Sunday, February 26, 2012

FO: T-Shirt Quilt!

A windy and cold night last night allowed me to throw on season 5 of "The Office", stretch out, make my Tshirt "sandwich" and pin the bias tape around the edge of my quilt:

Which led to the tips of my fingers getting raw from pushing in teeny pins, but allowed me to leave just a few lines of pinning and quilting this morning.  Just as my coffee ran out, I cut the last line of thread from my machine to the quilt, trimmed a few loose ends, and was finally able to let out a "Huzzah!" as I finally tucked my finished quilt on my bed:

It's got a super thick layer of squishy batting in the middle, and with my bedroom window letting at least a little cold air in, I'm excited for it to keep me warm at night!
If I don't want the shirt side showing for some reason- a change of pace?- the flip side of the quilt is a bright splash of turquoise and purples that will brighten even the dreariest of northern Minnesotan days.  
I'll be the first to admit that it's not perfectly sewn (some of the bias tape around the edge was unruly) but for my first quilt, and for one that I've been meaning to make for a very long time, I'm super excited to finish it!  I have a lot of people and memories connected to each of the squares, and I feel like this is a great way to remember and connect to all of them.  Tonight I'm going to toast with a glass of wine to finishing my big T-shirt quilt- one of my "12 in 2012"!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quilt Success!

I woke up to fresh snow on Tuesday with a lot more dumping from the sky, and since it was my full day off I decided to use the time to get a portion of my T-shirt quilt done!  After interfacing squares all day, I connected the strips of shirts together before heading down to the climbing gym for three hours full of every 5.11 in the gym.  I think the success of getting that far on my quilt pushed my climbing success, but that's just me. :)
Last night, while my kitchen was taken over by beer brewers, I spent my evening fending off kittens:
and sewing together all the strips of shirts into one big quilt top!  
The more strips that I added, the bigger and more awkward working with the quilt became.  Luckily I had some tasty organic wine and some extremely helpful kittens to make the process easier, and boy did it feel good to hold this up:
The best part is, it fits perfectly on the full-size bed I got as a hand-me-down from my grandparent's old house!  
Especially with the edging, it'll drape beautifully over the sides.  I'm pretty excited to finish this thing off.  Next step is heading to the fabric store sometime in the next day or so (perhaps tonight!) before the next round of snow hits this weekend to get fabric for the quilt back and fabric for the binding on the sides.  Still haven't decided if I actually want batting or not- maybe a little bit, to fend off the chilly Minnesotan winter!
Tomorrow night and Sunday afternoon are dedicated to training for climbing- I'm beginning to follow a 6-week training schedule to prepare for climbing hard this summer without burning out.  
A large part of this is getting 4 days of climbing per week, at least 1-2 hours every time I train.  I'm countering that with teaching tap and running or biking almost every day to get my cardio up from absolute crap really bad less than steller performance.  My next "race" is coming up a week from this Saturday- I'm running in the Mustache March run up here in Duluth, a whopping 2.65 miles along the lakewalk.  After a winter of no cardio, I'm hoping to have fun at this race and finish ahead of competitors that are around twice my age (I had to push to finish my last 5K in front of a 70-year old man), plus get motivated for spring training. Woowoo!
A big step, though, would be having a wonderfully warm quilt to sleep under.  Good thing I've got that well underway... ;)

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Getting There

It's been a pretty productive week for me thus far, craft-wise.  I hit some milestones that felt really good, as if I'm actually getting stuff done (Ha!).

I finally hit 25 hexipuffs in my Honey Quilt project!  After a long hiatus, I picked up doing at least one hexipuff a day this last week, and it felt really good to see them all laid out, taking up a fair amount of space.  Granted, I'm going for about 400 hexipuffs, but hitting that first milestone felt like this project is actually do-able.

We had quite a snowfall mid-week, and I enjoyed a night at home watching Albert start to come out of his shell! He's been hiding under the couch thus far, but since he's getting fatter bigger, it's harder and harder for him to fit. He is, however, beginning to take after his owners:

showing his climbing prowess on our window.  While he tottered around the apartment, playing with Maeby, I cut the last piece out for my High School/College T-shirt blanket and laid out the final design.

I'm pretty excited to get going on interfacing and piecing this thing together!  (All right, I'm pretending to be excited about interfacing, which is dull work, in order to get myself excited for a finished product.  See?  Tricking myself.  Never Occasionally Sometimes, it works.)

I also finally got the material to make the bag for Stacey, the head of my dance studio.  It's pretty bright, and I know Stacey will love the pinks and purples together!
After chilly and snow mid-week, it's finally sunny out with a high up to 40 outside- really weird weather for February, but I'm going to take it.  A whole day off today means biking down to the climbing gym, getting a good burn in, then off to my brother's house for homemade Chili and hanging out in the sun (40 degrees in MN means outside in cutoffs and a sweatshirt, enjoying the sun).  Perhaps some time tonight to interface a couple of squares- YUCK Bah Woohoo!
Happy Sunday.  :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Gross Day

It's just the type of cold, damp, dreary day that one would expect in the early springtime.  Unfortunately for Duluth, we had about a week of real winter before this barely-above-zero stuff set in, covering our city in a chill resulting in grossness and a really bad cold for me.

I've been down and out for a couple of days, eating soup, drinking tea, still going from one job to the next but with slightly less vigor.  Today is the culmination of yuck- a fever while sitting in a cold climbing gym, looking forward to an evening spent wrapped in blankets and watching Netflix, mindlessly working on something easy.
While I'm down here and have a little time, I'm working on figuring out exactly how I'm going to modify one of my next projects.  I have the pattern for the Effortless Cardigan, but I'm going to spice it up a little bit with some cabling on both the arms and the back.  I decided to use the cable pattern from the Effervesce socks for the back of the cardigan, and I'm hoping to use the pattern from the soon-to-be-published Winterdream Cables Socks to go down the arms of the cardigan.  It's going to probably quadruple the time spent knitting it, but I know that it'll be something that I'll love in the end.  I'm going to be using the Alpaca yarn seen in the earlier post (yes, the one that little Miss Maeby "enjoyed") once I spend forever de-tangling it.  Hopefully it'll be a great addition for my 12 in 2012 series!
The Winterdream sock pattern isn't going to be available until the end of February, which will time perfectly with swatching and de-tangling time.  Plus time for me to work on another sweater... specifically, my Dad's Dale of Norway, which I have been slowly but surely picking up and working on again.  I know that I'll be happy to have it finished, but right now I just want to get as much done as possible.
Plus I get distracted but other pretty projects...
Off to drink more tea.  I can't wait for relaxing this evening... :)

Friday, February 10, 2012


After weeks of too-warm weather, the temperature finally dropped last night.  I got home from dance, and had a great night relaxing, snuggling kittens, watching the Colbert Report, knitting, and drinking green tea until it was time to burrow in to bed.  I fell asleep completely happy, listening to Maeby's little bell collar jingle outside the bedroom door.
I woke up early this morning, the sun not even poking through the frost-covered windowpanes yet.  I stumbled out of the bedroom, my only thought being "cooffeeee...", and it took me a second to realize what I had tripped over on the floor.
Turns out during the night, little Miss Maeby found her way into the bag holding some of my yarn stash, and managed to pull out the giant 665 yard skein of beautiful alpaca yarn I got last weekend.  It had made its way from a neatly rolled skein to this:

Apparently what they say about cats and yarn is true.  I underestimated my little girl.  She was happily in the middle of the mess, rolling around and running it between her toes.
What does one do in a situation like this?  My brain had not gotten past the concept of pushing the "on" button on my coffee machine, so this was a lot to take in this early in the morning.  I swore let out a sound of rage quickly untangled my kitten, migrated her to the couch and my poor mess of yarn to a bag high on a shelf, and consoled myself with a warm cup of irish coffee.

I'll need to be a lot more careful about where I put my yarn from now on.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Tap Shoes

I teach dance most evenings a week at a local dance studio, and I'm currently in my second year of teaching at the studio.  I love every part of it- the kids, the owner, the dancing, and the supportive community!  
I specialize in tap dance, and after 8 years of past shows, classes, choreographing, use and abuse, my tap shoes finally did something I never thought happened- I wore through not only the leather toes on my shoes, but I wore through the metal tap piece on the bottom of my shoe (New shoes on left, old shoes with flaking metal tap on the right)!

This year especially I have realized how much abuse they receive, between three tap lines and four solo students!
It was then that I knew I should look into getting new shoes, before my shoes spontaneously combusted in the middle of class and flying off.  I went back to the place I originally got my shoes 8 years ago- Miller and Ben's Tap Shoe Emporium.  I would never go anywhere else, and I was incredibly excited when I got my new tap shoes last night!

The only bad thing about new dance shoes is breaking them in.  After dancing in well-worn and extremely loved shoes, these felt stiff and uncompromising, giving me blisters after only an hour of dancing in them.  I'm so used to wearing taps that are completely worn down that the new taps felt almost rounded, and without the smooth bottoms I was slipping all over the floor last night while teaching.

I'll still keep my old ones around, but it's so cool to get new tap shoes!  I'm hoping that they'll last me another 8 years of happiness. :)

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Sunday Update

I've had a great couple of days off, spending time with friends, walking, climbing, watching movies, and getting some kitten and knitting time in!  I haven't had a full weekend off in awhile, so taking a few days to unwind and get things done- plus a little relaxation time- was great.

I've been able to work on quite a few of my knitting projects this weekend, all of them in completely different states of completeness.

First are the Addiction socks.  I've been trying to only work on these while watching either True Blood or when at movie nights with friends.  Since I finished the third season of True Blood awhile ago and I haven't had much time for movie nights lately, these have been sitting at the bottom of the cuff for awhile.  Never fear!   A few episodes last night with my old friends Sarah and Heather got me past the heel and into the foot, and this will pack easily if I bring it as travel knitting.  This is part of my "12 in 2012"- I want to knit 4 pairs of socks, and this is pair number one.

Next up is my Honey Quilt, which has been lying dormant for awhile as I finished up on some gift knitting (such as the Cowl for a Painting I just blogged about)!  I've added a few more puffs, and though not up to a couple dozen quite yet I'm on my way.  I really want to do at least one puff a day for the month of February- kind of a lofty goal with how busy I am, but I feel like it'll be a good rhythm and good motivation for me.  There's a lot to go before it gets to quilt size, but every puff counts...

My Poseidon's Adventure shawl has been slowly but surely growing as I finally eased into the millions of YO, K2tog stitches as they repeat and repeat and repeat and burn into my brain.  I'm adding little purple beads as I go, helping to break the monotony.  I'm actually a little worried that I'm going to run out of beads way before I reach even halfway through the netting part of the shawl, but I'll do what I can with what I have.  It's actually been really nice brainless knitting so far, and it's really cool to see it grow.  This is also part of my "12 in 2012", and one that I've been enjoying tremendously!
I was lucky enough to take a trip to Yarn Harbor with my friends yesterday to spend some time petting pretty yarn and imagining projects, and I accidently brought home two skeins of some delicious sport weight prime Alpaca yarn...

There may be enough for a cardigan.  I'm not confirming or denying anything.  These things happen when you're surrounded by encouraging friends. :)
As my Sunday starts to wind down, I'm looking forward to Tofu stir fry tonight, followed by knitting and a movie.  It's amazing how sometimes it's really the simple things that make me utterly content.
Now if only I can decide exactly which pattern to use my new yarn on... this one?  Or this one??

Saturday, February 4, 2012

FO: Cowl for a Painting

It was finally nice enough this morning to get some pictures with a finished Cowl I'm bartering for an original painting!

Pattern: A Grey Loop by Helen G
Yarn: Rowan Felted Tweed in DK
Needles: Size 8
Duration: January 17th - February 1st

Modifications: I accidentely got one twist in the cowl, but it looks really good with it when doubled up.  If I was going to twist a project, this was the one to do it.
Made For: My brother's girlfriend, Kendra- an amazing artist!!
Worst Part: I'm a little nervous that this cowl will be too scratchy- she has no wool allergies, so that's my hope!
Best Part: I really love how it looks when doubled up!  I might have to make my own with a different color...
Girl's weekend with more knitting- I'll try not to eat too much junk food, but no promises... ;)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Sneaky sneaky, Sir...

It was my first morning off in awhile, and I spent it making lists, cleaning the apartment for company this weekend, and running errands.  It was while out at Target, passing by the section with Yoga mats, that my brain process went something like this:

So glad I did some yoga stretches this morning.  Glad I'm teaching dance.  Wow, lots of movies on working out.  I should pull my jump rope out and do that when I get home for cardio.  Goodness knows I need it.
Heck, it's 54 degrees out.  Maybe I'll go for my first run in months.
Hah, running.  Silly runners.
It's February.  Something is coming up soon I feel like I need to remember.  Something about running...

The uneasy feeling stayed with me until I was looking at the movie section and it hit me like a piano in an old black and white movie being dropped from a roof.
I'm running in the Mustache March Run, a fun run starting up this year in Duluth.  The key to that statement is "March"- as in, one month away.  As in, I haven't really run seriously since I almost died in the 5K I did back in September.  Heck, I'll be honest- I haven't actually run at all except like one or two runs after I did that 5K.  I'm not in "bad" shape, but I'm not in any form of running/cardio shape- AT ALL.  I realize that this is a "fun run" of only 2.65 miles, but I don't want to get to the end wheezing and holding my side like a complete noob.

The fact that this run snuck up on me and surprised me makes me mildly irked.  Guess it's time to pull out my running shoes again, no matter what the temperature outside is.  Come March 3rd, I'm strapping a fake mustache on my face for this run, and I'm determined to comfortably run this with energy to spare when I'm done.

Take that, body.