Saturday, January 30, 2010

Quick Notes

1. When you give your Dad your blog address so he can see climbing pictures, and then you blog about possibly completely his sweater that is over a year late, be prepared to come through on said sweater when he attacks you next time he sees you with, "Isn't it done yet? When will it be ready? Wasn't it supposed to be done by now???"

2. If you know you are bad at directions, and you know you have to drive somewhere you've never been before, save an hour of driving by Google-mapping it. It will save much stress and swearing at street signs.

3. When a long drive is about to take place, two large cups of coffee beforehand isn't a good idea.

4. Especially when you get lost for an hour.

5. Buying another coffee while lost and needing to go to the bathroom does not help said situation.

6. Perhaps I drink too much coffee.

7. Point 6 is moot because there is no such thing as "too much coffee". Sillyness.

8. I think I'm going to stop this before it goes too far.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Stupid Thumbs

I had made up my mind that I wasn't going to write until I finished my mittens, especially since I was oh-so-close to the end and could finish them in one sitting. With this in mind, I picked them up on Sunday while the Vikings-Saints football game was on TV.
I didn't know it, but both things were doomed from the start.See that lovely pair of mittens? They have a beautiful alpaca wool lining, ready to be loved and worn... but there's a slight problem. I discovered that I may have been slightly too much into the game when I was knitting the last thumb at the end.
It wasn't until I put them on at the end that I noticed something.I closed the top of the thumb too early- without measuring it, without holding it up to the other mitten- just glanced down and thought, that looks right, and started decreasing. I finished the mittens as the Vikings lost the game (I really didn't care- I'm a hockey girl. Talk to me during Wild playoffs), then put them on, excited that I had finally finished them. I noticed the fail right away when the thumb cut off way before it was supposed to.
It's just barely long enough to maybe work, but as they're going to be my fall-back, good mittens for awhile, I want them above the "it'll work" status. Tonight they're going to take a step back, get fixed, and then hopefully (finally) these stupid mittens will be done.
Another thing I'm working on is a special something for my Mom's birthday, which is today.I wanted to have it done for Christmas, but finals kind of got in the way and it had to be postponed for a bit. I'm making her a "Mother-Daughter" scrapbook of just the two of us, hopefully ready for when I go to the cities this weekend to celebrate her birthday. It'll be a fun project to put together, and I'm excited to see what she thinks of it.
Time to finish homework reading for tomorrow before getting hard to work on this.
Stay warm, everyone. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Olympic Task

School and work have kept me pretty busy this week (not to mention ice climbing on Monday!) and I haven't gotten any farther on my mittens. I do, however, have a long stretch of working at VE coming up this weekend, so hopefully they'll finally materialize and I can stop wearing my winter camping mittens everywhere.
After the mittens, I've got a bit more of a task ahead of me. The Winter Olympics are coming up in February, and I've joined the Ravelympics on Ravelry to attempt to accomplish a knitting goal, and I have two possibilities in mind.
First of all is using gift yarn to make the Seneca sweater by Jared Flood (his blog, brooklyntweed, is in my sidebar links). As of right now, I own one sweater that I've made for myself after knitting for about 3 or 4 years. This pattern is perfect for the yarn I have, and I know at some point I'll knit it, it's just a matter of when.
The possibility that I'm thinking will be most likely, however, is challenging myself to finish my Dad's Dale of Norway sweater that I started over a year ago. It's been sitting in the time out box for a very, very long time now, and this seems like the perfect time to bring it out to finish. I've gotten (what I believe to be) the hardest part out of the way- the endless 13 1/2 inches of blank stockingnette stitch over and over in navy blue, and it's only fun colorwork from here on out. Plus the sleeves will feel like a cinch compared to the arm, right?The whole point of making this sweater is that it's for my Dad, commemorating the Olympic Miracle team that he loved and which meant so much to him. I think it'll be pretty memorable for me to work on and finish this sweater during the Vancouver Olympics- not because I believe the USA team will win, but because these Olympics are being held in Canada, and my Dad is in part of his soul a Canadian (I think I am a little bit, too, having collectively traveled over a year of my life in Canada- I absolutely love it there).
It's going to be a bit of a challenge, but I think I can do it, and after having this thing be undone for so long, I'm pretty sure that I have to do it.
Darn it.
Bring it on, sweater.
I am going to take you down.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


Once I got it in me to work hard on projects last night, I went at it.I wanted some form of decoration utilizing some of the pieces of mail I've received in the past few years, and after collecting stamps and envelopes and postcards together I threw paint all over a canvas and broke out the trusty Elmer's glue.I'm very happy with the result, which is drying now on my craft table in the living room. The picture really doesn't do it justice, and I'll attempt to get a better one later when it's dried. Hopefully it'll add a little personalized touch to my room and inspire me to keep up with my snail mail correspondences. Plus I loved working with the mixed media to create wall art- it was a refreshing change of material from all the yarn and fabric I've been working with lately. I'll probably give it another go sometime in the future.
I also finished a project that I've been meaning to do for awhile. I bought a second-hand copy of Stevenson's Treasure Island, which looks innocent enough on a bookshelf or in a pile of books.
I did some modifying last night. With an exacto knife and (again) some Elmer's glue to stabilize the pages, I hollowed out the center of the book to create one of those "secret compartment" books. The cuts are pretty rough, especially the farther down you go, but again I'm very happy with the result! After slicing out the center of the pages, I simply used a brush to "paint" (and gob) glue around the edges of the cut, letting it dry overnight. I now have a pretty solid little secret book ready to hide anything (small) I want right on my bookshelf- my own "treasure box", if you will. (Sorry, ironic book nerd humor I couldn't resist!)
I'm attempting to keep the project streak going today with my double-thick mittens next on the list. Work later plus movie night tonight hopefully equals enough knitting time to get them done.
The only question is what should I embroider on the top of them?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Close, but No

I had almost a full skein leftover awhile ago from a hat I made for a friend. The skein was in a very very bright pink, varigated, and would be perfect for my friend Molly, so I tried to knit her up an Amanda Hat with the yarn. The skein fell just short of what I needed- I only have to close the top of the hat- so close! I figured I could try and finish the top with some regular pink yarn, but after an inch or so of closing the top, I don't like it at all. It doesn't match the hat in a way that's pleasing, and I don't want to send her something that I'm not happy with. I'm pretty sure I'm going to have to do a little hunting for this yarn to get the right colors, because what it has just doesn't look right. Time for a scavenger hunt...In the meantime, I'm working on a project that I've been meaning to start for awhile, and since I have a couple of days before school starts, between jobs I'm doing a little painting/mixed media art for my wall. We'll see how this turns out.
Duluth was ridiculously warm today- it got almost to 40 degrees! I went out ice climbing this morning to Casket Quarry, our local ice area, and spent the morning and early afternoon getting thoroughly soaked by the dripping icicles. We had to quit after lunch because it got so warm the ice started to just fall off the wall, which isn't great when you're trying to either climb up it or belay under it.
Tomorrow is supposed to be just as warm, so maybe a walk outside down to Canal Park is in order on my way to work before it finally cools down on Monday- my last day before spring semester starts, so of course I'm going skiing!
Stay cool, everyone. :)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Doubly Delicious... or close...

After making the mittens for Molly for Christmas, I cast on for my own pair of double-layered and delicious mittens in a dark grey with purple buttery alpaca. They were packed neatly and ready to go in my bag for the Colorado trip for car knitting and down time/rest knitting.I got the first mitten completely done, and only ran into issues when I got on the second mitten.
While packing, I made the amateur mistake of forgetting to pack extra yarn- stupid. I got all the way to the decrease on the top of the outside mitten before having to string waste yarn through the stitches to hold in wait till I got home for the proper yarn. Not to be deterred by small events, I cast on the inside mitten and worked hard at it, increasing for the thumb, happily moving till I reached the thumb cast off... and realized that I had no thumb holder, and no extra waste yarn unless I went digging in the middle of my ball of alpaca. Thus my knitting had to come to a screeching halt halfway through the trip, hanging out in the state pictured above until I could get home and get not only extra holders for thumb stitches, but yarn to finish the top of the first mitten. Hopefully now that I'm home I can finish these up in short order to use them in winter. Huzzah! The last couple of days at home have been fairly productive, too. My entire school and desk area has been cleaned out, reorganized and prepared for classes to start in a week. I also cleaned out my craft area, so now I can actually reach some of my materials to work on them. I have a corkboard ready to go up to pin up sketches and projects above my sewing area- hopefully that will help inspire me in the sewing and embroidery aspect of things. And the bag full of Dale sweater is hanging obviously and meanly on my bookshelf, mocking me to pick it up again. We'll see how that goes.
It's late, and I have a loaf of bread finishing in the oven before I head to bed. Toast in the morning? :)
Hopefully I'll have a finished pair of mittens to show for my next post...

Sunday, January 10, 2010

It Can't Get Worse... right?

My Colorado trip ended with a beautiful full day of skiing on Wednesday at Snowmass, getting on when the lifts opened at 9 am and not coming off the mountain until they shut down at 3:30 that afternoon. The sun was beginning to fade as my comrades Tyler and Matthew and I unbuckled our boots, shoved the gear in the car, and got settled for a very long drive back to Minnesota.
We took Interstate 70 across Colorado, which can be tricky in the best of situations. We had to go over Vail Pass, which as 10,666 feet at the summit can be not as fun when the weather takes a turn for the worse...
which, of course, it did.
It started lightly snowing as we gassed up the car at the bottom of the pass, and we brushed it off since we were hearty Minnesotans who grew up driving in crap weather. Snow? Bah! Not even a problem.
However, the snow only got worse as we drove higher up the pass, with Tyler in the driver's seat and me in the passenger, watching each semi that we passed slog through the slush and snow that was fast accumulating, and hearing the chained tires clicking against the pavement, slightly ominous. Tyler was great at keeping cool, taking it nice and slow up the mountain, letting my car slide when it needed but keeping a grip on the steering wheel. We summitted the pass with nothing worse than frayed nerves, knowing that going down was going to be the hard part. Little did we know...
Since my car is a front-wheel-drive boat stuffed to the gills with ice and ski gear, Tyler popped it into 2nd gear to cruise down the mountain, letting the engine keep us going slow and steady so we wouldn't fry the breaks, also maintaining more control than what seemed like a lot of people around us. He stayed that way for a very long time, barely able to make out the shapes of the cars ahead of us, following red tail lights to stay in a lane.
Trouble only hit when the road flattened for a little bit, causing Tyler to pop it back into drive and push on the accelerator to stay with traffic. The problem occured when he realized that the accelerator was already down... all the way down to the ground... and the engine was revving higher and higher, making us start to fly down the mountain. At first he had both feet on the breaks, straining just to keep us from smashing into the cars in front of us, but he thought fast and popped the car into neutral, starting to ease towards an exit that miraculously appeared ahead of us,with the waiting lights of a gas station glowing through the snow. As soon as neutral hit, the engine went into overload and sounded like a race car gunning for the finish, scareing me out of my wits. He got us up the ramp and into the gas station parking lot before throwing the car in park and pulling the e-brake, shutting of the engine and leaving the three of us breathing heavily, just comprehending what we had just escaped.
Turns out because he hadn't been pressing on the accelerator the entire time, the lever it was connected to froze into the down position from the cold, fast winds as we were going down the pass. Being in second gear keeped the engine at an okay level until he put the car in drive, which is when it started to careen out of control.
After we settled down (I was shaking like a leaf) and we all grabbed some coffee, we went back to the car, where after testing found that the pedal was no longer frozen, which was good, but also meant we couldn't use lower gears or cruise control. Since we didn't want to be snowed in, Matthew continued to drive through the night across Nebraska, following a Semi-truck as it bowled down giant drifts of snow flung across the road by the blizzard. Tyler stayed up with him most of the time, and I grabbed a few nervous hours of sleep as the wind howled around, pushing the car around the highway like a toy.
We passed through Omaha, Nebraska around 5 am, taking a break in the first exit across the border of Iowa to grab some breakfast and coffee as I got ready for my own turn to drive. We took a little longer in this particular rest stop, brushing teeth and unwinding from a very long night.
When we went back out to the car, I turned it on and realized that the gas pedal was all the way to the floor again, only the engine wasn't reving this time. It had frozen yet again, and after hunting around under the hood to see if we could warm the ice off or do something to fix it, we called in the mechanics to hopefully fix what we couldn't.
Turns out it was worse than we thought- when it had frozen the first time, it expanded the sheath holding the cable and would therefore be open to freeze at will. This time it just happened to freeze in the off position. They hauled my car to the garage to order a part. It wasn't until we had been waiting for awhile before they informed us that they had to special-order the part, since my car was a '98 and the part wasn't made any more. The soonest it could get there was by lunch the next day. Exhausted, hungry, and badly needing showers, we just didn't care at this point.
Luckily, because the problem stemmed from a screw-up by Firestone in Duluth in the first place (the backstory is long), Firestone was going to not only pay for the tow, the part, the shipping of the part, and the installation, but they put us up in a nice hotel for the night. After napping and showering, we even went and saw Avatar in Imax 3-D that night!
The part got fixed in record time, and they shuttled us around from hotel to the car place when it was ready and we finally got on our final stretch back home.
Cheering was abundant when we saw the sign for Duluth, Minnesota, let me tell you.
All in all, it was an... exciting way to end the trip. :)

Friday, January 8, 2010

And to Think, Some Poor Bastard is Lying on a Beach in Hawaii...

I've been gone for a little over a week to Colorado with a couple of friends, doing some amazing fun things. We went ice climbing in Ouray, Colorado at the Ouray Ice Park, which boasts hundreds of ice climbs and mix climbs at varying degrees of difficulty. We did this for three full days, and then a fourth morning before driving off to Aspen/Snowmass for some amazing skiing. We skiied at Snowmass for two days of high altitude and hard skiing. The first day was on the part of the mountain called "The Big Burn", where it dropped 2,000 feet every time we rode up the lift and skiied down the mountain. Needless to say, my legs were pretty close to jello when they shut the lifts off that afternoon. We also got to the highest point, 12,500-ish feet at the top of the mountain where it was very windy and cold. I was really happy with my trip buddies- Tyler and his brother Matthew. They were easy-going, never complaining, and always pushing me to do my best, even when I was nervous about trying something.
All in all, the trip was an incredible success... until we started driving home.
More on that fiasco next post...