Saturday, September 20, 2008

Juggling Lessons

I'm currently preoccupied with juggling lessons. No, not the kind where you throw tennis balls, fruit, or chain saws (for those fascinated by extreme spectacle), the kind where you juggle the demands of a life that is suddenly overly full of commitments.

School is back in session.

It seems I no sooner got back from the Golden Gate Fiber Institute (at some point, I'll write an entry just about "Spinning Camp") than I went down to Southern California for some family face-time. I came back from Southern California, and less than 72 hours later, I was sitting in meetings, trying to get answers to burning questions ("When am I going to get my class lists?"), and trying to rearrange my classroom in preparation for the return of the students. August 20 arrived too quickly, and my room was full of students once again. Wait! I just went on vacation! Where did the summer go?!?

Every year, my schedule is different. This year it's a single class of 14-year-olds taking 9th grade Geography and four classes (about 120 students) of 15- and 16-year-olds taking 11th grade United States History. It's funny: just about the time that teenagers reach that stage where they drive their parents crazy, I start to find them interesting. They are turning from children into adults, and once we get it clear that: a) I'm not their mother (or grandmother); and b) they are to be respectful to me because I am a teacher, we I have a pretty good time (they are miserable because I require them to work). The biggest change this year is my preparation period. After a year of not having students until almost 9:00 a.m., my schedule is completely reversed, and my first students arrive on my doorstep at 7:45 a.m. However, my last students leave at 1:45, rather than 2:45, and I have several uninterrupted hours to work on grading papers, writing lesson plans, or attend the endless meetings teachers have to attend.

So, what have I been doing for the past month? Not too terribly much since the end of the Ravelympics on August 24. The final tally was 4 pairs of mittens, and a good start on a knitted hoodie for Tracy's baby (due in October). I finished the hoodie (except the handsewing and finishing) this week, and I'm looking forward to gift-wrapping it so I don't have to look at it any more. I also discovered in knitting the baby hoodie that I truly hate garter stitch (the stitch used throughout the baby hoodie), and that I hate working with acrylic (essential when making baby clothes).

Because I've been so busy with school, I haven't had time to spend with my spinning wheels. Back in June, I bought a black Merino fleece from Nebo-Rock Textiles while I was at Black Sheep, and I sent it down to Morro Fleece Works for processing. I sent down 5 1/2 lbs. of gorgeous black fleece; I got back 4 1/2 lbs of perfect pin-drafted roving, neatly divided into four roughly equal "bumps" (the term used to describe a large ball of processed, unspun fiber). I'm spinning first one (and probably a second one) semi-worsted to create my standard knitting yarn--a moderately fine single that when 3-plied will create a nice DK-weight knitting yarn. Eventually, when I spin and ply enough yarn, Stephen will get a very nice sweater.