Monday, May 28, 2012

FO: Cables for an iPhone

After a couple of days drying, the Cable Beret is finally finished!

Pattern: Nine Dwindling Cables
Yarn: The super squishy Plymouth Yarn in worsted Merino
Needles: Size 8, on bamboo

Modifications: I nearly ran out of yarn on this pattern, so the decreases at the top were a lot quicker and more intense than the pattern originally calls for.  As in, suddenly I noticed I had about twenty more rows and a tiny ball of yarn, so I quickly started decreasing more.  When I noticed it wasn't working, I did some magical decreasing involving a lot of K2tog, and luckily it didn't look like total crap at the top.
Time Frame: May 10-May 28th (counting dry-time, which took forever with rainy bad weather!)
Gift/Barter: Barter for my co-worker Sarah, who gave me her old 3G iPhone when my iPod crapped out.

Worst Part: I got real bored with this pattern real fast.  Maybe this is a sign that berets aren't my thing?
Best Part: This might sound silly, but I left the super small ball of about 7 yards that I had left from my project out, and in the morning found it completely unraveled and trailing around my apartment from my kittens playing with it.  Besides the always-great Plymouth Yarn, that was my favorite part!
Something I learned: I do not look good in berets.  Good to know. ;)

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Projects Galore

I've had a lot of projects both on the needles and ready to go at my sewing machine.  Due to jumping back and forth, I feel like I haven't made progress on anything.  I finally stayed up late last night and finished the hat for my friend Sarah:

It's blocking on a dinner plate right now in the sad attempt for sun.  It's probably the best weather we've had so far since last Tuesday.  Last night was a pretty cool crescendo of grossness- Duluth received had a thunderstorm big enough to turn the kittens into little tornado whirlwinds at two in the morning.
Luckily, bad weather means a lot of time to get stuff done.  This morning I pulled out two yards of pretty knit fabric I picked up for a song and made myself an infinity scarf!

It was a super simple how-to from pinterest, and I'm pretty sure I'll be making more of these for presents for friends as birthdays come around this year!  I was able to finish it this morning in less than an hour, and was happily wearing it around as I ran out to get my oil changed and other errands.

One of those included a stop at Yarn Harbor, where I got a skein for a baby hat I'll be knitting to welcome the baby girl of an old high school friend.  While there, I happened to find something else extremely yummy...

Some Three Irish Girls yarn that I'll be using for a secret Christmas knit.  Early, you say, for Christmas knitting?  Not when my queue is as long as it is...
The rest of my afternoon off will be with this pretty fabric:

working on my present for the director of my dance studio, Stacey.  No worries- updates soon. :)
Now if only the rain would stop for long enough for a bike ride.  This day would be much better with some exercise. :)

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Let it Rain

I had a couple days off recently, and instead of being able to get outside climbing or running or biking, I've been watching out my window as rain pours down.  Yes, I realize that due to how little snow we had over the winter the rain is nice, but it would have been equally nice to spend at least a little bit of time out of doors. :)
Luckily I've had time to deep clean the apartment, finally get some projects done, and work more on others.  I had my good friend Alex over yesterday for some hanging out and stitching time.

She was finishing doing all the ties on a quilt (see if you can spot the hidden image!) while I worked more on my snowflakes.  Maeby made sure to hang out and make a pest of herself- so many dangling things to play with!
In addition, I tried out a couple of recipes I got from pinterest.  One was a simple snack- dipping blueberries in honey yogurt and freezing them.

They're super tasty little snacks, and ridiculously easy to make.  Took me maybe five minutes tops to fill a plate to stick in the freezer.  I also made some triple-layer cupcakes for a BBQ and movie night with a bunch of climber friends last night.  I put pre-made chocolate chip cookie dough in the bottom of a paper cupcake, placed a Reese's Peanut Butter cup upside-down on top, and covered the top with brownie mix.  They went over really well, and two dozen of them disappeared quickly!
Another rainy day today means more time to work.  I have to finish getting all my HR materials done for teaching at the college in town next year, then develop my syllabus and pick my textbook for my students.  I'd prefer to have all that done before I leave in July for Wyoming, so more work now means guilt-free play later. :)  Hopefully I'll be able to finish the hat I started for Sarah today as well- I'm at the decrease section, so it can't be too much longer before I get to check it off.
And perhaps tonight I'll be able to get more snowflakes in.

I LOVE how the ones I have done look so far (minus the fact that they look a tad like amoebas), and I'll probably be blocking them either tonight or tomorrow to see how they will really look.  13 total snowflakes that I'll need, and I finished the fourth one yesterday!
Sometimes it's nice to get a solid few days of cleaning and work time in. :)

Monday, May 21, 2012


Before opening the climbing gym this morning, I took a walk around Canal Park for sun and coffee.  The sun was beating down, my coffee was the perfect temperature, and my iPod was shuffling between some of my favorite songs.  As I crossed the street, "Helplessness Blues" by the Fleet Foxes came on, and immediately nostalgia washed over me for large domes, endless forests, and the sheer granite cliffs of Yosemite National Park.
My trip last summer was amazing, pushing me as a climber in every way that I wanted and in ways I didn't know would.  I love that listening to this one song brought back that flood of memories, and made me ache to move again, to discover new routes and climb above all the tourists to a place where you find yourself alone, 200 feet above your belayer.

I miss that feeling.  With the leaves exploding green around me, my soul and body are antsy to trek to new destinations or visit old friends.

This summer, I'm going to be going on a new adventure, this time bumbling around the state of Wyoming.  I'm curious what the soundtrack of that trip will be.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Oh My Goodness...

After a dark and stormy night, my day off dawned bright and warm.  The guy and I wasted no time getting outside to enjoy it!
We went to one of the local bouldering crags, climbing over moss and swatting away hordes of mosquitos to get in some outside climbing time.  
It was great to have some time with my guy before he heads off for a week!  After, I stopped at Yarn Harbor to pick up the yarn to start Kim's wedding shawl.  I figured it was a good idea to start since I'd have some evenings to myself.  What I found is... well:
I have two skeins of lace Malabrigo laying around from my frogged Whisper shawl, and I'm going to put it to good use as the background behind the snowflakes.  The snowflakes themselves are going to be out of Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn.  
I was so excited to get the yarn that I cast on for the first snowflake... then kept ripping it out and trying to figure out what I was supposed to do.  Some of the directions weren't amazing, so I improvised a little until I got the right number of stitches, but the points were still not correct.  
After a lot of swearing and more cast-ons later, I finally figured out exactly how the cast on was supposed to work, and suddenly... 
oh, my.
Oh, goodness me.
I finished the first one and was almost sad that I was going to have to leave and climb with friends for the night. 
I just got back from 2 hours of climbing hard at the gym, and now it's time to throw on some Netflix and do another... and perhaps another... 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Non-Climbing Day Workout

I've been working on finding a good balance for working out on climbing days and non-climbing days, and after some juggling and research I finally created a workout routine for days that I'm not climbing but still need to work out.  I focus specifically on core, since climbing is a lot of core.  Therefore, I created two diagrams- one that shows my entire climbing workout, and one that focuses specifically on the core workout I'll be doing.

Most of the workouts are pretty self-explanatory, and the moves in the core workout that aren't can be looked up on youtube or any fitness blog.  For example, hip thrusts are just what they sound like- laying on your back with your feet on the ground, and thrusting your hips up, using your glutes and hips.

The purple sheet, titled my "Non-Climbing Day Workout", has other workouts that are more geared to my ballet training.  I'll go over quickly what they mean.
20 Scissors- Lie on your back, and put your legs up with toes pointed in the air.  Open them as far as you can, then bring them back up to criss-cross at the ankles before opening again.  When you open and close them, that counts as one.  Legs have to be kept straight, toes always pointed- no cheating!
5-5-5 Pushup series- 5 pushups with elbows going out to side, 5 pushups with elbows in to body, 5 pushups with elbows out to side again.
Jenelle's Leg Lifts- Go on all fours.
     1- Keeping leg bent, left leg up to 90 degrees and back down- do 10 times.  Do the same thing on right side.
     2- Shoot left leg straight up, kicking as high as you can.  Use lower back and butt muscles to best effect- do 10 times.  Repeat on right side.
     3- Repeat #1, but on 10th lift, leave leg up and straighten and close your leg 10 times.  Repeat on right side.
32-32-32 or 16-16-16- This is a series of releves, a ballet step.  A releve is where you stand in ballet first position (look it up if you don't know what it is), then push up until you're balancing on the balls of your feet. The combination is as follows:
     1st Set- Releves into plie, or bending the knees after each releve.
     2nd Set- Releve up and down with a straight leg, or push up to releve and then come back down on your heels without sinking into bent knees (plie).
     3rd Set- Releve up, then come down until your heels almost but don't touch the ground.
I do 32 of each set if I'm in ballet flats or socks (or barefoot), and sets of 16 if I'm in pointe shoes.  The key to releves is to think "Up!" every time you push up to the ball of your feet, squeezing your stomach, butt, thighs, knees, and calves at all times.  It's good to do this to music- one releve for each beat.
I always end each session with at least 20 minutes of stretching.  It's always best to stretch after your workout, since your muscles are then warmed up and easier to work on flexibility.

One last note- I climb 3-4 days a week for training, and do these workouts on non-training days (plus bike commuting to work).  If I'm teaching ballet for a few hours on a particular night, I use that as my workout instead of the at-home ones.  With all this, I try to take at least one full day off per week (not counting bike commuting).  It gives your muscles a chance to recuperate, build back, etc.  I try to put a non-climbing day between each climbing day to give my tendons a chance to repair as well.

Well, there's my workout.  Use it for your own if you'd like, and let me know if you have any questions. :)

Bumbling Along

It's been a pretty hectic week as yet another performance weekend creeps up on me for dance.  I absolutely love my girls, and love teaching dance, but I'm going to breathe a big sigh of relief once all the comps and performances wrap up for the year.  Going straight from the climbing gym to hours of dance has worn on me.
Worst of all, I've barely had time for knitting!

I was able to work a little on Sarah's beret on the drive up to Palisade last Sunday, but nothing since.  Sarah also told me she wanted a different pattern than the original Laurel I had picked, so I had to frog everything I had (second time, now) and start completely over.  At least this one is easy cables, so hopefully I'll finish this weekend during dress rehearsal.
My lavender cardigan has entered an interesting point- I suppose I can call it the "monster-under-the-bed" look.

I didn't even notice it until I set it out to check out my progress.  It's coming along really well, and currently is in the completely mindless and boring easy part.  It's going faster than I thought, and I have high hopes that I'll finish it soon to wear to graduation parties in June.  Here's dreaming... right? ;)
Tomorrow I'm heading to Yarn Harbor to pick out some yarn for Kim's Wedding Shawl- I received the pattern in the mail a couple days ago, and I'm excited to start on this beast of a project.  I looked over it, and it seems mostly finicky and time-consuming.  Let's hope this isn't a really bad idea.  Sometimes I bite off waaaay more than I can chew...
I'm a little all over the place today, so I'll sign off for now...

Monday, May 14, 2012

Grad Time!

At the end of last week, my brother graduated with his MA in Civil Engineering!  

It's weird to think that he's all grown up, with a new job designing skyscrapers.  Seems like not too long ago we were playing backyard baseball with the neighbors.

I was especially excited because both of my parents were able to make it up for the ceremony, as well as a few days of hang-out time.  My Dad's job currently keeps him in Florida, so I haven't seen him since Christmas.  My Mom is finishing her last year of teaching before joining him down south, and she'll be heading down there this summer.  Family time was needed, and it was great to go out with them, go on walks, and even party at the local brewhouse until late!
After they went home Saturday afternoon, I had a nice relaxing evening with my guy, went to see "The Avengers", and organized gear when we got home later.

Yesterday we drove up the shore for a quick Mother's Day lunch with his Mom before finally getting outside climbing.  It was my first time at Palisade Head this year, and despite a lot of wind, it felt amazing to get out! We only had a few hours before I had to get back for a work meeting, so we jumped on two 5.10s before throwing the rope for Sunny and Sheer, a 5.12a on an exposed arete.  This was my first attempt at a full route of 5.12, and besides flailing a little at the crux, I was able to figure out all the moves and got up!
This was my first successful outside 5.12a attempt, and it makes me really happy that I got up it!  Since a lot of what I was originally planning on projecting this summer at Palisade is closed due to the falcons nesting, this will be a good addition for my "To Climb" list.
Knitting took a little bit of a backseat to family time and climbing this weekend, but have no fear... more is coming...

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Over My Head

My good friend Kim got engaged awhile back, and her wedding date will be sometime in January in 2013.  Originally she asked me to knit her a hat for the wedding, as a winter wedding means outside pictures and chilly weather (especially in MN!).  I heartily agreed, but then asked if she wanted something more elaborate.  After all- I made a shawl for my Cajun friend Aimee's wedding, so why not for this wedding?
I showed her a couple of patterns, and she picked this beautiful thing:

It'll be gorgeous for her winter wedding, and she's the type of person that can pull it off.  It's labeled as "Advanced Lace", and after the Shipwreck Shawl I'm feeling up for a challenge, so of course I agreed to make it.  In 7 months.  For a wedding.  
Of course, as I was checking out the other projects, they all talk about how finicky the pattern is, and how long it takes to make, as the snowflakes are knit first, then blocked, then the background is knit and the snowflakes knit to that, then graft all the sections of snowflakes/background together, then finally a border is added to the whole thing.
No big deal, right?
I wouldn't be so worried if I didn't already have so many things to finish.  This "12 in 2012" thing was going well until I added these giant projects that I will have to bust butt to finish.
For example, this month I need to sew an Amy Butler bag for the head of my dance studio as part of my "Thank You" to her.  Sewing means doing it at home, at my sewing machine, and taking time during my days off to finish. It's worth it for her, but I haven't even cut out the fabric yet.  CRAP I'll be getting on that soon (tomorrow).
I need to finish my Dad's Dale of Norway sweater (it's probably around 1/2 way done, but the tricky stuff is left) hopefully by Christmas.  I would love for him to wear it to Christmas Eve, so that's my goal.
I have two- count them, two sweaters I want to knit for myself this year.  One is already in the process- the Lavender Cardigan, based on the Effortless Cardigan, and made out of nom-tastic Alpaca:
 and one that has a ton of Three Irish Girls yarn that needs to be wound yet:
The Coastal Hoodie.  I want both of them right now soon, so picking one to wait on is difficult.
Oh yeah- and I'm going to make this for the Ravelympics this summer:
This is "The Dude" Sweater (for those that know "The Big Lebowski").  It's for a barter since my computers (and iTouch) up and died, and my guy wiped it all clean and helped me reformat and put everything back on (though I still don't understand anything and thus don't touch my big computer).  He's going to be doing the same to the computer at my parent's house, which is a lot of work.  Hence me making him a sweater.
All of this isn't counting the random little things I need and want to make, like finishing the hat for Sarah for giving me her iPhone, or babies that show up in September that need hats, or starting Christmas presents for people...


Maybe if I just quit all my jobs and start knitting, I might get it all done.  It's not too crazy... right?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FO: Follow the Yellow Brick Road

I need to keep better track of birthdays.  Recently, my old roommate and good friend Kate had her birthday, and I pulled together a quick present that I knew she would love.  She's a HUGE Wizard of Oz fan, and as a high school choir teacher I thought a pair of handwarmers for those chilly office days would be perfect- hence the "Follow the Yellow Brick Road" handwarmers!
Pattern: Simple Fingerless Gloves, available for free on Ravelry.
Yarn: The green was a fingering weight in Cascade, and the Yellow Brick Road was from Wildfoote Sock yarn from Brown Sheep.
Needles: I knit these on size 1, instead of the called-for size 0.

Mods: Well, the obvious one is adding a winding yellow brick road through one of the handwarmers.  The stitch pattern in the road was a seed stitch to imitate bricks, and I honestly just made it up as I went.  After both handwarmers were knit up, I embroidered the ruby red red slippers, witch hat, and broomstick to complete the look.
Time Frame: April 27-May 4, 2012.  SUPER FAST. ;)
Worst Part: Probably trying to figure out the Yellow Brick Road through the ribbing at the bottom.  
Best Part: Easy pattern that was simple to knit up quickly for a gift!

During a trip to the cities last weekend for my dance competition, I was able to stop by the celebration and drop off the handwarmers in-person, have a margarita, and get a little quality girl time in!

My girls did well at the comp, though it was run a little differently than we were used to.  It felt great to get home to Duluth after a busy weekend, and was greeted by this sign:
Awww... I think I kinda like that guy.

The cats are pretty okay too. ;)

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Are You Gonna Be My Girl?

For my top competition line this year, I choreographed two songs for my girls to perform.  We did our first at the last competition- in heels and full makeup to "Forget About the Boy" from Thoroughly Modern Millie.  It was a great character piece, and the girls got 1st place overall in their category!  They could have easily done well at our next competition this Sunday doing the same song, but instead I choreographed a hoofer piece to Jet's song "Are You Gonna Be My Girl?".  Instead of heels and cute dresses, my girls are in their flat hoofer taps, jeans and black Tshirts.  I originally wanted them to find shirts with band names on them, such as "The Beatles" or "Pink Floyd", but instead got the idea to make our own shirts with lyrics from the song on them.  I found some comfy black shirts for $8 at Target, made sure they fit my ladies well, and used the power of the internet to help with the rest.

Thus, my morning off found me on my porch with a cup of bleach, paintbrushes, and a rough idea of what I wanted everything to look like!
I followed this tutorial that I have on my Pinterest board, and it proved to be perfect for what I had in mind.

I used chalk to trace my design on each of the shirts before firmly securing them to pieces of cardboard.

Using undiluted household bleach, I painted (roughly) over where my design was, and even painting a bit outside of the lines since the chalk will easily come off when I wash them.
It was a beautiful day to do it outside, and doing it on my porch meant I was free of curious kittens poking their noses in dangerous chemicals.  Plus the sun helped me to immediately see my design!

The one bad thing about this process was I didn't have any tough plastic brushes- I only had some cheaper animal hair ones, and the bleach quickly ate through them.  Oops.

They're looking great so far, and all I have to do is finish letting them bleach in the sun, hand wash them thoroughly, hang them to dry, and they'll be ready to go for this weekend's competition!  I'm excited to show my girls.  I think they'll like them.  I know I do!
This was a super quick and easy process, and I'm sure I'll be using it for more projects in the future!

(Please don't mind how blindingly white my legs are.  I'm a Minnesotan, and it's still early in the spring.  I will rival vampires in paleness until mid-June.  Hopefully.)