Friday, August 28, 2009

Is it Labor Day yet?

One of the cruelest things about the way the knitting design world works is that, because of the lead time necessary for publication, tons of deadlines for finished samples and patterns and articles fall throughout August. The very time that the kids are rammiest and need the most entertaining, the month that is perfect for vacations, the time (for me, at least) when the summer starts to seem all used up and I just want to lay around in the air conditioning and read escapist fiction but instead we have to go to Staples or Target and buy school supplies from absurdly-detailed lists ("four green paper folders with 2 pockets on the inside", "one clip-on pencil case" -- what on earth is a "clip-on pencil case"?).*

Yesterday I finished the last of 5 or 6 various projects that were all due over the course of August. I'd breathe a huge sigh of relief, except I still have so many things I want to do before the summer is over and, let's face it, I've pretty much run out of time.

Instead I will take solace in the fact that someone in the world is mightily productive. Check out Sandvik -- a gorgeous Faroese shawl by WendyKnits knit in.... Black Bunny Fibers laceweight! Isn't it gorgeous? A huge thanks to Wendy for creating such a lovely shawl in BBF yarn. (I've ordered more of that particular laceweight blend, if you're interested, although there is some great wool/silk laceweight in the BBF shop right now, called "Flutter.")

*I know I've complained about this before, but I just don't understand why all of a sudden, kids are expected to provide their own freakin' pencils for school. WTF? The amount of school taxes I pay and my kids have to bring in their own pencils? [Insert your favorite cranky "when I was a kid we walked ten miles to school, barefoot, in the snow, and there were always No. 2 pencils waiting for us at the one-room schoolhouse" speech here.]


UPDATE: Ha! I found at least 15 patterns listed on Ravelry for knitted or crocheted book covers!

21 comments:

Barb B. said...

When I was kid 1000 years ago, we had to buy our pencils AND our text books, which meant I used my brother's torn and written in and kind of smelly ones.
Then they started providiing text books...you paid a "caution fee". If you brought them back in good shape, you got your money back.
Then...rent. You pay so much "rent", no refund. A fine if they came back in bad shape. To get my kids into school each year cost about $200 by high school days (rent, "participation fee" whatever the heck that is, and a bunch of other crap, then all the supplies).
And they never ever gave us pencils. Sigh.

kelly-ann (on Ravelry) said...

I hear you about the pencils, but at least they are pretty cheap. Still frustrating though. I was more surprised about having tissues/wipes/paper towels on our list. Next up, we will have send toilet paper with the school supplies!

subliminalrabbit said...

and yet... so many teachers pony up a percentage of their salaries to buy supplies for their classes that the school system won't cover. it's ridiculous, i agree. we need a serious overhaul of the health care AND education systems!
[end of political rant.]

meezermeowmy said...

I had to furnish pencils, but little else. I was shocked when we moved to Louisiana and found the school system furnished NOTHING. Kids even had to pay for workbooks. Heck, the teachers were out-of-pocket for their grade books when my girls were little.

Mother, who taught in Iowa, visited the School Aides store here and wondered why on earth they sold grade books. When I told her the teachers had to buy their own, she was appalled.

JellyDonut said...

By the time the school year is over, we will have spent about $1,000. Yes, you read that correctly--ONE GRAND. And this is without the $125 per year parking fee. We're talking books, band fees, year book, tests, etc. The International Baccalaureate program is fantastic, but EXPENSIVE! Oh yeah, I almost forgot the damn pencils.

Anonymous said...

Minnesotans are spoiled! We moved to MN from IL after living in Indiana and Iowa. In IL, we paid taxes that were 3x what we pay here and still had to pay book rent and buy all supplies - one year I paid over $500 in book rental and supplies. The school where I taught in IL requires that each child pay $80 per year book rent, purchase all supplies, bring in 1 ream of white copy paper, a roll of paper towels and 2 boxes of tissues, plus art supplies the semesters of art.

Carol said...

Oh yeah, I was obsessing about the pencils, but we've got the tissues, the whiteboard markers with eraser, the book socks (how much you want to bet there's a pattern for those on Ravelry??), the protractor, the looseleaf paper, the binders, the notebooks (spiral bound? marble tablet?)...I suppose tampons for the principal will be next.

Cyndilou :) said...

I understand where you're coming from, but unless there is an overhaul of the school system (and the tax system) nothing will change soon.

My parents did have to buy us pencils when I was in grade school, and supply our own crayons and paper, etc (except in kindergarten - that teacher had a big bucket of crayons). Textbooks were free but if you turn them back in messed up you had to pay a fine.

Now, the same system holds, pretty much, but the school districts are still not giving the poor teachers enough supplies. By the 3rd day of school, a school where my friend teaches was out of copy paper. The teachers have to supply too much out of their own pockets to buy the kids their basic consumables, too. And the teachers are still underpaid.

hillary said...

I know exactly what you mean. Last year my older daughter got a list specifying exactly which notebook the teacher wanted down to the brand - a Mead 5 subject with the plastic cover. How's that for specific?

Anonymous said...

The kids in my town have to pay to ride the school bus; somewhere around $500.00 for the year. I've opted to drive mine.

Mimi said...

50 years ago, when I was in grade school, we supplied our pencils, erasers, pens, ink, all paper, crayons, paint, oilcloth to cover the desks when we painted, scissors -- in short, everything we needed to learn. 25 years ago, I helped out in a school where everything was supplied to the children. The paper was abused by the children for everything but learning. When the eraser was used up, they threw the pencil away. I know teachers have to use too much of their own money for basics, but I wouldn't care if my niece and nephew never again received a "Good Job!" sticker or any other nonsense like it that teachers feel is necessary to teach. I agree with other posters that a specific notebook or clip-in pencil case is asking too much, unless you get the list at the beginning of the summer and can find the stuff on sale before the back-to-school ritual buyfest. If I were to complain about the school district, I'd complain that the classes were around 40 children each. No amount of paper, pencils, or stickers is going to enable a child to learn in a zoo like that.

Bridget said...

Well, when I was in school, the pencil had not yet been invented ... do you have any idea how hard it was to find a decent stone tablet and an abacus???

Kris said...

The one that drives me NUTS is the request for kleenex/paper towels/soap/antibacterial wipes, etc. What, the school district can't provide cleaning products? My personal quest this year was for a "sturdy 5-subject notebook (with non-perforated pages, 200+ pages, preferably Mead or 5-star)". Kid and I eventually determined such an animal does not exist and bought the one with perforated pages. (They ALL have perforated pages!)

Knittinchick said...

School supplies... I think one of the most insulting things is that they continually loop that "It's the Most Wonderful Time" Staples commercial all the time. I know that families have to absorb lots of cost at the beginning of the school year.

However, I just spent the last 14 months working in Fund Development in a non-profit where most of their programming was in the neediest area of the city. It changes your perspective (not negating that middle-income families feel the pinch right now) on the things that we feel are challenging.

We served families whose only hope of a backpack for their children was the backpack drives, children who had never left their community or the city (in a city of only 1 million) and immigrant youth think that dealing drugs is a viable option of providing for the family's needs. It changes your perspective on what we complain about.

I know that I sound preachy and annoying... I'm really not trying to-I just got laid off and am watching every single penny right now. But I have education, options and a support system (and an awesome stash to knit out of).... I'm choosing this as my focus right now!

rogue1 said...

I'm a teacher's assistant, and let me tell you, we use every one of those boxes of tissues--by December.
The only building in our school district that has real toilet paper, vs those damn little squares, is the administrative building. Some schools have a TP club, where the staff take turns bringing rolls of TP for the staff restroom.

Elizabeth said...

I've been astounded by the supply lists here, too. And the quests to fulfill them are like a perverse scavenger hunt, as Kris just said. For me, this year it was the elusive large glue sticks. Those do exist but had been cleaned out of every store in Madison. We did the Mead notebook hunt last year, the graph paper version no less! It had to be Mead because nothing else would stand up as well as a lab notebook for the whole academic year (says the teacher). Interesting times.

Anonymous said...

When I went to school, the only thing the school provided was a teacher and desks, heat in winter and a janitor to clean the floors. We even had to fold paper to make cups to get a drink of water from the water jar (oh, yes - they provided the water jar) and the outhouse since there was no plumbing.

I kid you not, we used an outhouse and newspaper for wiping - they provided it or someone did as I don't remember taking ours in to school. The teacher was diligent about having us wash our hands when we came back from it. There was a basin, soap and a jug of water which she poured over our hands.

We brought our own balls, bats and mitts whatever we used during recess on the playground. When I see the advantages that our grandchildren have at school, I think it's wonderful. Even if you guys do have to buy pencils and stuff.
Judy

Elizabeth said...

Just wanted to add that it isn't particularly the expense of the supply lists: it's all the time spent searching for particular do-not-substitute items. I would much rather either pay more property taxes or just write a bigger check for miscellaneous fees and supplies on registration day and have the teacher place one big order to get what she needs from Staples or something.

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous shawl! :)

Ali P said...

I remember as a kid that one had to supply the pencils for one's offspring. My mom had a box of pencils that my uncle had..ahem...appropriated from his office but my teacher complained about them because they weren't the RIGHT KIND!!! The leads were softer than the kind they wanted and thus harder to erase and messier. We weren't well off at all so the having to buy new pencils sent my mother into a fit of temper/anxiety.
Nowadays, we don't only have to buy a crazy ass picky finicky humongous LIST, but one school my kids attended required every student to supply a ream of copier paper. It was a small, not very well funded school but still...supply the school's paper needs???
I guess as funding for the most important things in life (education and medicine) shrinks its up to us to make up the difference. :o(

Carol said...

I guess we're lucky. We're only supposed to bring in tissues, that sanitary gel stuff and something else I don't normally purchase.
That shawl is stunning!!!!!!!!!
You're not giving Elvis a crocheted book cover are you?