zaterdag 28 april 2012

The "Weekly" Biology Session: Duck Spotting

Last Thursday, after bringing Little Man to school, I had some time to watch a little creature I had spotted during the week before. A creature that sparked my interest:

It gave me an evil eye as I slided to the edge of the pond near our house, carefully not to step into any dog poo.

Aaaah yes, spring is here! This little coot (meerkoet for you Dutchies) is nesting near the side of the pond. I walk/bike alongside of this pond nearly every day so I see the ducks and other animals living there very often. Now, this little coot, I would not dare to scare away, so it will remain a mystery for now how many eggs are tucked up in her little nest. It would take up to 3 weeks to come out for the little coots, so probably in a week, week and a half, hopefully there will be a few small ones following their mama.

It's quite busy in this pond.

Mating season started a few weeks ago. In this pond there are two male (one is not on this picture) and one female wild duck or mallards as they are called. Poor females are chased around until they are weakened and give up by the males during mating season.It will happen often that the female dies during this chasing because they are run over by a car. I hold my breath when I see this behaviour.
I think this male has won the mating game. The other male was sort of roaming on his own by the side of the pond.

The "lucky" male relaxing in the grass.

Coot husband of the lady coot on the nest. Can you see the paws? I find them very intrigueing. Why are they not the same as mallards? I do not know for sure, but mallards do not dive, and coots do. Maybe that is why they have different paws.

Little Lady, who had been very content sitting in the jogger and playing with her feet and exclaim "Da!" every now and then, and I walked back home next to an arm of the pond and saw another coot's nest.

More little coots! Hopefully there will be enough foot for all little coots, since the parents can be very brutal when there is food shortage in their habitat. When the little ones beg for food, and parents do not have it, they will bite the young until they stop begging (and probably starve to death). This can be even more brutal, as parents sometimes bite their young to death.

And here is the other dad-to-be swimming along, taking care of his wife.

And I knew there was also a moorhen (waterhoen), but it took some time to find him (or her)

He (or she) has been alone for quite some time. I haven't seen a mate. Why it is alone in this pond? I do not know. Maybe there is another one, but is it hiding somewhere else in a nest.

I like our pond! Hopefully some swans will return this year to hatch some eggs like last year, but for now, two nests to keep an eye on is a wonderful thing to watch.

So, people, go out, check your neighboorhoud, and get to know your pond. I love to watch the ducks with Little Man. It is a lovely way to let them know how birds live, what their behaviour is, and teach what nature is about.

donderdag 26 april 2012

A Very Normal Working Day For A Teacher...


05.30 Alarm clock on my telephone goes off....I hit the snooze button, but stay awake anyway and decide to get out of bed before my alarm goes off again. Little Lady turns and tosses, drinks a bit before I leave bed and sleeps a bit more with the papa next to her.
06.00 Got out of the shower, got dressed, Little Lady is awake and snuggles with the papa.
06.10 Try to wake up Little Man. Time to get dressed! Lots of running, peeing, clothes flying around, lots of giggles. The kids are awake.
06.30 Going downstairs with the kids to get everything ready for breakfast, Big Man is getting dressed too.
07.00 Almost the end of breakfast. Lunch has been made for me, Little Man and Big Man. Get everything ready to go to school/the babysitter. Big Man leaves for work.
07.15 Getting the kids into their shoes, coats, putting Little Lady into the jogger, Little Man getting his backpack, getting my own shoes and coat and bag.
07.20 Get out of the house in a hurry!
07.30 At the babysitters: inform her what was going on during the night (sleeping well or not), if the kids had been eating or drinking during breakfast, give a kiss and snuggle to both kids and wave goodbye.
07.45 Getting into public transport. Now I can relax. Either with some papers to grade or some crochet-on-the-go
08.30 Walk into the school building. Say goodmorning to colleagues, get some coffee which really starts my day. Collect my books. And comb my hair. Yes, you read it right, in the morning routine I do not have time to comb my hair.....
09.05-09.55 First class. Fourth grade biology. These kids have a big exam on Friday so today is preparation day. They are exceptionally relaxed about it. Is that good or bad?
09.55-10.05 Coffee break. I hurry to get some time to pee.
10.05-11.55 Third grade biology. A bit of a weird lesson, since we only have to do the last assignments of the chapter. I let them chat a bit and work in little time sessions.Had a nice conversation with one student about using insulin if you are a diabetic
11.55 RUN!!!!! To the other building (we have two buildings)
11.20 Fling open the door to my first graders in the other building and decide what to do with just 25 minutes left.....
11.55 The bell rings. Lunch break. I go to the teacher's room, and get a big pile of papers stuffed into my arms. Special assignments for my fourth graders to practice for their exam. With a sandwich in my hand I get just enough time to think through the first question, then it is time again to get up, pee, and go to my class...
12.25 Fourth grade again. Still very mellow and relaxed. I guide them through the practice assignment. Those who really want to pass, pay attention. A few boys keep on talking about other stuff. They don't seem to care. Well, their responsibility as long as they do not give to much noise.
13.15 Run three stairs up to go sit in a classroom where my fifth grade General Science class is taking an exam. It is exams week for them, so I do not teach them but I have to sit with another exam. Economy this time.
14.20 I close the door, run downstairs, go to the administration to deliver the exams. Grab my coat and go to the tram to go home. In the tram I got my crochet project out the bag and get some stitching done.
15.10 I had a nagging feeling and as I get to the centre of The Hague, my feelings come true. Five trams standing behind eachother before the tunnel at Grote Markt. Damn it! I call my babysitter telling I will be late. She will pick up Little Man at school fortunately
15.35 I walk out of the tram and I see the babysitter with Little Lady and Little Man.
16.00 Home! Got something to drink and snack. And sit down. Aaaaaaaaaaaah.....
16.30 Big Man comes home. Everyone happy!
17.15 Time to cook
18.00 Time to eat.
19.00 I bring Little Lady to bed
20.00 Downstairs again. Grown up time.
21.30 Time to snuggle into bed, warming up under the blankets and get some sleep......zzzzzzzzzzzz

donderdag 19 april 2012

Pattern: Skinny Scarf

Today I am publishing my very first ever pattern :)

Last summer, I wanted to make a skinny scarf. I just love scarves and shawls. Love to make lace. Love to browse Ravelry in search of new crocheted scarves and shawls. I love to wear them and I want to have one for every occasion!

Last winter, I decided it was time for me to do more with techniques, but due to time shortage, there wasn't really an opportunity to start playing with yarn and hook and make swatches with different crochet techniques.

Lately, I started to get the urge to be more creative, and I decided to take the plunge: I am going to start designing my own stuff. I played around with something last summer/autumn/winter, but with two kids, work and a household, time is precious.

Hopefully this blog will not only help me with learning more about biology, but also help me discover new crochet techniques and publish my own ideas/designs.

Here is my first one!

Ahhhh, pink! Purple! Most people associate me with black. So, my accesories are NOT black! I love how colours stand out on a simple black top and that is what I had in mind with this skinny scarf. I wanted to make something summery, playful, arty-farty (as my dear husband calls it) and simple.

What do you need?

I made it with sport weight cotton (needle size 2.5-3.0) and crocheted with a 3.5 mm crochet hook I think. You can pick any yarn or needle you want (it is an "any yarn, any gauge" pattern) just make sure that you pick a crochet hook one or two sizes bigger than stated on the ball band. Crochet stitches are stiffer than knitted stitches. I crochet very loose, so I know I can stay close to the size stated on the ball band.

For this pattern I chose some yarn I had in my stash. I wanted to make a beach bag, purchased the yarn, and decided the pattern was to labour intensive (yes, I am very lazy with patterns, I just want simple repeats!) so it was hiding in my yarn cabinet. Three colours close together look lovely, but do anything you want! The balls all have 125 mtrs of yarn, but I did not use them fully. But again, this is more of a tutorial than a pattern, so any meterage will do, as long as you keep an eye on the length of the scarf you want.
In the pattern I will refer to the three colours I have used for this scarf:
Colour A is purple
Colour B is hard pink
Colour C is soft pink

Basic stitches!

I will use US crochet terms during the pattern description. It is really a beginner project.

ch (chain) : yarn over hook, pull through loop

sc (single crochet): hook in st (stitch), yarn over hook, pull yarn through st, yarn over hook, pull through two loops on hook

hdc (half double crochet): yarn over hook, hook in st, yarn over hook, pull through st, yarn over hook, pull through all three loops on hook

dc (double crochet): yarn over hook, hook in st, yarn over hook, pull through st, yarn over hook, pull through two loops, yarn over hook, pull through last two loops on hook


Let the fun begin!

Pick your first colour of choice (in my scarf colour A) and start with a slip knot. Then start your foundation chain and make it as long as you want. Mine is about 2 meters long. The amount of stitches should be an odd number, but it's okay to make an mistake. Just cheat on row three. With this pattern, you do NOT turn at each row. This scarf will have a good side and a wrong side.

Row 1: Ch2, hdc in each st. Break off yarn (or cut) and fasten off.

Row 2: Pull through colour B, ch1(does not count as st), sc in each st. Fasten off.

Row 3: Pull through colour C, ch3 (counts as dc), *ch1, sk 1 st, dc*, repeat between * and * till end of row. Fasten off. (if your count was off while making the foundation chain you can cheat by doing a ch-2 before the last dc and just put one sc in the ch-sp in row 4 shhh don't tell anyone!)

Row 4: Pull through colour B, ch1(does not count as st), sc in each st and ch-space. Fasten off.

Row 5 - 8: repeat row 1-4

Row 9: Pull through colour A, ch2, hdc in each st till end of row. Fasten off.

Weave in ends.
If you want to have a wider scarf, just repeat row 1-4 till you are happy with the width of the scarf.

In het Nederlands is het allemaal ietsje anders, maar voor de Neerlandici even het vertaalde patroon (ik hoop dat het goed staat allemaal, heb eigenlijk alleen maar ervaring met Amerikaanse patronen!):

Maak een ketting van het aantal gewenste lossen met kleur A (donkerpaars). Het aantal lossen zou een oneven aantal moeten geven, maar het is niet heel erg. Je kunt altijd een beetje "cheaten" bij rij 3. Deze sjaal draai je niet aan het einde van de rij. De sjaal heeft dus een goede en een verkeerde kant.

Rij 1: Met dezelfde kleur A maak twee lossen (?), maak een half stokje in iedere opvolgende steek. Hecht de draad af. 

Rij 2: Hecht kleur B aan (donkerroze), maak 1 losse (telt niet als steek mee), maak een vaste in iedere steek. Hecht de draad af.

Rij 3: Hecht kleur C aan (lichtroze), maak 3 lossen (telt mee als stokje), *1 losse, sla 1 steek over, maak een stokje in de volgende steek*, herhaal tussen * en * tot het einde van de rij. Hecht de draad af. (hier kun je dus cheaten, als je per ongeluk toch een steek teveel over hebt aan het einde maak je twee lossen ipv 1 losse voor het laatste stokje. Maak bij rij 4 dan in de losse-ruimte 1 vaste)

Rij 4: Hecht kleur B aan, 1 losse (telt niet mee als steek), maak een vaste in iedere steek en iedere losse van de rij eronder. Hecht draad af.

Rij 5-8: herhaal rij 1-4

Rij 9: Hecht kleur A aan, 2 lossen, maak een half stokje in iedere opvolgende steek. Hecht de draad af.

Werk alle draadjes weg.
Als je de sjaal breder wilt hebben herhaal je rij 1-4 tot de gewenste breedte.

Make tassels (if you want to) and tie them to the end of each row. I cannot find a tutorial that makes the same tassels as I did, but it is very simple. Just cut several strands of yarn of the same length, double the length you want the tassels to be. Fold it double and pull the "point" where the tassel is held double (a loop) through the end of the row. You have a loop. Pull the length of the tassel through the loop. Done!

After a quick second search and some Google-fu, I did find a tutorial to make tassels the way I did! It is over here.

Wear it with pride! 

Moogly HOHD