That's right. I've finished the first of my (hopefully) many Christmas offerings. I'm going to use my approach from last year: make as many items as possible in a variety of styles and colors, alternate male and female sizing/style, and lay them out at a party for people to take what they want.

Pattern: "Odessa," by the brilliant knit blogger Grumperina, available as a free pdf download on Ravelry
Yarn: Malabrigo Silky Merino - dk weight single ply with 51% silk/49% merino wool
Colorway: Matisse Blue

Plus: If you haven't tried a project with beading yet, don't be shy; it's a cinch. The hardest part is threading the beads on the yarn before you start, but one can find a great tutorial on Knitty. The pattern, to no great surprise, is clear, clever, and succinct. If you don't follow this girl's blog, you really ought to. It's one of the few that spends a great deal of time on process, knitting math, intimidating techniques, reviews, etc., because she's NOT trying to save up designs and ideas for a book.

Delta: My only big problem stemmed from the fact that I printed this pdf on my home printer, which was out of color ink. I knew the pictures would disappear, but who cares, right? Well, I was at my in-laws, chatting and knitting up the ribbed brim, when I pulled out the pattern to examine the next instructions. They made NO SENSE. I read, stared at my knitting, read, stared.....my Titi Dolly (a novice knitter) started making comments along the lines that patterns never make sense to her, either. Oh, hell no. I can read patterns! I had Jake pull up the pdf on his iPhone, and there was the answer. Half of the IMPORTANT words in the pattern were written in purple so as to grab my attention. In my colorless copy, of course, they were entirely absent. Woops!

Watts afghan square #29! 7 more...Lord help me. I need to start thinking about a border for this thing. I could go boring and just do basic i-cord. Or I could go high on effort and time with a mitered corner garter stitch. What say you, fabulous knitters?

So, I'm kind of in love with my job. Sure, there are some frustrating aspects. My students' computers still have not been hooked up to the network. I have no access to the building at night or on the weekends. The "teachers' lounge and workroom" is locked 24 hours a day, and we don't have keys. I've discovered 4 different varieties of spiders that consider my room home. Students cuss me out when they're in a bad mood. But....all those issues aside, I feel ALIVE with inspiration, purpose and challenge.

These kids, tenth and eleventh graders, are literate only in the most basic sense of the word. I'm regularly asked how to spell words like "read" and "coach," and I can assure you that these are not second language learners. On the first day of school, most told me that they "can't" or "don't" read. Their writing follows few grammatical conventions, and they don't seem to sense any distinction between their spoken dialects and formal written English. Getting them to make an inference, even an obvious one, about a piece of literature on their grade level is akin to torture. There is clearly a lot to do, and it is my professional opinion that the best thing for them is total immersion in, and a fierce, vital connection with, excellent literature.

I spend my days helping kids find books that let them know they are not alone in the world. I read 2-3 books a week in order to keep up with their demand to pick "another good book" for each of them. This rag-tag group of 31 non-readers have already finished about 9 books in 2 weeks, and every one of them seemed genuinely surprise to have loved the experience. The core of my class time goes to independent reading, with at least 100 minutes a week of required reading time. When I told the kids about that time commitment at the beginning of the year, they freaked, pleading with me to understand that they could NEVER read for that long. Lo and behold, most days they beg to read LONGER, and on Fridays, when they can choose from a long list of literacy related activities, every one of them settles down with their book to read for the entire hour.

Many teachers would see these struggling readers, read through the Virginia standardized test, and start digging through worksheets and canned reading drills to reinforce basic reading habits. But that's NOT how kids who pass the tests with ease got to that point! They breeze through those tests because they're readers. It's obvious to them what the text says or infers, how it's organized and what is it's intent. It's obvious, because they read so much, their brains have learned to detect and organize important distinctions and patterns like that. MY kids have not had that luxury. Their brains see very little in a written passage that is familiar, and with every passing year, they get MORE behind, for reasons that completely elude me. Well, not on my watch. I am honored by the immense responsibility and humbled by the chance to make a real difference in someone's life.

The only problem is that I want to spend every dollar I've got now on books, portable cd players (for books on cd), comfy rugs and pillows, etc. so I can turn my room into a well-stocked reading oasis!!!!


  1. What could be better for a teacher than passing along a love for reading? Sounds very satisfying!

  2. You are AMAZING! I almost wish I could go back in time and be a non-reader just so I could be in your class! We miss you at GH.
    Susan B

    You look fantabulous, too. Congrats!

  3. You are so awful to your kids! You don't realize that some of them are mentally disabled and have awful lives at home, if they have a home.

  4. I'm sorry that you think that the above description warrants the label of "awful." I do, in fact, realize that many have learning differences and challenging home lives. It would be very hard to forget it, in fact. I love those rascals with all my heart, and I hope that I can bring a little bit of hope and stability into their lives. Thanks for reading, though.