Tuesday, August 28, 2012


It's been an utterly overwhelming week so far, and it's just about Wednesday.  Uffda!
Scott and I ran a lot of errands as the weekend finished up, just to be sure we were ready when school started this week.  This included buying a vacuum (finally) for our apartment, doing a large grocery run, and diving in to a deep clean of the entire apartment.
I also got some great news on Sunday- LSC wanted me to add on three sections of their "Intro to College" class!  It was really last minute, leaving me to scramble a bit, but after a couple days of being all over the place I finally feel like I have a little more direction as to how I'm running that class.  Adding those on at the last minute made me feel less stressed for teaching my Comp classes.  Not exactly sure why.  All my classes have started pretty well without a hitch, and I'm exceedingly happy with how things are going so far this year.  Huzzah!
The kittens have been finding time to get in to mischief more, now that Scott and I are both teaching all day (and Scott's taking classes for his computer something-or-other degree!).

Maeby was pretty excited about some textbooks from Amazon recently- mostly because the box proved to fit her decently well.  Our kitties don't need fancy, expensive toys- boxes and ping-pong balls go over well here.  (Though listening to them batting the ping-pong ball around in the kitchen and crashing into the walls in the middle of the night isn't nearly as amusing as it is during the day...)
I'm convinced more and more each day that cats melt into places, with no actual bones.

I mentioned earlier that I started another cowl for a Christmas present, which is coming along slowly but easily.  I keep meaning to start the backgrounds on the snowflakes, but those are going to require more than just an hour before bed with my current schedule.
I also got some fun colors for a pair of mittens for a friend from a different country!

She's working here right now, learning how to knit, and I think she'll really enjoy having some warm mittens in the colors of her home country keeping her cozy all winter!  Once I start at least one of the snowflake backgrounds, I'll feel better about starting these mittens.  I have some time this weekend to work on them, so I'm counting on that.
I have a 5K race coming up this weekend as well- the Exploratory 5K!  I went out on a run last night and ended up going just under three miles.  I'm not in fantastic shape right now, but I know I'll be able to at least finish the race running the whole time.  I'll run again tomorrow since I climbed today, but I'm really happy that I keep signing up for these races.  It forces me to get out there and run, which I wouldn't normally attempt.  I'm getting better at it; more comfortable with it.  It's less of a "Oh my GOODNESS I don't want to do this BAAAAH SIDE CRAMPS CAN'T BREATHE LAAAAAME!" and more "Huh, this isn't too bad... slow and steady wins, right?"
Part of me isn't looking forward to when winter kicks in- getting motivation to run outside when it's in the single digits is tough.
But that's so far away for now... :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

FO: Carrot Cowl

My last week has been filled with meetings, working my syllabus, writing assignments, and generally preparing for the upcoming semester- my first as a full-fledged instructor!  Classes for the college start on Monday, with my first class on Tuesday.  I keep swinging between exceedingly excited and staggeringly terrified as class time nears.  I already have the first week's worth of lesson plans completed, since I know it'll get busy quickly when dance starts up.  Speaking of, this year I'll be teaching not only three competition lines of tap dance, but I get a ballet class as well!  It's going to be a fast and furious year.

During meetings this week, I was able to finish up the first of my Christmas presents to give away- the Carrot Cowl!

Pattern: The Jeweled Cowl by Sachiko Uemura
Yarn: Delicious Malabrigo Lace in "Glazed Carrot"
Needles: Size 8 on the Denise Interchangable

Time Frame: July 7-August 23.  I started and worked on  it a lot during my month-long climbing trip, including bringing it up to the Grand Teton for some extreme knitting.
Mods: I didn't use any beads, as I didn't want the delicate lace to be weighed down.
Worst Part: It was pretty easy stockinette, so it became mindless knitting pretty quickly.  I knit until I was out of yarn, and with the lace it felt like it took forever.
Best Part: Easily the yarn.  I've never worked with Malabrigo in lace weight before, and it feels like it weighs nothing around your neck.

I won't say who will be receiving it, but I'm sure that this person will love it!  I've already cast on another cowl for yet another Christmas gift, and it's been going along swimmingly.  I keep buying really nice yarn for these projects, so knitting them isn't as much of a slog.
This weekend, besides fretting about my classes and getting some much-needed exercise in (a bout with the flu at the beginning of the week totally sapped my energy), I'm hoping to start working on the backrounds of the snowflakes for Kim's Wedding Shawl.  I figure if I do one back a week, I should be ready to graft them all together by the beginning of December.  No problem, right?
Right. :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

North Shore and the Ravelympics

I'm finally getting everything back in order.  My gear is (mostly) unpacked, laundry was done, work started up again, and the kittens have once again claimed their dominance over the apartment.  My first staff day at the college I'm teaching at this fall is next week, and I have most of my syllabus ready to go!
In between all the little successes, I found time to take some friends out to Palisade Head for some climbing!

I love bringing people out to Palisade to climb.  It usually means I get more time on easier stuff and less training time, but the excited atmosphere of everyone more than makes up for it.  Both my friends had been there only a handful of times, so it was still kind of new for them.  I made sure to throw them on a bunch of different routes- easier warmups where you can enjoy the view of Lake Superior, and harder crack climbs that would test their skills.

I'm hoping to trad lead as many 5.9s and 5.10s up there as possible before the snow flies and the cracks fill with ice.
I'm only briefly going to mention my small failure in this year's knitting olympics on Ravelry.  As I may have mentioned, I was hoping to knit the Dude Sweater for Scott, since he's been more than generous with his time when fixing my computers/helping edit dance songs/etc.  I picked the colors and ordered the yarn in the beginning of June, excited to bring the yarn with and cast on during the long drive through South Dakota.
Alas, the yarn didn't make it in time for me to take it with on the trip (it still hasn't arrived- the lovely ladies at Yarn Harbor are trying to figure out what's up).  Therefore, I had to find an alternative.  Due to when we got back from our trip and helping my parents go through stuff before their big move to Florida, I didn't land on a project idea until less than a week before the games finished.
I decided to attempt a finish at my Lavender Cardigan.  I figured it wouldn't be too tough- just finish knitting the body, knit the arms, and knit the ribbing for the fronts and the collar.
No biggy, right?
Well, when I finally pulled the sweater out of the bag, there were three days left in the Olympics with a lot of knitting to go.  I was only able to finish to the bottom of the sweater by the time the torch went out, but it was a good push for a project that now feels close to being done.

I'm going to push myself to finish the sweater before September starts, ready to wear for teaching!

Perfect time to get a sweater finished, right in time for fall.  Feels weird to knit one during the summer, but definitely worth it. :)
It was a little hard to swallow a failure for the first time in the Ravelympic Games, but I'm blaming a giant cross-country climbing trip and my yarn not coming in as large contributing factors.  I could have started on this sweater sooner, but more things got in the way.  Ah, well- 'tis life.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

FO: Fall Colors

It's been crazy since being back in Duluth.  After being at my parent's house for a few days to relax and catch up before their big move, Scott and I had a friend's wedding to attend, a trip up north to pick up our kittens, and I started teaching dance camp a day after we finally got home to Duluth.  I also start teaching in a few weeks, meaning I have to put together my syllabus and class schedules and assignments before teacher meetings start.  So much to do, and it all feels a little overwhelming after a month on the road.
In the midst of this, I was attempting to kick-start my project for the Ravellinics!  I was originally going to do the Dude sweater, but my yarn didn't come in on time (plus I was out-of-state for the start of the games) so I picked up my Lavender Cardigan when I got back in Duluth and went to town in the "WIP Wrestling" competition.  I'll update on that next post, since I wanted to post first about one of my finished trip projects, the Fall Color gloves for my neighbor!

Pattern: Oak Grove by Alana Dakos
Yarn: Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, in the incredible Kieran colorway
Needles: Size 2 bamboo, but I wish I would have gone down to size 1
Barter/Gift? Gift!  I was supposed to save it for Christmas, but what better time to wear fall colors with oak leaves than in the fall?
Mods: None

Time Frame: I cast on probably July 9th, somewhere in the middle of South Dakota, and actually finished on our way home through South Dakota on the 27th!
Worst Part: My purls are still really loose, and the gloves aren't as tight and snug on her hands as I was hoping that they'd be.  I'm still trying to fix this problem- either I purl one way and the stitch is twisted and too tight, or I purl the other way and it's too loose.  I can't win. :(
Best Part: The colors!  I must have been seriously deprived of color over the winter when I originally bought this yarn.  Good thing there's plenty left to maybe make my own pair of fingerless mitts... :)

I had another Christmas project on the needles that's well on its way to being finished...

but it's currently on hold as I furiously knit my sweater.  I have a feeling that my late late late start this year in the Ravellinics- plus the difficulty in finding time to knit with my schedule now- means I may not finish the sweater in time for the closing ceremonies.  Actually, it's pretty safe to say that it probably won't get done.  I'm going to try my hardest, but there's a lot of knitting to be done yet.  Bleh.
More soon, as I get settled back home and figure out what life is going to hold for me over the next few months.  At least I feel much more healed than when I first came out of the mountains... 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Wyoming, Pt. 3: Grand Tetons and Devil's Tower

I've been back in Duluth less than 24 hours, and jumping back into "real" life is, as always, a little jarring at first (running water?  Carpeting?  Dishes that are actually clean-clean, and not just "camping" clean??).  The end of vacation went by in a complete blurr, but I'll recount our last days here before they turn into the happy lump of memory known as "summer vacation".  
After we excited the Cirque of the Towers, our bodies begged for true healing time.  We stopped for the first shower in a week at the Pinedale Aquatic Center, took full advantage of the hot tub, and ate a lot of burrito goodness at one of the local dives before heading up to Jackson, WY to get ready to enter the Tetons.  
We took a couple of days to be tourists in Jackson and Jackson Hole, visiting the Million-Dollar Cowboy Bar (where there are saddles instead of bar stools), grabbing our backcountry permit from the ranger station, and checking out the newest Batman movie during a particularly rainy afternoon.  After proper rest, we headed fresh and ready into the Grand Tetons!  We have an extremely careful process to pack our gear, of course:
I'm really glad we saved this hike until last.  It wasn't the longest hike we did, but in about 6 miles we gained around 3,000 ft of altitude.  Having the experience of hiking into the Cirque at altitude was a great way to make this hike not seem nearly as bad as it could have felt.
It was like the uphill hike that never ended, and it only got steeper the farther up you went.  This is us, still cheerful, before the going got tough. :)
We ended our day at the Petzoldt caves- actual caves that you can get permits to camp in!  I really liked our cave- it wasn't very tall, but it went back far enough that you could stretch out your sleeping pad and not worry about rain or wind.  We just had to make sure not to sit up too fast when we woke up, or you'd have a nice gouge in your forehead.
We shared it with a Pika- a high-altitude creature that made loud noises and looked like a small chinchilla.  Cute, but pretty stinky.  
I made sure to get in some "extreme knitting" in the caves, though this would prove to be the only real "extreme knitting" I did this trip.  No hanging off a belay this time (next year!).  
After some fantastic backcountry food, we went to bed with the sun for our early morning wake up!
Our plan was to attempt the Grand- the biggest spike of all in the range.  The climb itself can actually be made fairly simple if wanted- there's a route that goes all the way to the top which is 5.5, seeming like a pretty big ladder.  We were hoping to attempt the Direct Petzoldt Ridge, a more exposed 5.7 that eventually linked up to the Upper Exum route leading to the top.  From the start of the route to the peak and descending would be around 10-12 hours, plus at least a couple hours hike on either side, so we had to get up alpine-early.
This is what 4 am looks like in the mountains:
This is what 5 am looks like in the mountains:
We reached the crest of the ridge between the Middle Teton and the Grand Teton around 7 am, and as we walked up past snow we got blasted by a freezing cold wind coming over the ridge.  Scott wrapped his one layer of fleece closer, and I zipped my rain coat up tight as we trudged up to the bottom of our ridge.  Two figures passed by us on their way down wrapped in fluffy down jackets, then skeptically questioned our lack of "proper" warm gear.  I retorted "We're from Minnesota" before they laughed us off and told us that it was a lot colder and windier up on the mountain; their reason for bailing.  
We hiked the rest of the way up the approach, stopping on the snow that covered the bottom of our route to regroup and discuss something we didn't want to- bailing.  The wind was relentless- pushing and pulling and freezing your hands on any attempt to extend them on a hold.  My teeth were chattering and I was trying to keep from shaking.  
Scott looked me in the eye and asked, "Do you really want to do this?"  I looked straight back at him, told him, "Yes," trying to control my voice from betraying how cold I was.  After a little more discussion, we decided that it wouldn't be safe for us to attempt the route in the cold and wind. 
The descent was quiet, as neither of us were happy about having to bail off of a route.  After hanging out at camp for a little bit we decided that we were going to hike out of Garnet Canyon and seek out warmer climbing spots.
Grand Teton- next trip!
Barely a day later, we found ourselves looking up at the Devil's Tower in eastern Wyoming.  We made coffee in the parking lot, racked up, and walked around the paved trail at the bottom of the tower to reach a route called Soler.
Scott led the first pitch in his trademark effortless style:
And I got to finish it up on a great 5.9 hand crack, checking out the view as I belayed Scott up.
That climb showed us how destroyed our bodies really were after 3 weeks of relentless hiking and climbing. Even my knees hurt as I was wedging my feet into the crack.  
As we walked around the base of the tower back to the car, we decided that our trip was done.  We had visited 5 climbing areas in 3 weeks, hiked in much farther for longer and with a lot more gear than last year, and we were ready to head back home.
We stopped in my hometown to say hi to my folks before driving back to Duluth, and were greeted by the familiar sight of the city unfolding below us as we came down the hill.
I have a lot going on next week: getting back to work, teaching every day at dance camp, and working on my syllabus for my classes this semester.  I'm also participating in Ravelry's knitting games, though not with the project I originally had in mind.  I'll talk more about those for now, but it was amazing to let these posts linger on the incredible fun I had on this trip.  
After all, what kind of life is it without crazy vacations? :)