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?