop all day when we grade, and she shared a favorite cereal name with me.  I came in to work the next day, and found this on my desk:
I love where I work. :)
Despite the craziness at work (and in the dance studio), I've found time to work more on the Tofte Mittens!
They're coming along quite nicely, and hopefully I can finish the outside of both mittens by the end of the week.  With Thanksgiving break looming, I'm pretty optimistic. All that they'll need then is the fuzzy alpaca interior, which should knit up nice and fast without the colorwork.
Perhaps I can start my own pair of mittens then...
especially since I finally got the yarn in the colors that I want. :)  Oh, and especially since we've already had a handful of nights in the single digits up here.  Mittens would be nice...
More grading until I head down to the cities on Wednesday.  Hopefully I'll have at least a little relaxing time over this Thanksgiving break.  I need to take a leaf out of Maeby's book and follow her lead...
because if anyone knows how to relax and take it easy, it's my lazy kitten. :)

Monday, November 18, 2013

FO: Milo Armadillo

This weekend was a whirlwind.
I made a trip down to the cities for a baby shower, and ended up seeing a whole bunch of my friends in the process.
I was very excited to see one of my oldest best friends for some quality girl time, partially because she's going to have a little boy attached to her hip in a few months!

It was really crazy to hear about all her pregnancy stories- problems, happy parts, weird parts, and the "you really don't want to know this, but I'm going to tell you anyway" parts.  :)  The picture above shows a moment that I was pretty excited about.  She had a large enough belly to be able to hold things up on it.  BAM!  Awesome mama-to-be right there. :)
As a celebration, I knit her (and her baby and husband) Milo Armadillo, to go along with a book I found!
Sarah is a HUGE armadillo fan.  It's surprisingly difficult to find armadillo "things", so when I found a book about a knit armadillo, I knew that it was perfect.  I had to get the book, as well as knit the Milo that went along with it.
If you noticed in previous posts, I was really gunning for the deadline.  I definitely drove down to the cities on Friday night with an unfinished Milo, intending on finishing his arms and legs in the guest bedroom in the dead of night, since the shower wasn't until Sunday.
My excitement, however, got the better of me, and I showed Sarah the almost-finished Milo on Friday night.  She freaked, exclaimed that she loved it, and proceeded to laugh over Milo's ridiculously good looks.  So instead of knitting deep into the night, I was able to knit while watching stupid girl movies and laughing along with my very-pregnant friend.  When she opened it at the shower, she let it be known that she had seen me knitting the legs, which made it even better to know the work and love (and a few swear words) that had gone in to it.

Pattern: Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley
Yarn: The main blue body was knit with Debbie Bliss Eco Baby, a soft 100% cotton yarn just in case baby boy is allergic to wool.  The shell was knit with mostly leftover Cascade 220 from other projects.

Timeframe: September 14th-November 16th.
Needles: Bamboo size 3

Modifications: A LOT.  The entire pattern was written up to have everything knit flat, then seamed, stuffed, and assembled together after all the limbs were finished.  I really don't like seaming, and I know for a fact that babies like to pull on things, so after knitting the head flat (very much did NOT enjoy), I picked up all the rest of the limbs straight off the body.  That meant that I had to turn some of the directions around, which wormed all right.  Check the Ravelry page for Milo to get all of my notes and modifications.

Worst Part: Trying to figure out how to convert the entire pattern to picking up the stitches, and the time crunch.  I definitely knit other things when I should have been knitting Milo... oops...
Best Part: Seeing Sarah's face when she saw the completed Milo for the first time.  Worth all of the converting and figuring stuff out on the go, FOR SURE.

I'm so glad Milo is finished.  This means I only have a few major Christmas knits left, and most of them have been at least started.  One only needs a little glue and it's done.  I'll update later on that.
I also promised a certain guy to have his sweater finished by Thanksgiving, but I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen at this point.  Maybe Christmas?
This week is going to be crazy full.  Over the next three days, I'm collecting 125 papers from my students for their third round of long assignments to grade.  In order to stay sane and not spend my entire Thanksgiving break grading, I'm going to grade at least 10-15 per day to stay on schedule.  This is on top of daily work, quizzes, tests, and conferences.
I might go take a nap.  Gotta be well-rested to focus, right? :)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Oh, Crap

So the last two evenings were supposed to be filled with limbs for armadillos, and I was supposed to be dancing around the living room with my glass of wine held high in victory tonight, singing happy songs of being done with presents early and my moments between teaching dance tomorrow night filled with simply grading things and packing for a weekend in the Twin Cities with friends.

Instead, other things happened.
Like Scott's Mom took Scott and I out to dinner last night, which lasted until ten.
Like Scott's brother and his girlfriend Kim were in town tonight, so we went out for dinner with them.
Like I had to research health insurance so I could apply for it this week through my work.
Like I had a Skype chat with a friend three states away about her assignment progression for her freshman writing class that I might integrate in to my classes next semester.
Like a million other little things that I didn't think about, and they just got in the way.

So now it's 10 pm on Wednesday night, and I have class tomorrow until 3:30, I'm subbing at dance at the studio from 4:30-5:30, I have to choreograph a bit for my duet, pack, grade, and back to the studio to teach said choreography to my duet ladies from 8:30-9.
Somewhere in there I have to finish both arms and both legs of the armadillo.

Tomorrow night might be a late one.
Ooooh boy...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Shell? CHECK.

I was a little nervous last night about how much I still had to go on the armadillo.  I wasn't sure how long the shell would take, or the embroidery, or getting it sewed on Milo correctly, so I was a little nervous about the outcome and the time crunch.
Having no school today meant I could tackle the shell during the day between chores, hopefully leaving time for me to start a limb this evening after dance if everything went well.
After breakfast, I had the shell done.

Between vacuuming and my second load of laundry, I did the embroidery.

After making a grocery list, I had time to sew the shell on to Milo, no problem.

It's a little lopsided on his body, but his body is mildly lopsided, so I think it's okay.  I stuffed underneath the shell as well, so Milo now has a much fuller body.  And- I wasn't going to mention this worry earlier- he looks more like an armadillo now.
Only 4 limbs to go and eyes to sew on.  4 more evenings.
No problem. :)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Weekends are for GETTING CRAP DONE

This week's stats:
Hours spent at LSC: 49-50 (plus I definitely wore heels two of those days, so I feel like I should add more hours on just for that)
Papers graded: 126
Hours at the dance studio (and time spent choreographing at home): 12
Hours at the climbing gym: 2 (I think)
Armadillos I have successfully ignored for most of the week: 1
I'm incredibly glad that I have tomorrow off of school to get caught up on about thirty-five more things before the week starts.  Remember when I said November gets crazy?  Well, it's that time.  Once I get a batch of Narratives graded for one of my classes, I have no papers to grade until all of my sections turn in their next set of papers next week.  This is perfect, because there's a lot of Armadillo to knit before I head to the cities next weekend.
The tail, thank goodness, is finished!

A night with a friend last weekend allowed me to catch up on my Pixar flicks (Monsters University- AWESOME) and get one more part of Milo checked off.

Today I started working on the shell, since I want to have that embroidered and sewn on as soon as possible.  I'm picking the arms and the legs up straight from the body, so knowing where the shell will be is more than just a little important. :)
I have a few hours of dance this evening, then hopefully I'll be able to come home and throw in a movie while I finish up the knitting portion of the shell.  Tomorrow will be the embroidery and probably a limb.  I'm on a serious time crunch now- I'm heading down to the cities on Friday afternoon, which means I have 5 days to finish this thing, counting today.
Not that I'm worried.
Or anything.
You know that I'm not worried because on Friday night I even knit more on the Tofte mittens.

(Which may have been a mistake.)
But it's 5 whole days!
I'll be fine. :)

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Catching Up

It's been a really busy fall so far, and entering November only means more grading, more craziness, more dancing and choreographing, and more planning for the second half of the semester.  I have so many projects and so many things to do that I'm getting whiplash from looking around at the piles and lists and the laundry needs to be done and for the fourth day in a row I have 30 minutes for dinner before I have to run to dance and...
That's what the entire last two weeks have felt like.  Non-stop running made me feel like I was falling behind on everything, from grading (which is true) to knitting (also pretty true) to keeping the apartment livable (a guy and two cats can make a fairly quick mess).
Then, this weekend came.
I didn't have anywhere in particular to be.  No driving to a wedding out of town or any truly solid plans to speak of.  Only two days to catch my breath, catch up on life, and make a meal that didn't go directly from the box to my mouth.  I have to admit, it's been quite glorious.
Yesterday was a lot of grading, since that's my number-one priority this weekend.  Instead of feeling buried by the avalanche of close to 100 papers to read and comment on, I sailed through the first section and a half.  I have a number of them left today, but I don't feel nearly as behind or rushed.  In fact, I feel confident in getting them done (knock on wood).
I didn't knit anymore on Milo yesterday; instead, Scott and I took about an hour break together in the afternoon to hang out together.  He read more in Dance with Dragons, and I cast on for another Christmas knitting project.  I'm calling them "Toasty in Tofte" in Ravelry, since the recipient lives up the shore from us.

I just made this pattern for another friend, and for that pair, I didn't do the Latvian braid for the edging.  I had a really bad experience with twisting and tangles the last time I did a braid, so I improvised something that wasn't nearly as cool.
This time, however, the recipient is a knitter, so I had to do it right.
I found out that doing the Latvian braid on mitten edging is much, much easier than doing it on almost 400 stitches for a shawl.  Hmmm. Must remember that for the future.  I even knit through the cuff in to the main part of the mitten before heading back to the grading table.  Now I have a project that can travel around with me set up and ready to go.
Today will be for finishing more grading (huzzah!!), getting down to the climbing gym this afternoon, and hopefully a little bit of Armadillo knitting tonight.  Hopefully Scott and I can fit in making some delicious vegetarian chili to nom on during the week as well.
And who knows?  Maybe I'll finally get around to cleaning up the pile of clothes that have accumulated in the closet.
Weekends are for making miracles happen. ;)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Armadillo Race

I've been concentrating so hard on knitting for Christmas that I completely forgot about other knits that are due sooner.
Well, okay... maybe I didn't forget about them.
Maybe I've been casually ignoring them.
Because I'm modifying how the entire project is knit.
I'm talking here about the lovely little Milo Armadillo, which is due in exactly two weeks and one day when my very preggers friend Sarah has her baby shower.
Milo was last seen being used to torture the cats of the household, much to the amusement of Scott and I.

 We have not regrets regarding that situation (don't worry, no Alberts or Maebys were physically harmed during their humiliation).
I realized how close the deadline was two nights ago, and pulled out the project and the pattern to assess the situation. Luckily, I'm a stuffed-animal knitting machine when it comes to babies, and immediately set about sewing up and stuffing the head and picking up the ears while loosely following the idea of the pattern (and taking notes on my own modifications).
Last night, between handing out candy to trick-or-treaters and keeping one eye on The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Sixth Sense (my Halloween movies of choice this year), I cast on, knit, stuffed, and closed the body of Milo.

The body was one of the bigger hurdles (literally), so this weekend I'm hopeful to punch out the tail and the legs.  The only part of the Milo that may actually slow me down is his shell.  Here's the pattern page for it:

The shell is knit flat and sewed on to Milo's back, with additional stuffing added underneath to give him even more squishy goodness.  I'm going to use a bunch of scrap yarn I have laying around, so the colors may not match exactly, but there is a bit of embroidery involved for the shell.  I've already accepted that next weekend I'll probably have to deal with that lovely aspect of this project, especially since Milo has to be finished and wrapped before I head to the cities on Friday 15th.
Plenty of time. :)
In fact, between grading papers and finishing Milo, perhaps I'll even have to to work on Scott's Dude Sweater, which I may have promised to have finished by Thanksgiving so he could wear it to those festivities...
Even though that probably won't happen, since I have only the back and most of one front done.
Though Thanksgiving is still a month away...
But I do have a Milo to finish...
Hmmm... maybe there's time...
::glances at giant pile of papers to grade::
We'll see how this goes.  I might have to buy more coffee. And sleep less.