Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Weekend in the BWCAW

Dance started up again for me last week, and I feel like I haven't had a moment to relax since Monday last week.  Don't get me wrong, I love having a lot going on, but I'm still trying to find that balance between school, dance, grading, choreographing, keeping the house in order, climbing, and (occasionally) posting about it.  This week I'm finally starting to find my routine, which will hopefully allow me to stress a little less about getting everything done (and done well!).  :)
Adding to the craziness, last week was also "Birthday Week" for Scott as he turned the big 30 years old!  We ate out a couple of nights, and his big celebration was a weekend trip into the Boundary Waters!
We packed intermittently all week, and come Friday after work we left right away for up north to prep to go in early on Saturday morning.

The weather outlook wasn't amazing, but we took off in high spirits, determined to just enjoy ourselves- which we did!

We put in at Brule Lake and paddled over to South Temperance before we set up camp.  One of the nice things about doing a late-season trip (on a less than ideal weekend) is that we only saw one other canoe with two people the entire weekend.  We pretty much had the entire lake to ourselves!

The views were gorgeous, and I found that I really love South Temperance Lake.  It has a some really pretty waterways to paddle through!

The wind was pretty intense both days, blowing us all over the place both on and off the lake.  We layered up like crazy, and were exceedingly thankful that it didn't rain when we were making any of our meals.

At night, however, we did get a fun surprise.  It definitely rained on us, and in the middle of the night sometime, Scott woke up to snow coming down on the tent!  I was very happy for not only my super warm sleeping bag, but also the sleeping bag liner that added that little extra bit of warmth through a chilly night.
We paddled back on Sunday with the winds to our back, which made for some exciting wave riding on the large Brule Lake.  By the time we got back to the car and pulled the canoe off the water, we were exceedingly cold and excited to get a warm meal in us.

It was a great weekend in the Boundary Waters, though by the time we got home, unpacked, put some of our out gear to dry and cleaned the rest of it, it was time to jump right back into the work week!
I was able to pound out a couple of rows on the Onward Shawl on the drive up north, but nothing worth showing off.  I will have a lot more time for that coming up, but that's for another post.  For now- more choreographing, more grading, then off to dance!
No stopping now! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Weekend On the Cliffs

Scott and I shot up the shore this past weekend to enjoy what's starting to look like one of the last really nice weekends before the fall weather truly sets in.
Saturday was a day of bushwhacking and adventuring!

We decided that we wanted to check out a couple of places up the shore that are not in any of the local guidebooks and see if they're climbable or not.  We focused on two specific areas- one right off of the highway near Split Rock Lighthouse, and the other off of the Superior Hiking Trail.
The place near Split Rock was... not ideal, to say the least.

We bushwhacked around looking at the potential, but mostly found pretty slabby rock that had lots of trees growing out of the cracks, making for a tough clean-up.  Nothing terribly exciting.  It was worth looking around, but I'm definitely wearing pants this week at school to cover up the mess of scratches on my legs.
Luckily, Mt Trudee, which is right off the SHT, had a ton more promise!
There was a great-looking cliff that had decent anchor setups, enough height to warrant climbing, and a rock type that seemed great for climbing!

The only slight downside of Mt Trudee is that it's a 5-mile mostly uphill hike in, which when you're carrying 30+ pounds of gear on your back (which I was), is not ideal.  Because of our morning bush-whacking fun, we didn't have time to do more than scope out the area, rappel on one route, and do some preliminary cleaning to see if the climbing is worth it.  We packed up the gear while watching a gorgeous sunset, and didn't get off the trail until well after dark set in.
We'll definitely be back there for more cleaning, but it's going to be a big, dirty job, and the hike in means it'll have to be a weekend project to claim some first ascents.  We mostly plan on doing all the routes clean with trad gear (leaving no bolts or trace on the rock), but there's a few parts that look like they could be great (hard) face climbs, so we're going to have to see exactly where Mt Trudee falls on the map and see if bolting is a possibility.  Hiking in with sport gear would be really nice... much lighter. :)
Sunday we were both pretty sore and tired from all the hiking and whatnot we did from the previous day, so we headed to Shovel Point to meet Scott's friend Eric for his first-ever outdoor climbing experience!

After getting over the jitters from rappelling over the edge for the first time, Eric seemed to have a blast!  We climbed a bunch of the easy stuff, enjoyed the view, and chatted with other parties climbing next to us.

The fog started to roll in later in the afternoon, and Scott and I got home pretty destroyed that evening.  It was a full and great weekend, ending with some grading, a pizza, and (for me) getting excited that I was starting my first week of dance this week!!
Next weekend we're hoping to head up to the Boundary Waters, despite the not-so-friendly forecast.
Frost advisory?  Temps to freezing?
Guess I'll just have to pack warmer clothes. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

FO: Christmas Deer Hats

Happy weekend, everyone!  I'm stealing a few minutes this lovely Saturday morning to write a quick post before Scott and I head up the shore for the weekend to go climbing.  I'm pretty psyched- we're going to check out an area that's previously un-climbed, so it's going to be fun but mildly dirty work.  The nice thing is it's only a 5-mile hike in to the new place on the Superior Hiking Trail, which is supremely gorgeous this time of year!  We're going to camp up the shore, and then tomorrow we'll be hitting up Shovel Point to introduce a friend to outdoor climbing.  I'm just psyched to get outside on such a lovely weekend after so many days of rain!
Luckily, that rain allowed me to not only finish my Ombre sweater, but I knocked off the second of two Christmas Deer Hats I'm knitting for family members.  Score!

Pattern: Fornicating Deer Chart by Anne Rutten
Yarn: Brown Sheep's Nature Spun Worsted Weight, in "Pepper" and "Orange You Glad"
Timeframe: Both hats took me between May 20th and August 30th.  Not bad, if I may say, for two colorchart hats. :)
MODs: The original pattern is only a chart, so I had to figure out exactly how to make that in to a hat.  I CO 96 stitches, did about 2 inches or so of 2x2 ribbing on the bottom, K 1 row in MC, then repeated the deer pattern 3 times around the head.  At about 5 inches from the bottom of the hat, I started decreasing 6 stitches every other row, then when it looked closer to done I decreased every row.  I did it differently on each hat, and mostly just eyeballed when I though I should decrease.  It worked well, in my opinion!  Ben's hat has the multi-colored poof ball, and Sam's hat has the all-orange poof ball.

Needles: If you look, you probably notice that one hat is smaller than the other.  Ben's hat is knit completely with size 6 needles, and on Sam's hat I switched to size 7 needles for the colorwork portion, since Sam has a bigger head than Ben.
Worst Part: There were a lot of floats to deal with in these hats, but it's also forced me to get better at knitting floats, so I guess that's a good thing...?
Best Part: Reactions of friends seeing the hats so far.  This leads me to believe that when Ben and Sam open them at Christmas time for all the family to see, they'll be quite a big hit. :)

I'll be bringing the Onward Shawl with me to work on in the car as we drive up the shore, and hopefully I'll be working on it tonight at the campfire!  I really only have two knits that I'm working on right now- the Onward, and my brother's Fornicating Deer Vest (the advanced version of these ridiculous hats).  The Onward needs to be finished by Christmas, and I'm hoping to finish my brother's vest in time for him to wear it to family Thanksgiving.
Super classy, you know. :)
All right, one more cup of coffee, then time to pack all the gear in the car and head up north.  It's too gorgeous out to linger at home for a long time this morning!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FO: European Ombre (The Perfect Sweater!)

It's finally here- my post about my completed European Ombre cardigan!  I'm really excited that I finished this sweater, and not only is it done- it fits me perfectly!
Pattern: Ombre by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Sublime's Extra Fine Merino Lace (nom) in pink (0402) and white (0397).  I bought 3 skeins of each color, and probably could have gone without that third skein in the white for future reference. 
Timeframe: Started July 28th on my flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Finished on the flight from Paris to Minneapolis on August 20th (with two hours to spare!).  Almost exactly 3 weeks to the day, and exactly the duration of my Europe trip!
Needles: Size 6, both on a circular and DPN's
MODS: I made the sleeves and the color changes for size XS (7 inches of each color), and the length measurement I left for size S since I like my cardigans a little on the long side. 
The pink panel on the bottom ended up being about 7.75” instead of 7”. I ended up having 7 buttons. 
Everything else was the same on the pattern!

Worst Part: There really wasn't anything I truly disliked.  The only thing I might do differently next time is get a really short circular needle for the arms instead of DPN's: those got cumbersome when trying to knit elbow-to-elbow with 3 people in the backseat of a small European car.  
Best Part: Having the perfect project for my vacation!  I was really nervous about taking only one project (despite the fact that it was a big project).  I thought that I would finish it early, or that I wouldn't work on it at all because it had lots of stockinette and it would get boring.  Luckily, there was just enough time on planes, trains, and automobiles to blast through the slightly boring sections.  And anytime it did get a little monotonous, I would be switching colors, or had to do decreases or increases or had to add buttonholes.  I don't overheat when I wear it.  The little white buttons are from a small knitting store in Denmark that I found when Heather and I were wandering around Aarhus drinking coffee, so part of my vacation is sewed right on.  And it's COLORFUL! :) 
I've never made a sweater with laceweight before, but this one may have converted me a little.
And I'm pretty sure I'm wearing this to school tomorrow. :)
Love!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Bobbio, Verona, and Arco

I'm finally getting around to posting about the rest of my trip, so (hopefully) enjoy!
We were all sad to leave the Cinque Terre, but there was a lot of mainland Italy to see. Up next was Bobbio, where the big hit was a traditional 4-course Italian meal!

We stayed at an amazing little place that served food that they grew right on the property, and wine where the vineyard was less than 5 miles away.

It was an incredible 4 courses of deliciousness- antipasta (appetizer) was a meat and cheese platter with specific fare from the region, followed by another course of 2 different kinds of pasta and sauce, followed by the pasta (main course) of both duck and beef accompanied by a salad made fresh from garden veggies from 20 feet away.

I was full before the meat even came out, but it was so incredibly tasty that I had to keep going (I figured that I would hike it off the next week in the Alps).
Then we were told that dessert was going to be a choice of chocolate mousse or mango something-or-other.  Course 4.  Just in case we weren't full enough already.

I went with the (fresh) chocolate mousse, which of course went in my special dessert stomach.  Since the other one was beyond full, after all.
Needless to say, I didn't need to really eat the entire next day.
Luckily, there was a lot of other stuff to do- like check out more towns, including Verona (yes- THAT Verona- the one from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet!). :)

We checked out a castle on the drive to Verona- one surrounded by moats, water, and gorgeous views!

Kendra and I were pretty psyched about it, despite the 90+ degree heat. :)
Verona day had a little bit wilder weather.  We packed our raincoats and headed to check out the numerous burial sites, churches, and Shakespeare-esque attractions!

The very first church we visited had barely opened when we arrived to look around, but being early birds had perks.  A guy walked around us to the organ and began practicing Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor.  With the early morning gloomy weather and the gigantic, incredibly ornate church, this was probably one of my favorite parts of the day.  Full organ concert in an almost-empty medieval church of one of the most recognizable pieces for organ ever composed??  Hard to beat that kind of concert and ambiance!

After getting mildly lost while it rained (as you can see, Kendra and I were super excited about it), we stopped at another church that had "4 star doors", as my dad kept reminding us.  They were pretty fantastic, not going to lie, but my favorite part was when my brother, Kendra, and I were talking about the stories behind the doors, and we had Kendra thoroughly convinced that one of the doors (from 1300) really had the story of the Lord of the Rings on it (including what we said was Gandolf, Smeagal, and the full Fellowship on one of the panes).  She truly thought we meant it.

The pic shows Kyle's face when we told her we were kidding, and she stated that she completely believed us.  Kyle couldn't believe we had her fooled... :)
One of the last things we saw was Juliet's house, including the courtyard, her bedroom, numerous costumes from past play productions, and of course...

going out on Juliet's balcony!
I was pretty excited to go out on to the actual Juliet Capulet balcony, and after we toured the rest of her house, Kendra and I made sure to drop some love letters in her mailbox asking her for love advice!

Super cheesy, I know, but as I'm a huge romantic, and I that thought it would be fun. :)
(To be fair, there's an entire movie based on the romanticized view of giving Juliet a letter, but there were waaaaay more people in the courtyard than the movie would have you believe...)
At the end of the week, we headed off to the mountains (be still, my heart)!

Arco was our last stop before heading in to the Italian Alps, and I not only met some local climbers, but I got a quick hike in to yet another castle (Italy is riddled with them).  The photo above is the view from our (delicious) lunch!)
In Arco itself, we hiked up to another castle...

where Kyle and Kendra were (of course) super cute!
Despite not really being able to climb in Arco, it was fantastic to see the mountains around me as we started into the Dolomites, and I filed the area away for future reference when I finally get back there to climb!

Gorgeous area!  Next up, the Italian Dolomites...

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Back to School & FO: Pangolin Cowl

I've wrapped up my first week back at school, and it feels both overwhelming and good at the same time.

Despite the fact that I had a weekend before school actually started, I still felt a little discombobulated jumping straight into classes full time Mon-Fri (hence the lack of posts).  Luckily, I have a 3-day weekend with Labor Day, and it's going to be full of knitting, organizing, and (hopefully) a pumpkin latte. :)
One thing I did get done this week was some blocking!

It turned nice and sunny mid-week, so I took advantage of it and spread both my sweater and a cowl out on the back porch.  I finished the Pangolin Cowl during my duty days last week, and it's been slipped into the secret Christmas knitting box for a special recipient (after some quick photos, of course)!

Pattern: Pangolin Cowl by Bobbi Intveld (link to Ravelry pattern page)
Yarn: Done Roving Yarns Frolicking Feet DK in Raspberry
Needles: Bamboo DNP size 7
Timeframe: April 17th-August 22nd

Worst Part: Probably that it took as long as it did.  I kept throwing it in to a drawer and doing other knitting.  Otherwise, this would have probably only taken a couple of weeks.
Best Part: That this yarn, which was originally meant to be used in a pair of mittens, had a pattern that works really well as a back up.  I think the recipient will really like it!

Besides the cowl, I finished another Christmas project today, and it's blocking on my back porch between the scattered showers lingering around.  Tomorrow I plan on sewing the buttons on my Ombre Cardigan, and possibly even casting on for another Christmas project.
This weekend, I'm determined to go from overwhelmed and disorganized to cleaning, finishing stuff up, and getting back on top of things.
YES- it's going to happen! :)

Monday, August 25, 2014

Back

I flew back to the US on Wednesday in the late afternoon after staying up for almost 24 hours of travel time.  I was able to stay up until at least 8 pm on Wednesday night (and that was really pushing it) before zonking out.  Over the next couple of days, I would wake up really early (like, 4 am early) completely ready to go, and get tired by the time dinner rolled around.  The two days of work at school were weird, as everyone was yawning at 8 am while I was 3 hours past breakfast and my first cup of coffee.  I think I had more trouble adjusting to coming back to the US than I did going over to Europe, and my body has only just settled back in to a normal sleeping/eating pattern.
Over the weekend, I meant to catch up on blog posts.
I have all the pictures ready to go, all the big points I wanted to make outlined, and even links to places we went bookmarked on my computer.
And I just... didn't get to it.
Instead, I spent time with Scott (who I hadn't seen for almost a month between his trips and mine).  We cooked a couple of meals together, watched some dumb TV, and went on a few dates.  I snuggled my kittens.  I read a book.  I looked over my school stuff to make sure I was prepped for the beginning of school this week.  
Basically, I decided to be a little greedy and spend time with my own little family before things got busy again.
And it was amazing. :)
I kicked off my first day of classes today, and this week I plan on finishing all my Italy posts along with starting on all my fall projects.  There's lessons to plan, dance stuff to figure out, a house to deep clean, and even (gasp) Christmas knitting to line up.
But I have to admit, it was really nice to enjoy my last weekend of summer with Scott.  :)
Sometimes, it's good to have a slow and relaxing recovery weekend after a crazy, packed, breathtaking trip.

PS- And just in case you're wondering (because I know you are)...
The cardigan was finished somewhere over Quebec, with 2 hours to spare before I reached Minneapolis (and an entire flight to Duluth).  It'll be out in the sun on my back porch tomorrow, blocking. :)  It truly was my European trip knit, started the day I left and finished the day I got back (minus buttons and blocking, but I think it's okay to overlook that).  
Personally, I think that's pretty cool. :)