Sunday, August 31, 2008

Team Effort

It was a team effort last night with all members of the Team Hermitage united under a single goal. The tally for the 2008 season, Team Hermitage: 2 Visitors: 0

It began with me kicking things off, a firing of the starting gun if you will, or to put it in non-metaphoric terms, throwing the quilt over my head and shrieking, "Bat!!!" to my slumbering spouse. Having completed my only role to play in the events of the night, I scurried off the playing field and allowed the other members of Team Hermitage to step up to the plate and do what was expected of them.

As you may recall, the MVP of the last game was the Hermitage Hall of Famer Joe. Last night the MVP must be awarded jointly to IdaMae and Benjamin although Joe did have a stellar night himself. The first real blow to the opposition came as IdaMae, the gentle kindhearted canine that she is, sized up the visitor and snatched it mid-flight. Having captured the opposition, both pleased and proud of herself, she spit him out for closer inspection. This action, while sounding foolhardy to some, and could have, and in fact did, cause Team Hermitage to lose some yardage, could have been understandably be expected. Ida has never tasted nor experienced the flavor and texture of bat before.

Now, on the defense the visitor as able to regrouped during this rookie mistake of IdaMae's and flew to the sidelines to access the damage of being caught. Being a shrewd adversary the little bugger flew under the bed. It was a wise defensive play. The under regions of the bed are quiet the out-of-bounds, no-mans land. Our bed is a platform bed with a single cave-like area that runs the length of the bed. A small approximately 2'x2'x7' cave that no man, nor dog, can breach. It is an area used for storage, nothing more, nothing less, and within that storage area a fake x-mas tree is stuffed. Said stuffed x-mas tree granting the visiting player near perfect cover, thwarting any advancing attack from Team Hermitage.

Team Hermitage, now on the defense, made a vital, game winning substitution. Team Captain Joe subbed out IdaMae and replaced her with Ben. Benjamin, or "Killer", as he is affectionately known to us here, is a strong proud feline that has proven his prowess in bringing down birds and mice, and if you remember his lackluster performance in the last game, had a little something to prove to his team.

It was a hard fought battle of stealth and cunning, in which Joe and Ben, working in tandem, brought down the opposition once and for all.

Wanna see???? Scroll quickly pass the next 3 pix if you don't!




The remains of the day....ur...night.



Ya know, even though in this pic he looks sort of kitten-ish cute, and I'm kinda of wonderin' what a bat fur coat might be like (I loves my fur).....if any more of his kin show up they'll meet a similar fate. He's about the size as a large field mouse, not counting wingspan of course, 'round about 4 inches in length and a little chubbier than a mouse, a monster in my book nonetheless.

In knitting news, I've been feverishly working to complete Mr. Greenjeans for the July KAL in the Sleeves Off Buttons On group in Ravelry. The end date was yesterday, but the mods gave me a reprieve and I have until Sept 1. I'm really surprised at how long it is taking to do these sleeves. Even Joe questioned how many hours I put in on these sleeves over the last couple of days. I don't get it, but I'm nearly there now.



The sleeve length is OK (I think) so all I have to do today are the cuffs. I am beginning to wonder though if I'm going to have enough yarn left to do the front/neck band as written in the pattern. The two balls I'm using to work the sleeves are beginning to look a bit skimpy and when it's gone it's gone. The yarn here is 100% cotton reclaimed from a thrift store sweater. It was originally a solid, dark almost black, navy. After reclaiming the yarn I randomly splashed the single huge skein with bleach. Like I said, when this is gone it is gone....sigh.

Math problem update:
First off I just wanna say I love you guys and you all crack me up. As you are well aware I need no encouragement to fall head first into lunatic ramblings, but it's nice to know that at least on occasion there are people out there that appreciate the strangeness with me, or at least ponder the same weird things :o)

My niece has gotten credit for her answer to the problem. The problem was in fact an estimation/approximation word problem (duh it said "About how many...") wedged in between a slew of word problems requesting precise calculations of 3 digit numbers (addition or subtraction). The teacher's note said that she was expecting an answer of 150 (that's reasonable and what most of us thought) but would accept the answer of 151. No other explanation.

Well, it's not my battle to fight, it never was, and I'm not going to fight it now, but I'm not overly thrilled with the outcome of all this. To merely give the kid the grade just cuz her folks questioned it isn't a solution. I was hoping for something more I guess. I better standard maybe? Hoping that this teacher will proofread her work pages better in the future? Hoping that the teacher herself realized how strange the problem was? I don't know. All I know is that having been a Math and Science teacher I feel like she (the teacher) let us (other teachers) down, not to mention the students.

BTW for those of you who still need help figuring this problem out:

5 x 30 = 150

(except there was no other multiplication problems on the page)

so maybe she was looking for

30+30+30+30+30=150

(not quiet the same as all other problems that were only two 3 digits number added or subtracted from each other, but addition nevertheless)

I'm done. Crawling off my soapbox now, sorry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Please explain

Just popping in to add my Ravelympic medals. I failed at two events but succeeded at three. All in all a decent enough showing considering. I'll report on them in another day or two but tonight I have other things in the fire and no time to post a "real" blog entry.

As stated in the title of this mini post I am in need of a plausible explanation for something and I thought perhaps some of you out might be able to enlighten me. My sister just called. She admittedly is not a math person, never has been, but I, on the other hand, have always loved mathematics so when the need arises she calls. Tonight such a need arose, but I couldn't help, perhaps one of you guys can????

The directions written at the top of her daughter's 4th grade math worksheet were simple.

Solve.

The problem in question read thus:

The month of February has 28 days. Some months have 30 or 31 days. About how many days are there in 5 months?

First off, I'm just not going to address the misnomer that February as 28 days, cuz 1) they all have 28 days, and 2) sometimes February has 29 days. I'll cut the teacher some slack and allow her premise to stand as is with its assumed intent.

Without going into a very long involved equation that is well beyond 4th grade math that I can't imagine a teacher with such a shaky premise even considered, I'll assume that the answer she was looking for was a simple one. Very simple, in light of the fact that all other word problems on the worksheet were no more involved than adding or subtracting 3 digit numbers.

Now comes really troublesome part I:
What 5 month span of the year is she expecting the child to use? Does she expect the child to begin the 5 month span with January or February? Does February even have to be included in the span of the 5 months? Does it even have to be a span of 5 months???

Really troublesome part II a:
"About"?????? Really? She wants to know about how many? Doesn't that just compound the inaccuracy of this word problem??? Mathematics is a perfect language. It is precise. It is concrete. It is logical. There is no "about" about it! Sure I suppose you could argue that rounding off to the nearest 10 or 5 or whatever and approximations are legitimate exercises but the directions are to "solve" the problem, no hint of rounding or approximations in your answers.

Really troublesome part II b:
Doesn't the word "about" leave the door open for more than one acceptable answer???

Really, really troublesome part III:
My niece's answer to the question:

151

It was wrong.

WTF?!?!?

Computing this ludicrous problem with every 5 consecutive calendar year months, will give you the answers 150, 151, or 153.

I'm thinking 151 is about as about you can get.

What say you?

I suppose you could argue that more often than not you get 153 days, but in those instances the month of February is not part of the 5 month span, therefore it is merely a red herring of info. A common tactic in grade school story problems, but please, a red herring and an approximation in the same problem?!? In fourth grade?!?

What am I missing here??? Have we stumbled upon an example why the state in which my niece lives is at the bottom of all national standard testing????

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Early Morning Sporting Event

Ben, the cat is in the dog house, IdaMae, the dog, rules the roost, and Joe, the DH, is a DH. That is to say, Ben completely shirked his duties as resident varmint control officer, Ida saved the day, ur, night, um early morning, by awaking us to the danger and mayhem, and Joe's skills as DH (designated hitter) were exemplary.

At approximately 5:00 AM while Ben sat nonchalantly in the window sill waiting and watching for the birds of morning to awake. Ida was prancing about. I could hear her doing what I thought was her pee-pee dance. It was almost 5:00, about the time she usually goes out for the first time in the morning (Joe is usually up by then, it's his thing to take her out in the morning not mine) After the 3rd prance around the bed, I realized through my foggy sleepiness that 1) Joe wasn't up yet 2) Ida was not making her I-wanna-go-out noises as she danced. Strange. Very Strange. Then Joe uttered the words that strike fear in me to my very core. "Honey, Ida's chasing a bat." Upon hearing that I went into fetal mode, curling into a tiny ball I dove under the quilt. I'm such a big help. :o/

I could hear Joe saying things like, "I don't know how I'm going to get him out of there, the ceiling fan is messing him up" and "I'm going to need something to catch him" "Good dog Ida." "Ben what's the matter with you?" If he asked for my help I didn't hear it, nor was he likely to get it. I did offer a piece of advise telling him where the tennis racket was, at least I think uttered the words, I thought it, but can't be sure I actually formed the words and verbalized them, fetuses do not normally speak.

The next part of the story I can only relate by what has been reported back to me, but it seems that Jim Thome has some competition, or perhaps it's Roger Federer or Tiger Woods. As the offending varmint flew from the bedroom, leaving me in all my fetus-ness, and into the kitchen, the Hermitage's own DH, with tennis rack in hand, swung at the break away fast ball, um, fur ball with leathery wings. The creature hit the window, and fell squarely into a small bowl that sat on the window sill, a hole in one*. YEA! GO TEAM HERMITAGE!

The visiting Bat 0 the Hermitage Swatter 1.

Not a lot more to tell of the story except that the Hermitage Swatter could use a new uniform. Joe came into the bedroom with tennis rack firmly held over small bowl containing his opponent and asked if I could open the front door to release his catch. Sure no problem as long as the thing was contained, but there was one other small task I had to perform before opening the door. I had to pull his pants up. :o)

*I can't be sure a bat was not injured in these events, even though he did in fact fly away, but this is my house and he has no business trespassing.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Gutting it Out

That's what I'm doing. Gutting it out. Saying no to the pain, saying no to the fatigue, saying yes to my goals. Just like a real athlete. As if. LOLOLOLOL

Seriously though, the last few days haven't been that terrific.....a summer cold/flu. Ick. So I've had to change my Ravelympic line-up a tad. I started with Whirling Dervish II rather than WDI. The reason for the change in the line-up? Spinning the fiber for WDII is almost like cheating. It's a pencil roving that is already so thin that absolutely zero drafting is warranted, thus totally mindless and each time I sit down at the wheel, once I find the groove, I can do it one handed, if needed, and not even look at what I'm doing. Which is a godsend when one is sneezing, coughing, hacking, and blowing their nose as often as this cold is demanding; an added plus with all the world records being smashed left and right, exceptional performances in gymnastics and diving, and all the underdogs getting their day in the sun I can't keep my eyes off the TV. :o)

Here is what I've spun so far.



442.5 yards of cream
514.5 yards of brown

This is why it is so easy to spin.


The top loop is not drafted the rest of it is. Notice all the pills and nups? It's impossible to draft and spin an even single so instead of fighting it I'm just spinning it as is. Super fast, and super easy. Cheating????

I've often wondered while reading blogs what a person meant by using the word "sprongy" as a fiber adjective. I of coursed could glean what it was they were saying, but couldn't really relate to it. Now I can. This fiber (all of them, cream, dark and light brown) are super "SPRONGY". I'm looking forward to some day getting my hands on some well prepared sprongy fiber, something that doesn't have pills, nups, and lots of VM. :o)

It's been another learning adventure spinning this fiber. Everything I've done up until now has had very long staple length and little crimp. This has a much shorter staple length and LOTS of crimp. I'm not too sure I like this very crimpy fiber but I'm reserving judgment until the day I have some well prepared fiber of this sort.

As I'm sure many of you spinners out there who are spinning just for spinning's sake often daydream while sitting at the wheel as to what the yarn you are creating will ultimately become, so am I. I'm thinking this will make a fabulous jacket. I'm considering a fairly boxy shape with a slip stitch/mosaic pattern, or perhaps a nifty intarsia design, or maybe, just maybe something with some cables. Of course daydreams can only go so far when I have know idea what kind of gauge this yarn is going to work up in, but I'm thinking the gauge will be about 3 to 3.5 stitches to the inch. I'll end up with about 430 yards of the 3rd color for a total of approximately 1300+ yards. Enough to do just about anything actually. :o)

I have also been working on my Hmmmm project. Saturday, the day after the Games began I finally decided on a pattern. It's another no brainer, something I can knit while I watch the Games kind of thing. That of course was one of deciding factors when choosing a pattern for this Ravelympic event, but there were others that were much more important. It had to be something that would "honor" my first handspun, warts and all (cuz no matter how warty it is I'm proud of it) AND it had to be easily executed in a number of yarns that don't quiet match in color. That's a lot of stipulations, but I found the perfect pattern. The Panel Jacket from Unicorn Books. The pattern as written, is worked in garter stitch, I am doing it in stockinette, (garter stitch would hide too many warts) I've got one panel, the sleeves and the lapel/collar to do. I'm skimping a little on the width of the panels, a sweater with a 52" bust measurement would just look silly on me. I'm liking it. A lot. This pattern just might have a few do-overs in it's future.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Adrenalin v. Rational Thought.

I have lived my entire life here in Illinois. I have seen crop dusters doing their thing many, many, times. I have NEVER been this close, upfront and personal.

We, (IdaMae, Ben,and I) had just gone outside for our morning sit, and I was hanging the roving I dyed yesterday on the fence. I heard the plane coming, he had been dusting the fields all around for a couple weeks now and didn't pay it much mind. Then it sounded close. REAL close. I looked up just in time to see him skim the roof of my house. Ida ran for cover under the glider on the back porch and Ben , who as you know can open the screen the door, flew to the door and flung it open so forcefully he tore it from its track.

I stood there amazed, caught up in diving and climbing skills of the pilot and the long looping turns that belied the speed of it all. Then it dawned on me. 1)I prob'ly shouldn't be out here while he's flinging chemicals of some sort on the beans and 2)How could I possibly explain the thrill (and fear if the truth be known) to Joe, or the kids, or even my blog peeps. So of course I dashed into the house and grabbed the camera, risking health, life, and limb for the sake of a few photos. What blogger worth her salt wouldn't have done the same? :o)

I watched and took photos from the "safety" of my patio for a few passes. See that smokey-ness in the center of the pic above the field...here he comes!



At this point I was really beginning to question whether the patio was safe place to be. But considering I couldn't think of a safe place to be cuz if he'd hit my house that would be a bad thing I decided, what the heck, and strolled out to that crab apple tree he's just barely clearing in the photo above. Besides adrenalin rushes are always a good influence on rational thought.

Here's another pass of the field from that vantage point.




WOW

Once I figured out how to use the video on my camera I got these videos. Sorry about the expletive in the first one, but you have nooooo idea how much I wanted to run right then and there. (I'm not uploading the video that has me hysterically chanting, "ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod") Even though it's a tiny plane, it's still a plane and having it crash on top of me would not be a good thing. Plus being that close to even a tiny plane that is going extremely fast, right towards you, so it can stay airborne so close to the ground, is really, really, loud....like feel it in your chest loud.....so between that and the deluge of adrenalin roaring through my body I was more than ready to run. Then again, I figured I couldn't out run a crashing plane, there really wasn't anyplace to run, so I stayed, took a few videos, and tried not to breath chemical dust. :o)



Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ravelympic Training

Today I began my Ravelympic training. I'm entered into a one event, but have multiple projects. Whirling Dervish I is my attempt to dye (my training done today) so it will spin into a yarn with a really long color sequence. Below is the 493 grams of pencil roving I started with . It is part of the Motherload windfall of last summer.



I'm not going to bother with the particulars of how I figured the length of the color sequence at this point. IF it works out OK then I will go ahead and explain it, but if it doesn't work then it'd just be a waste of time to document it here. I have taken pretty decent notes so if it does work, then I'll be able to do it again. (sometimes I am smarter than I pretend to be I actually took notes!!!) :o)

Even though I was in town Thursday, Friday and Saturday, (more times I've been in town in the previous month!) I didn't even think about buying more dyestuff, thus I had to use what I had on hand today. Obviously my intelligence is fleeting.

The color sequence begins with yellow then green, blue, violet, purple, red, orange, and repeats itself for 3 full sequences and ends with another yellow. None of the colors are exactly the same. The first sequence was dyed with Easter egg dye, the second and third sequence were dyed with food color (some regular some neon) and the last orange and yellow were dyed with Koolaid. Each color is approximately 13 grams or 11 ft of pencil roving.



I applied the dye with an eyedropper and/or paintbrush. Each color was wrapped in plastic wrap. When it was all dyed I wound it into a huge Tupperware container.

The first layer.



the next...



Another layer.



One more layer.



And a little bit more.



It was an awfully tight fit, both in the container and the microwave.

I'm not exactly sure what I'll do with this yarn yet. I'm only spinning it for the Handspun Heptathalon. I might squeeze two sweaters out of this by working it along with a another solid rather than using it all in one sweater like the typical Rainbow Kauni Cardigan. (the link is to the pattern pdf) The colors here are a little much for me and I think they will only get brighter when spun, but maybe toned down nicely by working it with a solid.

The yarn is still cooling. I'm being extra careful not to handle it too much. Hot, wet, roving, might felt just by looking at it! LOL Tomorrow is supposed to be warm, hot actually. There's a heat advisory already posted for the area, we're expecting temps of 100+. Everything should dry nicely outside tomorrow.

Whirling Dervish II, my second project for the Ravelympics, is merely to spin this stuff up. There is 449 gr of the natural cream color, 446 gr of the natural lt grey, and 483 gr of the natural dk grey. Total grams 1378.



I know 1378 gr sounds like a lot to spin, especially if it is the 2nd of 4 projects I have planned, but I still think it is doable. Take a closer look at how this fiber is prepared.



Honestly I could knit with this as it is, but I want to add a bit more twist to it and make a 2 ply. I'm not keen on unspun type yarns. I'm guessing this was prepared on some Viking combs and then drawn through a very tiny diz. This too is from the Motherload, it's natural and still pretty sheepy, lots of lanolin.

Whirling Dervish III is this batch.


It is 647 gr of a variety of browns. It too is from the Motherload and was originally pencil roving like that of the first picture above but had been dyed already. Last Summer I washed, predrafted it and rolled it into the balls you see here.

The fourth Ravelympic project is "Hmmmmm" For that one I'm going to make a cardi out of the handspun I just did. (I think I told you that already) I still don't have the pattern picked out but there are several in the running. I know it's prob'ly crazy to have this project on top of all the others, but I've got to have something for bedtime knitting, it's not like I can spin while I'm lounging in bed!