Saturday, January 03, 2009

3 days into the new year and already 2 FOs!

Several months ago I attempted to knit a Porom hat for myself. Bad choice of yarn left me with a huge, very Rastafarian hat, as you'll remember from earlier posts. I didn't try another hat right away, but boy, was I wanting to! I finally gave into temptation on January 1st and with less than a skein of Malabrigo, I cast on for a Star Crossed Beret. (Queue it here.) A day later, I was blocking it on a dinner plate. Woot! It fits!!!

Although you can't see much detail because the yarn is variegated shades of grey and black, here's the back:

One more shot, just because I love the way my nose looks so horribly pointy whenever I take a headshot on my own:

How do people take good self portraits??? I always make myself look like such a dork.

So that was FO #1 of 2009. Here is FO #2:

Yep, purl-free Monkeys (although I guess you can't tell that by this shot - the pattern doesn't show up really well). I finally made these damn socks. And I love them!!! I'm not an avid sock-knitter and haven't yet mastered the 1st stitch on the dpn being a purl trick, so I opted for the wuss way out: the purl free version. I started them on the plane when we went to Disneyworld back in October, and worked on them only in the car for the longest time. They became my small project when I needed a small project. That's the only reason they took so long to finish. Once I put my mind to it, these socks flew by. They're my first Cookie A pattern and definitely won't be my last. Up next are her Red Thread Socks (except mine will be orange and off-white and won't have the thread running up the back - they're a belated Christmas present that one of my sisters asked for the weekend before Christmas).

And what was my last FO of 2008, you ask? A Habitat:

Hayden is modeling the Habitat hat I made for my personal trainer. (Yes, I am a personal trainer and I work out with a personal trainer twice a week. Shoot me.) During a session the week before Christmas, I said something about my knitting. He snickered and said, "Knitting? You knit?" I almost dropped the weight - "Shit, yeah! You didn't know that about me?" I was flabbergasted that he didn't know that. It's such a huge part of who I am. EVERYONE knows I knit. At least I thought everyone did. Anyway, to show him that what I like to knit is cool, I made him a hat. He wears hats all of the time and he wears grey all of the time. He likes it. He doesn't have any hair, so he doesn't look quite as skater-ish as Hayden does:

And speaking of my Hayden, he turns 9 this coming Tuesday. 9!!! Pretty soon he'll be too old to do this:

Gotta love him. He loves snuggling with Mommy.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

On humility

Or should I title this post "On sucking ass"?

There's a guy in town who teaches indoor cycling classes. I teach indoor cycling classes as well, but these are different. He's an ex-professional cyclist. He sets your bike up on a Computrainer. (He has to ask you for your weight while doing this, unfortunately. That information is confidential, so to have had to utter those 3 numbers to someone other than a doctor or someone on the other end of the phone who will never be face to face with me was horrible. Especially since that someone is someone I think is a cutie-pie.) Everyone who takes his classes are roadies or triathletes who are trying to become better roadies/triathletes outside. His classes are very popular and his 5-week sessions ALWAYS sell out in advance. So I decided that since I haven't ridden outside since last September (not entirely my fault - damn you, ankle injury and blood clot!) I should take some classes from him. My plan is to re-enter the triathlon community in 2009 as a participant rather than a spectator or volunteer, and to re-enter it strongly enough so I don't embarrass myself. I am a triathlon coach, after all, so I need to at least look like I know what I am doing.

Last night I went to my first cycling class. Everyone else in the class had been taking his classes for at least a year - hell, one of the girls had even dated him, or so I heard - and everyone had been riding and racing all year long. But I thought I was okay - I've been teaching Spin at least once a week for a while.

I think I would've been okay if the setup hadn't been a simulated race, but no. Up on the screen were our names and what "place" we were in. I was in 1st for the first 2 minutes, then slipped to 2nd, then to 3rd, then to 4th, and finally to 5th. There were 6 of us, and the person in 6th had eaten cake at lunch and was feeling queasy. Had it not been for that cake, I probably would've been in 6th.

The competitive side of me HATED every bit of the 90-minute class because of this. Wow - how much more blatant can "Stephanie SUCKS!!!" be??? I was very defensive about the entire thing: "I taught 4 classes yesterday, ran with the group I coach, and I did a 1-hour leg workout." "Man, a Spin bike sure is different than a road bike!" "You have to remember that I haven't been on my bike since September 2007. I had to really think about where my cycling shoes were when I was getting ready to come here tonight." But the harsh reality is that I suck right now. I suck. I was out for the entire summer with injuries and since I've been healthy I've been focusing more on strength training and getting back into running. I know, I know - all of those excuses are valid, but they are still excuses. And I am a triathlon coach, for f*ck's sake! Who would want to hire me after seeing those numbers up on the screen??? I kept trying to tell myself that football coaches and basketball coaches aren't in shape like their players are, but alas - triathlon coaches are different. They're expected to be really good at their sport. I am really good at organization and creating the proper workouts for my athletes (one of my athletes improved her Ironman time by 2 hours and 15 minutes this November - woot!), but I am the Energizer Bunny when it comes to actual competition: I can go for days on end, but speed I do not have.

What this has caused me to do, other than to be pitifully depressed all day, is realize that I need to sit down with a calendar and a piece of paper and lay out my goals and how I'm going to go about accomplishing them. Strength training is great, but the time is about to come when I need to move the spotlight out of the gym and onto the road.

So, without further ado, here is New Year's Resolution #1: COME UP WITH A GAME PLAN FOR THE SUMMER OF MAJOR COMEBACKS.
More resolutions to follow. Happy New Year, y'all!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

On the night before the night before the night before the night before Christmas...

...I finally did something I've wanted to do for a very long time:

make a Christmas stocking. This is the stocking from the second Mason Dixon Knitting book, Outside the Lines. I'm not a colorwork person nor am I a socks on 2 circular needles person, but I went for it anyway. I started it on the 12th and finished on the 21st, thanks to being challenged by Judith. (A skein of sock yarn was on the line, and I am a competitive person!) I'm very happy with the result and have even planned my next colorwork project - Eunny's Endpaper Mitts. My Knit Picks Palette came in yesterday. Do I go with purple and orange, orange and green, or green and purple?

Another thing I've been meaning to share is the newest addition to our family:

The boy we've had for almost 9 years (eep!), the dog we've had for almost 1 month. This is Maddie, a 12-week old chocolate lab who is super sweet and super cute. Rudy died in his sleep in the middle of November, so all of a sudden we were a 1 dog family. I got an email from a friend whose boyfriend's coworker had a puppy he needed to get rid of (he stupidly had 4 cats, 3 dogs, at least 1 small child and less than 1 acre of land, and he works at a hospital so he has funky hours), and the pictures were too cute to keep to myself. I forwarded them on to Mike, who immediately said we'd take her. She's very friendly and snuggly and cute and fit into our crazy household right away. She went with us to my parents' house in Memphis for Christmas and was a hit. Here are some pictures of the drive down there:

Hayden was reading a book and needed a place to put his head, so Maddie gladly accomodated him.

She so wanted in the front seat, but I was knitting and Mike was driving, so she settled for getting just her nose up there.

Gracie, our other dog, has accepted her well. There were a couple of "I'm the alpha bitch" instances in the beginning, but now they're BFFs. Right now Gracie overpowers Maddie, but I don't think it'll be long before Maddie will give Gracie a run for her money.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Great day for a photo shoot!

Every time I get my husband to take pictures of me in a new sweater, I always stand in front of the yellow wall in our den. However, we live really close to a great park and it's a nice day, so we met for lunch then did an outdoor photo shoot. Here's my new favorite sweater, Wisteria:

Have I told y'all how much I love this sweater? This is my new favorite. I love the cables, especially how they start so densely then spread out.

I love the yarn (Wool of the Andes from Knit Picks - their less expensive version of Cascade 220, such a classic workhorse.) I love the color. I love the fit. The smallest size is 37", so I went with a smaller needle size to get a slightly smaller gauge, and I think I hit it spot-on. I loved the simplicity of the pattern (in the round, top down, pick up for sleeves after the body is done). I loved learning how to do the felted join so the only ends I had to weave in were at the armpit, the neck, the bottom hem, and the bottom of sleeve.

I am in a bit of a cable overload right now, so yesterday I cast on for a more mindless sweater: Avast from Knitty. The yarn is Wool of the Andes (again), Mike's birthday present back in August. I'd like to get it done for him by Christmas, but I won't kill myself trying to do that. Everything is stockinette except for the bottom band, which is a cable. I'm doing that first, then going up from there. The hems are nice and finished, so I may use the brown I have left over from my sweater and add a little extra color. We'll see.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lots of things have happened since I last blogged. I'll go through them quickly:

1. We went to Disneyworld (yes, AGAIN). Mike had a work conference to attend, so we went out there a couple of days early and enjoyed the parks. This year Hayden was really into "Soarin'" at Epcot. We rode it 9 times. Another favorite was the new Midway Mania ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Here's Hayden and me wearing our snazzy 3D glasses:

His shirt does not have a strange blue and yellow spot on the side - that's Dorie tucked into his armpit. And yes, his hair is now officially longer than mine.

We also went to Downtown Disney to see Cirque du Soleil's "La Nouba." It was incredible, one of the best Cirque shows I've seen. Hayden was in full Green Bird costume. We couldn't help but let him dress like that since he put so much trouble into designing it. He's already designed a new La Nouba costume, one for the Red Pierrot. He's planning on wearing it the next time we go (which probably won't be until school gets out in May).

2. I went to Panama City Beach at the end of October to watch some friends compete in the Ironman Florida triathlon. The 2 girls I had been coaching all summer did super - one cut 2 hours and 15 minutes off of her previous Ironman Florida time (and didn't have to go to the medical tent afterwards, something that she ALWAYS has to do at the end of her races) and the other finished in a very respectable 14:35. Both had amazing experiences, and I was so proud of them. As a congratulatory gift, I knit both of them a pair of Knucks. Here's a picture of the pair I haven't gifted yet:

The other ones are exactly the same but done in a pink. (The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed, by the way. The tats spell out "IRON CHIK.")

I'm not a very good photographer, but I did get a great shot of my friend Dee peeing in the bushes at mile 70 on the bike course:

It has a very "Where's Waldo?" feel to it.

I drove down there with another friend who signed up for next year's race:

I was tempted to do the same, but then I slept on it and came to my senses. I didn't race at all this summer - doing an Ironman next year would not be smart. My goals are to do some sprints and Olympic distance races and end the season with a Sept/Oct/possibly Nov half Iron distance.

3. Rudy finally succumbed to his liver cancer. He died peacefully in his sleep, so although it's very sad, it happened exactly the way we had hoped it would. He was sick - it was only a matter of time. He ate Hayden's leftover hamburger for dinner, sat next to Mike while we watched an episode of "Family Guy," then went to sleep. It's been weird without him in the house. Mike and I started dating in October of 1995, and Rudy was my Christmas present that year. We had had him for almost as long as we had been together. Hayden understands what happened more than we thought he would. He asks, "Where's Rudy?" every once in a while and when we explain that he's gone and he's not coming back, he cries for a couple of minutes. Lately he's added, "I wish he would come back and be with us again," which is a line from one of his favorite Magic Tree House books, but it's very fitting. Last night Mike taught him how to draw a dog and this is what he ended up doing on his own:

The brown one is Gracie and the black and white one is Rudy. I will never throw that away.

4. I've been taking part in NaKniSweMo (I think that's how you spell it). For you non-knitters, that stands for National Knit a Sweater in a Month. It's a tradition for the month of November, and it began as a play on someone else's idea to write a novel in a month. I'm doing Wisteria from the new Twist Collective site. (Twist Collective is THE SHIT when it comes to knitting nowadays. I have 3 more patterns that I bought last week. Must get knitting!) I don't know if I'm going to make the end of the month deadline, but I'll at least come close. After getting home from Mike's aunt's house yesterday I got to start the sleeves, and I'm planning on getting the first one done tonight. If I can knit the second sleeve by Sunday night, I'm golden. The yarn I'm using is Knit Picks Wool of the Andes, which I like. Here's the body:

The cable detail doesn't really show up very well in this shot, but it's truly amazing. It may be my favorite sweater I've knit. What's better is that I've learned how to do the felted join (yes, folks - I'm a spitter) so I won't have many ends to weave in. Yay me!

That's it for my update in a nutshell. Off to do some more sleeve knitting (and maybe take a trip to my LYS - Cascade 220 is 20% today and I'm seriously thinking that is God's way of telling me that I need to make the Heroine felted jacket from Twist Collective for myself).

Sunday, October 12, 2008

A BIG shout out to Robert at Wolf Camera in Bellevue!

He restored my picture! SQUEEEE!!! He went above and beyond his responsibilities as a digital camera expert at Wolf Camera. He actually found some picture restoration software via Google and came over to my house after he got off work to help me use it. Love him! We invited him to go out for sushi after he was done, but he was on his way to his mom's house for dinner. I'll be sure to swing by the shop sometime this week with a little thank you gift.

I know it's not the best quality, but that's not the fault of the anything except my Crackberry. It was like that before the file got damaged. I think it had something to do with the lighting in the gym. Who knows - I'm not a photographer.

And on the subject of my Rastafarian-style Porom. I took it to swim practice (where else would you take a handknitted wool hat?) and showed a swimming/knitting friend of mine. She thinks it turned out too big because that yarn is not the same level of sproingyness that the Jamieson's Double Knitting yarn Jared used is. So I think that one is going to be a Christmas gift for a niece, and I'll make another one in the same yarn but go down (hee hee) one or two needle sizes. Pattern calls for 6s and 8s; I'll use 5s and 7s or even 4s and 6s. But not yet -- need to finish the damn Montego Bay scarf and at least get started on those Knucks.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yeah, mon!

I've had a touch of knitting ADD lately. I was working on Mike's Mangyle but got halted by my inability to do color work. I plan on practicing when I get some quiet alone time, hopefully this coming week. I had also cast on for the Montego Bay scarf with my Camelspin that I bought in Chicago but I got bored with that, so I started Jared's Porom. (You can queue both the scarf and the hat here.) Quick hat - 4 days from start to finish:

For some reason, I didn't expect it to turn out this big. Maybe it's because I don't have as much hair as his model does. I love the hat but I feel like I should have a big fat doobie hanging out of my mouth with some Bob Marley playing in the background. (Not that I would know a thing about that, mind you.)

I also was a dork and didn't pay much attention to one of the charts, the chart that repeats for about 5 inches. When I started the second chart, the one that works in the top shaping, I said, "Wonder why he's having me do k2togs when all I've been doing have been ssks." D'oh - every 4th row in the first chart has a k2tog something like 32 times! I did them all as ssks - oops. What a dumbass. I've decided that if it bothers me too much, I can save the hat for a Christmas gift and do another for myself. Maybe even out of a slightly smaller yarn for a slightly smaller, less Rastafarian hat.

Here's Hayden and his out of control hair modeling my Porom:

Son, you've got a mushroom on the top of your head!

A new twist on the Pope's hat!

Hopefully soon I'll have pictures of my scarf. After a couple of snafus, it's progressing nicely. I really want to get it done before casting on for my next 2 projects: 2 pairs of Knucks. I've been coaching 2 of my friends for Ironman Florida, and I plan on doing Knucks for them and putting "IRON ABBY" and "IRON DEE!" on them, or "IRON CHIK". The race is November 1st, so I gotta get going. Oh, and I need to get back on the Mangyle (and the man, if you asked DH).

And I also hope to show you a picture of me and Obama. I didn't say this in my previous post because I'm pretty mad at myself, but I did have a secret service guy take a picture of us with my Blackberry. I showed everyone at swim practice and everyone at the gym I went to after that, and everyone at the restaurant I went to for lunch. Then I got home and tried to upload it onto my computer. I'm not very computer savvy and I should've waited for DH, who is, to get home. But noooo - had to do it right then. Something got screwed up in the process and now the file is damaged. There is a company in Europe who can partially restore it, but the image is very very fuzzy. I took my phone to a camera store yesterday and found a cute little guy who weighs probably 100 pounds and has huge gauges in his ears to work on it. He thinks he can get it restored better than the European company can, so tomorrow I'm going back to the store with my phone and the Blackberry software. Keep your fingers crossed!!!! Until then, here's a picture that was sent to me of the Wellness Center receptionist with him (and his closed eyes) that same morning. Lucky for her she had a camera that worked! (Note to self: buy an inexpensive digital camera and keep in car at all times.)