Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Thanking the teachers


Tomorrow is the LB's last day of school. Monday was the GB's last day. The year went quickly. It was a good year for both of them: lots of growth and change - most of it positive - and they had excellent teachers. For this, I am very grateful. I used to be a teacher myself, which is something I haven't discussed much here on the blog, but before I had the LB I taught high school English. It was a hard job. I loved the kids and the subject material. I didn't love the bureaucracy, the mandatory testing, the pressures and sometimes unreasonable expectations from all quarters. Teaching is a wonderful calling and I'm glad I spent a few years in the classroom. I think it prepared me for parenthood in some important ways, actually. I don't particularly miss the job, though.

I feel a strong connection to my children's teachers. I try to help out in the classroom when I can (I'll be able to do this more often now that they'll be in the same school at the same time, come August - I'm very excited about having more time to help out, actually!). I'm probably a relatively demanding parent; I have high expectations for myself as well as for my children. I want them to get as much as possible out of their time in school. Our unusual school situation - half-homeschool, half-traditional school - allows me to be very involved with their learning and to be closely connected with their teachers and the goings-on in the classroom.

Knowing how hard the teachers work, I try to show them my appreciation with special gifts. I love to give handmade gifts to everyone, teachers included. Last year, I gave the LB's teacher a One-Skein Chevron Scarf as an end-of-year gift. I also made one for my mother, and another to give away here on my blog. All of the recipients of my scarves seemed happy with them. And I enjoyed making them - they're easy and fast to make, and the pattern is soothing and relaxing. It's a portable project too, and I took these two latest scarves with me to the GB's ballet class throughout the late winter and spring. They were my "Tuesday morning project," I told the other moms at ballet. And they were: I've had several other projects on the go and I made myself save the scarves exclusively for Tuesday mornings. I crocheted and watched the little ladies learn their dance steps. I quite like being that mom who crochets at ballet class.


These two scarves are made with very similar yarns. The golden-beige one is made with Yarn Bee Soft Secret, a Hobby Lobby product, in the colorway called Biscuit. I adore this color. The yarn itself is good - inexpensive but very soft and silky for an acrylic yarn. I believe that Soft Secret is meant to compete with Caron Simply Soft, which is what I used for the periwinkle-colored scarf. The colorway is Lavender Blue. I prefer the Caron yarn just a bit over the Yarn Bee. I think it creates a slightly sturdier fabric, laying flatter and allowing the chevron shape to show a little better. It's less splitty than the Yarn Bee too. But I like them both quite well. They're a nice yarn for this kind of project because the scarves will be durable and easily cleaned.



Here, they're shown with my own black winter coat - the one I ordered in December which didn't come until the end of March. I haven't worn it yet. But it would look great with one of these scarves. Maybe I'll add it to the ever-growing list of things to make. The scarves don't have to be worn with a coat, of course. I think they'd be a nice addition to a sweater on less-chilly days. They're soft and drapey, easily tied or flung jauntily over one shoulder.

I tried to match the colors to what I perceive to be each teacher's style; the GB's teacher is sportier, often dressed in neutral colors, so I gave her the golden-beige one. It will look nice with her olive complexion too, I think. The lavender one went to the LB's teacher, a somewhat glitzier dresser who wears lots of purple and blue. She has dark blue eyes too, and I think this color will complement her eyes and her fair skin. Really, I just loved both colors and instantly saw "chevron scarf" when I looked at the skeins in the store; I sorted out the color assignments later. I will say that I prefer this scarf in a solid color, as opposed to a variegated skein; I made a variegated one for my mother last year and while it turned out nicely, I think there is better pattern definition in the solid-colored scarves I've made. I really enjoy crocheting chevrons and ripples of all kinds, but I like this type best, with lacy, open "holes" in the pattern.


Oh, I do love those shapely chevrons. This pattern is so enjoyable. It practically makes itself. I really think everyone should make a chevron scarf or ten.


I crocheted a little gift for the GB's classroom teaching assistant too. I wanted to give her something special and handmade as well, and I have always liked these hanging heart ornaments - the hearts designed by a lady named BeaG (pattern here, on Flickr), and modified by Lucy of Attic 24. I'd made one of these before and enjoyed the process. This time around, I decided to use cotton yarn (I Love This Cotton in Aqua) instead of DK-weight acrylic as I did last time. This made a much larger heart; it's about seven inches tall from the bottom point to the top edge. Lucy added a crocheted rose and leaves to her heart, and I did the same with my first one. I wanted to do something a little different this time. The teaching assistant is a sort of splashy older lady who loves big floral prints on her clothes, so I decided to make an Irish Rose design from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. The Irish Rose is number 62 in the book. I made the rose from cotton yarn as well, in three shades of red and pink. It came out nice and big. I sewed it onto the heart with a small pink flower button in the center. I like it. It has a bold look and it's a little kitschy too. And the GB tells me that Miss B.'s favorite color is light blue, so I think this fills the bill.

The gifts have been made and given, class plays performed, dance and guitar recitals attended, report card signed, and now it's time to party: a much-anticipated pizza feast in the LB's class tomorrow. I signed up to bring a pasta salad. I'm bringing Twizzlers and cookies too. The cookies are store-bought. No baking for me right now; it's been a long couple of weeks and I'm tired. Happy, but pretty darn tired. I'm ready for lazier days at home, punctuated by trips to the swimming pool and the library. Bring it, summer vacation.

44 comments:

  1. We've still quite a few weeks until the end of term, my youngest has a male teacher, he's been brilliant but I don't think crochet flowers will be his thing! Lovely gifts :) xxx

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  2. Jennifer, indeed these are lovely gifts. They will all appreciate and love the gifts. -Handmade with love. :)

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  3. Your children's teachers are very lucky to get such thoughtful and pretty gifts, Jennifer. I feel I should point out you are also one of your children's teachers, so perhaps should splurge on a little something for yourself as well. :-)

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  4. Hey Jennifer,
    These are super gifts. I've been thinking about pressies for Olly's nursery teachers. There are three main ones. Two women one man. One of them is expecting a baby. I'd like to make something for them with Pops. I'm thinking a bit of air dried clay with some beach finds pressed in to them. A kind of tile. What do you think my lovely crafty friend?
    Oh and having read Kristie's comment above, I concur. What have you given yourself? ;)
    Leanne xx

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  5. How lucky those teachers are! You did such a beautiful job on those scarves!!! I had no idea you were a teacher....I too was a teacher for many years and like you don't miss all of the "stuff". That surrounds the job With the demands only becoming more intense by the state I am not sure if I will be going back into the profession at this point though I did love the kids. I wish you and your family many lazy pool summer days!!!

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  6. Lovely thoughtful gifts Jennifer, I'm sure they were very well received. :)

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  7. I think those will make lovely gifts!

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  8. Good for you to make the gifts for the kid's teachers! I bet they get a lot of soap and candles! Enjoy your lower key summer and I know you'll have fun. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  9. It's so kind and sweet of you Jennifer! I'm sure they will feel happy with your pretty handmade work.I also receive gifts from my students but it becomes more and more rare.Most parents don't give attention to such things...

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  10. Gorgeous gifts and I'm sure the teachers would be very pleased to receive them.

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  11. Lovely gifts and I can confirm that the scarf is very wearable - the one you gifted to me has seen a lot of use :) Enjoy the summer break - my girls have a half-term week holiday starting Friday, but then it's another six or seven weeks until the end of their school year (21 July, I think is their last day).

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  12. I love how much thought you put into each gift, and how well suited it is to the recipient. They will be thrilled, I am sure. Ah, it's the end of an era for you and your babies!! x

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  13. Lovely gifts, lucky teachers. How nice that your summer holidays are here already. I know you feel the same way about them as I do - they're fantastic. I do hope you all have a really wonderful break together. No doubt there will be plenty of sunshine and happy adventures. CJ xx

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  14. The gifts are all beautiful. I'm sure they will all be well received! :o)

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  15. Another year has gone by so incredibly fast! Sigh...our children are growing up so quickly. Enjoy the summer with your Bears and thanks for sharing this beautiful handcrafted gift. I'm sure the teachers will appreciate the love that went into making these. Enjoy your week.

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  16. What lovely gifts you have made for the teachers, and you have given them a special gift by complimenting their personal colour choices, too. The heart ornament with the Irish rose is gorgeous, and you are showing me some different ideas for crotchet. You write so well, I am not surprised that you were a high school English teacher, just like my daughter. It is a wonderful profession, introducing young people to the world of literature and writing.

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  17. Your gifts are so pretty and I know the teachers loved them!

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  18. What thoughtful and beautiful gifts... I love the heart! I have always loved receiving something handmade. Yay, for summer vacation!

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  19. Happy summer vacation! Both scarves are lovely - I like "lacy" chevrons too.

    A former English teacher ... that would account for the precision and concision of your writing. I assume you belong to the P.O.E.M.? (A Garrison Keillor reference - I know you listen to NPR, so perhaps you have heard him mention it: the Professional Organization of English Majors.) :)

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  20. Love the color of the shall. Nice to hear about the vacation. Happy to hear the way you appreciate the teachers and motivate them to do their work better!

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  21. Beautiful gifts!! I have to wait one month for the summer vacation. Hugs :D

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  22. Such beautiful and thoughtful gifts Jennifer. I hope you all enjoy a long carefree summer :-)

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  23. Such gorgeous scarves, and heart too, you really do spoil your children's teachers, I'm sure they're delighted with their gifts. Hope your son enjoys the pizza feast.

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  24. Jennifer, you are such a lovely person , you have put so much thought into each gift .Those teachers will be thrilled. I agree everyone must make a chevron scarf or two the patterns are so relaxing. I am looking forward to your carefree summer holiday posts.

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  25. What lovely thoughtful presents, I am sure that they will be well appreciated by all of the teachers. I especially love the heart! xx

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  26. You are such a lovely Mom, I am sure those teachers were just as happy as they could be with your thoughtfulness.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  27. The gifts you have made are beautiful and I'm sure they will be really well received.
    Marianne x

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  28. They are such lovely and thoughtful gifts for the teachers and teaching assistant, I'm sure they will be thrilled Jennifer!
    Gill xx

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  29. What a lovely idea to make something so special and in colours especially for them, they look very soft and very pretty. Enjoy the summer break, we still have several weeks of school left here.

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  30. There's nothing quite like hand made gifts. I'm sure they'll be greatly appreciated.
    Patricia x

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  31. My son's last day of school is next Thursday. We had to go late this year due to all the cold weather we had this last winter. It's been a long year since they started the first week of August.

    I love that you make homemade gifts for your kids teachers. My mother always made homemade teachers gifts as well and they raved about them. There is such a personal touch with something homemade and beautiful. You did a great job, they are beautiful :) I bet all the women absolutely loved them!

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  32. You do such a splendid job with your crocheting .
    I have always admired teachers .
    I am sure the will appreciate the lovely gifts you make them.

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  33. Lovely gifts Jennifer. I know they will be much loved and appreciated.
    Beca

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  34. Such beautiful and thoughtful gifts! :)
    Handmade gifts are the best!
    You're a fantastic momma!

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  35. Beautiful, thoughtful gifts each one made to match their complexion. It doesn't get any better than that. Enjoy the summer with your children.

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  36. They look great & such thoughtful gifts to make.

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  37. Beautiful and thoughtful gifts to give your children's teachers, Jennifer. I too love chevron stripes and ripples, and the little scarves look so appealing. What a lovely mama you are too!
    Happy weekend.
    Helen xox

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  38. Very lovely gifts for the teachers and assistants. I bet they will love them! The chevron stripe does look nice, pretty colors. Last year we gave jars of homemade strawberry jam.

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  39. They are beautiful gifts Jennifer, the very best kind. I'm sure the Teachers will be thrilled. Mel x PS I'm the Mum who knits during dance classes too :-)

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  40. Very lucky teachers...
    Enjoy your weekend..
    Cheers!
    Linda :o)

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  41. I used to be a teacher too - English then I moved to primary. I also enjoyed the teaching aspect but not the endless admin and paperwork...
    These are really beautiful gifts. I wish I'd received something like it when teaching! Very thoughtful of you. Gestures like this make the job more rewarding :)
    Have a wonderful weekend.
    Sarah x

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  42. Wow, I would love to be the lucky teacher that receives that magnificent scarf !!
    You are sooo right, one can never have enough scarves and shawls :-)...
    You have a lovely blog, Jennifer ! Thank you for visiting mine, because now I found yours !!

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  43. They are gorgeous Jennifer! Your teachers are very lucky to receive such beautiful, handmade gifts! I always say I will do something like this for our teachers, and then I leave it too late. I think it's really special that you take the time to do this. :)

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  44. Those scarves are so pretty, Jennifer! Now that my son and family are moving to the East coast, I'm thinking a lot about making scarves & hats & all that warm, cuddly stuff! I do plan to try that chevron pattern -- just love both those scarf colors!

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