Favorite Thing Friday: So Many Dishcloths!

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My knitting needles have been very busy this summer! Not only am I working on a beautiful pair of socks and super cute pleated top, but I’m also casting on smaller projects for birthday gifts.

One of the easiest things to make for someone is a set of dishcloths or what I like to call Spa Cloths. Pair them with a beautiful bar of soap and you’ve got a thoughtful gift that is also practical.

I’ve made a total of nine Spa Cloths in the last two weeks, all of which have taught me new lace stitches. Part of the reason I love knitting spa cloths is the fact that I can learn new knitting techniques on a small project. If I make a mistake it’s not a big deal to start over again!

First up is the Baby Fern Stitch, a free pattern I found on Ravelry. It looks really difficult, but it only involves a few simple stitches. This is one I’ll have to eventually make for myself! I love the ridges that define a pattern that is both botanical and geometric.

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Baby Fern Stitch

Next up is the Leaf Lace Washcloth, which is another free pattern I found on Ravelry. Initially, I intended it as a gift, but I loved it so much I ended up keeping it for myself. What can I say, I’m a sucker for leaves.

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Leaf Lace Washcloth

After another search through Ravelry (the array of free patterns is truly astonishing), I found a pattern called Christmas Tree Lot Cloth. This is another one I really wanted to keep for myself, but it’s so perfect for the person receiving it I had to let it go!

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Christmas Tree Lot Cloth

I saved the best for last. When I saw the Elvish Leaf Dishcloth pattern, I was instantly in love. While the stitches are relatively easy, keeping track of the pattern from row to row is difficult. I have no shame in admitting I ripped this project out three times before I finally got the pattern right. The end result, however, was worth all the frustration as it is just gorgeous.

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Elvish Leaf Dishcloth

While I usually don’t wet block spa cloths, I did block both the Christmas Tree Lot and Elvish Leaf cloths to get them to lay flat for gift presentation. Lace patterns in a thick gauge tend to pucker and that doesn’t look very nice in a gift box!

The other spa cloths I made were shipped before I could get a picture (I was running a little late for early July birthdays!). If I make them again, I’ll be sure to post pics!

The simplistic nature of spa cloths is a big reason why I love them so much. When in the middle of large or difficult project, they are nice break that offers a satisfying end result. Aside from that, I love giving handmade gifts.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Raindrops

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I love that it rained multiple times during my stay in Indiana, but that’s not the sole inspiration for favoring raindrops this week. After more than three months of work, I finally finished knitting the Adeline Camisole, which features a raindrop pattern.

This is the first large project where I didn’t have to start over again because of a mistake. I’m pretty proud of that fact considering the difficulty of this pattern! The only really scary part came at the end, when I tried the garment on for the first time. It was about a size too big! As with most lace patterns, it stretched after blocking.

To fix this problem, I did what would probably give most wool-lovers a heart attack. I threw it in the dryer. I know, I know, this is blasphemy in the knitting world! Just know I was very careful and had a specific plan of attack.

First, I soaked the garment in water and squeezed out as much water as possible. Second, I put the garment in a pillow case and sealed it with a tie. Third, I put it in the dryer on high heat for twenty minute intervals. After each twenty minute cycle, I checked to see how much it had shrunk. Once it was the right size I laid it flat to dry.

After that harrowing process, I slipped on the camisole and it fit perfectly!

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Adeline Camisole

The raindrop pattern is a little hard to see, so here it is up close:

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Raindrops in yarn!

The yarn for this project totally sold me on KnitPicks as awesome place to buy yarn. Great quality, beautiful colors, and fantastic prices. I made this camisole for $16 using Stroll Hand Painted Sock Yarn in Coffee Shop (what a great name for a color!).

I’ve got a number of other projects going – too many, actually – so stay tuned for more pictures of my knitting adventures! :-)

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Vacation Time!

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Tomorrow I’ll be trading dry heat for super humid heat as I head to the Midwest for a little vacation. My annual trek to Indiana has become a tradition and I’m excited to spend some time in a place where everything moves a little bit slower.

At the top of my list is spending some time with family, but I’m also looking forward to visiting one of my favorite local coffee shops, The Beehive, (see FTF: The Beehive). Last year, I tested out my usual Cafe Mocha, but this year I am anxious to try the local specialty, a Nutella Latte. My coffee taste buds are already drooling. 

Even though I’m the only knitter in the bunch, I’m hoping to persuade my family to spare a little time for a trip to Nomad Yarns in Plainfield, IN. I went there last year and scored some absolutely beautiful sock yarn. Not only does this place carry a great selection of unique yarn, but it has the warmth of a locally owned small business. I can’t wait to see what ends up in my shopping bag this time around.

However, what I’m looking forward to the most is a little quiet time. My family lives in a small town surrounded by woods and cornfields. I’m looking forward to time on the porch swing and walks through the woods. I’m taking my camera and I can’t wait to see what I find through the lens. With all the craziness that is coming when work starts up again in the fall, this quiet pocket of relaxation is just what I need.

With that in my mind, I’m making a conscious effort to simply relax and enjoy my surroundings. For the first time in years, I’ll be leaving my laptop at home. My muse is freaking out a little bit as she is a bit attached to my writing machine, but I’ve assured her that I will pack a journal and a nice set of pens. (She’s also been assured that my husband will carefully guard the laptop and keep it safe.)

Because of my self-imposed computer break, I’ll be a little quieter in the blogosphere, but not totally gone. My Kindle Fire is coming along to make sure I don’t fall too far behind (and so I can watch movies when I can’t sleep at night!). Next week, I won’t be posting as much or maybe not at all, but I will be here in spirit! Just know, I’ll be collecting all sorts of inspiration for future posts.

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What’s your favorite thing this week?

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c.b.w. 2014

Favorite Thing Friday: Setting Major Goals

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This week I attended a training workshop for National Board Certification. For three days, my brain was stuffed with information about what a teacher has to do in order to become National Board Certified. Between reading and analyzing standards to completing insane timed writing practice tests I’m pretty exhausted! However, I know it’s all going to be worth it.

Achieving National Board Certification means a lot more to me than  simply having a few extra letters after my name. It’s about validating my teaching practices and considering how I can get even better in the classroom. Teaching isn’t about settling into the status quo. It’s about constantly learning and improving for the betterment of education as a whole.

After teaching for 13 years, I felt like I was starting to fall into a rut. The last thing I want is for my students to get stuck with a teacher who is stuck and wallowing in “been there, done that.”

I realized I needed to feel the excitement of discovery, again. I got a taste of that brand of excitement during the last school year when I was tasked with creating curriculum for AP Art History. That particular challenge got the adrenaline rolling again and now I’m thirsty for more.

With that experience in mind, National Board is sure to give me a major jolt! While the process is long and rigorous, I can’t wait to see what I learn about teaching, my process, and myself.

On the last day of training, I got a great piece of visual motivation to keep on my desk as I work. The organization that offered the training closed out the event by giving away a series of door prizes that only teachers could love. I should state that I never, ever win door prizes. So, I sat in my chair looking around the room trying to guess who would win. Then, they called my name for the first prize. Cool beans!

Here’s what I won:

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I got the green one.

Is this nerdy? Yes, but I love, love, love tumblers with lids and straws. I will be using this thing every single day, which means it will be a great reminder of what I’m working for and that I have a great group of people supporting me as I jump into what is sure to be a challenging process.

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p.s. Don’t worry I’m still hard at work on the writing thing, too!

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c.b.w. 2014