Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Heathered Bella Mittens

After I made a pair of Bella mittens (as seen in the movie Twilight- but I just liked the pattern), my friend Heather saw them and immediately asked for a pair. It's been awhile since her request, and during my before-Christmas knitting frenzy I churned out a pair of them in a week for her Christmas present.
Specs: Pattern is Bella's Mittens, found on Marielle's blog. Knit with Cascade 220 in gray (I'd say more "heathered gray" for my friend Heather- aaaahaha).
Modifications- instead of knitting them in the bulky weight that they ask for, I use two strands of worsted weight in the Cascade. This results in a nice thick mitten that is very warm and on the most part wind-resistant. I use mine when bike commuting in the spring and fall, because they keep my hands warm from the chilly wind but let in enough air that I'm not sweltering.
Best part of the pattern: Can you guess? Definitely the cable pattern. I also like how fast they knit up once you get going on them.
Worst part: For some reason, the top closed weird on one of the mittens. I didn't even notice that it was weird until I was playing in the snow and noticed that it looked odder than it normally should. It's fine, but it bugs me that it's not perfectly what I want. Also, if these mittens were going to be made for someone with bigger hands, they might need to be stretched as they're snug when first knit. Mine broke in pretty fast though. :)
Heather really liked them, and because I knit them during my family's Christmas I already have another request from a small cousin for a pair. Easy to make for presents...
Hope everyone is having a fantastic Holiday break; I know I'm enjoying it! :)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Burnt Knotts

I've finally been able to sit back and relax for a couple of days after a crazy end of the semester, followed by an even crazier family Christmas. I still have grading to finish up, but it's not as formidable as it seemed at the end of the semester in the middle of all the end-of-semester craziness.
I also knit like mad starting the last week of the semester in order to get ready for Christmas. One of those projects was a hat for Tyler- both yarn and pattern picked out by him a bit ago. I was able to finish it pretty quickly, and I really enjoy the look of the finished product!
Pattern was Knotty but Nice from Knitty's winter catalogue, knit in a skein of good ol' Cascade 220 in a pretty burnt orange color. Modifications include adding enough ribbing at the bottom of the hat for a brim. The pattern calls for 1.25'' of ribbing before starting the cable work, and instead I knit 2.75''- enough for a nice big brim.
Best part of knitting the hat: My soft spot with all cable work- seeing the cables take shape under my fingers. There's something magical about watching the yarn twist and twine every single row, forming really pretty patterns. And the orange color gives the cables really good definition.
Worst part of the hat: When it was done, I wasn't a huge fan of how much room was created in the top of the hat due to the decreases. Tyler really liked it, so since he's the recipient I suppose it didn't really matter what I like in my own hats. :) If I made another one for me, I'd probably muddle with the decreases not to have that peak in the hat, but he likes it so... there it is.
He's headed to Ouray, Colorado for ice climbing next week while I work on my thesis paper and start studying for my final exams. I'm a little jealous, but it'll save my sanity later this semester. I may have a very large trip in the planning stages for after graduation, but I'm not going to announce anything until it's solidified. ;)
Off to get more coffee and finish grading papers. I'm really excited to just be done with them... uff-da...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Almost Here...

The semester is almost over for me at school. I have one last round of grading to finish and I can close the books on classes for the semester. That doesn't mean I have lots of down time during break- I'll be hitting the books hard to begin to prepare for my spring MA exams. But I do plan on taking a couple of days here to just sit back, watch some movies, do some crafts, make christmas cookies, and maybe even read a book for fun. :)
Today was a great day to stay in and grade, because starting last night Duluth got dumped on- a foot of snow by morning and it just kept coming!
I went out to go climbing mid-afternoon, and spent a futile twenty minutes digging out my car from the abyss it was hiding under before taking a ride from a friend with a truck sporting 4-wheel drive. Probably a better idea than attempting to drive in this crazy weather.
Hopefully by this time tomorrow night I'll be celebrating the end of the semester, but until then, I'm going to make some hot apple cider, throw in a stick of cinnamon, and hunker down with papers as the snow continues to pile up outside my window.

...oh, and first one to mention how many knitting projects I have to finish before Christmas in four days gets their nose bopped in.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Colorblind Thorpe

The temperature up here in Duluth rocketed below zero this weekend, bringing cold winds and freezing your eyelashes together when your eyes watered too much. It was a good thing I finished a hat for my friend!
The giganto-stretch block that I did fit him perfectly with the lining sewn in, which will help keep those sub-zero winds away on his walk to school. He cooperated in a photo shoot this afternoon despite the single digit temperatures.
Specs on the hat: Made it with the Thorpe pattern (Ravelry link- this is becoming a favorite pattern for gifting!) using Reynolds Lopi wool- discontinued now, though super warm. Knit in size large, then blocked to make it XL. I lined the inside and the earflaps with some regular black fleece to keep it wind-proof.
I'm really enjoying doing the garter stitch on the bottom half of the hat- it balances it out. Modifications for me include making long I-cords for the ties using three of the live stitches from each of the earflaps instead of picking up stitches or braiding or whatever the original called for. Keeps the hat in balance.
I managed to hold back from embroidering a number in the side of the hat in green or red- my friend is colorblind, so I don't think he would have noticed. It would have been a fun experiment, though... ;)
I really can't show much else that I've been working on because of their Christmas-y statuses, but I can share my new project for myself- a simple vest to wear in these chilly months of the year that can go over a button up shirt and still be teacher-like.
I knit a gauge swatch (gasp!) for it yesterday in a pretty light purple (Cascade 220) and I'm working on it here and there in between grading, creating two exams, studying for my own exam, and all the other things going on. It's good to have a little thing like that to work on, though. Plus it'll work great as my bus/watching presentations/movie watching knitting.
Off to make some hot cocoa to combat the cold raging outside.
Stay warm, everyone. :)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

First for Everything

I finished the Thorpe hat for my colorblind friend, excited to get another hat out as Christmas closes in on me. I stopped by his house yesterday to have him try it on, just to be sure it was a good fit before I lined it with fleece to block wind.
Now, know that he told me to make the biggest size possible because he had a large head. I laughed it off, believing that he was probably exaggerating. When he reiterated that I shouldn't underestimate the sheer size of his cranium, I decided just for kicks to make his hat in the size I made for my friend Pete- a guy with a large head and had a full head of dreadlocks that fit easily in the absolute biggest size hat when I made him his own Thorpe. I figured I would make the same hat- same huge size- then have to shrink this new hat to make my point: do not second guess the knitter.
Well, he tried it on- and it was snug. Bah!
Without the lining, it (barely) fit perfectly. I couldn't believe it- his head really was massive! He wasn't exaggerating! I shouldn't have second guessed him!
So now, for the first time ever...
I'm blocking a hat.
Who knew it would come to this?
While this one dries, I've already started on the next hat and a secret project or two as Christmas creeps steadily closer. I've been in denial how fast time is going, which is proving to be inconvenient as the 2-weeks-to-xmas deadline looms ever closer. Luckily, I started this hat yesterday:
and it's already proving to be a fast knit.
I'm hoping that the rest of my knitting presents magically appear this fast. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


The last few weeks since Thanksgiving have been very chaotic. Between finishing up classes, grading up the wazoo, dance classes and attempting to wrap my mind around a family tragedy, I have barely been able to keep myself fed properly, much less get along with my crafty projects. I was able to find time to finish up a pair of mittens for a close friend in need.
My buddy works at a school that's only a couple miles from his house, so he walks every single day there. Problem is, he hasn't owned a good pair of mittens or gloves to keep him warm on his hike. When I found out he was using a cheap $2 pair of cotton gloves from Target, I immediately pulled out the pattern for my double-layer mittens and got to work.
These knit up quickly with the hard-working Cascade 220 as the outside layer in a heather gray, and the Classic Elite Yarns Fresco (60% wool, 30% alpaca and 10% angora) as the warm fuzzy layer on the inside in forest green. He's reported great success, and immediately was able to put them to the test in the cold Minnesota weather in fixing a flat tire!
I'm knitting him a Thorpe hat that's almost done out of warm Icelandic wool before I feel like my knitterly duties are done. More details on that soon.
For now, back to grading, attempting to stay healthy, and thinking about family stuff. My aunt passed away this past weekend from ovarian cancer, so any thoughts or prayers for her family would be appreciated. Funeral's this weekend, so I'm going to be a bit preoccupied. I'm probably going to distract myself with finishing the yolk on my Vivian sweater- I tend to take things out on my knitting.
Until later...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Little Elephant and some Thanks

I have a little surprise for a new baby this Christmas.
I loved making the Elijah pattern by Ysolda Teague so much for little baby Lucy over a year ago (who named him Elmer and now sleeps with him every night) that when I found out my cousin Kirsten was expecting come February, I knew it would be the perfect present.
It works well as a unisex present, especially since Kirsten and her husband are going to wait to find out if it's a boy or a girl. Besides that fact, it's an adorable and well-written pattern, which is a staple of patterns written by Ysolda.
I especially like how awkward the little body of the elephant is. :)
Specs real quick:
Knit with: Plymouth Yarn Worsted Merino in Superwash, I used sz. 4 needles and was able to get away with one skein of yarn. I stuffed the guy with roving one would use for thrumming, so he's super squishy.
Favorite thing about knitting him: The number of people that commented on how cute he was when I was knitting him at the climbing gym. Also, how fast he knits up when I actually work on him.
Worst thing about knitting him: Probably picking up stitches for and knitting the arms. The first couple of rounds are a pain. Difficult to find something I didn't like about knitting him. :)

I'm halfway through a pair of double-knit mittens for a climber friend, and I'm enjoying being home this weekend for the Thanksgiving weekend. My school to-do list is formidable, but it's been nice so far to take time with family and friends I haven't seen for awhile. Coming home puts things in perspective for me, and helps me recharge my batteries a little.
I'm thankful for my family and my friends, and the advice I get from them (whether I want it or not).
I'm thankful that I haven't been hurt badly while climbing.
I'm thankful for my awesome digestive system, which deals with my random dinners of Oreos, cereal, or half a jar of pickles.
I'm thankful for my jobs and especially the people I work with.
I'm thankful for malabrigo yarn, black diamond cams, vanilla white chocolate mochas, and the crackling of the binding breaking on a new book.
And I'm thankful for how lucky I am for the chance to pursue everything that I want, academically and career-wise, climbing related, or all the other chance things that have come my way thus far.
It's amazing what life throws in your path. :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Knitting In Action: Comp Hat

A fellow climber and reader of my blog enjoyed the last post of Knitting in Action, and sent me some pictures of another of my knitted goods tearing it up.
There's a bit of a story behind this hat. While it looks like the most cookie-cutter, easy hat ever (and it was- just K2P2 ribbing for the brim and I followed the closing on the top for the Turn-a-Square hat by Jared Flood), I have to say that of all my knitted goods, this hat by far and out is getting the most use.
The guy wearing it- Justin- is one of those guys that never, ever, ever goes without a hat. Thus, last year, when the crocheted black hat his wife made him kicked the dust and completely unraveled, he commissioned me to make him a new one. 4 hours and some black Cascade 220 later, I had a super simple hat ready to go. Since I gave it to him, I see him at least 3-4 days a week in the climbing gym since he's not only a dedicated climber but the head route setter at our gym.
He has been wearing that hat every single time I see him, without fail. People have actually commented when they don't see him wearing it.
It's nice when you have someone that's so dedicated to a piece that people notice more when it's not being worn. Especially if that piece is something you made.
Simple, yet loved.
I like knitting. :)

(Above photos are Justin climbing around Duluth, bouldering at Sandstone, climbing at VE in Canal Park, and sport climbing in Southern Illinois)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Knitting In Action: Devil's Tower

Since I knit a lot for fellow climbers, I attempt always try to sneak in a comment when they received their knitted goods that I would love a picture of them using/wearing the object that I've made them. Preferably while they're climbing some crazy sick route. I never have very many hopes, since that means not only do they have to get a photo taken of them while climbing where the knitted item is clearly visible, but that picture has to make it back to me somehow.
I've started to get better and better results with these requests, and the latest in what I like to call the "Knitting In Action" pictures come from Devil's Tower in Wyoming.
I made a chalk bag for Tyler a long while back, and he brought it with on a short trip out to the Tower a couple of weeks ago. He promised I would get some pictures, and low and behold they finally made it into my hands!
This is a lovely picture of what is being called the "Chalk Trough" as Tyler gets ready for a route called "Assembly Line". The chalk trough is rather large and bulky, and really best for easier routes.
I have to admit, I was pretty psyched to see pictures of my knitting a few hundred feet in the air. Who wouldn't be? :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


The semester has really been picking up speed, and while I haven't drowned yet, I'm barely keeping my head above water with all the things I'm balancing.
Yesterday was one of the first days I simply got away from my office at school and my desk at home to a new venue to work- a local eatery called Burrito Union.
With a breakfast Vegetarian Burrito bursting with eggs, salsa, potatoes and veggies, I was able to get a lot of work done while not feeling stifled by my surroundings. I think the key is to switch up what's going on around me to keep myself focused more.
I'm thinking more and more about next year and the way I want my life in general to go, since applications for PhD school are due soon and I need to either get rolling on that or let myself breathe a little. I want my PhD, and will eventually get it in my life, but I'm starting to wonder if I should go out and experience a little of the world first while I'm young, unattached, and my body is able to handle a lot of abuse.
It doesn't help that a buddy and I sat down and listed all of our goal climbing destinations. His list included the intimidating Moonlight Buttress route in Zion National Park- hundreds of feet of just splitting finger cracks. As a free climb, it rates at 5.12d. Although crack climbing is my bread and butter, I still have to work a 5.12 for a long time, so this will be a big step if I free the whole climb too. If I'm going to be accompanying him, I'd rather push my ultimate limits and free it myself, instead of jumaring up the tough sections. Time to start training... ;)
In the meantime, back to working hard on everything else.
Good thing I got burritos to back me up. :)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


I had a smashing Halloween, filled with friends, happiness, and good times.
My costume came together right at the end with a lucky find at a store- after years of looking, I found a hat worthy to complete a Carmen Sandiego costume.
This costume was a ton of fun to be, although some of my younger friends didn't exactly get the reference. I ran into a few other characters in my Halloween wanderings:
One of my favorites was White Goodman, the owner of Globo Gym from the movie Dodgeball. My buddy Curt found some hockey pads for a 3-year old, cut the back open so he could fit his head through, and put the Globo Gym emblam all over it.
Another was my buddy Mat- it took awhile to figure out what he was:
Any guesses?
He was the Bermuda Triangle- note the little toy planes and boats stuck inside of him. :)
I'm completely back logged right now with grading, papers, homework, and other things, which is why I've had trouble keeping up with things. Knitting for Christmas is going very slow. The elephant I'm making for my cousin's soon-to-be baby has a head and the beginnings of a body, but hasn't progressed much since that. Hopefully the next two weeks I can catch up and start to figure things out.
Besides that, I hope everyone had a great Halloween and sweet beginning to November so far... :)

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Pumpkin Time

Halloween is bar none my absolute favorite holiday- better than Christmas, better than birthdays, better than the endless supply of peeps at Easter even. Halloween means cool breezes, warm coffee in chilled hands with fingerless mittens, leaves at the peak of their color, pumpkins, costumes, snuggling up and watching scary movies all night, corn mazes, and tons of other things. To me, Halloween is more than the holiday- it epitomizes the best of fall- that time of year when school is back in session, when you see friends again after a summer away, and having pumpkin-flavored coffee while knitting and listening to the wind howl outside the window. My Halloween essentially lasts from the beginning of September until Halloween night. This Halloween, Duluth is cheering us with a sampling of what's to come:
We had record low barometric pressure two nights ago, bringing winds, rain, and eventually snow that made me happy the heat was on in my apartment and my coffee maker was working. Coming to school yesterday meant soaking my sneakers in a few inches of wet mush, making me wish I had repaired my galoshes before I went out.
Despite the snow, I've been gearing up for this weekend as much as I can. I took a break from homework and grading earlier this week to carve pumpkins!
Tyler and I made homemade chicken noodle soup, making the entire main floor of his house smell delicious, and found the original 1970's version of Evil Dead on Netflix instant-watch as background entertainment.
I have to admit, I haven't seen the original in a long time, and it was both cheesier and much gorier than I remember it being...
I'm pretty happy with how much pumpkin turned out. The last couple of years I've stuck with the "Nightmare Before Christmas" theme for carving, so this year I branched out a little bit and carved one of the aliens from the "Toy Story" trilogy. It turned out really well!
Tyler did an angry looking pumpkin, and they're being displayed proudly outside his front door. My hope is they last at least until Halloween (no crazy kids smashing up pumpkins, hopefully...)
More celebrations this weekend, along with writing papers, grading, and more coffee. Maybe climbing, but outdoor rock season--sadly--might be over. Or, I may just need to pack my down jacket. Hmmm... :)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One More

I had one last wedding to attend this last weekend before winter rolled around- my cousin Maggie got married. I packed my climbing stuff for a quick stop to Taylor's Falls, and joined my gigantic extended family for a beautiful fall wedding!
I had that one guy with me for the wedding, dressed nice and snazzy.
The next day, we dropped the snazzy, threw on warmer clothes for climbing, and stopped at Taylor's Falls on the way back to Duluth for a little outdoor climbing time.
It was a little weird to be somewhere sort of new, and the crowded routes gave me a newfound sense of how lucky I am to climb regularly at somewhere like Palisade. Taylor's was nice, but the number of people there- both tourists and local Twin Cities climbers- was a little overwhelming. Normally, even a busy day at Palisade is maybe three or four groups of people, and odds are I know everyone out there. It's hard to find that anywhere else. :)
I have to admit, I was pretty excited when I got a bouldering route that neither of the boys were able to accomplish. It was exactly my type of climbing- static, tight but fluid moves, and flexibility in the end allowed me to get up where the boys didn't. Huzzah for climbing!
School has forced me to take a mini-hiatus from knitting and crafting (plus being shut down by that stupid hat didn't help), but this weekend I've been getting back into the swing of it between working yesterday and today at the gym all day, plus a movie night last night resulting in a good first chunk of my next Holiday knitting to get started.
Tyler's back today from a 5-day climbing trip to Devil's Tower, so hopefully tonight I can get some good stories and a decently cooked meal. Leftovers and pasta are starting to not cut it. :)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Aww... Bugger

Things were going... okay, in getting the sparkle motion hat done.
The yarn was driving me crazy right from the get go, but I was pretending that everything was ok.
Then, right as I was doing the cable part of the hat, I set it down on the table and took a cold, hard look at it.
I didn't like it. It was sparkly to the point of hurting my eyes, you couldn't see the pattern at all, and the yarn was scratchy and itchy. I took a giant gulp of coffee, and started re-winding the ball.
I figured that I would instead use the yarn to make a bunch of K1P1 headbands for a few of my younger cousins, since the yarn was stretchy and if the headbands were in the hair it would probably be okay.
I got to the brim of the hat, and instead of putting it back on the needles to have one finished headband I decided to pull it all the way back and start over. I don't know why. That was a dumb move.
I put the rewound yarn back in the ziplock bag, then started to cast on. Instead of smoothly coming out, the yarn became a gigantic ball of muck.
I tried for about five minutes to untangle it, then decided it was stupid and fruitless.
It was time to throw in the towel.
Guess I need to think up something else for my cousin. Bleh.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Study, study, study...

...and when I'm done, I study and write papers and research more. Funny thing is, now that I have an office at school, I find that I'm more and more often drawn out here:Away from my windowless room, enjoying what's left of fall. The courtyard outside the building where my office is luckily has full internet access, so I can research and write all I want in the warm fall sun.
This weekend is my weekend off, and yet again I have to travel down to the cities for a wedding- this time for my cousin. She'll be married on Saturday, then Sunday we're meeting a friend or two at Taylor's Falls to get some afternoon fall climbing and bouldering in. Don't worry- I'll have my books along for studying, but it'll be a nice chance to really take a break, be outside and enjoy fall. I know it's important to stay on track for school and everything, but I'm a firm believer in enjoying what's going on around you.
I've started on my Holiday 2010 knitting, and first up is a hat for a younger cousin of mine, which I've lovingly dubbed "Sparkle Motion" (describes the yarn, and I love a good Donnie Darko reference).It's the pattern Hermione's Cable Hat, though with this yarn you'll be lucky to see any stitches at all. It's a pretty sparkly yarn, not terribly warm or soft, so I'll probably need to sew some fleece on the inside of the hat to make it wearable. I can't look at the hat as a whole while knitting or my eyes hurt, but a little at a time is okay. One big complaint, however, is the yarn. It doesn't stay wound in a ball, and in the little ziplock bag I keep it in, it turns to this:That's not just a lot of unravelring- it's a fairy unhappy knot that constantly needs fidgeting. It's a (lot) of a nuisance, especially when attempting to untangle on the bus ride to school.
Tonight, stretching muscles from teaching an extra two hours of ballet before more writing papers and lesson planning.
Would it be bad to make a pot of coffee at 11 pm at night?

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Fall is my favorite season by far- the changing colors, warmer in the day but chilly at night, layering of clothes and handwarmers and scarves, hot coffee cupped in chilly fingers. Duluth does a great show, too. I haven't been able to see the full extent because of a very busy school year, but I'm learning to look out the window on the bus at a street lined with yellows and reds and pumpkins.
Fall also means planning. As a crafter, I have to make my Christmas to-do list and start on it now in order to make sure I get everyone in. I've made up my mind about most of my friends and family members, but a recent addition to my craft library has thrown a lot of that in the loop.When I found out Amy Butler put out a new book on sewing handbags, I was hooked. I received an Amy Butler bag this summer made by a close friend, and it rarely leaves my side. Her patterns range from easy to intricate, and there's a few that caught my eye for a couple of people (I'm not going to say who, some read this blog!)- it's hard not to want everything she designs.My only problem is the time- sewing is a lot harder for me. Knitting can be thrown into a bag to take down to work or on the bus with me, while when sewing I have to be at home with the pins and sewing machine in front of me, not multitasking. After I get my first of two thesis papers in, I'm hoping that I can finish at least a couple of these bags for Christmas time, along with the rest of my Christmas knitting.
I've set lofty goals for myself for this year, but I think I can accomplish it! It helps that I'm psyched to work with such beautiful patterns.Off for a quick knitting session before writing. Perhaps knitting outside? Hmmm... Intriguing :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Roommates Tie the Knot

This last weekend was very full and a lot of fun for me!
My old roommates Mark and Larissa, after being together for years, finally tied the knot. I was lucky enough to share the day with them as a Bridesmaid, enjoying dancing and photos and laughter.
Larissa was a breathtaking bride in a beautiful gown, and the ceremony was very reflective of them as a couple and their personalities.
We had a lot of fun getting ready, getting hair done, and causing a slight ruckus with cups of coffee in our hands.
I brought Tyler along with me, and he had no problem getting to know them better than he did before. He also did a kickin' job on the dance floor.. :)
All in all, it was an incredible weekend, and one that I won't ever forget.
Congratulations, Mark and Larissa!!