Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Yarn Along

This week's Yarn Along is less than conventional since I just finished up 2 knits yesterday (and haven't had time to start another).  I also finished reading Caddie Woodlawn to the children last night so we are kind of in between things around here!  (Thus the lack of in progress yarn and book photo.)

The first knit that I finished is the test knit for Linda's Seaglass Cowl.  I will be putting my notes on Ravelry later today so you can see my thoughts on this pattern at that point.  I really enjoyed knitting it.  And I really like the way it shows off this Punta Hand-Painted Cotton yarn.

The other knit that I finished is the hipster hat for my husband.  You can see what happens when I ask him to model for me. I still haven't put my notes on Ravelry for that one either (a necessity especially since I didn't use a pattern!)

Can you tell I'm behind right now?!  All that time spent knitting doesn't leave time for much else. ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

weekend happenings

::baking soaked cinnamon rolls based on this recipe::

::painting for a new project::

::building towers::

::reading one of his current favorites, d'Aulaires Book of Trolls::

::lunching on Cheesy Snails, from Baking Bread with Children::

::straightening the library::

::rolling out the soaked pie crust for our next to last cherry pie from our spring cherries::

::introducing the littlest guy to geocaching::

::posing on the mossy hill with his mama-made sweater::

::enjoying the winter sun::

I hope your weekend was equally magical.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I'm still working on the same book that I've been reading the kids for a few weeks.  We're nearly done with Caddie Woodlawn though, and we'll probably move onto Call of the Wild which I'd like to read while it's still winter.  I'm still working on Elizabeth's sweater as well, but I started a hat for Paul this week.  He's been asking for a hipster-style beanie for a while, and when I found this Alchemy yarn at Purl Soho (half off!), it seemed like a perfect fit.

I also just started a test knit for Linda from Natural Suburbia of her Seaglass Cowl. I didn't have any particularly seaglass-ish yarn on hand, but I really like this hand-painted cotton by Punta Yarn, and it was the correct weight for the project, so I decided to use it instead.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

6th grade filmmaking

You never quite know how things will go when you decide to be a guinea pig for something.  And letting your child become a guinea pig is a whole 'nother ballgame.  But when we signed Elizabeth up to be in the inaugural 6th grade class at her arts-based charter school, we knew a bit of what we were getting ourselves into since she'd been at the school since kindergarten. There have been a few bumps in the road, as new projects often have, but largely this first year of her middle school experience has been wonderful, an arts-rich extension of her elementary school experience really.

Yesterday I had the privilege of helping Elizabeth's class take a trip to the local arts center to work on the claymation portion of their 6th grade project. Each of the group has a figure and event relating to a historical conquest or invasion and they worked together as a team to figure out which section each of them would tackle to form the cohesive claymation scene.

The entire project is quite amazing. The arts coordinator explained so eloquently in the school newsletter that I'll let you read her take on the project.
Shooting History
The new core and essential standards adopted by the state of North Carolina require that 6th graders study key historical figures and events, conquests and invasions, technology and geography of the pre 1940s. Maps, charts, graphs, physical environment and economic activities of various civilizations are to be studied, but the standards require that they “should not be taught in isolation, but woven together in an integrated study that helps students better understand the ancient world.” The standards do not, however, suggest how this might be accomplished. ABS has chosen the platform of film-making for this complex, integrated study. Our sixth grade students will create documentary films about leaders of major world invasions prior to the First Global Age (1450.) To prepare for a red-carpet movie premiere on April 10th at a local theater, the students must manage many interwoven strands of learning.
Film-Making: A skill that transfers into everything from advertising to doctoral theses, film-making is the ultimate in collaborative art. Directing requires a blended and visionary understanding of visual composition, sound and music, acting, writing, light, psychology, management of human and physical resources, time management, computer technology for shooting, storing, and editing, and marketing.
Social Studies: Each student film crew of 4 or 5 students focuses on the life of one of the following leaders: Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great, Ramses II, or King Richard the Lionhearted. They study events and challenges that motivated each leader, the innovations that helped them lead, the social significance of events precipitated by their invasions, the geography of world regions and how this impacted their decisions and technology.
Writing and research: The art of documentary film-making requires considerable research and writing, pulling facts and distilling meaning from various written sources. Each film team selects a documentary “voice”. They write narration, scripts for live-action sequences and simulated clay animation battle scripts. Every student participates in the research and writing.
Science: Introduction to atomic science through direct instruction, hands-on metallurgy class, and computer animation classes help students understand and diagram what happens to molecules as they are subject to heat and cooling. Films will include footage about how this science applies to the creation of ancient weaponry.
Geography and geology: Research into regions where ancient battles took place help students understand strategy and development of technology. Students draw and paint maps and landscapes to be used in the film. They are introduced to the  importance of examining topography when strategizing for battle.
Drama: Through dramatic portrayals, students learn that even ancient invaders were vulnerable humans, and that some of their struggles reappear in the world today. They study the art of stage combat, using replicas of period weaponry. The quality and diction of the spoken voice is coached for each scene or recorded narration.
Visual Art : Clay animation scenes reconstruct pivotal battles. Students study watercolor technique, research and paint landscapes for backdrops, maps and portraits for still shots. Students also draw storyboards for the overall film and the clay animation battle.
Music: Students select and edit soundtracks music. They record and edit their own dialogue, voice-overs, and sound effects at Ovation Sound, a professional recording studio, where they will also review previous learning about soundwaves.

In addition to the instruction they receive from their teachers, the students will have access to the following local venues, accomplished artists, and college level instructors.

Film Director: documentary filmmaking, writing, and editing. 
UNCSA Film School, Cinematographer: intro to cinematography and filmmaking. 
Local art center: clay animation and metallurgy. 
Fight Director: fight choreography, historical combat and weaponry research.
A local sound studio: recording and sound technology. 
Another local arts center: the use of their theater. 
Art Professor: computer animation. 
Drama Instructor: acting.  
U.S. Army National Guardsman: intro to topography and military strategy. 
UNCSA School of Drama – loan of period weaponry for viewing only. 
UNCSA School of Film – visit to observe college filmmaking in process

Being a guinea pig may not always be everything we wish it could be, but in this case I feel very fortunate that Elizabeth gets this experience and an opportunity to help develop this program for other 6th graders behind her. Lights! Camera! Action!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Yarn Along

For this week's Yarn Along, I'm still working on Elizabeth's Shalom.  It's turning out to be even bigger than mine, I think, and of course, she's a skinny little thing.  I may make it plenty long then felt it a little bit.  We'll see how it is when I try it on her.  I'm not loving this yarn, although she does, and that's what matters. I've had little time for reading this week except to the littles.  Finn's new submarine book has received plenty of attention.  I guess I've read that more than anything else this week.

I took a break from knitting yesterday and made Finn some new fun pants.  He loves his elastic waisted pants with all of the loud prints and it's been a while since I made him any. This fabric was on sale at Joann's and is very Finn.

Getting sassy in his new pants!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

sinking ships

We have a new obsession; well, actually Finn does, but it has spilled over to most of the members of our family to some extent.  What began as an art form, constant drawing of various ships sinking, has now become an obsession with real life ill-fated ships.

A few weeks ago, Finn asked if we could look up "sinking ships" on the computer.  Once he saw all of those images, he was hooked. Now, each morning begins with a new search for a sinking ship that we haven't learned about yet.

Soon he began compiling them in a report folder: Lusitania, sunk by German U-boat; Hamburg, sunk by a mine in WWII; Centaur, hospital ship sunk during WWII; Explorer, tourist ship sunk in Antarctica by inexperienced captain; Andrea Doria, sunk by striking another boat...and the list goes on. He can flip through his little homemade book and tell you quite a bit about each of his sinking ships.

When I found this book on Submarines at the local used book store, I wasn't quite sure if it would be a hit since, well, submarines sink on purpose.  He found several pages on the use of submarines during both world wars, which also had a few sinking ship pictures.

And after scavenging our local library, he found a book about boat wreckage that includes a few sinking ship pictures. You wouldn't believe how hard it is to find books purely about ships that are sinking.  Clearly this is an untapped market!

And I found this weekend that Finn's siblings are even indulging his obsession.  Philip made him this little sinking ship on a brad which amused Finn to no end.

It's completely fascinating to me which topics children become interested in, or even obsessed by. I hope to always pay enough attention to their whims and fancies to be able to indulge and encourage this specific kind of learning that consumes them from time to time. It's how passions are formed and such a fun process to watch and support.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Yarn Along

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along today, I have another Shalom on the needles.  This yarn is a very nubby merino so it's nearly impossible to see the pattern.  I haven't decided yet if that's a good thing, but it definitely won't look like my other Shalom.  I bought the yarn on clearance a little over a year ago to make Elizabeth something.  She liked my Shalom and decided that she'd like one as well.

My kids are still Moomin-obsessed, and I've just started reading the Moomin comic strip, volume 1 out loud to Finn. Cute and quirky, I can definitely see how the Moomins have captivated my kids so.

I finished the Laura sweater that I was working on last week.  By the skin of my teeth I got the length I wanted in both the body and sleeves.  As you can see, there was barely a few feet of yarn left when I finished.

I'm definitely pleased with how the yarn looked in stockinette stitch.  The pooling was perfect, in my opinion.

The fit is nearly perfect.  I might have added an extra inch in each sleeve (which is actually what the pattern calls for) but I really wanted an extra inch in the body (above what the pattern calls for) more so that's where the yarn went.  I had 880 yards (the pattern only called for 750).  I'm glad I had that bit of extra!  I don't know if using size 8 needles instead of 7s made the difference.

Anyway, I'm pretty happy with the finished product.  It's toasty warm and has a cowl built right in!  Perfect for chilly winter days.

Monday, February 4, 2013

the Candlemas festival

This past weekend our little festival group celebrated Candlemas, our fourth Candlemas together actually. (It's hard for me to believe it's been that long since we started celebrating together!)

We started with our usual candle dipping. Some of the kids have gotten good with their candle dipping and figured out how to dip both ends, stripping just a bit away from the wick on one end to make a very long taper. It's amazing to see some of the little ones who were just babies the first year of our festivals now dipping their own candles.

With plenty of play time in between, as sandboxes call to Finn, and many of the other children, we moved on to making seed containers.

The seed containers were rolled out of newspaper, filled with potting soil and a few seeds, then a gardening verse was added to each seed container.

The seed containers and dipped candles waited while we proceeded with the rest of our festival.

A tasty spread for snacking was laid, as always.  The little Pirouline candles in the center were the hit of all of the little ones.

Following our snack break, we headed back outside to the fire.  Several adults carefully melted scraps and pieces of previous years candles.

Once the wax was melted, we made earth candles by pouring the wax into holes that had been filled with sand and a wick.

The earth candles hardened for several minutes.

The earth candles, placed in a circle, were lit while we wrapped up our Candlemas festival.

What a beautiful celebration to welcome the light back to earth, to recognize the increasingly long days, and to help carry us the rest of the way to spring.