Sunday, December 23, 2007

Gift knitting and giving underway

Okay, there are 2 days left til Christmas. Am I done with my shopping? No. Did I participate in decorating our tree? No. Have I wrapped any presents? No. But I have been doing some great gift knitting!

I got to present my SO with his gift this morning after our trail run:

Pattern: Log Cabin Socks from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: Cascade Pastaza, 2.5 skeins
Needles: bamboo size 6 dpns
Discussion: I loved every minute of making these socks (except for when I messed up the start of the second sock and didn't notice it until 25 rows into it - yes, I ripped it out and corrected my mistake). I think I need a pair of them myself. The pattern was so fun, the yarn was awesome, and making socks on size 6 needles is so speedy! (Bonus: Somehow, I did not end up with a hole when doing the gusset! Woot! First time for that!) These were great. I was so excited to give them to him this morning. To find out what size to make them, I ended up calling Road Runner Sports. I knew that he had ordered shoes from them recently, so I just told the customer service rep that I was knitting him a pair of socks and needed to know his shoe size. How often do they get a phone call like that? Anyway, they fit great and I really hope that he'll enjoy wearing them while lounging around at home, watching "Don't Forget the Lyrics" or reading a book.

For those of you who have not knit these socks yet, get crackin!

Next up is a gift I haven't delivered yet but the recipient doesn't read my blog so I can write about it:

Pattern: Candy Stripes Kerchief from Interweave Knits Holiday Gifts 2007 issue
Yarn: Cascade Baby Alpaca Chunky
Needles: Clover size 9 circulars
Discussion: I wasn't impressed by this when I saw it in the mag, but then I saw one at a yarn shop nearby and liked it a whole lot more. They made mods for the bulkier yarn, so I got a copy of those when I bought the yarn. The increases were done at a different frequency and the stitch count was lower. This yarn is to die for - so soft. And I like the color combination. I tried to put 2 other colors together so I wouldn't be copying the shop model completely, but I just like the pink and red the best. What the hell - imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

I'm going to call my friend and see if she'd like to get together for dinner with Hayden and me tonight (Mike is going to a football game), and I can give it to her then. I wanted to give it to her earlier because she's been a little sad lately (boy issues), but I didn't get it done in time.

I've got 1 gift left on the needles and one I'm thinking about doing for my grandmother. She's been having some health problems lately and the Walgreens gift card I bought her last night (inspired by the suggestion from my mother) doesn't feel like enough. I'm thinking I have yarn in my stash that'll make a good Huckleberry Ascot, again from the IK Holiday Gifts issue. We'll see. I still have 2 days and some car time on Christmas day left, right?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Oh sh!t

The new Magknits is up. (Maybe it's been up for a while, but I just noticed it. I've been on Ravelry too much to notice what's going on on any other sites lately.) And I think Rosy would make a perfect Christmas gift for someone. Can I do it? Rosy, Ice Queen, Candy Stripes Kerchief (although that should be finished this afternoon), and another gift to be blogged about at a later date???

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Tree Jacket (and another hat, and another gift)

Finally, Tree Jacket pictures:

Pattern: Tree Jacket by the Zephyr girls, smallest size
Yarn: Rowan Kid Classic, 6 skeins (I think)
Needles: Denise interchangeable size 7 for garter stitch, 8 for stockinette
Discussion: Another winner from the Zephyr girls! I love this sweater. It was so easy and quick and incredibly cute. I've worn it 4 times since last weekend. And of course the yarn is to die for. I think if someone told me that I had to choose one yarn to knit with from here on out, it'd be Kid Classic. I did my Greek Pullover last year out of this (although I don't wear that much because I was told I flash everyone when I bend over). Someone on Ravelry did their Gathered Pullover out of it, and I'm seriously thinking of copying (unless I get the yarn I put on my Christmas list, Knitpicks Swish DK). It's the best yarn EVER.

Next up is another hat for another therapist:

Pattern: You Don't Know Our Women hat, found on Ravelry
Yarn: something out of my stash, definitely Rowan, maybe Rowanspun Bulky
Needles: Inox circulars (and dpns) size 10.5
Discussion: I like the final product, but I didn't like the making of this hat as much as I did the first one. The cables felt really tight. I omitted the last 7 rows the pattern called for before starting the decreases because I felt like it was getting too big. Good thing - it fits perfectly now. It would've been a Mushmouth hat if I had done those last 7 rows. I surprisingly like the way it looks on me.

I usually don't like myself in hats, but I think since my hair is a bit longer now, it works better. But it's not for me, so if I want one, I'll have to do this pattern again. Not a big deal - it was over and done before I knew it.

I have 2 gifts still on the needles, one I hope to finish tonight. Unfortunately, I've added yet another gift to the list. I didn't know the new Knitty was up until 2 days ago, and I fell in love with the Ice Queen. I bought a skein of Rowan Kidsilk Shimmer yesterday and hope to start it week - actually, I MUST start it this week since Christmas is 10 days away! After that, hopefully I'll be satisfied with all of handmade gift efforts and stop the insanity.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

3 FOs

I finally got around to charging the batteries in my camera, so here are some of my latest FOs:

Pattern: Liesel (found on Ravelry)
Yarn: Brown Sheep Nature Spun Worsted, 1 skein
Needles: Size 7
Discussion: This scarf is for Hayden's aide at school. She always wears pink and/or brown, so I think she's really like this. The pattern is great - not tough, but not "idiot" enough to do while watching something really important on TV, like A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila. (Finale is on next week!!! Go Dani!!!) I'd definitely use this pattern again. The yarn came out of my stash, and I had only 1 ball in this color. I had no idea how long of a scarf I was going to get with 1 ball, but I took a risk and went with it anyway. I blocked the hell out of it and got it to 54". Pretty perfect, I'd say.

(Wow, the boob not covered up by the scarf looks sooo small. Camis don't enhance anything, do they?)

(Hayden's becoming quite the photographer!)

Next up is Christmas gift #2:

(Why does my nose look so slope-y at this angle?)
Pattern: The Yarn Harlot's hat pattern. I think the name is the Unoriginal Hat. I found it on Ravelry as well.
Yarn: Malabrigo Merino Worsted (out of my stash again - yay for stashbusting!), double stranded
Needles: big plastic orange size 11 dpns (yuck)
Discussion: I've decided to make hats for Hayden's speech and occupational therapists since they're cute and they don't take much time. This is for his speech therapist. I love the pattern and I like the way it turned out (except I look like a major dork in it - hats don't work for me), but I HATE double stranding yarn. Everything gets all tangled up, then it gets extra tangled up on the needle, and soon you have a mess. Fortunately I didn't have to put up with it long because it took less than 4 hours from start to finish. This is another pattern I'd use again - with a single strand of bulkier yarn.

Finally, here's a shot of the baby gift that should've been given to Hayden's teacher at her surprise shower last Tuesday, but Hayden decided to be a Pukeasaurus Rex on Monday and we stayed home from school for 2 days:

Pattern: Candy Cane Hat from Handknit Holidays
Yarn: RYC Cashsoft DK
Needles: size 6
Discussion: I wanted to practice my stranding skills before tackling Eunny's Endpaper Mitts (no, I have not started them yet) so I thought this would be perfect. I'm okay at stranding, but once I had to switch to dpns, it got a little tricky. That worries me since the entire mitt is done on dpns. Maybe I need some more practice. Anyway, I think the hat turned out okay, but not totally cute. Maybe it was my choice of yarn. The color combination is awesome, but the hat seems very flimsy. The yarn came out of my stash. If I try it again I'll use some wool. I have some Mission Falls 1824 Wool in my stash (which is what the pattern calls for, I'm pretty sure) - just not in boy colors. I feel a hat for a cute niece coming on!

I have 3 more projects on the needles, all due before Christmas. Off to knit! (And I promise, a Tree Jacket picture is in the near future. It's cooling down around here.)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

3 FOs, 2 PRs* and 1 growing list

I have no pictures of my recent FOs yet as I have been a lazy photographer. Hopefully those will come soon - maybe as early as tomorrow. But I do have 3 FOs to report on: a super-cool Tree Jacket (that, unfortunately, is too warm to wear right now - temps in the 70s in December is ridiculous), a really cute but maybe too big Candy Cane Hat, and a pretty but a tad short scarf. Pics and details to come later.

As for my 2 PRs:

1. Last weekend Mike and I ran the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis. I wanted to PR but at the same time not trash my legs for the next rumble with Pebbles (which was yesterday). I love to do math while I'm racing, so I kept setting goals for myself mid-race. My old PR was 1:47:27, which was an 8:13 pace. If I could get to mile 4 in 33 minutes or less, I'd still shoot for a PR. If not, I'd slow down and just enjoy the race. Time at mile 4 was 32:12. If I could get to mile 6 in 49 minutes, I'd keep on. Time at mile 6 was 48:24. And so on and so forth. At mile 12Mike said, "Come on - how much gas you got in the tank? Whatcha got left? Put it all out there!" I'm not the type of athlete who likes those little cliches, so I promptly told him to shut up and just go. We crossed the finish line in 1:46:13. Yippee! Our average pace was 8:07. It was tough, but not too tough. And my legs were tired, but not trashed. I've been taking Acid Zappers, and I think they have played a big part in my performances over the last 3 weeks. I was happy.

2. Yesterday was another Tennessee State Parks Running Tour race, the Forrest's Johnsonville Charge 5 miler. I got there a little later than I had planned on, but everything was fine. And yes, Pebbles was there. I was afraid that it'd be harder to beat her again since she now knew who I was and might possibly run a little faster to make sure she beat me. I lined up behind her just like last time and tried to stay there, but in the first half mile, I passed her. I expected her to pass me right back, but she didn't. The course was straight out and back, so I got to see her after I went through the turn around. She didn't seem too far behind me, but I ended up beating her by 51 seconds. Woot! I wanted to keep a 7:30 pace and finish in 37:30, but I was a little off and crossed the line in 38:04. Oh well. Still fast for me. I'm pretty sure this was a PR for a 5 mile race. In 2004 I ran the local Thanksgiving race, another 5 miler, in about the same time. I'm also pretty sure Pebbles was/is infuriated that I got 1st in our age group and she got 2nd. Whatev. There's nothing wrong with a little competition. (Notice I didn't throw in the word "friendly.")

And finally the growing list - a list of things I need/want to knit. Ravelry is partly to blame for this!

4 Christmas gifts
Sweater for Hayden out of some Rowan Handknit DK Cotton that I've had in my stash for something like 4 years
Monkey socks for me
More socks for Hayden
Gathered Pullover for me
Architectural Rib Pullover from The Natural Knitter for me

Come December 25th, whatever is on the needles will be taking a back seat to the last item on the list. I am getting that book and the yarn for Christmas and plan on casting on that day. That is the most phenomenal sweater I have seen in ages. Norah Gaughan is amazing!

* - For those of you who don't know, PR stands for "personal record." Some call it a PB - personal best - but that just makes me think of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

It's on like Donkey Kong!

Yesterday I did one of the Tennessee State Parks Running Tour races, the Plateau Gobbler Gallop 11K. It took place in Cumberland Mountain State Park in Crossville. Any park with the word "Mountain" in its name has got to be hilly. I read the night before that this race was the third toughest race in the Tour series. Ugh.

Since I am doing the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis next weekend, I wanted to shoot for 8:15-8:30 miles at the Gobbler Gallop, then do 8:10-8:15 miles in Memphis. That all changed, however, when I saw Pebbles at the race. (Pebbles is not her real name, but I'm going to call her that because that's what she looks like sometimes when she ties her bangs up in a silly ponytail.) Pebbles is not really a nemesis of mine because she doesn't do triathlons, but she and her god-awful lispy high-pitched Southern drawl has annoyed me for several years. I decided that beating Pebbles was my goal, no matter what the pace needed to be.

I started a little bit behind her. My strategy was to stay right behind her for most of the way, then pass her at the end. However, I passed her going up the first hill. That must've pissed her off, because she passed me right back. I tried to hold back so that it wouldn't turn into a game of leapfrog for the entire 6.8 miles, but I passed her again going up the next hill. (I have really muscular legs, too muscular for skinny jeans.) This hill was long enough for me to distance myself from her a good bit. I got excited, then realized about mile 1 that not only was I ahead of her, I was ahead of every other female! First female overall! I've never been in that position before, and I must say, it wasn't very fun. Every time I heard footsteps I worried about it being another girl. I wanted to run fast enough to stay in the front position but not too fast to blow myself up. I ended up getting passed by one girl about halfway into the race, then another one with about a mile left. I finished third overall female, first in my age group, and about 2 minutes ahead of Pebbles. Woot! My time on a hilly 6.8 mile course was 53:56, over 5 minutes faster than my original goal time. I was proud of myself, especially since I hadn't done any racing in a while. AND because I beat Pebbles.

Since yesterday's race, I've been told that Pebbles is very competitive and will be gunning for me the next time we toe the line together. Am I scared? NO WAY!!! Bring it on, silly girl! It's on like Donkey Kong! I was planning on doing only 4 or 5 of these State Parks Tour races, but now I think I'm going to try for 8. They have a Grand Prix series in which they take your 8 best times and assign points for what place you finish. Right now she's in first place for the women, but she's already done 6. Hopefully I can turn in some good performances and beat her. The finale is March 1st at the Fall Creek Thaw 15K.

I've also been somewhat of a speedy knitter. I started my Tree Jacket last Wednesday, and I have only 3 inches to go on the body, plus the sleeves. I'm loving it so far. DH is busy trying to install a wall mount for our new TV, so I took a progress shot myself:

Then I asked Hayden to be my photographer. He did a pretty good job:

My question is this: why is the lace section swirling? The picture on the Zephyr website shows their lace section straight. I'm not the only one and I really don't mind the look, but I'm just curious. If I tried to block the swirling out, wouldn't it make the entire sweater go lopsided? (BTW, my yarn is Rowan Kid Classic. The color is the darkest shade of eggplant known to man. I lurve it.)

I also got Hayden to take a picture of my latest FO:

Pattern: Fetching
Yarn: Jade Sapphire Mongolian Cashmere, 1 skein
Needles: size 5 dpns
Modifications: Added more length to the middle section (5 rounds), added one extra round of cables at the top, did a regular bind off rather than picot.
Discussion: I really like these gloves. The cashmere is super soft (duh) and the pattern was easy to follow. It was a quick knit - about 2 days. I might make some more for gifts, but not in cashmere. Maybe some Rowan Cashsoft.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Embarrassing Picture

There it is, that stupid hole I talked about last post. That's the worst sock hole I've ever created. How do you stop from doing that?

Other than the hole, Hayden's Vandy socks turned out fine:

(Oops - my finger in the corner between his legs looks a bit like a pinga, if pingas had nails. I was having to hold his legs down because he kept wanting to go crazy with them, and I didn't notice my finger placement.)

The yarn is Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sport in the Bee Stripe colorway. I just did my usual cuff down, 2x2 rib, stockinette stitch, kitchenered toe sock. I think I'm ready to try some new sock techniques. Not that I'm going to turn into a knitter who wants to knit socks 24/7, but I do like Hayden's feet looking stylish when he goes to school in his Standard School Attire. Here's proof that I'm not a sock snob:

This is #1 of a pair. The left one will be started later today. The pattern is Fetching from Knitty, and yarn is mongolian cashmere. I modified the pattern by a) doing 23 rounds of 4x1 rib instead of 18, b) did 2 cable repeats at the top instead of 1, and c) did a regular bind off instead of the picot. I did the picot at first and didn't like the way it looked at all. These fingerless gloves are very cute and very soft - just in time for the weather to get warm this week. Of course.

When I turned the camera on to take a picture of Hayden's socks, he started saying, "Cheese!" He didn't understand that I couldn't take a full-body shot since he didn't (and still doesn't) have pants on. So, after the feet shot, I took a face shot:

My little man is growing up. He went to his first sleepover party this past Friday night. Five 7-year old boys + 1 single mom = trashed house! But they had a blast and Hayden won a game of Twister. I'm very proud of him for coming this far. The birthday boy's mom told me that he got to invite just 4 friends to spend the night, and Hayden was on that list. To think that some kid would pick Hayden out of all the other boys to spend the night makes me feel so good. Is this the same kid who couldn't handle play dates 5 years ago? I think not. Way to go, Hayden!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

No exciting Twists here

It was a somewhat boring pattern (thank God for the k1tbls and the p1tbls, or it would've been totally boring), but the end product is nice!

Pattern: Jillian Moreno's Twist from Fall 2007 IK (also found in the "No Sheep for You" book), 3rd size
Yarn: Jo Sharp Aran Tweed, 7.5 skeins
Needles: Denise interchangeables 6 (border) and 7
Started: August or September 2007
Finished: November 12, 2007
Discussion: I wanted to make Mike something new for this year and a vest seemed like a great idea since it doesn't get terribly cold here. This pattern was somewhat of an "idiot project" for me (so simple I really didn't have to think about it), and I think because of that, it took a little longer than it should. I kept putting it down for more interesting things (Juliet) or quick-knit projects (Mason Dixon Baby Kimono). Although I've never worked with a yarn this dark before, I really liked it. The little flecks of color made up for the navy that I'm not much of a fan of.

I think this vest will see a lot of wear this winter.

I've also finished Hayden's Vanderbilt socks but haven't gotten around to taking a picture yet. They turned out fine (just plain ol' stockinette stitch socks with a k2p2 ribbing at the top), but the place where I picked up stitches on one sock's gusset has a gaping hole. It's not a dropped stitch or anything like that, it's just where my technique for doing that part of a sock sucks. It happens on just about every sock I do, some worse than others (like this one). Question for you sock knitters: how do you keep that from happening? If you don't know exactly what I'm talking about, check my next post. I'll embarrassingly put a picture of it up. Other than that, the socks turned out cute.

Up next: Tree Jacket out of Rowan Kid Classic and Fetching out of 100% cashmere. Both are for me - who the heck would give away a pair of cashmere fingerless gloves?!??

Friday, November 09, 2007

Who knits in Vegas?

I do.

Mike had a conference to go to, so I went with him. It was awesome. We have been a couple of times before, but it had been 5 years. I was excited about hearing some of the slot machine clink-clink-clinking that I'm addicted to. (I'm not much of a gambler, but I do love that noise! It's like crack!) We stayed at the Venetian - yeah, baby! The thing that I loved the most about staying there was the Canyon Ranch Spa on the 4th floor. Spa services are not really my thing, but exercising is. They had all sorts of classes, all sorts of cardio equipment, strength training machines, and bottled water in every nook and cranny. I worked out twice a day for at least an hour each time. What a way to justify all of the wine, blueberry-infused sake, pumpkin cheesecake, gelato, and $140 dinners! In between my trips to the spa, I knitted. I worked on a sock for Hayden:

And Mike's vest (Twist from the Fall IK):

I have to kitchener stitch the toe of Sock #1 and start the other. These are his socks to wear to the Vandy basketball games he'll go to with Mike. (I will be sitting home, knitting. Yay for basketball season!) On Twist, I have 6 more rows to do on the front so it can match the back, sew together, do the armhole and neck edging, and block. I'd say Vegas was a good knitting trip for me.

Another thing we did in Vegas was shop. We are not shoppers by any means, but we were able to let loose in Niketown in the Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. I got some new supercool rockstar sunglasses:

with supercool rockstar detail on the side:

I also scored the new Nike Amp+, which is the shit for runners:

It's basically a remote control watch for your iPod. I have a Nike+ sensor that is on my shoe and interacts with my iPod. On my iPod screen, I can see the details of my run: time, distance, average pace, and calories burned. But it's a pain in the butt to pull your iPod out of your pocket or armband (or ass) to look at your stats mid-stride. The Amp+ allows me to just hit a button on this watch-looking thingy and hear a guy tell me my stats. (And, of course, it's a remote control for your music. If you get to a song that's not motivating at that time, just hit the fast forward button on your wrist!) How cool is that??? I did my long run with it this morning and loved it.

We also saw a couple of shows: Phantom of the Opera on Saturday night and Zumanity, the new Cirque du Soleil show, on Sunday. Phantom was incredible, Zumanity not so much. It's advertised as the sensual side of Cirque du Soleil, so I figured it'd put us in the mood to rush back to the hotel room and get our groove on. Instead, we just climbed into bed and fell asleep. There's nothing exciting about topless Cirque performers, especially when their boobs are so small due to their amazing athletic prowess.

On the knitting horizon: the Gathered Pullover from the Winter IK. My goal is to wear it to my triathlon club's holiday party on December 8th. Can I do it?

Thursday, November 01, 2007


I got my new IK today -- did you? LOVE LOVE LOVE the Gathered Pullover! I think that'll be what my birthday yarn - Frog Tree Alpaca Sport - grows up to be! But when??? Must finish Mike's vest. Must finish Hayden's Vandy socks that I just started today. Must make a couple of Christmas gifts. Ack!

In non-knitting news, I with my new-found upper body strength (thanks to the Chains hell I put myself through for a month) have developed a passion for rock climbing. A friend of mine and I went to the local climbing gym this past Tuesday night, and I had a blast. I was able to do the climbs that had overhangs, something I hadn't been able to do in the past. Huzzah for Chains!!! If I can talk Mike into it (actually, no talking is needed - just performing my wifely duty a little bit more than usual is all that it takes) I'm going to get a membership for the off-season. 6 months of climbing, killer abs classes, access to the Chains stations, and a plethora of cute shirtless climbing boys! What more could I ask for?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Gotta love him!

Now that the cooler weather is FINALLY here, we have to dress a little warmer. Hayden refuses to wear a jacket but is okay with a sweater. The return of McTavish!

What a great son - he cheerfully wears Mommy's creations!

In other knitting news, I FINALLY finished the garter stitch scarf I started on our trip to Lake Placid.

Yes, I started a simple garter stitch scarf in July and didn't finish it in October.

(Like my shirt, at least what you can see of it? It's the naked mudflap girl knitting! Awesome, huh?) It turned out pretty, but not like Jared's. Why not? Just cast on 17 stitches on size 11 needles and do garter stitch until you run out of 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon. Must be like how your cottage cheese and tomato sandwiches aren't quite as good as the ones Mama made for you.

I am knitting away on Mike's vest, but that'll be put on hold this weekend for a pair of socks for Hayden. I bought 2 skeins of Lorna's Laces in the Bee Stripe colorway because I thought they'd make the perfect accessory as he and Mike go to Vanderbilt basketball games this season. Mike and I are leaving for Las Vegas on Saturday, so I figured socks would be a better plane choice than the front of a man's sweater. Hopefully pictures of both of these items will be coming soon.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

FO: Juliet

Pattern: Zephyr's Juliet
Size: small
Yarn: Lang Yarns Eve, 5+ skeins (I think)
Needles: Denise interchangeables size 9
Discussion: I love it!!! This was my first Zephyr pattern, and I'm very happy. Like I said in an earlier post, this yarn was in my stash. The gauge is a bit smaller than the pattern called for, so I went with the small (I would've gone with the extra-small otherwise) and it turned out great. I've been wearing it all day. My thought was to wear it without buttons until I got a chance to go to the store for buttons, but the more I wear it, the more I like it without buttons. Unless someone has a strong pro-button argument, I'll leave it this way.

I was a little worried about the "poofiness" that other knitters have complained about, but I'm fine with the poof. In fact, I think the poof is quite cute and a bit girly, if I say so myself.

I said "I think" about the use of a little over 5 skeins because I didn't really keep track. I just kept going stash-diving for another skein when I needed it. I don't remember how many skeins of this yarn I bought originally and I don't really know how much I have left (my yarn closet is in TOTAL disarray right now, to the point of major embarrassment), so I'm guesstimating 5+.

Next up: to finish the Noro Kureyon garter stitch scarf started back in July (you didn't know a garter stitch scarf done on size 11 needles could take this long, huh?) and the vest in progress for DH. The back is basically done, thanks to our latest Disneyworld trip, and the seed stitch bottom border for the front has been started. I really want to dive into another Zephyr pattern (Tree Jacket for sure, and maybe Wicked with some Frog Tree Alpaca Sport that was a birthday gift back in September), but I'm promising myself that I'll finish the vest first. It's FINALLY cooling off here in Nashvegas, so maybe it'll be done at the perfect time.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Not that I really have time for this...

...but I thought I'd share pictures of my latest FOs, plus 1 WIP.

Pattern: Knitty's Clapotis
Yarn: Blue Heron Yarns beaded wool, Winterwood colorway, 2 1/2 skeins
Needles: Denise interchangeables size 7

(Yikes! What a hole in the back of my hair!)

Discussion: Yes, I'm very late to the party. My LYS is trying to show its clientel that they're Internet-savvy, so they want to have shop models of popular Internet projects. Since most of my sentences while in the shop start with, "There's this pattern on the Internet..." (much like American Pie's "One time in band camp...", except I've never stuck anything knitting-related into my vajayjay), I was an easy target. They provided the yarn (hence the use of yarn that's $26/skein), I knitted the Clap, and there you go. I think after it's hanging in the shop for a while I'll get it back, but I'm not sure. I might make another one for a gift, but this time I'll use smooth yarn. The beaded texture, while really pretty, doesn't show off the stitch definition very much.

Pattern: Mason Dixon Knitting's Heartbreakingly Cute Baby Kimono
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic, 2 skeins
Needles: Denise interchangeables, size 6
Discussion: I had just enough of this yarn left over from the Modern Log Cabin Blanket for this sweater, I had a pretty bad back spasm on Friday that left me sitting on the couch most of the weekend, and I've been invited to a baby shower this Sunday. How perfect! This pattern is a)very easy and b)true to its name - heartbreakingly cute. I found myself looking at other colors of Cotton Classic today for more baby kimonos. I don't have any other pregnant friends, so I don't need to make another one, but it's so damn cute!

This is the garter stitch portion of my Juliet. (And my boobs look fabulous! Yippee for tight tees and pushup bras!) The sleeve stitches are on holders because I thought of adding sleeves, but the more I try it on this tight long-sleeve tee, the more I like the cap sleeve look. And I LOVE the color. I'm not a girly-girl by any means, but this pink is adorable. I'm getting a slightly smaller gauge (man, Hayden is standing next to me, singing a song from Sleeping Beauty - if you could only hear him!) than the pattern calls for, but I'm cool with it. I've read that Zephyr patterns tend to run on the big side, so instead of going down a size like most bloggers have, I stayed with the small and am hoping that it'll turn out okay. I think it will. I'm about to start the lace section, and I'm a little worried. I was reading Craftster tonight, and some people went down a needle size to eliminate some of the poofiness. I didn't find the pattern to look poofy at all, so I don't really know what to do. If I stay on my 9s, will it balloon out right below my boobs? If I go down (wow - going down twice in one paragraph - DH could only be so lucky!) to 8s, will it look too flat? I think what I'm going to do is take my other WIP, DH's sweater vest, with me to Disneyworld and save Juliet until I get home on Monday. Or if I can get enough done tonight, I may have enough time to knit some before we leave tomorrow so I can see what I like. Off I go to pack! Tomorrow's it's off to Florida until Monday!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

No pictures for you!

I have been knitting up a storm lately, so I have a couple of FOs to show you and 1 WIP. Unfortunately, the batteries in our camera decided to die, so I have to wait until Walgreens opens up. These are the pictures you're missing out on right now:

Finished my Clap. (Why I put the link, I don't know. EVERYONE is familiar with the Clap by now.) Really pretty.

Started a baby sweater on Thursday, finished it last night. So damn cute it makes you want to puke.

I'm over halfway finished with the back of a sweater vest for Mike. Looking good. Really like my yarn choice.

I just bought the Zephyr girls' Juliet pattern and am getting ready to swatch for it. I have some pale pink Lang Yarns Eve in my stash that I think will work perfectly. I wasn't impressed with this cardi at first, but it grew on me. Also, I think the idea of making a really quick knit for me is enticing; I have done so many projects lately for others that I'm feeling a little neglected. Wouldn't it be nice if I could get it done before we leave for Disneyworld on Wednesday evening? I don't know if the weather's going to be cool enough for a little cardi like this, but I'd be willing to pack it just in case. I may be able to do it. My back is totally messed up right now, I think due to a hilly bike ride right before my Chains class (scroll halfway down the page and click on the guy standing on a box, holding a bar) last Thursday night , so I haven't moved from my couch very much since yesterday morning.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

(Close but no cigar) times 2

A couple of weeks ago, I participated in the Music City Triathlon here in Nashville. I really didn't have a time goal in mind; I just wanted to do the race because a) the people I had coached all summer were doing it as their big finale and b) it was my birthday and I figured that would be a great way to start the day. I had a blast - I was with all of my friends; all of my triathlete newbies crossed the finish line with smiling faces; I felt the race went well for me despite my inability to get my wetsuit off of my right foot and the rain that we had to deal with during part of the bike ride - but when I got home and looked at the results, I was a little disappointed. I came in 4th in my age group. They gave awards out to the top 3 in each age group. I missed it by a little over 3 minutes, and the girl who got third is a friend of mine who drafted off of me during the swim. Ugh. Always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Here are the details:

Swim: 31:35 - the swim was a little long, and boy, I felt it!
T1: 2:52 - couldn't get my wetsuit off
Bike: 1:10:45 - this could've been faster, but when the course started doing its out and back thing, I started paying more attention to the athletes going the other way so I could make sure that all of my trainees had made it out of the water and onto their bikes
T2: 1:20 - if I could learn how to focus in transition, I'd be much better at it. Coming off the bike, I had this conversation: "Hey, Richard, I heard you had a wreck recently. How are you doing? Man, that sucks. Well, see you later!" WTF??? Keep in mind that at the Memphis in May triathlon several years ago, I stopped on my way from the swim to my bike to talk to a friend of mine who had had a panic attack in the water and had to be pulled out. I consoled her until I remembered that I had a race to do.
Run: 49:58 - I surprised myself with this time. My first mile was 9:25, but my second was under 7:30. What a way to pick it up! I ran decently yet still had it in me to say hi to friends. The course may have been a little short, but nobody has confirmed that with me, so I'm going to pretend it wasn't.
Total time: 2:37:47

After Music City, I turned my focus on preparing for the Big South Fork 17.5-mile trail race. My SO* and I drove to Big South Fork Friday afternoon, set up camp, enjoyed a couple of little hikes, ate a good meal, then sat under the stars and drank red wine until we were ready to crawl into our sleeping bags.

Me at the Twin Arches in Pickett State Park

John under the North Arch

The next morning started a little chilly, but it didn't take long to warm up. I was glad I decided to put my big girl panties on and ditch the idea of starting out with a long-sleeved shirt on over my tank top. That would've come off within the first 10 minutes and since I was in the woods, it would've had to have stayed tied around my waist for the rest of the race. I didn't expect any stellar time - after all, this was a trail race, a long one at that. When you start to get tired, you have to pay extra attention to picking your feet up so that you don't get bitten by the root and rock monsters that live in the woods. I did have a small goal, though: to break 3 hours. The last time I had run this race, I was on pace to do that until Mike rolled his ankle badly around mile 6 and I stayed with him while he suffered to the finish line. Yesterday morning I was running really well. For 2 days I had battled a little tweak in my abs that was result of doing fly kick on my back with fins on in swim practice Wednesday morning, but fortunately it was gone by race time. I looked up occasionally to marvel in the beauty that surrounded me, but overall I focused on the trail. I was doing great until I fell around mile 11. Lots of people fall during this race, but in all of the times I had done this before, I had never fallen. Guess there's a first time for everything. My fall was very graceful, though - I rolled then jumped up and got right back on track. Not a big deal. Unfortunately I fell again about 30 minutes later. This one was a little worse, but no blood was shed. I just got really dirty on my right side and now have a couple of cuts on my knee. Soon after that I stumbled pretty badly, coming oh-so-close to biting it a third time. I decided then that I really needed to slow down. The trail was very rooty and rocky at that point, and the patchy sunlight that was coming in through the leaves was making it really tough to see. It was more of a blind run, and I just started hoping that where my foot landed was going to be an okay place. I ended up meeting my goal - my time was 2:56:25 - but when they did the awards and I found out that third place in my age group (a girl from Nashville who is dumb as a box of rocks and has the most annoying voice on the planet) ran a 2:50:12, I was disappointed in myself. If only I had been able to keep my pace up. If only I hadn't fallen, especially that second time. I looked at the race results this morning, and I didn't come in 4th this time, but 5th. So close again.

On the drive home, John and I decided that I'm going to have a breakthrough year next year. I'm focusing on short, fast races that'll teach me how to push past the pain, a pain different than Ironman pain. Ironman races are super tough, but that's because the distance is ridiculous. You have to grind it out for the entire day at a slow/maintainable pace rather than going balls to the wall at an intensity that makes you want to pass out. I have to learn the art of increasing my pain threshold and getting to the point at which I feel like puking. Over the winter I'll do short foot races, mostly 5Ks and 10Ks with 1 or 2 half marathons thrown in. And come next year, I'll be building a shelf for all of my trophies! But first: Disneyworld in less than 2 weeks!

Can you tell that a certain little 7-year old boy is excited?

* - My SO is a term of endearment and nothing more. He's just a really close friend. My DH is totally cool with it. Don't want anyone getting any weird ideas that I'm a skanky, cheatin' ho.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

F*ck the skirt

2 weekends ago I went to Louisville with some friends to volunteer and spectate at Ironman Louisville (more on that in a minute), so I wanted some mindless stockinette stitch to work on in the car. My goal was to get past the lace part of the Rebecca skirt I had chosen to do. The night before I left, I was knitting away, watching "The Devil Wears Prada" and confident that I was going to get through the lace before I went to bed. Uh-oh. I realized I was knitting a moebius. A f*cking moebius. That damn first stitch got twisted when I joined way back in the beginning. So I ripped it out, cast on 399 stitches AGAIN, and got a migraine before heading to bed at 11pm. At 445am I'm up and out the door, knitting in hand. I was SO CAREFUL not to twist that damn first stitch again, so I knit with confidence in car that morning. On the way home the next morning (yes, it was a quick trip), I double-checked my knitting. F*cking moebius #2. Sh!t. F*ck the Rebecca skirt. I am now working on a vest for DH and a Clapotis (better late than never, huh?). Pictures will be posted later this week.

Ironman Louisville report: My friends and I caught bikes from noon to 3pm and had a blast. As the athletes reached the end of the 112-mile bike leg, they dismounted, ran/walked/limped with their bikes to the transition area, threw/gave their bikes to us, and headed off to the changing tents to get ready for their marathon. We worked the first shift, so we got the fast people's bikes. It was so cool yet a little intimidating! They are the ones running fast, throwing their bikes at you. The trick was to grab it by the handlebars and the saddle then immediately pick it up off the ground to stop the momentum. One nerd in my tri club didn't do that and ended up hitting the ground, pulling the bike on him. Goober.

After the bike catching, we headed to a spot on the run course that was right in front of where the atheletes either turned right to head out on their second loop or went straight to the finish line. (Yes, it's cruel to do that. Every Ironman I've done has a run course like that. Bastards.) We drank beer and cheered on our friends. Some of us made friends with some guys across the street who are in a tri club in Indianapolis. We've decided that our club and their club are going to go head to head in a club competition at the Memphis in May Triathlon next spring. Fun! We haven't determined the rules yet, but it's going to be a blast. We exchanged email addresses, and the trash talking has already begun.

And now for the Uber-Nerd of the Weekend Report: Mike and I took our annual trip to Chicago this past weekend. We caught a couple of Cubs games, learned how to play Beer Pong (I'm actually pretty good), and ate a lot of food (I'm going to teach a killer Spin class tonight to work off some of that Deep Dark Chocolate Fudge Cake I ate Sunday night at the Grand Lux Cafe). At the game on Sunday, I was taking a break from sitting in the hot sun by standing in some shade in the walkway behind the bleachers. All of a sudden I saw him: Derek from MTV's "Real World" and 3 seasons of "Real World/Road Rules Challenge"! I am a HUGE MTV freak, and although I don't find Derek cute, I like him. The exchange went like this:

Me: Oh my God! You're from the Real World!
Him: No, I'm from here. I was on a show called Road Rules and a couple of the Challenge seasons.
Me: Oh, I know. I know who you are, Derek.
Him: Nice to meet you. What's your name?
Me: Stephanie.
**Weird pause in conversation. I look at him, he looks at me. I struggle with the right words.**
Me: I'm 35 years old and I watch all of those MTV shows like I'm 12.

What?!??? WTF??? Fortunately he and his friends were really trashed, so I'm sure they forgot all about it 5 minutes after walking away from me. At least I hope so. I hope I don't see him on one of those reunion shows, answering the "Do you get recognized a lot out in public?" with "Yeah. I once ran into this woman at a Cubs game who told me that she's 35 but watches all of the shows like she's 12. What a nerd!" (Audience, show host, and fellow cast members all break into laughter. Meanwhile, a middle-aged mom who tries to be hip but really is not sits on her bed, knitting in her lap, and cries tears of embarrassment.)

Friday, August 24, 2007

Ready to be gifted

Finally! All folded up and ready to be delivered to the deserving recipient.

Pattern: Log Cabin Blanket from Mason Dixon Knitting
Yarn: Tahki Cotton Classic, I don't know how many skeins (more on that in a minute)
Needles: Denise Interchangeables size 5
Date started: somewhere around the beginning of May
Date completed: August 24th

I love this blanket, although I got stuck in the long-ass rows of garter stitch rut that many other Log Cabin Blanketers out there have found themselves in. I tried so hard to resist the temptation of other, more interesting knits along the way, but I caved a couple of times. Had I not done my Coachella or my Indigo Ripples Skirt (or started that Rebecca skirt), this blanket would've been done about a month ago. It's fine, though. Right now it's a million degrees here in Nashville, so I have a feeling it's going to go unused for a while.

I didn't follow the pattern exactly, but when you're doing a blanket like this, you don't have to. I cast on however many stitches I wanted to and did however many garter ridges I wanted to. I don't know the dimensions because I haven't measured them. I don't know how many skeins I used because I just kept going back to my LYS to buy 2 or 3 at a time whenever I needed them. It looks much better in the checkbook when you do that compared to spending over $200 at one time. I would've had to put out for a trip like that! (You know, yarn sex: to soften the blow - pun intended - of an expensive single trip to the LYS.) Another thing I didn't do was follow the instructions for the edging. Like a friend who did the baby blanket version, I just picked up stitches then turned right around and bound them off. Worked just fine.

(Yes, he's wearing a Santa Claus hat. He's been into Christmas ever since our trip to the North Pole and Santa's Workshop while we were in New York last month.)

I see a couple more Log Cabins in my future; DH and my SO have requested one of their very own. Obviously ours will be in the purple and green family since those are the colors of our new bedding (we got tired of the big white flower on the black background - it showed dog hair and cookie crumbs too well). My SO's will probably be something bluish.

Next up, though, will be the completion of my Rebecca skirt and a Clapotis that I'm going to do as a shop model for my LYS. The skirt has not reached a picture-worthy stage and the yarn hasn't been chosen for the Clap, so you'll just have to read about them. My goal is to finish the lace part of the skirt (I'm halfway there) before this Sunday. I am going with my SO and 2 other girls to Louisville to volunteer then spectate at Ironman Louisville, and I need some easy stockinette stitch for the car ride. Wish us and especially all of the athletes good luck - it'll be way too f*ckin' hot!!

One more shot:

OF COURSE we have already seen "High School Musical 2" several times already! This picture was taken at our YMCA's pool party last Saturday night. Hayden's jump is perfect - he looks just like the kids in the poster. The movie premiered on Friday, then on Saturday the Y showed it in the pool area so the kids could play and watch the movie at the same time. They had a drawing for prizes after the movie was over, and we won a soundtrack. Huzzah! Saves us $17!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Mountain Lakes Triathlon race report

I could also title this post "Why Nakedie Doesn't Do Sprints."


I think I mentioned in a post from a couple of months ago that I coach a triathlon club for beginners. We are 4 1/2 weeks away from our main goal, the Music City Triathlon on September 16th. Along the way, I've encouraged them to do other races - a sprint with a pool swim, a longer sprint with a pool swim, an even longer sprint with a lake swim - to help them tackle the Olympic distance. Mountain Lakes was on their calendar and several of them had decided to go, so my original thought was to go and cheer them on. After all, my Ironman was just 3 weeks before that, so there'd be no way I could do the race myself. About a week and a half after Ironman, I must've had a brain fart because I thought I was actually rested enough to do this sprint. So I signed up and responded with, "Yeah, I'm fine - it's weird!" to everyone who was surprised to hear that I was racing 3 weeks after putting in 140.6 miles.

Race morning came and my legs were a little sore from a sculpting class I taught Tuesday morning (during which we did lots of walking lunges - stupid, I know - quit lecturing me - I'm almost done subbing that damn class), but I decided I was going to give it my all. One of my goals for next year is to do shorter races and regain some of my speed lost over the past 3 years while churning out hours upon hours of long distance training, so why not push myself as hard as I could and see where I'm starting from?

The swim was okay - a little too much algae, but I got out under my goal of 12 minutes (no, I'm not a fast swimmer - working on that) - and the bike was fine. However, the run SUCKED ASS. That's where I realized that no, I'm not as recovered as I thought. I ran as hard as I could for the first mile, then had to slow down. My first mile was 7:50, my overall pace for 3 miles was 8:27 - that shows you how much I slowed down. A friend of mine was at the finish line, and the first thing I said to him was, "Doing a sprint 3 weeks after Ironman is one of the worst f*cking decisions I've ever made." Man, that hurt! Man, I have a lot of work to do!

After the pain wore off, I realized that I was okay with my performance. My goal was 1:30, my time was 1:28:59. I came in 11th out of 40 in my age group, which is quite competitive. Not too shabby for someone who a)did an Ironman 3 weeks before and b)is NOT a sprinter. Honestly, the last time I did a race that short was 5 years ago. But I foresee more of those in my future; getting to that point where you're not quite sure what's going to happen first, puking or passing out, is actually a bit fun in a very sick sort of way.

Swim: 11:46 for 600 yards (no, I'm not a fast swimmer)
T1: 1:58
Bike: 48:38 for 16.2 miles (20.0mph average)
T2: 1:07
Run: 25:22 for 3 miles (8:27/mile average)

Next up: I Run for the Party 5K next Saturday night. After that will be the Music City Triathlon on September 16th.

PS - In case you're wondering, all of my peeps (the people I coach) finished the race! There were 2 of them who had never done a triathlon before, and 3 of them who had never swum in a lake before. I was a very proud mama. One of my guys made it a point to let me know that he had beaten me ("Stephanie, if you're looking for your name on that list of overall results, just find my name and count 10 below that to find your name." - yeah, that didn't fly with me too well) but when I got home and saw the results, I found out he beat me by only 33 seconds. Come Music City, I'll show him who's boss! GAME ON!!!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Tom Boonen has a sexyback

For you non-Tour de France watchers, Tom Boonen is a sprinter from Belgium who is freakin' flippin' HOT! Check him out in this video. You'll know why I always say, "Tom Boonen can stick his bone in me any day!" (And check out the t-shirt he's wearing 1:22 into it. I guess all I need to do is get him to go on one date with me.)

On the knitting front, I started a new project 2 days ago because I went to Alabama this weekend to do a triathlon. Makes sense, right? My poor Log Cabin Blanket is too damn big to take on a road trip, and my Noro Iro scarf is nearly finished, and I love my Indigo Ripples Skirt very much, so I started another skirt. It's this skirt from Rebecca magazine number 29 (the third picture). I'm using Safari (the recommended yarn) in a dusty purple. I haven't knit anything purple in a long time, so I'm due. A friend of mine knit one for a shop model at my LYS and it's very cute. It might be a tad see-through, so I won't be surprised if I have to sew (or get someone to sew for me) an underskirt. I'm not very far into it, so totally not picture-worthy.

More on the triathlon from this morning once results are posted. Then I'll have more to comment on it. But I'll leave you with this: a sprint triathlon is NOT the thing to do 3 weeks after an Ironman. Ouch!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Once, twice, three times an Ironman!

We're home from Lake Placid, where on Sunday I became an Ironman for the third time. The LAST time (at least for a year). Lake Placid has got to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. I was talking about how much I wanted to move there even before we got out of the car. The race itself was awesome. It was tough and I finished slower than what I had hoped for, but that's okay. I'm just glad that I got to be a part of such a wonderful experience and that I crossed the finish line. My time was 14:20:08 - faster than Wisconsin but slower than Florida. I didn't expect it to be faster than Florida - Florida is so flat and boring that if you could figure out a way to strap a pillow onto your handlebars you could take a nap on the bike ride - but I didn't expect to go over 13:30, and definitely not 14:00. Oh well - my third one in 3 years and my second in 8 months. I was tired. I won't bore y'all with details - after all, most (not all) of my readers are knitters, not triathletes, so the talk of misplacing my bike gloves in T1 or stomach cramps while in the aero position or the lack of embarrassment while farting during the run doesn't really mean much - but I will give you some pictures.

We flew into Albany then rented a car and drove for 2 hours to Lake Placid. The scenery was gorgeous enough for me not to knit in the car, but Hayden missed out:

The view from our hotel, the Crown Plaza:

The lake you're looking at is Mirror Lake, the lake that the swim portion of the race takes place in. It is the narrowest of all Ironman swims, and therefore the toughest. I felt like people were trying to intentionally drown me by swimming on top of me most of the time I was in the water. It was a slugfest.

Hayden and I on Main Street 2 nights before the race:

I think this was taken during the start of the second loop of the run:

I say second and not first loop because I was smiling on the first loop.

Hayden found some dirt to play in while waiting to see me throughout the day:

And speaking of my little cutie patootie, here are some pictures at one of his now Most Favorite Places on Earth, North Pole, NY. Santa lives there! (Isn't it amazing that the North Pole looks like a huge ice dildo?)

The race was Sunday. We stayed in Lake Placid on Monday, then went to Niagara Falls on Tuesday. Before we left, Hayden got to get a couple of shots in on the putting green in front of our hotel:

Then it was off to the falls. We went to the Canadian side, which we had heard is much better than the New York side. Hayden is faking a smile in this picture:

The Falls were too much for him - too noisy, too wet, too fast, too everything. He was much happier when we went in the gift shop and he got to try on hats:

After a dinner in Canada at an Italian restaurant with a mariachi band playing on the patio (WTF???), we went to our hotel in Buffalo for a 5-hour sleep before getting up to fly home this morning. I. AM. TIRED.

On the knitting front, it was all about the garter stitch during this trip. I got about 25 more rows done on my Log Cabin Blanket, and I worked on a garter stitch scarf out of Noro Iro on the plane. I visited Adirondack Yarns in Lake Placid on Saturday, but there wasn't anything there that wowed me. I was disappointed. Oh well - not that I needed to buy anything anyway. I am bound and determined to finish that blanket before I start anything else. I need to hurry up because I need to knit Hayden more sweaters for this school year. They've come up with a Standard School Attire, and now he can wear only pink, red, blue, green or white tops with his black, navy blue, or khaki pants. (He's also supposed to keep his shirt tucked in at all times, but that's not gonna happen. This autistic second-grader will be pulling his shirt out of his pants all day long and not learn a thing if they try to enforce that with him.) No, I'm not really happy about this, but I guess I can understand. Too many kids out there have their butts hanging out of their pants or wear shirts that say "You've never met a motherf*cker quite like me" across the front. (Okay, I've never seen a kid in a shirt like that, but we did see a dad wearing one while he rode gokarts with his family on Father's Day. Ah, only in the South.)