Sunday, January 27, 2013

FO: Kleio Shawl

It felt really, really good to get this particular project off of the needles.
I present the Kleio Shawl!

Pattern: Kleio by Rosemary Hill (link to pattern on Ravelry)
Yarn: The blue is "Eavan" in Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock, and the purple is "Enna" in Three Irish Girls Finley Fingering.
Needles: Size 5 on the Denise Interchangable, though when I got to the braids and the lace, I was very close to buying a large size five circular.  The Denise needles disconnected more than once, resulting in swearing and frustration which may have been easily avoided.

Gift/Barter/Swap: Gift!  Supposed to be done for Christmas, but since I won't see the recipient for another couple of weeks, I'm okay with the fact that I'm a little behind on this present...
Time Frame: September 29th, 2012-January 25th, 2013
Mods:  I ended up eliminating the last Latvian braid before the edging, mostly because I had probably three yards left of the blue Eavan sock yarn, and would have never been able to make the full braid.  I'm really happy with the result without the braid, though that may be because I didn't have to go through knitting another long Latvian braid...

Worst Part: Hinted at above- it's a toss-up between the Latvian braids and the Denise needles constantly falling apart and dropping my stitches all over the place.  Both were equally frustrating, though the braids caused a slow-burning frustration and the needles falling off were flashes of hot temper, with a few "F*#&!!!!" and "S%#@!!!!" type-words thrown in there.

Best Part:  I LOVE this yarn.  I'm a big fan of any Three Irish Girls yarn, having used it before in big projects.  The shawl turned out very warm and squishy, to the point that I don't even want to block it because it'll lose the squishy-ness that I love.  Plus I know the recipient will love it. :)

::phew::.  Feels good to knock off this shawl.  Now to get knitting on that border for the Snowflake Shawl and get that one (finally) put to rest...

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Friday Night in the Gym

Now that my tendon has finally healed, I'm back to training 3 days a week in the climbing gym!

It feels so good to finally be back on the wall, climbing routes that require a little more fitness and grace than the 5.8's and 5.9's I've been stuck on while I slowly get my finger back in shape.  Scott and I climbed for about two hours, doing all lead climbing as I prepare for a possible Red River Gorge spring break trip.  We then went up to the bouldering cave (not my forte- I'm better at technical vertical stuff than overhanging burly stuff) and worked on the 45 degree overhanging wall for about 30 minutes.  I added a new training bit for the easy boulder problems- every time I moved up the wall one hold, I would completely cut my feet off the wall, swing out, and then bring my feet back in.  I burnt out about the third time up, and this morning my stomach muscles are really feeling it.
When my hands were starting to shake from exertion, we did pull-ups.

One of my favorite ways is "pyramids"- each person does one pullup, then each does two, and you go up to as many as you can do before going down again.  I only made it up to 3, while Scott made it up to 7 (showoff.  I can do more situps than him, though...).  My arms were absolutely sore when we were done, and I could barely tie my mukluks.
After that, we headed home for take-out chinese, some climbing videos, and hanging out.
Not a bad way to end a Friday night. :)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Snowflakes in the Cold

For the second day in a row, our high was forecasted around -5.  I haven't seen the temperature go above -12, and the windchill is dipping from between -30 and -40.  Classes were cancelled today both in the public schools and at my college, giving me a day at home to get things done.
Therefore, I got down to work and got some stuff done.
This morning, I watched the inauguration speech from yesterday while I worked on the border for the Kleio shawl.

With any luck, a movie tonight (or more CSI) will finish off the edging, leaving me with weaving in the ends and blocking.  SO CLOSE to finally knocking this project from the "to do" to the "DONE" pile.
After a lot of coffee and a couple pieces of toast, I pulled the Snowflake Shawl out of the box.  Time to finally get the grafting finished on this beast, once and for all.
I laid out the remainder of the snowflake hexagons...

put some Netflix on my little Nook, got some fuzzy good company, and after a few hours, a sore back, and a box of wheat thins...

finally... finally...

finished the grafting on the snowflakes.

It feels so good to finally get this part of this project done.  It went from being something I had to lay out on my bed in order to work on to only needing the edging.
Oh, and about a million ends to weave in.

Don't even think about mentioning that to me.  I'm riding the wave of happiness.  Raining on that is not cool.
I'm going to go climb for a couple hours to stretch my muscles out before coming back to do some more work.
Not bad for a cold day off. :)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Inside Time

After any form of snow, the temperature usually drops quite a bit.  In January in northern Minnesota, it drops a lot.
Take today, for instance.  It snowed about 4-5 inches on Friday, and snowed a bit on and off yesterday.  Last night, the temperature started to drop from 25, helped along by the wind.  I woke up this morning to the temp reading -6, and it hasn't budged.

Tomorrow the high is supposed to be -5, low of -17 (not counting windchill), best case scenario.
Just for fun (and to test my new mukluks), I may go out for a brisk walk tomorrow afternoon. :)
In the meantime, I have lesson planning and grading to check off my to-do list, not to mention cleaning the apartment a bit and getting around to projects I always mean to but don't have time for.
In between it all, I've been steadily working on some knitting!

After a couple of false starts, I finally got the lace edging started on the Kleio shawl.  I have 500-600 stitches on the edge, and it's very very slow going getting through the lace.  It took a few attempts to finally get the hang of it, and it's going faster, but it's still just... slow.
It's really pretty, and it'll look really nice when it's done...

but it's very fiddly, and is easily going to take a few hours minimum.  This may be a good time to start Game of Thrones... I've been meaning to try that series out.  Or more CSI.  Or the entire Harry Potter movie set.
I also was able to swatch for The Dude sweater!

Most of you that know me know that I loathe despise hate don't like swatching, so the fact that I swatched for this project shows how much I really want to make sure it goes well.  I have a deal with myself- as soon as I finish the edging on the Kleio shawl, I get to cast on for the Dude sweater.  It's knit with super-bulky wool on size 10 needles, so hopefully (fingers crossed here) this project won't take too long... a couple months, tops...
All right, I'm out of coffee and I have a mirror that needs to get hung in the bedroom.  Time to get some inside stuff done. :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lace at the End of the Shawl

First week of classes- done!  It went really fast, especially since I did a lot of sub-teaching down at my dance studio, meaning I was there every night this week.  My calves are pretty sore from all of the ballet that I did with the girls, but it feels really good to finally push myself a little.  Along those lines, Scott finally got the elliptical machine up and running!  I've been getting slowly back in to it, and it feels really good to be breathing hard while watching the snow fly outside my window.
I've made progress on the Kleio shawl- so, so close now...

Only deciphering the lace chart for the edging is in the way between myself and victory. I did have to make a small moderation, mostly because I ran out of yarn (oops).  Instead of having a third Latvian braid between the shawl and the lace edging, I'm just going to go straight in to the lace.  I was barely able to squeeze in four rows of stockinette before I noticed there was probably 3-4 yards left in the skein- tops.

I have to say- I'm not that sad about this particular mod.  Those Latvian braids are a pain in the butt.  I think it'll look just fine without the last one.  Don't get me wrong- they're really pretty- but they take forever to knit.  Glad to be done with them.
Hopefully, after climbing tonight, I'll sit down to work on more grafting of the snowflake shawl.  I haven't had time this week to lay the shawl out and go to town, so I'm going to stick in a movie or a disc of CSI and get the grafting done.
Both shawls- SO CLOSE to being done!
Hopefully I'll be reporting finishing one very soon here...
Oh, and this morning I woke up to some very strange noises around 7:30 am... noises that sounded like a kitten chewing on something...
or eating something she wasn't supposed to...
Once I figured out what was going on, a mugshot was required.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

FO: Neighborly Hat

The new semester starts tomorrow, so it feels good to get at least one FO in the bag before I have to go back to grading, lesson planning, and running from college to dance.
It's the Neighborly Hat!

Pattern: "Christopher", by Jane Richmond (the first, but definitely not the last pattern I have from her- LOVE her stuff!)
Materials: Yarn was the ever-trusty Cascade 220, in gray and midnight blue.  Both skeins were taken from the stash, so this also helped get rid of the very large amount of yarn I had laying around.  Needles were size 7 bamboo.

Time Frame: Started on Christmas day, very early in the airport on the way to Florida.  Knit a good majority of this in FL, and only did the decreases in MN.  Finished January 11th.  Nice and quick knit.
Made for: David, my parent's neighbor and dad of my best friend Heather.  Ever since my parents moved to Florida, David has been shoveling the driveway of my parent's house in MN when it snows, taking in the mail, and stopping by pretty much every day when he's out walking his dog.  All because he's super nice and an awesome guy.  I figured the least I could do was knit him something warm for those walks!

Worst Part: Miles and miles of stockinette.  Actually, it wasn't that bad, mostly because it was the perfect "trip knit" when I was in Florida- easy to take in and out during the plane ride, great for hanging out with the family where I could knit and still keep up a conversation at the same time.  But the stockinette did get a little boring.
Best Part: I have to say, for the simplicity of it, I've really fallen in love with this pattern.  It's crazy-easy, double-layered so it's warm even when it's windy, and I love the reversible aspect of it (stripes on one side, solid on the other)!  I may have to knit myself this hat in the future.

My mittens actually fell apart last night (hole worn through by the index and middle fingers) so I may need to suck it up and finally knit myself a decent pair of warm mittens.  Fast.  Especially since our weather swung from 44 degrees and raining on Friday to about 6 degrees this morning on my way to work.
Knitting for myself?
Yearh, right...

(Thanks go out to Scott, who I dragged out of bed before I ran off to work this morning to take pictures in the aforementioned 6 degree air.  I'll start your sweater soon, I promise...)

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Why I Climb

My relatives all have known for a bit now that I'm a climber, and every time the family gets together they ask what I climbed over the year, and the conversation always seems to end with them shaking their head at me and uttering some variance of "You're crazy!" and "Don't you know how dangerous that is?"
Well, yes.  Yes, I do.  
I guess I can understand that the first thing that pops in to the mind of a non-climber is the danger.  Far in the back country, high on a cliff, relying on your own knowledge, mind, and body to achieve your goal with just your partner as your backup.  More often than not, help (and more importantly, medical help) is hours away (Scott and I joked that if one of us twisted or broke something in the Wind River Range, we would just have to take a lot of painkillers and do our best to walk out of there).  
But there's something else I get.
I get the heady feeling of looking 1000 feet down a cliff and knowing that by my own power, I got to where I was.  
I go to places that very few people on the planet venture.  Instead of wandering around paved trails in National Parks with thousands of other tourists, it's often just my partner and I, with no one else around for miles.  
Even in the National Parks, I get views and experiences that only climbing offers me.  For instance, when climbing at Five Open Books in Yosemite Valley, I felt the mist of Yosemite Falls on my face as I belayed.  I got to look down the side of Eichorn's Pinnacle in Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite, and feeling the thrill of 1000 feet of open air below me. 
But most of all, the feeling of pushing my boundaries- both physically and mentally- is what brings me back to climbing, again and again.  Pushing to the edge of control, when I almost can't hold on due to fatigue, and still finding the calm center to keep going.  Hiking with pounds of gear on my back, but choosing to sing with joy up the trail instead of complaining of the weight or miles.  Falling again and again on a climb because the difficulty is just beyond my grasp, but coming back to it to try again.  Or collapsing at the end of a long day of climbing, not even able to grasp the steering wheel to my car because my arms and hands are so tired.  
Yes, climbing is dangerous.  A lot of people have died or gotten seriously injured while climbing.  I've had my fair share of bumps and bruises, and I expect to receive more as the years go on.  
But in this day and age, I am actually more likely to get injured in a car accident, or a bike accident, or some event that could not have been predicted.
My post this morning was actually prompted when I read this blog post by Jill Horner, a writer and athlete who competes in long-distance races, mountain bike races, and difficult trail races all year long.  Recently, one of her good training partners lost control of his bike on a paved 5-mile ride to work, shattering his femur in 5 places.  This guy is an avid mountain biker, competing in intense long-distance races across unforgiving terrain (such as a 2,350 km unsupported mountain bike race across South Africa) on a regular basis.  Yet his injury occured on a short bike commute that he took every day, involving no cars or other bikers, only rainy conditions.  Jill's conclusion was "Life is Dangerous.  All of it.  Dangerous", and "I might as well embrace it."
This particular post struck a chord with me.  I completely and wholeheartedly agree with her.  Climbing gives me opportunities and accomplishments that push me and make me feel complete.  Just because the possibility of danger is there doesn't mean I shouldn't do it.  If that were the case, I should sell my car and hole up in my apartment to avoid a car accident, or stop dancing to avoid another knee injury.  Life is meant to be lived.
And through climbing, I intend on doing just that.
I'll just be a little farther off the ground than most... :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

13 in 2013

I'm probably the last person to be writing one of these "New Year" posts, but I feel that it's really important to set goals in order to truly push yourself.  Last year all my goals were project-related, and I probably finished only about half of the entire list.  Notable "finishes" that I'm happy about include the Poseidon Adventure Shawl and  finishing the T-shirt Quilt for my bed.
This year, my list is a lot more diverse.  It still holds some big projects on the knitting front, but it also includes "life" things that are important to me.  My 13 in 2013 are as follows:

1- Making "The Dude" sweater for Scott.  This was supposed to be a Fall or Christmas item, but kept getting pushed back.  Goal finish time- Fall 2013.

2- FINISHING my Dad's Dale of Norway sweater- and this time, I mean it!  Goal finish time- Fall 2013.

3- Sewing a Dance Bag for the head of my dance studio as an end-of-year gift.  Goal finish time- our recital, June 2013.

4- Finishing the Lavender Cardigan that I worked furiously on over last summer.  This would be a great comfy sweater to add to my winter wardrobe.  Goal finish time- Winter 2013.

5- Finishing the two big shawls I was supposed to have done by now- the Snowflake Shawl for Kim (needs grafting, an edging, and blocking) and the Kleio shawl (needs the last Latvian braid and the bottom lace section).  They're such huge projects that finishing them will be a big weight off my back.  Goal finish time- end of January 2013.

6- I brought all my watercolor paints up to Duluth from my parent's house, and I really want to use some of the cool ideas from Pinterest to make some art for my apartment.  One really good art piece that I'm happy with for the apartment would be fantastic.  Goal finish time- Winter 2013.

7- I want to read more, and read some good thick books I haven't had time for.  Therefore, I'm going to aim for 1 book every 2 weeks- a 26 book minimum by the end of 2013.

8- Hats are my go-to gift knit, and I think if I make any presents for others this year, I'll just focus on hats to make it easier for myself.  This goal will be called the "Hat Brigade" goal, and we'll see how many hats I finish by December 31st, 2013.

9- My parents gave me a very large stock of shirts from the travels we've done over the years.  I would love to make them a big T-shirt quilt consisting of all the shirts from our travels over the years.  Goal finish time- Christmas 2013.

10- In order to really push myself physically, one of my goals this year is to put my name in the lottery for the Grandma's Half Marathon in June.  If I don't get in that one, I'll find a different Half-Marathon to compete in.  This will help keep my cardio up.  13.1 miles, here I come!  ::gulp::

11- To go along with that, my climbing goal for the year is to trad lead all of the climbs rated 5.10 and lower at Palisade Head this summer and fall.  I also want to finally climb the 5.11d "Mr. Lean" clean, something that has evaded me for a very long time now.

12- I want to really focus on getting a paper published this year.  I've presented at an academic conference, and I may do that again this spring, but ideally I want to actually publish a paper in an academic journal of some type this year.  I'm hoping this will become a reality as I have a smaller coarse load teaching this spring, leaving me more time to research and write.  Being published would help my resume as I begin looking at PhD programs for down the road.

13- Last but not least, I want to have at least a few knitted goods to wrap up for Christmas next year.  Having that as one of my goals last year really helped me start early and actually finish them.

It's a long list, but I feel that this year's list is attainable.  In addition to the list, I'm going to start really focusing on brushing up my exceedingly rusty French.  Scott and I are planning a month-long climbing trip to Europe in the Summer of 2014 (hopefully!), and having a language would be exceedingly helpful.
Other than that, just staying positive, staying ahead of things, and working hard every day to be the best I can be is something I can practice all the time.
I love feeling like I can start fresh every year, and this year is no exception!

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Finishing the Year

It's been a crazy end of the year for me.  After finishing all my grading, sending in my grades, having Christmas with Scott, and finally cleaning the house up a bit, I had to pack to head down to Florida to visit my parents on Christmas Day!

Not only that, but after I got back a couple of days ago, I've done nothing except frantically work all day the last few days to try to finish the Snowflake Shawl, which is for Kim's wedding today.

I really wanted to finish this for her wedding today, but I guess I underestimated how much time was needed.  I figured it would be fine with the two full days I had after I got back from the warmth of the south, but even working the entire time, I wasn't able to finish.  I'm about halfway through grafting all of the snowflakes together, and I haven't even started picking up the 900-ish stitches for the edging.  I could have pulled an all-nighter last night to finish the grafting and start the edge, but then I would have been destroyed today for the actual wedding itself.  Instead, I'm going to simply give her the card with a little voucher for her shawl, which I'll have to send down (probably in a couple of weeks) when I finally finish it, and finish it well.
When I came to the realization that I wasn't going to finish it in time (this was last night around 9:30 pm, around the 14th CSI episode I had watched over the last few days), I was really frustrated upset.  I thought that I would be able to finish this shawl in time.  If I hadn't taken such a big break between knitting the snowflakes and starting the backgrounds to the snowflakes, I know that I would have finished them.  Heck, I could have even taken the snowflake backgrounds with me to finish in Florida, even though that would have been a lot of needles and white yarn and I doubt I would have really worked on it anyway.  Instead, I worked on the Kleio shawl- mostly in golf carts, because I don't golf, and I needed something to do...

Well, one of my "13 in 2013" (which I'll cover in my next post, once I truly decide on all of them) is to finish the two big Christmas presents that I haven't yet- the Kleio Shawl for my Grandma, and Kim's Wedding Shawl.  By the end of January.  Because if I can't get her the shawl today, I will not put it off until spring to finish.  It's covered in snowflakes, for goodness sake...
Oh, and Florida was lovely. :)