Saturday, March 31, 2012

FO: Studio Mitts

I had an amazing last couple of days at the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities English and Writing Conference!  I heard tons of presentations from faculty across the state about everything from publishing your work in journals, to using a theme in your freshman writing course, to different ways to approach developmental writing.  My own presentation went exceedingly well!  It was aptly titled "Why Do I Need Freshman Comp?  I'm a Theater Major!", and had a decent amount of people attending, some with questions at the end!  Overall it was a great experience, and I'm already looking forward to next year's conference, and trying to decide what possibly to present on!
While there, I was able to work on a lot of knitting, even finishing up a project!  I got about halfway done with the Cupcake hat, and this morning I put the finishing touches on the Studio Mitts!

Pattern: Susie's Reading Mitts, available on Ravelry for free!
Yarn: Cascade 220 Paints in 9871 colorway- a great mix of purples and red-purples!
Needles: Size 6 Bamboo, though next time I'm going down to at least size 5.
Time Period: March 16th-March 31st

Gift/Barter: Gift for Cassie, who helps run the office down at Stacey's Dance Studio.  She spends a lot of time on the computer and needs something to keep her hands warm in the winter!  I'll be giving these to her at the recital in June :)
Worst Part: I think the only thing I'd change would be the needles- Cassie has bigger hands than me, so these will probably fit her just fine, but for future projects I'll go down a needle size.
Best Part:  LOVE the colorway!  I'm a huge fan of purple right now, so this was fun to knit with!
More dive classes this afternoon after work, then off to (FINALLY) see The Hunger Games tonight!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

FO: Climber Hat

Last night, while starting Season 4 of Mad Men on my nifty little Nook, I (finally) finished a Climber Hat for my buddy Pete as part of a barter!

Pattern: "Christopher", by Jane Richmond
Yarn: Leftover Cascade 220 from other projects, in gray and midnight blue
Needles: Size 7 bamboo

Duration: February 28th-March 26th
Modifications: None!  It's a well-written pattern, and worked perfectly for what I needed.
Barter: Pete is a photographer (which I define as anyone that spends more than $200 on a camera and equipment) and he'll be printing off several larger prints of his pictures that I choose for decorating my apartment!

Worst Part: Normally hats don't take me very long, so when the stockingnette section went on... and on... and on... it felt like it took forever.
Best Part: Three things- I loved that I could use up old yarn laying around already, I love the reversible hat option, and I LOVE the way that this hat turned out in look/comfort level!  Despite the amount of time it took to make the double-layer hat, I'll definitely be making this hat again for others, both as for barters and gifts.

I'm off to a conference over the next couple of days- the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Writing and English Workshop, where I'll be presenting on integrating writing into a Major's core curriculum.  Hopefully during other presentations, I'll have some time to get some more knitting done! :)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Not Feeling It

It was a long weekend filled with work, guests staying at my place, and my first PADI diver course on Saturday night with my brother.  I knew that I still had to stick to some sort of working out schedule to keep training, even when I ended work today a little crabby and hungry with no motivation to get on any thing hard.  Well, more like no motivation for anything at all, to be honest.
Instead, I grit my teeth and tried a new 5.12 on lead, and worked on an overhanging 5.11 with a reachy traverse.  I also ran a few other 5.11s and hard 5.10s, just to get a strong burn in for the night.  I biked home in a strong head wind, growling unhappily the entire time.  By the time I got home and boiled water for macaroni and cheese for dinner, I couldn't do more than collapse on the couch with a book and a glass of wine.  Despite my sore arms, I was actually pretty happy that I pushed through no motivation to get some climbing in.  
One of my favorite female climbers is Steph Davis, and this short interview with her is what I keep in mind on days like this.  In order to have really good days become really great days, you have to climb through sub-par days with just as much dedication to gain a strong foundation.  Even though I wanted nothing more than to go home and have a relaxing evening with a book or knitting, I knew that it would be better in the long run if I get at least a couple hours on the end of a rope.  

Now my arms are sore, but at least I climbed for a couple hours.  Dedication, right?

Time to knit and relax.  

Oh, and watch some climbing movies. :)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Little List Maker

I've read over and over that it's important to do something several times to get it into your routine so you'll do it again.  This is especially important for exercising- running, doing yoga or stretching in the morning, or sit-ups or small workouts.  I've tried this approach several times, and usually within a week or two I fall out and rely on just dancing, climbing, and commuting to keep me in shape.  This isn't going to be enough for my summer trip, and over the last few weeks I've finally found out what keeps me dedicated.  Simple, really- I should have realized it earlier!
I'm a huge list-maker (always have been), and to hold myself accountable with little checkmarks has worked for years for schoolwork, so I'm transferring it to my running!  I've been picking my 4 climbing days per week based on my work schedule, then work cardio and other working-out time around that, which I plan in my regular black moleskin planner.  I then have a little purple moleskin notebook that I write the date and what I actually do each day.  It's pretty disheartening to have to write in "rest day" more than once a week, so it's been great to make sure I stay on track.  Woowoo!
As for knitting, I've mostly been working lately on gifts and barter items for other people, and I finished the first handwarmer from the Susie's Reading Mitts pattern last night.  These are for Cassie, who runs the office down at the dance studio I work at, and I'm hoping they'll be something nice and warm for her when it's chilly in the middle of the winter at the studio!  I'm sewing a bag for Stacey, and hopefully I'll have time to lay out the fabric and cut the pieces out tonight after rehearsal.  The recital time is creeping closer, and once competition starts I'm going to have even less time for at-home projects as I go around the state to support my girls. :)
Tomorrow I'll hopefully be getting some time for knitting at a "pajama party" that my local yarn store is holding, so maybe I'll get a complete project out of that!  After I run... and climb... and tap some more... ;)  BAAAAAH TRAINING!!!  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Sprung Spring

The long absence between posts is attributed to one major factor:
Spring has unofficially sprung in the north!
We've had a week of endlessly beautiful days, temperatures crawling up in the 50's and 60's, causing me to crawl in my basement and take out a box of shorts for my commutes and runs!
Inspired by the run at the beginning of March, I've been introducing more and more cardio into my daily and weekly routines in preparation for my Wyoming trip this summer.  I'm commuting almost exclusively on my old road bike now, and I'm adding runs in the mix to prepare for backpacking at altitude.  This weekend, I got my first longer trail run in at Chester Creek, a beautiful trail which begins only a 1/2 mile jog from my own front door.
Usually at this time a year, the trails are covered in snow, slippery and quiet.  Saturday and Sunday found me running on dirt trails- at times squishy with mud- but trails nonetheless!  It felt great to be outside enjoying the weather, and even better to get some running in!  If I plan on hiking in to the Grand Tetons this summer- a 10 mile approach to the climbs with 30 pounds of gear on my back, plus climbing the Grand to top over 13,000 feet- I have to be in whopping good shape.  
A few fellow climbers and I are also planning a trip to the Red River Gorge around Easter for some overhanging burns on beautiful Kentucky sandstone.  It'll be a great way to train for leading hard stuff, and give us motivation to train hard in the weeks to come!  I'm training about 4 days a week now down at the climbing gym, and coupling that with all the cardio is making me feel really great!
One of the side benefits of the great weather is a decreased amount of time inside on my computer, and more time doing little things outside.  I read half of A.S. Byatt's The Children's Book on my back porch as the sun was going down yesterday evening, and after dark skipped checking emails for knitting and watching old episodes of The Office.  It's been refreshing to cut back computer time, and I feel much more productive and relaxed!  
I'll get some knitting pictures soon- I'm actually speeding through a couple of projects, and I'm excited to start a couple other drool-worthy ones (at least for me)!
This morning was a beautiful and leisurely 2-mile run in Chester Park again, and I'll be climbing for a couple hours after I'm finished with work before off to teaching at the dance studio.  
It feels so good to move so much. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

FO: Poseidon Adventure Shawl

Sometimes a pattern comes along that I have no choice but to absolutely love.  It sits in the back of my queue, and I never believe that I'm going to truly make it, due to time/budget/insanity needed to start the project.  I also have a huge problem with knitting something for myself- especially something this large and unnecessary to my everyday living.  Sweater?  I can justify you.  Intricate mittens?  Even those are a daily thing.  But a shawl?
With this shawl, the odds were stacked against me from the start.
The beautiful fishnet on the outside with a large, loose edge... the leaf motif in the middle... the beads inside the lace like grains of sand...`the thought of a water-colored knit...
The stars aligned one day when I was innocently browsing my local yarn and came upon the Three Irish Girls yarn in the Eavan colorway- an incredible blue/black/green that reminded me of Lake Superior on her temperamental days when I wanted to squeeze in one more climb above her.  There was enough at Yarn Harbor in the Adorn Sock weight to make the shawl, and something in the air made me had me rethinking possibly making something for myself.
6 months later, after a lot of (YO, K2tog), swearing at tiny needles going into thousands of tinier holes in beads, and fights with kittens about yarn NOT being a play-thing, I finally finished my own Poseidon Adventure Shawl!

Pattern: The Shipwreck Shawl, by Bethany Kok (free pattern online!)
Yarn: Adorn Sock in "Eavan" by Three Irish Girls
Needles: The amazing interchangables got me through in sizes 4, 8, 9, 10, 10 1/2, & 11.
Made For: Myself!  (Believe it?  I barely do...)

Timeline: October 12, 2011-March 4, 2012
Modifications: I didn't have beads throughout the entire fishing net section (because I ran out) but I'm actually really happy with how it turned it, so it's all good.  Plus I wouldn't have wanted to string any more beads on.  At all.
Worst Part: This might be a three-way tie between the seemingly endless 50 rows of over 500 stitches, the last increase to over 1100 stitches and subsequent binding off of said 1100 stitches, or the poking and painful stringing of well over 500 beads onto the yarn when I switched into the fishing net section.
Best Part: Three way tie yet again between the immediate feeling of elation when I finished binding off aforementioned 1100 stitches, the shock and excitement when I was blocking this thing and it easily draped over the sides of my full-sized bed (this thing is taller than I am at 5'4''!) and how AWESOME this yarn is!

I never thought I would finish anything this elaborate or big, and not only does it give me confidence in my lace abilities, but it makes large projects seem do-able when I can finish something like this in 6 months.

::le sigh::

Guess I'll have to finally pull out and finish that Dale after all... :)
At least I'll have a huge blanket of a shawl to keep me cozy while doing it!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Project Mayhem

It seems like whenever I finish a large knitting project, I feel particularly on top of the world.  I forget about the 6 months of long work, the slog through endless sections, the yelling at the pattern when I realize that I forgot something, the yelling at Maeby when she gets in my yarn stash for her own kitten enjoyment.  I hold up the finished project and get a giant flash of happiness and say to myself "You created this!  It didn't fall apart!  It's not horrendously ugly!"  These flashes of happiness and mental patting-on-the-back instances increase or are more intense for bigger projects, such as when I finished my Vivian sweater or the intricate Alice in Wonderland mittens.  My downfall is that when I finish these projects without too many tears or hiccups, I attempt to find something bigger and harder to knit- hence my Dad's Dale of Norway after finishing only one pair of fair isle mittens, or queue something ridiculous like the beautiful Freija sweater (oooooh nom that one is going to happen...) when I feel that I need harder cabling.
Once in awhile I start a larger volume of projects instead of just hard ones, thinking "well, since that ONLY took 6 months, think about what I could do in only ONE month!"  This leads to waaaay too many works in progress (WIPs) and the inevitable Unidentified unFinished Object (UFOs), of which I am quite guilty of (ahem DALE OF NORWAY).
I could try to control these impulses.
I could pull out old projects and purse my lips at them and say "let's get you taken care of!".
I could focus specifically on long-term projects that need a little love.

I could, indeed, so all these things.

But do I?


Instead, I start things like a pair of Mama Mitts for a fellow knitter that never has time to knit for herself (she has four kids all under 11, so you can't blame her!) and I think could use something beautiful that she would never make for herself.

Or, I barter with a fellow climber/photographer for some prints of his originals to hang in my apartment in trade for a hat that I've been itching to try as my new "bartering/climber" hat.

You'd think with all this schooling I would learn from past mistakes, and know better.


(Oh, and here's a small peak at the finally-blocked and finished Poseidon Adventure Shawl:

I'm going for a nice walk on Sunday in our local park and plan on getting project pictures then, so until then I hope the glimpse is good for now!)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mustache Run!

The first annual Mustache March Run was yesterday down on the lakewalk, and despite the fact that it had snowed another 8 inches overnight, plus it didn't stop snowing the rest of the day or during the run, 350 people donned long underwear, running gear, costumes, and of course mustaches to run the 2.65 miles!  I joined in on the fun with bright pink long underwear, very worn and loved pink legwarmers made a long time ago by my friend Red, a headband to cover my ears, and a stylish 'bandit' mustache for fun! I was nervous about this race since I haven't done a lot of cardio this winter, but it ended up being a beautiful race with big fat snowflakes falling on me the entire time, no wind to freeze my face, and a steady running pace that I kept up the entire time I was running!  

Normally I'm a terrible runner, with most of my downfall being my breathing and my mental game.  I was excited that this race tested both.  I got two mild side-aches during the race, but countered it with deeper controlled breaths and a little slower jog until it abated.  I also keep up a very active inner voice when I am doing something difficult (all running included).  I figured I'd have to make bargains with myself (one more half mile, and I can take a short walking break!) but it turned out to be such a beautiful run I didn't have to do anything of the sort!  I simply enjoyed the run, jogged slower when I needed to, then even sped up and pushed my pace near the end as the finish line came in sight!  This is the first race where I kept up a running pace the entire time, no stops for side-aches and breathing or being upset.  I'll just have to keep signing up for more as motivation to keep running!
I think a huge part of the success can be attributed to my mental climbing game- I've gotten much better at staying calm and breathing through difficult sections of climbs instead of getting upset and tight and wasting energy.  This is going to be super key for further success in both climbing and any form of cardio I do.  
I also walked the two miles from my house to the race, then walked to Pizza Luce for the free beer for racers and then walked the 2 1/2 miles home through non-shoveled deep sidewalks.  I was utterly exhausted when I finally got home, scarfing down a whole box of mac and cheese before zonking out.
The only pic I have so far from the race is this one, right after I got inside from finishing the race:
showing off my mustache and excited for a mug shot! :)
Today was working and recovering, and finally- FINALLY- finishing the Poseidon's Adventure Shawl!!
It went from looking like a giant amoeba on the needles to 3 hours of binding off 1108 stitches to this:
a big blog just waiting for some blocking.  I'll block it tomorrow on my bed, since that's the only place big enough where I can also keep the kittens away.  
I'll boulder a bit tonight to loosen up my back muscles, then perhaps a short run tomorrow since I'm in a good running swing right now!  Woowoo, runs!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Snow Days!

We had some mildly nasty weather over the last couple of days up here, resulting in schools closed for two days and lots of time for hot chocolate, movies, and knitting!

I did have to go to VE the day of the blizzard, and ended up having to walk the 2 1/2 miles through the snow in mountaineering boots because my snowshoes are down at my parent's house.  The wind and snow was blowing like crazy, but I was fully geared up in my winter camping stuff and knits, so I was snug as a bug walking down!  It was an amazing walk- I got to see Duluthians cheerfully cross-country skiing in the middle of the road, out building snowmen, and pushing cars out of the ditches.  The last stretch along the boardwalk followed the edge of Lake Superior, and easily 6-foot waves crashed up on the partitions and thoroughly soaked me.  Beautiful Duluth Day! :)
Yesterday was more of a recovery day- most of the city was still digging itself out, and I spent a half hour getting my car out of my parking spot in front of my house before heading to Casket Quarry for some dry-tooling!  It was a beautiful approach, and despite there being no ice this year the dry-tooling was a lot of fun.  Casket is just removed enough from the city that it's quiet, and I wasn't nearly as out of shape as I thought I would be.  Mixed-climbing technique is kind of like riding a bike- once you get it in your bones, you don't forget it.  For some reason, I followed up 4 hours of mixed climbing with 2 hours of rock climbing down at the gym, since apparently I'm a glutton for punishment.  My body is pretty sore today!
Knitting time has been in abundance, and for my Poseidon Shawl, the light at the end of the long and dark tunnel has finally begun to glimmer!

A couple of movie nights got me through a large part of the YO-K2tog section, and I've only got a handful of rounds more before doubling the amount of stitches I have and binding off!  I'm not terribly excited for that part- I will have over 1100 stitches for the final bind-off, but the fact that it's this close to done is ridiculously exciting for me!
Today I'm taking a full rest day for my body (it's loudly protesting most movement), so hopefully I'll be well rested and ready for running in the Mustache March Race tomorrow!  It's right along the very snow-covered lakewalk I slogged along a couple days ago, so hopefully  it will be cleared of snow by then, or that race will become more of a fast trot/snow jog... :)