The reason I went to Iceland was because I received a grant to help me improve my teaching by incorporating art and physical education in the classroom. I found a program through Knitting Iceland that had knitting workshops, design workshops, and yoga and dance classes. Perfect.
Turns out the sheep population in Iceland is larger than the human population, so I was able to visit with lots of the fuzzy creatures.
I also had the opportunity to learn about dyeing yarn with natural, plant-based dyes.
I spent a lot of time knitting and admiring the pieces that others made.
Traditional Icelandic sweaters, or lopapeysa, are a solid color for most of the sleeves and body, but have a multi-colored, intricately designed yoke. Like this one, that was for sale at the Handknitting Association of Iceland.
I got to learn how to make one of these by creating a tiny version in a workshop that taught top-down sweater construction.
For this project, I did my one and only steek (for you non-knitters, this means cutting into knit fabric, which also strikes fear into the hearts of many knitters) in order to make the front opening on this mini-sweater. I knit it in the round, then reinforced the edges in order for it to get cut open without unraveling. I conquered that fear, but it would still be nerve wracking for me to do this to a full-sized garment.
Overall, the trip was great. The grant was valuable. I learned new techniques, and I got inspired. What more can you ask for?
The word geyser comes from the Icelandic word geysir, which means to gush, and is the name of one of the first discovered and recorded geysers.
Unfortunately, Geysir doesn’t erupt much any more, but Strokkur, which is nearby, still erupts frequently. I was there for only about 25 minutes, and got to see it happen four times!
It was impressive, to say the least.
There are pools and puddles of near-boiling water all around the area. This geothermal heat is a huge energy source throughout Iceland. It smells a bit like sulfur, but it warms homes, provides hot water for showers, pools, and hot tubs, and melts snow when its pumped under roads. Pretty cool, er, warm.
I learned two lessons during my trip to Iceland. First, camera batteries sometimes need to be recharged- BRING YOUR CHARGER. When I went to the place I was most looking forward to, Thingvellir (Þingvellir), the tectonic plate boundaries, where the North American and Eurasian plates meet, my camera battery died. I had realized a few days earlier that I forgot the charger. I’m sure someone at Kex Hostel would have had one I could have used, but I was unable to locate that person. Luckily I could still use my cell phone camera, but the quality is clearly lacking. Trying to capture Thingvellir with a cell phone camera would be equivalent to listening to a symphony as a ring tone. Even my fancy camera wouldn’t be up to the task.
Here comes the second thing I learned. I teach 5th grade science. I have over 40 college hours in science classes, and much more than that in education classes. It’s important for teachers to find out where students’ misconceptions are, then work on addressing those misconceptions. So my big misconception, clearly earth science isn’t my forte: I thought that where the plates collided would be one crack in the earth. I was not expecting there to be numerous rock formations, cracks and crevices, some dry, some full of water. I wasn’t expecting the area to stretch nearly as far as I could see in all directions. I wasn’t expecting it to be so jaw-droppingly beautiful.
So I leave you with some images.
I have some good friends who live in Las Vegas. Most people are surprised that people actually live there. So I’ve been there about 6 times, and have spent most of that time in places that tourists to Las Vegas have probably never been.
Did you know there is more than one street in Las Vegas? The Strip is not the only street in town!
Did you also know that there are beautiful mountains, canyons, and wildlife?
I was surprised by the numbers of birds I saw. Everywhere I looked, I saw ravens, goldfinches, hummingbirds, grackles, sparrows, and more. Here’s a hummingbird I was able to snap a photo of.
I know I’ll go back to Vegas sometime, which makes me both glad and frustrated. It’s troubling to me to spend time there. The gaudiness, tackiness, and wastefulness in the middle of the desert bothers me. The resources are so strained, water should be scarce at best, non-existent at worst, yet there are hundreds of thousands of people sucking up the resources, dumping money into machines, and taking in all the man-made, soulless sights and sounds. I prefer to stay away from that, which is sometimes difficult to remember because I must admit I enjoy blackjack. I advise anyone who goes, myself included, to get out of the casino and enjoy the outdoors.
Leave it to Lisa at Sifu Design Studio to come up with a fun way to recycle yarn scraps and beautify the neighborhood at the same time. Lisa has been giving out little cages meant to be used as suet bird feeders, but instead of stuffing them with suet, she loaded them with leftover yarn scraps. Birds will still flock to these cages, but instead of a snack, they’ll get some colorful building material for their nests.
I think the cages look great just hanging around the neighborhood. Here’s the one I put up in front of my place.
But I especially can’t wait to catch glimpses of color popping up in the nests. If you live in Chicago and want to put up your own yarn scrap bird feeder, stop by Sifu and ask. Best part of all- they’re free!
It started with bread. Then it moved on to bagels. Now he wants to try pretzels as soon as we get some cream of tarter.
My mom got us the cookbook Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day last November. My husband skeptically decided to try it out. We haven’t bought bread since.
The thing is, it really is just about 5 minutes a day in active preparation. There is no kneading or anything. The rest of the time is letting it rise and bake. I don’t really understand how it works, but it does!
Why am I not as into it as he is? I’m not sure. I enjoy the process of measuring and mixing, and these recipes are so simple they lack that process. I also like baking sweets rather than breads. Baking bread doesn’t interest me as much as it does him, but I am hugely grateful that he took to it. Because eating delicious homemade bread interests me a lot.
I bought a new sweater!
All I have to do is make it.
This sweater will be made with Malabrigo which means I’ll wear it once and wait a year before actually hand-washing it to wear it again. I’m also working on it as part of a Knit-A-Long (KAL) at Sifu Design Studio, which means several other people are working on the same sweater at the same time, so we can share tips and techniques and stay motivated. I’ll cast-on (start) just as soon as I finish
and a hat for baby John.
So as you can see, I will definitely have a new sweater just in time for August.
If I’m lucky.