Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Prep

Everything around here has been chugging along quite well, mostly in prep for Halloween!

I've done my white MN girl duty by having a fair amount of Pumpkin Mochas...

and I've tried to drink a fair amount of tea to get over a cold and fever that I caught at the beginning of the week.  Nothing says fall like the first cold of the season!
Normal also means me accidentally leaving one of my favorite knit hats out for Maeby to find and, subsequently, destroy. :(

I'm a little bummed, since this hat went along with a pair of mittens, and it was my first matching set of hat and mittens I've ever made for myself.  Bah!  Goose of a kitten.  Guess I'll just have to make another one.  In between all the other Christmas knitting I have to do.
Oh yeah, about that Christmas knitting...
I haven't actually had a lot of time to do knitting between a ton of grading, choreographing, and making Halloween costumes!

While Scott and I watched a horror movie last night, I pulled out the fabric paints and got to work on the shirts for our matching "Incredible" costumes!  I'm pretty excited about them- the logo turned out really well, and the rest of the costume was a cinch (and cheap) to put together!  Hopefully it'll be dry enough to wear to dance tonight.
After all, that's the real test of how "cool" my costume really is. :)
While I do have events to attend tomorrow evening and over the weekend, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get a chunk of my brother's vest done.  November is (already?!!) this weekend, and he needs that vest to wear for Thanksgiving, so I need to get my butt in gear.
Plus I'm exceedingly ready to be DONE with that stupid thing.  Enough with the deers!
Hold me accountable for this, interwebs.  Next post will be Sunday evening, WITH progress on the Vest.
No excuses!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Onward Moves Onward

Last year I brought a couple of things with for my trip knitting, and ended up getting only one hat knit from start to finish and 16 hours of an eternity scarf done.  Not bad, not bad.  This year, I chose to concentrate my trip knitting on one objective: getting as far as possible on the Onward Shawl.
This pattern has a 4-part directional arrow repeat pattern, and the arrows are then repeated 6 total times for the complete shawl.

Before I left for my trip, I had the first two sets of arrows done.  The pattern was a perfect choice for the road trip: just interesting enough to not be too monotonous, but mindless enough that I could chat with my friends while knitting.

(The shawl was excited to reach Kentucky!)
I didn't knit much at all while we were there, but I knit pretty much the entire car ride.

Total car time this year was about 28 hours, which allowed me to finish up to the fifth repeat of the arrows.  Boo-yah!

With only one repeat of the arrows left, this project is totally attainable for a Christmas goal.  Hell, it could be done by Thanksgiving if I wanted.  But...
I mean, I have an entire extra skein of this yarn.  And look how much is left for only one repeat!  Technically, it wouldn't hurt to do 7 repeats.  In fact, it might be even prettier if it were bigger.  Harder to block, yes, but super gorgeous.  It's pretty big right now, but it would just look so much fuller if it had two more repeats.

...right? :)
I might have to calculate how much time the rest of the Christmas knitting will take before I decide to knit extra.  And hope that my circular needles are big enough to hold that many stitches on the repeat.
When I decide to knit extra.
How much more time could one extra repeat take?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Red River Gorge 2014

MEA weekend meant my Annual Lady's Climbing Trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky!  It was two and a half days of climbing, laughing, falling, swearing, happiness, snacks, stick clips, mud, turkey sticks, worn-down skin, and awesomeness.
I'm not going to tell you, I'm going to just show you!

A 14-hour car ride was much better in Emily's van, plus talking and coffee!

We started at the Land Before Time wall.  Emily warming up!

Pizza at Miguel's is a must for any RRG climbing trip.  It always tastes better after a long day of trying hard!

Emily trying The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 5.11c, on the Bibliotek wall.

Me also trying Prufrock.  Right around this moment, I was wishing I had actually trained for endurance before this trip... :)

Happy ladies!  Emily, myself, and Zay excited to be trying hard outside in gorgeous fall Kentucky weather!

Emily and I having a moment... :)

Zay leading one of her first 5.10c climbs outdoors, pushing her boundaries!  Woowoo!!

I wanted to climb all of the things... 

We also ran in to my high school acquaintance Bobby on Saturday!  He and his two friends tagged along as we worked some fun stuff together.  Here, we're getting an epic high-five in before he jumps on a route!

One of my favorite climbs of the trip was Mona Lisa Overdrive, a 5.11b that has a hueco big enough to climb in to half way up the climb!

It's great- you can try hard on the tough stuff below, then hang out for as long as you need to completely recover before jumping out and finishing strong!

By the time we walked out at twilight on Saturday evening, my fingers were trashed, my arms and back were incredibly sore, I had fresh bruises spotting my shins, and I had a perma-grin that isn't going away anytime soon.

This trip only reiterated what I discovered last year: while climbing with guys is fun and great in its own right, climbing with women motivates me to be that much better, more encouraging, and continue to push my limits as much as humanly possible.  I was so lucky to have two amazing partners, and on the drive back, we were already discussing when we could go back down!
It was a fantastic break from life and responsibilities.
I'll update on the incredibly successful trip knitting in my next post...

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Go, Katie, Go!

I promise that there's a good reason I haven't posted much (or at all, really) lately.
Here's a quick view:

Those are my to-do lists: one for school on the right, my big list with everything on the bottom left, and then my weekend to-do list on the top left.  Included is a kitten paw and a climbing magazine for good measure. :)  Note the highlights in my Moleskin planner, making sure I know what needs to be done first.
At this time last year, I felt truly overwhelmed with 3 competition tap lines, two soloists, and five classes to teach at my college, not to mention an MEA climbing trip I was trying to train for on the horizon.  This semester, I have 4 classes to teach, but I have 4 competition tap lines, 5 solo/duets, and an MEA climbing trip to Kentucky in one week.  It's... almost overwhelming.
I say almost because at this time last year, I felt like my head was underwater.  I wasn't ever caught up on grading (getting 125 papers at a time does that to one), I liked but didn't love my choreography for most of my tap dances, and I felt like any time in the climbing gym was time that I should spend doing other things.
This year is different.  Despite the crazy-heavy load, everything I'm doing I'm doing full-out and actually loving.  I love every one of my dances this year, and anytime I'm choreographing or teaching, I'm ridiculously involved to the point that I collapse when I get home at night after it's all done.  School is fun to plan and even fun to grade.  I have a fantastic and involved group of students, which makes such a difference when teaching a subject that most people don't like, or outright hate.
And climbing... well...

(new shoes always help hype)
Between getting outside working new stuff and climbing at Sandstone (plus climbing 3-4 days a week at the gym, usually an hour or two squeezed between school and dance), I'm pretty happy with how I'm climbing.  Not at the top of what I could actually do, but not bad. :)
Occasionally, I even come home at night and have time for knitting!

Kyle's vest is coming along swimmingly, and hopefully a long car ride this weekend will allow me to complete that back section without any problems.

I've even cast on for another Christmas gift, the "All About That Bass (And Treble)" Fingerless Mittens!  It's ridiculous that I've waited this long to do any form of Christmas knitting, but sometimes I manage to eek out a row or two before succumbing to utter exhaustion.
I'm basically running from one thing to the next right now, ridiculously excited to be there and give my all, then occasionally have time at home to grade, sometimes clean, and a touch of knitting.
I had one brief break on Sunday afternoon for a few hours, and took full advantage of it:

snuggling with kittens...

taking a short (and much needed) nap with my guy (and kittens) on the couch with a bad movie on in the background and the windows open...

and making a big vat of chili that stewed most of the day before we enjoyed it for dinner (and packed it up for the rest of the week).  Nom!
Tomorrow is class, lots of grading, lots of dance, finalizing costume choices for dance, and (maybe) some knitting.  If I'm lucky.
I would love to show you amazing people some fantastical knitting. :)
For now, one more email check, then off to bed.
I'm already excited to drink coffee in the morning...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saved Sandstone Fest

The forecast for the weekend looked almost too good to be true, especially for northern MN.  Highs in the 70's and even up to the 80's, sun, yet still those incredible splashes of fall colors everywhere!

I told myself that I would spend Saturday outside having fun with friends, and today, Sunday, I have to stay inside to get things done.

So yesterday, I headed down to Sandstone, MN, for the Saved Sandstone Fest put on by the Minnesota Climber's Association!
I went with my climbing friend Jesse, and we met up with my long-time friend Steve (we call him Bug) from the Twin Cities for a fantastic day getting on some boulders.

I normally don't like bouldering, but Jesse is a huge fan, so I decided to push my comfort zone a little bit for the day and leave my rope on the ground!  I tried several problems up to V5- specifically, "The Best V5 in Minnesota"!

I'll admit, it took a few warm-up problems for me to get truly comfortable bouldering again, but I eventually eased back in to it.  Jesse and Steve were really good at being supportive when I felt like backing down, and I definitely was pushing my comfort zone.

It's really kind of backward- I'm way more comfortable on the end of a rope, high above a piece of gear, facing a large fall possibility.  Instead, I get nervous when I'm barely 7 feet off the ground, working a tough bouldering problem.  A large part of that is definitely how nervous I am that I might knock a kneecap out of the socket from a fall, since my knees are not the greatest.  I feel much better when I have gear and a rope on me, no matter the fall potential.
It was still a ton of fun, despite my mental nervousness.  Later in the evening, we enjoyed oven-cooked pizza, and I got to meet up with other friends!

(Seeing one of my lady climber friends, Adelle)

(The entire gang!  Jesse, Me, Bug, Adelle, and Justin, happy to hang out on such a gorgeous fall day!)
It was a great day out, and even though I'm stuck inside doing grading and school stuff today, it was fantastic to spend at least one day out.  :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Busy Week and Diving the Madeira

I'm ridiculously happy I had a long chill weekend at home last week, because this week took off faster than a puppy aiming to get some snuggles and a treat!

Fall colors are really starting to show through, and I'm walking to dance now as much as possible to elongate the time I get to spend outside enjoying this gorgeous weather.  Speaking of dance...

It's almost in full swing!  I've already started teaching the choreography for my competition dances, I've met with at least half of my solos and duos, and I'm currently at the studio three nights a week.  It's been crazy so far, and it's only going to get more crazy.  SO many ladies and tap shoes and sequins and smiles!  I'm already picking out costumes for the year, and even though I say this every year, I feel like I'm going to have some of my best dances ever!  OH my goodness!
In other news, I finally got around to starting up the climbing club at my college!

We have a small bouldering wall, and on Wednesday I spent a good hour doing inventory of holds, gear, and even set a quick route (see the blue tape?  ME!).  I've put out some emails to contact gear reps about educational orders, and hopefully I can turn this in to a once or twice a week get-together for our students!  We'll see what happens...
My other big (BIG) news for the week was I went on my first Lake Superior dive!  It turned in to a lot of new experiences; for instance, I dove in a dry suit for the first time!

Lake Superior is cold, especially down deep, so wearing a dry suit was pretty important if you plan on being in the water for any extended period of time.
I dove with two exceedingly experienced divers, so I wasn't too concerned when we got to the diver's parking lot next to Split Rock Lighthouse near dusk.

By the time we had all our gear on and did our safety checks, it was dark.
This meant that I also did my first night dive, where you can really only see where you shine your flashlight underwater.  That created an added layer of eerie to the experience!
Oh, and we were also diving the Madeira shipwreck!

(Photo taken from
This is one of the bigger wrecks on Lake Superior, famous because it's the reason the Split Rock Lighthouse exists!  It was unfortunately too dark for us to get any pics of us diving underwater (don't worry- those will come later!), but the above pic is of the bow of the wreck, which lies about 30 feet down.  We stayed mostly on the bow for our dive.  We got to peek through the holes to the inside of the bow, look at all the fish, and even though diving in darkness was really really spooky, it was an incredible experience!

(With my dive partner Tony, after we got in from the dive)
I can't even describe how exciting and terrifying it was.  It was my first Lake Superior dive, my first dive outside of a structured "class", my first dive in a dry suit, and my first night dive.  My flippers fell off, I had a few moments of panic, but overall, it blew my mind.
And it made me excited to go back for more!
Hopefully the next time, it'll be in the daylight, so I can see the entire wreck laid out before me...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Weekend at Home

After two whirlwind weekends, I finally was able to stay home this weekend and get a lot on my to-do list ticked off, as well as visit with friends that I haven't hung out with in awhile.  Don't get me wrong- I love heading off for a weekend of outdoor awesomeness, but it was time to get a few things done in my own place. :)
On Friday night, my friend Alex and I did a Disney-and-Crafting night while the weather outside stayed crappy.  She worked on her sewing projects, and I (finally) pulled out the project I'm excited to finally finish up.  Before I knew what had happened, Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland later...

There were deer frolicking all over the front sections of the vest!  I'm pretty happy with how far it came in one night.  Two more pairs of deer down, only one to go...
Seeing so much progress makes me want to just keep going, so hopefully the back fair isle, the button band, and the arm bands go quickly.  I want to finish this puppy soon- maybe even in time to bring it down to my brother in two weeks for his birthday??  Hmmm... interesting new deadline...
On Saturday, Duluth graced us with gorgeous weather, so I dumped the housework and spent time with my awesome friend Amanda!

She's back in town fresh from a summer as a kayak guide in Alaska, and she's moving to Washington D.C. next, so doing some climbing, late lunch, and even meeting up for late night dancing and drinks was pretty much required.  I'm not as young as a I used to be, though, and had to down a couple more cups of coffee than usual this morning.  Not that I minded... :)
The rest of my weekend was a little less picture-worthy, minus a couple of highlights.  I did a lot of grading, super-cleaned the house (since it's been mildly ignored since probably August), choreographed some dance, drank a lot of coffee, and plotted out some long-term projects.
I did have time to finish the second (of either four or five) repeats on the Onward Shawl:

and this evening, in between grading grammar worksheets, I even managed to bake some Pumpkin-Chocolate swirled bread (link goes to the recipe)!

(Pre-oven, after I swirled the chocolate batter with the pumpkin batter, getting all Betty Crocker with the cutlery)
I just pulled it out of the oven, and the house smells delicious.  Taste test pending. :)
Tonight will be finishing my grading and maybe some knitting and a movie.  It's been nice to be a bit of a homebody this weekend.  I finally feel caught up in a lot of the things I've felt overwhelmed about, so here's hoping that not only my posts become a little more frequent (sorry about that), but I stay caught up on everything.
Sorry, I forgot myself for a second there. :)