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.)

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Conversation with Obama

Obama: So, are you whipping her into shape?
Me: I'm trying to!
Obama: Well, you look like you could whip anyone into shape!

No, this isn't a conversation I had with Barack in my dreams. It happened in REAL LIFE at 715am yesterday morning. ACK!!!!

Yesterday morning I was training a client at the Wellness Center at Baptist Hospital. I wanted her to run some hill repeats but it was raining outside, so we got on a treadmill. I'm having her warm up, we're talking, I'm looking at the food journal she gave me, and this guy walks by. I saw him out of the corner of my eye and thought, "Man, that looks like Barack Oba....wait! That IS Barack Obama!!!" When celebrities who are in town and are staying at this one certain hotel want to get a workout in, they go to the Wellness Center. It's not the nicest facility in town, but it's got what you need and it's not crowded at all. I looked at my client, and her eyes were huge. He got on the only treadmill left, which was between 2 guys. They started saying hi and shaking his hand, so I naturally went over and introduced myself. Insert our conversation here. I offered to whip him into shape, but I guess he just wanted to get a run in with his iPod. He's quite a runner! My client and I couldn't breathe for a while - so totally cool. And the secret service guys were cool too. They thought it was awesome that I do Ironman triathlons. After he ran for a bit, he went downstairs and played a little basketball with a friend of mine. ACK! How cool is that?!??

Friday, September 26, 2008

Self-Portrait Friday

I know that a lot of bloggers pick one day a week to post a self portrait, so I'll follow suit. Here's Hayden starting things off:

I love this. He has learned how to use the camera to take pictures of himself. He has a specific routine: put the camera on the floor, stand up, do a dance (the same one every time, of course), do a belly-flop and slide across the floor towards the camera, then press the button. The above shot was taken on his very first try. Since Mike and I laughed pretty hard when he showed it to us, he took some more. Here are a couple of his others:

(Okay, that last one was taken by me, but it's still great. We drove home from swim practice Tuesday night with the windows down, and this is what he looked like after sticking his head out the entire way. We're growing his hair out, Jonas Brothers style. I'd love for it to curl a little more - Nick Jonas is my favorite. That is, if I had to pick a fave Jonas.)

And a shot of me in another FO:

Yeah, I'm boring. How many pictures of this sweater have you seen in Blogland? The infamous Rusted Root by the Zephyr gals. But it is a great sweater, and it was super-quick. 2 weeks from start to wearable. I used Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece like the pattern called for and did the next to smallest size. (And yes, my hair is shorter and looking a bit curlier than it has over the last year. I've given up on trying to have Jackie Warner hair. My hair just doesn't want to be straight. I had a client who had the hots for me and said, "You should take advice from your hair," when I told her that. I have to give her credit for coming up with a funny so quickly, but I still had to fire her. Much to her dismay (and begging and pleading) I would not go carpet munching. Sorry - I'm married to a man. I like bananas, not tuna or clams.)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Real boys wear pink!

Hayden's new obsession is the Cirque du Soleil show "La Nouba" at Downtown Disney. Dressing up has also become one of his new loves, so he decided that he absolutely HAS to be the Green Bird character from the show. The Green Bird has a pointy hat with 2 antennae at the top, a purple and yellow shirt, purple and yellow tights, some sort of tutu, yellow and red socks, and yellow shoes. Oh, and his face is painted white. Here is Hayden's interpretation of the Green Bird:

The skirt was originally some sort of headdress that he made at camp this past summer. The mask is in lieu of paint because it's way less messy. And the socks are our collaborative creation:

We went to Publix one Friday night and I let him pick out the colors of Kool-Aid he thought were Green Bird sock worthy - Cherry and Lemonade. I put one end of the hank in one pot and the other end in another. My goal was to have yellow, red and white stripes. When I started these socks last Friday night (yes - finished in a week! woot!), Mike said, "They look a little girlie." Obviously some of the yarn wasn't submersed well in the Cherry pot (wow, that sounds a little nasty!) and came out a little pink. Oh well. Hayden likes pink and looks good wearing it.

(He controlled this photo shoot. He kept getting into poses then saying, "Take a picture? Let me see!")

I finished these in record time - 1 week from start to finish. I never have made socks that fast, even on bigger needles! Part of my motivation was him being totally up my butt - "But where are your Green Bird socks?" They fit perfectly right now but in hindsight I should've made them a little longer so he could get a little more wear out of them. He's really enjoying them right now, though, so I guess that's all that matters. He wore them to drum lessons today, along with his white long-sleeve t-shirt with red stripes across the chest, madras plaid shorts and yellow and blue Crocs. My son, the fashion plate.

In other knitting news, I turned in my donation to the Jewish Community Center's silent auction this past Thursday morning:

(I'm going to start a fashion trend of wearing a pretty lace shawl with workout clothes!)

The infamous Kimono Shawl from Folk Shawls book by Cheryl Oberle. The yarn is Jaggerspun wool/silk blend. I used size 5 Addi Turbo lace needles and did only 14 repeats of the pattern. The pattern calls for 25 repeats, but I didn't have that much yarn. (The yarn was from my stash. One complete ball and about 3/4 of another one.) The shawl turned out to be a good size, IMHO, so I can't imagine how big it would be with 11 more repeats! I really like it and hope that it can bring in some good money. Every time I knit lace I really enjoy it; unfortunately I don't dress up enough to warrant many lace shawls.

Next topic: exercise. The triathlon season is coming to a close, and I did not do one single race. I did my share of volunteering and coaching, though! It wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be, standing on the sidelines and cheering everyone else on, but I am ready to go into next season healthy and primed to kick some serious ass. My ankle is still funky so I don't run very far or very fast (tried to push it at a Labor Day 5k race and ended up in pain the rest of the week - my time was still 4 minutes slower than my last 5k, so the pain wasn't even worth it) and I can't wear fins at swim practice, but I can do other things. I teach 3 Spin classes, 2 Bootcamp classes, and 2 strength classes each week. Those are my clients'/students' workouts; as far as my own, I've been focusing on strength. This past week started yet another 6-week stint in Chains hell, and I'm working once a week with a trainer who makes my legs feel like they're going to explode. (Yes, I'm a trainer myself so it sounds funny for me to work with a trainer. I know how to work out and I do it on my own a couple of times a week, but I really want that burn that you get when someone else is pushing you harder than you normally push yourself.) My goal is to become Super Buff Woman over the next 5 months, then turn my focus back to triathlon training and develop speed. I've already got races picked out - 2-3 sprints, 2-3 Olympics and 1 half-Ironman - and I hope that my planning will produce a lean, mean triathlon machine that'll make every woman 35-39 shake in their tri suits!

On a sour note: we found out on Tuesday that Rudy, our 13-year old Jack Russell terrier, has liver cancer. Tuesday was also my birthday - happy freakin' birthday to me. (That day I also had a fender bender in my new Mini Cooper convertible and tore a hole in the right side of my front bumper.) It's pretty widespread, so his days are numbered. We've had Rudy since he fit in the palm of my hand. This is a tough thing to deal with. We're trying to just enjoy him as long as possible, but the reality is that "as long as possible" isn't going to be that long. But maybe it will. He's an incredible dog and has amazed the vet time and time again. He actually died on Monday morning (went into cardiac arrest at the vet - they were able to revive him, then had to tell us what had happened in the examination room and ask us what we wanted them to do if it happened again) and was pretty bad off the rest of the day. Before we took him home that afternoon, the vet said if he didn't make any progress in the next 24 hours we'd have to talk about what to do. The next morning he was standing up on his own, walking from the bedroom to the laundry room. In the last couple of days he's jumped off both the bed and the couch, and has gotten up the step to the front porch on his own. He's trying his hardest to hang on.

(Old picture. Hayden's hair is much much more unruly these days.)

Friday, August 29, 2008


It's been over a month since I've blogged. Sorry. I've been busy, both in good and not-so-good ways, and if I'm on the computer I'm either working or perusing Ravelry. I have about 20 minutes to blog while my Ravelympics project is soaking in a Eucalan bath. (Obviously I didn't make the deadline. Oops. Second try - I think I'm retiring.) This is the point at which my last Knitting Olympics project took a turn for the worse. I dropped the baton, I fell off the balance beam, I rode my bike into a ditch - whatever you want to call it. Wish me luck that it doesn't happen again!

Anyway, here's a pic of my last FO:

Pattern: Liesl by Ysolda Teague
Yarn: Blue Sky Dyed Organic Cotton
Needles: can't remember - 10s or 10.5s?
Discussion: I was turned on to this cardi by a Raveling friend. What a cute and quick project! I actually made 2 of these in the same color - one for me with cap sleeves and one for my sister with short sleeves. It's very cute and has lots of different variations, so I'll probably make some more. (I should - since Ysolda is in Europe, the pattern cost over $8.)
Here's what I get when I take the bathroom mirror shot:

And here's what I get when my husband takes a shot from behind after I've deleted the one of my ass (he always thinks that's funny to do when I say, "Will you take a picture of the back of this sweater, please?"):

Nothing exciting, but very cute.

Hopefully soon I'll have pictures of my Ravelympics project. I did a Kimono Shawl out of some pink wool/silk blend I had in my stash. I'm donating it to a silent auction. I'll be curious to see how much money it'll go for.

Next on the horizon are some socks for Hayden (he's really into Cirque du Soleil's La Nouba show at Downtown Disney and loves the Green Bird, so we Kool-Aid dyed some Louet Gems sport weight yarn in red and yellow last Friday - to be able to understand what I just said, visit Disneyworld's website and find the info for La Nouba), a Rusted Root for me, and a sweater for Mike. His birthday was August 16th, and when he opened his gift, he said, "You got me yarn?" But it wasn't just yarn, it was 20 skeins of Wool of the Andes from Knitpicks in a grass green color. It was the closest I could come to the color of the green sweaters he liked in the Kenneth Cole store in Chicago. My plan is to make Avast from Knitty (sorry, no links - being lazy). After I showed him that, then he got more excited about getting just yarn for his birthday.

Okay, off to the bathroom to my shawl. Send me some good vibes!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Oh baby!

I finished my Smocked Babydoll Top last week and finally got around to asking Hayden to take a picture:

Pattern: Smocked Babydoll Top from Classic Elite Yarns Make It Modern leaflet, smallest size
Yarn: Classic Elite Yarns Cotton Bam Boo
Discussion: I am very happy with this top. I love the style, I love the fit, I love the neckline, I love the texture on the top, I love the yarn, and I love the color. This yarn has become one of my Desert Island Yarns, along with Cascade 220 and Rowan Kid Classic. It is so easy to work with and so very pretty. The pattern, even with all of its seed stitch, twisted stitches and cables, was pretty easy to follow. I did a lot of it in the car to and from Purl Jam. Closeup shots:

I'm getting better at taking the bathroom mirror shots - I think.

Who doesn't love a top that shows just the right amount of cleavage?

And here's a shot of my budding photographer, marching in a parade in his Thing 1 costume:

Yes, it's hot here in Nashvegas. He was a sweaty mess when we made him take that costume off.

Speaking of sweating, I'm getting back into working out and not a moment too soon - since the blood clot thing happened, I've gained about 8 pounds. It's so frustrating. I am 3 pounds over the number I said I'd never get to again, and I have become so self-conscious at the pool that I immediately run for a towel to wrap around my waist the minute I get out of the water. Skirts that used to sit low on my hips are now around my waist, so I've been living in running shorts and camis or sundresses. Running will really help me get this excess weight off, but I can't run yet. Ugh. I know that it'll eventually come off and I'll get back to where I want to be, but it's still not a fun place to be at the moment. And in addition to feeling pudgy and yucky, I'm slow. I went to swim practice this Sunday for the first time since the beginning of March. I have been swimming on my own and have tried to push the pace a bit, but it's hard when you're by yourself. As I started to get in the slowest lane, everyone else in that lane started telling me I didn't belong there, I needed to move up, they're slow, blah blah blah. I had to actually argue with them that I belonged there, and sure enough I was right - I was the slowest in the lane. It's embarrassing to be the girl who had the rockin' body in the bikini and could keep up a decent pace but now is soft and slow and running around the deck with a towel around her waist. I must keep telling myself that this too shall pass. A good friend has told me several times that a setback is a setup for a comeback. What the f*ck ever.

Okay, enough whining and back to knitting. I have started a new project: the Sasha skirt by Louet. I'm using 4 colors of Claudia Handpainted linen that I got at Purl Jam. Hopefully it'll go fast because I'd like to have it done in time for our Chicago trip in the beginning of August. I've also swatched for a Central Park Hoodie in Jo Sharp DK Wool Tweed. Mosaic Yarn Shop, the shop in Virginia that hosted Purl Jam, is doing a KAL, so I'm playing from far away. And I'm still on Sleeve Island with my friend's Fair Isle cardi. I'm working on both sleeves at the same time, and I'd like to get them done by the end of August.

Off to knit a bit more before Hayden and I spend some time in the pool. And no, I wont' be forgetting that towel!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Knitterly weekend

This weekend I went to the Purl Jam knitting retreat in Blacksburg, VA. Gina, the owner of Mosaic Yarn Shop, organized a wonderful weekend full of shopping, knitting, and taking classes. The instructors were Annie Modesitt, Cornelia Tuttle-Hamilton, and Jared. I, of course, am a big fan of Jared's, so I had picked 2 of his classes as my first choice and 2 as my second choice. When I got my class assignments, I found out that I was in ALL of his classes. Ack! What was he going to think of me? Would we become friends, or would he think I was some nerdy Brooklyn Tweed groupie?? It was all good, though. He didn't think I was weird (or at least didn't let on that he did). After spending the weekend with him, I feel obligated to design an aran sweater knit in the round then steeked (!!!) to become a cardigan. I think I'll do this for Hayden for the fall - smaller scale, plus his McTavish cardigan is getting a wee bit small.

Yesterday morning Annie did a Tips and Tricks class for everyone. She's great - she teaches you the most amazing things so thoroughly that there's no way you won't catch on before you leave the room, and she does it in a very funny, entertaining way. Be forewarned, though: if you're in one of her classes, DON'T TALK. She's very clear that she is the only one to be talking.

In addition to taking classes from these incredible designers, I also did some shopping. 15 skeins of tweedy grey Kathmandu Aran for a Cobblestone Pullover for Mike. (I'm not providing a link to the sweater. If you're a knitter, you know which one I'm talking about. If you're not a knitter, you probably really don't care what it looks like. You can wait for the FO.) 10 skeins of Claudia's Handpainted wet spun linen for the Sasha skirt. 2 books - Cornelia's Noro Revisited and Yahaira Ferreira's Sensual Knits, which has a Jared design in it. I almost bought some more yarn for a Norah Gaughan cardi that I've been coveting for a while, but there were only 2 skeins of a color that I needed 3 of. Mike probably went in there before me and hid it so I couldn't buy it.

Here are some pictures from the weekend:

Is Jared really about to cut his knitting? In front of EVERYONE??? Yikes!

I suggested that he do a shot of tequila before picking up the scissors, but he declined. What a brave man.

Jared wearing the infamous Cobblestone.

Me with Jared and Cornelia. Although I didn't take any of her classes, I did get to spend some time with her. She's really funny and very super-cool.

Jared, Cornelia, Gina and Annie. Gina is kick-ass. I'd totally hang out in her shop if I lived in Blackburg. Go to her shop blog to see more Purl Jam pics, including one of me flipping her the bird.

I got quite a bit of knitting done in the car. I'm almost done with my Babydoll Top - a picture of it should be coming within the next several days. I must get it done soon so I can cast on for my new skirt and also for my Katharine Vest that I keep blogging about. And I also have to start designing Hayden's Aran cardigan. And I have some socks to make for him. And I bought the Rusted Root pattern last week. And Mike's Cobblestone. And I'm going to do a second Cobblestone for Hayden. And I'm going to join Mosaic's knitalong for a Central Park Hoodie. Good thing I'm an injured triathlete this summer and have more time on my hands!!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

You've heard of Bennifer and TomKat - now meet...

... Snow Claus!

Yeah, I know - kinda scary looking. But props to Hayden - he created this character himself. Was dressed up as a full-blown Santa, then must've gotten tired of the beard and hat, so changed into Snow White wig.

This is his rendition of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast, ice cream drip down the shirt and all.

Update on the clot: have been to the doctor 3 times since I've been back in Nashvegas, and this past Thursday got some good news. It's not a deep vein, life threatening clot like we originally thought, but rather a thrombotitis of the popiteal vein. Your average blood clot behind the knee. The treatment is still the same. Lovenox shots in the stomach will continue until Monday morning, Coumadin will continue for 3-6 months. I have to monitor the amount of vitamin K in my diet, and I cannot drink alcohol. I have to get my blood checked every week to make sure I'm taking the right amount of Coumadin, and I have to be careful not to get bruised or cut. I can't ride my bike (if I have a wreck, I'd be SOL) or rock climb, and I have to be careful when shaving or flossing. And I can't pick my nose - bummer.

So in lieu of the working out I can't do, I have been knitting a lot. I'm plugging away on my uber-cute smocked babydoll top, but WIP pics are so boring that I won't subject you to mine. I got a bit done today at our local WWKIP* meetup. It rained in the beginning, so our turnout was small.

Still fun, though.

Must get done with this top soon - the list of projects keeps growing. Damn you, Ravelry! Sleeves for Alice, Katharine Vest from Spring IK, Rusted Root, February Lady Sweater, Cobblestone Pullover, Unmentionables, Rugby sweater for Hayden, purl-free Monkeys, striped socks for Hayden, River Forest Gansey, Hanami Stole, Pomatomus, Ziggy ...

* - WWKIP is Worldwide Knit in Public for my non-knitting readers.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Un memorable anniversario

To celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary, Mike and I went to Puerto Rico. Here are some pictures:

This is the lovely dress my friend Alice crocheted for me. I've blogged about it before - now you know why I'm totally content to spend some time on Sleeve Island for her!

This is the Eyelet Surplice Dress from the Summer issue of IK that I was putting the finishing touches on on Tuesday night, the night before we left. It turned out really well. I used CotLin from Knit Picks and I'm very happy. My hair stuff exploded in the suitcase and even though I put that stuff in a plastic bag, some of it leaked out and got on this dress. Thank God CotLin is washable! I'm very happy with the dress, but I realized the night I wore it that I need to get a longer top to wear underneath. The skirt pulls the lace down a bit, and every once in a while I had to adjust myself so that the top of my hot pink thong wasn't showing in the back.

The happy anniversary couple!

This picture was taken yesterday morning as we were being discharged from the Metropolitan Hospital in Miami. I was taken by ambulance from the airport on our way home Monday morning to the ER where they found a blood clot behind my left knee. I was admitted and spent 2 nights there so they could get some blood thinner in me before deciding it was safe for me to fly home.

Story: We flew to Puerto Rico last Wednesday night. That night my left leg (the one in the walking boot) REALLY started to hurt. My calf was sore to the touch and the pain didn't go away the entire time we were there. I called my orthopedic surgeon's office on Friday and talked to a nurse about it. She said it was probably due to immobility and that I needed to stretch and take an Advil a day. She also said I needed to get it checked out if it started to swell or get warm to the touch. Everything stayed the same until Sunday night, our last night there. My ankle swelled, but we figured it was just because I had walked on the beach both Saturday and Sunday (something the nurse said I could do). The next morning we got up at 430am to catch a 630am flight. The swelling hadn't gone down at all, even though I had been taking Advil and was icing and elevating it after we got back to the room from dinner on Sunday. (Side note: At the restaurant Sunday night, a man told me to be careful when travelling in my walking boot because he was wearing one one time on a plane and got a blood clot which went up to his lungs and almost killed him. He was in the hospital for 3 days. 2 days before that, I said to Mike, "I wonder if I have a blood clot in my leg and that's why it's hurting so badly.") We went on, though, because it was so early in the morning. We flew to Miami then were supposed to catch another plane to Memphis to pick Hayden up at my parents' house. While waiting for the second flight, I called my dad to check on things and he asked me how my leg was. I gave him the report, and he said, "Sounds like you might have a blood clot. You should get checked out." We got the paramedics to come to me at the airport - their report was that I had some signs of having one but also some signs of not having one, so it was our call as to whether they took us to the hospital or not. We decided to go. The closest hospital was Miami Metropolitan - a Spanish-speaking hospital. I'm sure they figured I'd just get checked out and sent on my merry way back to the airport, but I wish they had thought about the possibility of my having to stay there. I know very little Spanish, and Mike knows even less. I think Hayden knows more than we do, thanks to his Dora the Explorer phase. An ultrasound done by someone who didn't speak a word to me revealed a blood clot behind my knee. The only English speaking doctor in the ER gave me the news and told me I'd have to stay at least for 24 hours. 5 hours later they admitted me to a private room away from all of the ER grossness. It was a surreal experience - the doctor knew English, some of the nurses had very broken English, but some didn't speak a word. It was an uneasy feeling to have such a serious condition and to be at the mercy of people who couldn't communicate with us. Who wants to be woken up at 5am by a man named Ignacio who sticks your arm, draws blood then leaves without saying ANYTHING? In order to be released, the doctor had to sign a paper for the airlines saying he felt confident that I could fly without having complications. We also had to order blood thinner shots that I get in my stomach twice a day, and they were overnighted to my parents' house so they'd be waiting on us when we got there.

My current situation is this: tomorrow I see my internist so he can start managing my blood thinner meds. I have to keep on getting the shots (Mike gives them to me in my stomach twice a day) and I also have to take a pill. The shots will stop once my blood level reaches a certain point, but I think I'll be on the pill for 4-6 months. (Pill as in blood thinner, not birth control. No more birth control for me, ever. That's one of the things that ups your risk of developing a clot.) I'm going to talk to him about my activity/exercise, but I'm pretty sure I'll be forced to be a couch potato for several weeks. I have to avoid things that could cause cuts or bruises since I'll bleed easily, so my American Gladiators goal is put on hold for now. (Make sure to keep watching the show so they'll continue it until I am well enough and back in shape enough to compete!) I'm pretty sure I'll also have to start seeing a hematologist.

So, what was the cause of all of this? I thought it was the change in cabin pressure on the flight from Memphis to Dallas that caused my walking boot to compress and squeeze the sh!t out of my leg. However, the doctor said no and he also says the pain in my calf and the swelling in my ankle (which is still there) is totally unrelated. According to Dr. Lopez, I had 4 strikes against me: an injury like a fracture, immobility, a long plane ride, and being on birth control. I've been on birth control since I was 17 (minus the time I spent cooking Hayden inside of me), but I had developed problems over the last several months and we had switched meds twice. I had been on Yasmin, but the high amount of estrogen was making me very nauseous. I then went on Yaz, but after a month I started bleeding 3 weeks out of the month. Thought it had to do with the incredible amount of stress I was under when everything fell apart with the behavioral consultant, but my OBGYN didn't think so. He switched me to Loestrin the week before we left on our trip. Everything was fine, or so I thought....

Well, that's my story in a nutshell. I'll keep everyone updated on my situation. And I'm sure I'll be knitting a bunch, so I'll have lots of pictures. (I did have some knitting with me when we were admitted to the hospital, thankfully. I am now almost done with a pair socks that I want to gift to Hayden's occupational therapist. Her last day is tomorrow.)

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A morning overflowing with cuteness

I've always thought those little Amigurumi toys were so cute, so when I saw an Amigurumi for Beginners swap on Swap-bot, I decided to join and give it a shot. Behold Cute Exhibit A:

Pattern: Amigurumi Guy from the Lion Brand Yarn website
Yarn: Vanna's Choice by Lion Brand
Hook: J
Discussion: Yes, the yarn is nasty acrylic, but it's what the pattern called for and it was cheap, so I went with it. Boy, do I hate acrylic yarn. I will gladly give the rest of this crap away to anyone who wants it. It's not that it's bad yarn, it's that I am a yarn snob. Anyway, the pattern was very easy to follow and perfect for someone who isn't proficient in crochet. I started this 2 weeks ago but wasn't very motivated to finish. It's cute, but a) I hate the yarn, b) I don't enjoy crocheting for extended periods of time, and c) the mailing deadline isn't until the 25th. I was almost finished on Mother's Day, but all of a sudden I couldn't find my darning needle. DH found it for me earlier this week, so before I started knitting on my dress this morning, I sat down and sewed the arms and legs on. He turned out cute, but I'm not 100% satisfied with the outcome. Maybe if I had done his eyes better. Maybe if I sewed his arms and legs on better. Maybe if I had used good yarn...

Moving on to Cute Exhibit B:

When DH is away, Hayden gets to sleep in my bed. This is what I walked into when looking for shorts to put on. Now, THIS is a guy who is cute!!! He's such a love. The homeschooling thing we tried didn't work out and turned him into a bit of a snot, but we've made some changes and we're getting the funny, happy kid back. And yes, he'll be back in public school in the fall.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Because of this:

I'm getting a lot of knitting done. Yes, it's a walking boot. Sexy, huh? I've been having ankle pain since Nov/Dec, and in March it finally got bad enough to make me stop running. (Should've done that earlier, but I'm an idiotic, over-achieving triathlete who was having way too much fun racing and setting PRs and winning trophies.) Thought it was just tendonitis, so I started seeing someone on a weekly basis at $85 a pop to work on it. I went for several test runs but with no success. Finally decided to see my ortho friend to make sure it wasn't a stress fracture. He xrayed it and nothing showed up, so he gave me a steroid shot and more steroids to take over the next 6 days. He said after 3 weeks I'd be better and if I wasn't, I needed to email him. 3 weeks later I emailed him with a detailed account of what I had and hadn't been doing and what the pain level was for each activity, so he brought me back in and put me in this boot. He said I'd wear the boot for 2-3 weeks and then it should be fine. We also scheduled an MRI just to make sure nothing funky was going on. This morning I had an appointment with him to discuss the MRI - a stress reaction is what I've been diagnosed as having. It's better than a stress fracture, he said, because it doesn't take as long to heal. He thinks that I probably had a stress fracture but I raced through the pain (which he said people can't normally do, but I must have a high pain threshold - yay me!). Once I stopped running and started wearing the boot, it started to heal and that's why it's a stress reaction. 3 more weeks in the boot, then probably another 1-2 months of no running. Basically, I have no triathlon season this summer, because it'll be August before I can run again. When I do start running I'll be really slow, so would it even be worth it to do a race? Guess I could always get DH to relay with me if I really wanted to. But that's still a couple of months down the road - I can't even ride a bike outside. (Yes, I did get a new time trial bike at Christmas. No, I haven't taken it out yet. Yes, it'll be a while before I can do that.) I'm becoming what I always said I hated - a gym rat. My main goal this year was to qualify for Nationals at the Chattanooga Waterfront Triathlon - oh well. Now my goal is to strength train and get in shape for American Gladiators tryouts, whenever those will be. (I'm so not kidding about this. I want to be a contender so badly that I get a little verklempt just watching the damn show. Wow - can't believe I just admitted that to what little blog audience I have.) I worked out with a trainer yesterday who made my triceps shake uncontrollably, so that's a start. I told him about my Gladiators goal, and he said he'll get me there once I'm healed.

Anyway, on to the knitting! When I got the summer IK, I saw the dress designed by a fellow Nashvillian and decided that I need to have it when DH and I go to Puerto Rico at the end of the month for our 10-year anniversary. (Yes, that will fall within the next 3 weeks, so yes, I'll still be wearing the boot. I can take it off while relaxing on the beach or by the pool, so at least I won't get a nerdy knee-high sock tan. DH said, "Guess we'll just have to find ways for you to stay off your foot, hee hee.") Not wanting to wait til my LYS opened 2 days later to buy my yarn, I ordered some CotLin from Knitpicks in a coffee color and paid $17 for the rush delivery. I'm moving along quite well on the skirt part of the dress, but it's getting boring.

Maybe I should drink some caffeine tonight and pull an all-nighter to get through the rest of it. I think I've got about 5 inches to go.

Before I started that, I was working on the Smocked Babydoll Top from Classic Elite Yarns' Make It Modern leaflet. There are several great patterns in that book! I'm using the recommended yarn, Cotton Bam Boo, and it's a DREAM to work with. It's so soft and smooth, and I'm totally in love with the color.

I'm about to the interesting part, but I'm not picking it back up until the dress is done. We leave on May 28th, so I've got about a week and a half to go.

I've also been buying yarn:

Sunshine Yarns does sock yarn in the most wonderful Harry Potter-inspired colorways, but they sell out as soon as she posts them, so when I saw this one with "1 in stock" next to it, I acted immediately. This is the Accio Firebolt colorway.

Last week Hayden and I went to Memphis to go to my old high school's production of "Beauty and the Beast", and while we were there, my mom and I were perusing Ravelry. My sister has 2 little girls, 4 1/2 and 17 months, so I showed her Emma's Unmentionables from Knitty. We then got to the adult version - Unmentionables - and she decided that I MUST KNIT THOSE FOR MYSELF. Even though most Ravelers aren't terribly pleased with theirs, I decided that I'd add the pattern to my queue. This Brown Sheep Cotton Fleece is for those. I really like the white the designer used, but I was afraid my butt would look huge in such a light color (especially since I won't be running for TWO FREAKIN' MONTHS). I'm not going to start them quite yet. My order of importance is as follows:
1. dress
2. babydoll top
3. Katharine Vest from Spring IK (bought the yarn several months ago)
4. Unmentionables
There are other things thrown in here and there, but those are my Big Projects List.

That's it for now. DH is in Fargo, ND to run a marathon tomorrow (something I won't be able to do for a long time - ugh), so Hayden and I are on our own. I think we'll be leaving for the sushi restaurant soon.