Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July Craziness

After climbing in Spearfish, it's been non-stop busy for me.  I decided that in order to keep my sanity, I would only really keep up on instagram (and occasionally facebook) and take a hiatus from writing on the blog.  This was partly because I was gone 4 days every weekend, and partly because I've been so busy that knitting has taken a back seat this summer.
Instead, here's what I've been up to this last month!

Almost every weekend, I've been trying to get down to the lake to enjoy time with family.  It's really cool that as I get older, I want to spend more time with my ridiculous family members.  And one really awesome thing- my brother got engaged!  We're adding a Kendra to my immediate family, and I couldn't be happier with my almost-sister-in-law!

(Myself, Brit, and Kendra hanging out on the lake!)
I spent my Mon-Thu teaching a summer term course at my college, which was really intense and really fast-paced.  Luckily, I had time in the afternoon to do a few awesome activities...

like picking strawberries with my friend Alex...

and passing the last navigation dive for my Advanced Diver Certification!  It feels SO cool to know that I've passed, and I have over a dozen dives under my belt- half of them in Lake Superior!  Diving scares the crap out of me, so getting to a point that I'm finally feeling a little more comfortable underwater is incredible!
My last two weekends have been filled with wedding related parties for one of my best college friends, Lady Lust!

Her rehearsal at Pizza Luce in downtown was delicious...

and I got to help assemble everything from bouquets to boutineers to drawing names and dates on hangers.

The wedding was fantastic, and one of the best parts was being able to hang out with all my old college friends that I haven't seen in far too long.  My old roommates Mark and Larissa attempted to coerce me to move down to the cities so I can hang out with them more often.  It was hard to say no!

I'm so glad I was part of Kate's special day, and it only fueled my desire to see them all more often!
I ended the weekend hanging out with my family, as my Dad flew up from Florida for a couple of weeks of MN summer awesomeness!  We did an entire day on Sunday on the water, touring the entire Lake Minnetonka area and jumping in whenever it got too hot out (which was just about every bay).  I've really missed having my dad around, and having all of the family together was fantastic.

I drove back to Duluth late Sunday, and last night was a special performance by my summer tap dance students down on the Duluth Boardwalk!

We performed the song we'd been working on the last few weeks, and the girls performed amazingly!  None of them seemed nervous, it looked like they had fun, and we even had a good size crowd!
Tonight is my last night of summer dance, and tomorrow I'll be taking my Mom, Dad, brother, and Kendra out on the Superior Hiking Trail for a couple of days of backpacking.  From there, back to the lake for the weekend, then a day of dance camp, then on Tuesday I'm off for a 10-day climbing trip in Colorado with two of my best friends!
Things don't seem like they're going to slow down until school starts at the end of August, but I'll attempt to do a better job of shorter posts with pics more often.
And maybe- just maybe- some finished knitting projects. ;)

Thursday, July 9, 2015

FO: U of M Socks

I'm heading down to visit family this weekend in the Twin Cities, but I wanted to squeak in a quick post about an FO that I've had done for awhile- a pair of University of Minnesota colored-socks for one of my graduating dancers!

Pattern: #9728 Beginner Socks from Knitting Pure and Simple
Yarn: Cascade 220 worsted-weight in Maroon and Gold :)
Needles: Size 6 bamboo DPN's

Mods: Lots, but mostly minor ones for color and to get the colored short-row heel that I wanted.  To get the color sequence to look like old-school athletic socks, here's my notes:
5 rounds of K1P1 
K5 rounds in base color 
K3 rounds of color 2 
K2 rounds of base color 
K5 rounds of color 2 
K2 rounds of base color 
K3 rounds of color 2 
Then back to base color for the remainder of the leg. 
I did a short-row heel instead of the heel asked for in the pattern in color 2, and also used color 2 when I began the toe decreases.
Worst Part: Not finishing these in time for the special performance.
Best Part: This is one of those fun times when I'm pretty sure she'll enjoy these the most when she's hanging out in her dorm room, and hopefully a glance at her feet brings back happy tap-dancing memories. :)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Keeping Busy

This summer has really taken off- I can't believe it's already July!  I've been doing everything from diving to friend time to my 30th birthday party to a trip to Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota for climbing!
Some of the highlights:

I ran the bridal shower for one of my best college friends- it was a field day, and with my Mom's help, it went fantastically!  Ridiculous games from elementary school are the best type of games for an event like this. :)

I went to a bachelorette party for one of my Duluth friends, Sarah.  It was one of those wine-and-paint events that I've seen on social media, and it was an incredible amount of fun to finally try something like this out!

I now have a fun painting hanging in my bedroom, and it spurred me to pull out my watercolors to start doing a little art on my off-days this summer!

Here's another big event- I turned 30!  I sent an invite out to Duluth friends, and had a get-together at Mexico Lindo.  After such a difficult week, having around 30 people stop by and hug me and do toasts with me and let me know how much they care was nothing short of incredible, not even counting the number of messages, texts, phone calls, and facebook posts.  It was exactly the sort of outpouring of love that I needed, and it warms my heart to know how many people care about me.

One of the most amazing parts?  These ladies drove up 2 1/2 hours from the Twin Cities just to be at my birthday party.  I definitely lost it when they came in the door, and again when there were hugs and support from them.  I'm so lucky to be surrounded by so many amazing people that care about me.  It's good to feel that love when I'm needing a little more support right now. :)
This past weekend, I got a last-minute opportunity to climb in Spearfish Canyon in South Dakota for a last-minute climbing trip over the 4th of July!

It was so much fun- I met a ton of new climbers, saw some old friends that I haven't seen for a long time, and got totally thrashed after 3 days of trying hard!

I worked a 5.12a called The Juvenile that was a fantastic climb, and if I was in endurance shape, I could have bagged my first 5.12a outside.  I actually got the difficult climbing portion, and just couldn't hold on to the bigger holds on top.  That's okay- project for next trip! :)

I didn't even know the people I was driving out with until I drove up to the apartment we were leaving from in Northeast Minneapolis.  That's okay- a 10 hour drive meant plenty of time to make friends!

All in all, it was an amazing trip that reminded me how much I love getting outdoors, going camping, and trying hard with fantastic friends.
It feels really good to enjoy so many positive experiences after some difficult changes. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Ch-ch-changes

Hello and happy June, everyone!
After all the end-of-year mayhem took place, I decided to take a little break from the internet and blogging to focus on getting back to being present in the everyday, plus cleaning both physically and mentally.
One of the big changes that presented itself in the last few days is that my longtime boyfriend Scott and I separated.  It was a less-than-ideal situation, and I was completely devastated for a few days.  I'm honestly still reeling from it all, but I've decided that the time to be sad is over, and I'm going to take a deliberate step forward to being happy again.  After all, I'm going to be turning 30 this coming Thursday, and I'm determined to start my 30's off strong, excited, and ready for adventures!
That big life event allowed me to really look at everything going on, and question things a little.  I recently read a bit of the popular book "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" by Marie Kondo, and she really focuses on questioning everything that surrounds you and asking, "Does this give me Joy?".  The cool thing is that this translates to so many aspects of life.  I look at all things I do, the people I surround myself with, and the activities I choose to pursue, and I can truly say that almost all of them give me real joy.  And in order to really pursue the things that give me joy, I'm going to make plans to really pursue them.
For instance, I've been looking up trips for the next year or so already!  One will hopefully be visiting my friend Heather when she and her husband move to London.  I also want to take a long vacation to Thailand, where I can possibly plan to do a week of scuba diving and a week (or longer?) of climbing!
I also want to (at some point) take some master classes at a tap dance or tap teacher dance convention.  I've started research into this, and there's a lot of possibilities- I just have to find one that's affordable. ;)
I've moved my room around, put up some new pictures, and despite the heartache, I'm going to blaze ahead with joy and excitement as this new chapter opens up for me.

Good vibes. :)
(Regularly scheduled knitting, books, things Maeby has destroyed, and other posts will commence in the next few days, I promise!)

Friday, May 29, 2015

FO: Police Box Handwarmers (and other WIP)

I've been getting back in to the groove this week after my time in Florida, and I'm sad (and excited) as we head in to our final week of dance for the year.
This means that I have to have the dancer gifts prepped and ready for classes next week.
With two graduating seniors this year, that means I have two knitted senior gifts, one of which is a pair of Police Box Handwarmers (yes, the fated pair that Maeby sunk her little teeth into).  I cut them and tore them back, and finally fixed the top part of the handwarmer.

Pattern: Police Box Mittens by the brilliant SpillyJane Knits
Yarn: Regia Angora Merino in Cream and Dark Blue- LOVE this yarn for colorwork!
Needles: Bamboo DPNs size 2
Timeframe: February 17th-May28th, 2015

Worst Part: The monstersaurus eating a chunk out and having to spend time redoing it.  Yet another knit destroyed... :(
Best Part: It's going to be her reaction when she opens up the package. :)
I'm furiously trying to finish the U of M socks before next week- that's my major weekend project.
Florida also proved to be a great place- I got the first of my Venga Las Chicas hats finished, and through the brim and beginning of the knot section on the second!

Guys- I LOVE THIS HAT.  I cannot say that enough.  I LOVE THIS HAT!!!  The cable pattern is fantastic, it looks great in the yarn, and it's fast and engaging to knit.
Which is probably a good thing when I have to make four of them.  ::ahem::  This is officially one of my "travel knits" for long car rides or movie nights.
I also finished one of two Camping socks, which I'm hoping to wear on my Boundary Waters trip this summer (because, you know, it's not that warm up in the BWCAW).  :)

It feels really good to finally finish some projects.  I haven't been able to actually finish a project in awhile, and it's a nice feeling of completion to get them done.  I think the trick is to not have six projects going at once.  Things generally get done faster when I only have 1 or 2 "traveling" projects and only 1 "at home" project.
Hmmm... things to think about for the future. :)
For now, I have to finish up the U of M socks, make a couple of ballerina keychains, and plot my end-of-year little gifts for all of my dancers.  :)
Tomorrow- diving adventure!  Stay tuned, folks. :)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Florida Trip!

The competition showing went amazing on Saturday night.  I helped my student with her hair for pictures on Sunday, and packed up the few pairs of shorts that I owned.
Monday morning, my taxi picked me up at 3:45 am to be at the airport by 4 am.
By noon, I was here:
on the beach in Florida, hanging out with my parents!
It was an incredible week, and a break that I really needed to recharge my batteries.  Not only did I get to hang out with my parents, but we did a ton of fantastic things together!
I won't go in to a long winded post about everything we did, so here's pictures of some of the highlights:
Key West was our first stop, where we started with a gorgeous fancy meal on a private resort island!  As you can see, my Mom and I found some fancy hats to keep the sun out of our eyes.
After, we visited Ernest Hemingway's house!  I'm don't like him, persay, but he's a great American author and I respect his books.  Plus, he has 6-toed cats.  You can't not like a guy that has 6-toed cats. :)
We got to spend time listening to live music and drinking margaritas, enjoying (and slightly warm) in the 90 degree heat. :)
We continued to move up the keys, stopping at the most gorgeous beach I've ever been at- Bahia Honda State Park!
We got to go snorkling that day at Looe Key, where I saw a giant shark, tons of groupers, half of the fish you see in the movie Finding Nemo, and my favorite- a Spotted Eagle Ray!  The ray was HUGE, and watching it glide underwater was incredible!
Sunsets in the keys were gorgeous, and the nights were filled with great talks, hanging with my folks, knitting, and relaxing.
We stopped in Key Largo for a day as well, and went to the Islamorada Dive Center where my MN friend Tony works!
Tony was the one that went on my fated night dive to the Madeira last September before he moved to FL in mid-February.  It worked out well that I got to go diving at the Hens and Chickens Reef while I was there!
Diving in Florida waters was amazing compared to Lake Superior- I didn't have to wear a wetsuit at all, and the wildlife was incredible!  I saw my favorite underwater creature of the trip- a Hawksbill Sea Turtle!! :)
After the keys, we went back to my parent's place in Viera (on the East coast side of FL), where I enjoyed a weekend of relaxing in the comfort of my parents' home.  
We did a long bike ride next to super expensive houses (and let me tell you, 7 miles in 90 degree heat is not an easy feat)...
I learned how to play my parents' favorite new sport, Pickleball (notice how awkward I look- games with paddles are a little difficult for me)...
And I even got to go on a sweet airboat ride through swampy areas that had 1000 gators per square mile!  We did see a gator, but luckily no attacks... ;)
I even got a little knitting done on the trip, which I'll detail in the next post.  :)
I ended my trip the same way I started it- at the beach.
All in all, an amazing week away with two of the most generous and great parents ever. :)  

Saturday, May 16, 2015

May Madness & Dance Gifts

It always blows my mind how fast the end of the school year goes.  I had two weekends in a row of competitions (one of which down in the cities), then right into the week before finals and then finals week, meaning an avalanche of grading for me on top of dance practices and teaching.
I'm going to just give you some photos of the highlights, since it's tough to cover 2 weeks without getting dull.

Pink Panther ladies ready to head on and earn a High Gold in Minneapolis!

Hard-Knock Life ladies just before going onstage to earn their first Platinum, which is amaaazing!

My Tonight girls had a blast onstage, were completely together, and had one of their best performances to date!

Scott snuck a little snack in my bag for me during my long weekend... he's kind of my favorite person ever. :)

My duet girls taking home more high score hardwear and another Platinum for their musical theater duet!

Right after I got back from the competition, I switched into hardcore English Teacher mode.  These were the first round of papers I had to grade in a week.

One of my best college friends (and old roommate) Juliet stopped by for coffee at school with me during finals week!!  Great to catch up with her before she heads back to California!

If you haven't guessed yet, I didn't finish my Ivy League Vest before school finished.  I'm a little bummed out, but honestly I just didn't have the time to devote to a large-scale project like that with everything I had going on. Instead, I wore my stylish apple teacher dress to the final, and worked on the U of M socks while my students typed and fretted away!
I also finished some special dancer gifts for a few of my solo/duet ladies!  I'm giving them out this afternoon, so I think it's officially okay to post them on here now.

I used the Tiny Ballerina pattern to make keychains for my Friendship girls of their characters!
It was finicky and a little bit of a pain, but they turned out beautifully, and I think the girls will love them (I certainly do)!  I had to get a little creative to make the hair look correct, and I embroidered suspenders on the "boy" character and tied a tiny tiny bow tie (which I dotted a little Elmer's glue on so it would hold) to make it look as close as possible.  I think they'll be pleased. :)

I also made one for my solo student Taylor, who is a conductor for her dance!  And yes, that is a conductor's baton glued to her hand.  Bam.  No detail left behind.
I plan on using this pattern to make the head of my studio a ballerina keychain for one of her end-of-year gifts, and it's getting easier the more times that I do it.  The tiny nature means I have to really pay attention, but it's a very satisfying project when done.
I also finished the Police Box Handwarmers for one of my senior solo students, and left them in Kim's room to block on the heater so the cats wouldn't get to them.
Well, Kim came home and left her door slightly cracked when she was out in the living room.
You can guess what happened next.

Yep.
The monster never sleeps.
::sigh::
I'm going to tear them back this afternoon and redo a little bit on them.  So much for giving out all of my gifts today...