Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Dude is... Stylish?

Last night I was chugging along on The Dude, thinking yet again about how ridiculous this sweater is going to look upon completion.  I'm glad that at least Scott would enjoy it... even though it's huge, mildly ugly, and will eventually weigh a lot.
I took a break to check my Google reader blog roll, and what did I find?

That, friends, is from the website of The Sartorialist. He's a fashion photographer, going around New York City, Milan, Paris, and Hong Kong taking pictures of regular people's interpretation of high fashion on the street.
And these pictures show that, beyond any doubt, apparently the style of the Dude is back.
Who knew I was knitting on the cutting edge of fashion?

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Book of Mormon Weekend

It was a busy weekend over here.
Sunday morning found Scott and I in the car, heading down to the cities to enjoy his birthday present for the year- tickets to see "The Book of Mormon" at the Orpheum!

It was a great musical to introduce Scott to the world of musicals- raunchy humor from the South Park creators- yet it was so full of singing and dance numbers that I was also completely psyched.

(This is the scene that greeted us as we entered the theater.)
We definitely were laughing the majority of the show, and I have hope that I can trick talk Scott into seeing more musicals... ;)
We didn't head back north until the next morning, since neither of us had school or work for President's Day.  I got to see some old family friends, and (finally!) present Kim with her snowflake shawl.  She loved it, and promised to keep it away from her kitty, Eddie.  After a delicious lunch, we headed to the VE in Minneapolis to give their walls a try. It was great- 2 1/2 hours of hard climbing, mostly on lead, and on all new stuff!
Yesterday and today are back to reality.  I have a ton of grading to catch up on, chores to do, and dancing to choreograph.
I did leave time for some knitting, getting a few stripes in on the baby hat during the long car ride:

and chugging along with the Dude Sweater.  I'd say I'm over 1/3 done with the back section, and still going strong.

It's amazing how fast something knits up when it's huge yarn with huge needles.
I do have another knitting project that's in the works for a "fun" reason, but that'll be for another day. :)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Moving Onward, and FO: Santa Cruz Winter Hat

Finishing the Snowflake Shawl was a really nice milestone, completing the last part of one of my "13 in 2013" goals.  As soon as that project was done, I was already moving onward!  Besides starting the Dude Sweater, I also began began a little hat for a Climber friend's soon-to-come little baby boy.  Susan B. Anderson's book "itty-bitty Hats" is one of my go-to books for forthcoming babies, and never disappoints.  This hat is going to be striped in various shades of blue, which will be really cute but require a lot of weaving in ends (why do I do that to myself?).

It's a really nice "easy" knit right now, especially with school officially being in full gear.  This is what I get to grade this weekend:

even though I've avoided starting like the plague.
Besides finishing the Shawl, I also was able to finish up a (belated) Christmas present for a friend living out in Santa Cruz, California!  Leonie spends odd months teaching self defense for women, leaving her schedule open to do giant trips in the back country of the Sierra Nevada mountains, something I envy.  I knit her a pair of commuter mitts awhile back, and decided to send off a matching hat to keep her warm on her treks!

Pattern: Kathleen, by Jane Richmond (I'm a huge fan of all of her stuff- link goes to the Ravelry page)
Yarn: Cascade 220 in a pretty green
Needles: sizes 6 & 8, bamboo.
Gift/Barter? Gift!  A non-expected gift- one of my favorite types to give ;)
Time frame: November 22nd, 2012-February 11th, 2013

Mods: None, though if I make this for myself I may go down a needle size for the brim.
Worst Part: I shouldn't have taken a month or so off between knitting the brim and doing the cable part.  Oops.  My argument is that I had bigger fish to fry...
Best Part:  I love giving gifts that aren't expected, especially to another knitter who has a lot of the same traits as myself.
I think more often than not, giving knitted goods away is my favorite part of a project.  Does anyone else find this to be the case?  Maybe that's why I knit so few projects for myself- I'd rather give it to someone that either is really excited for the finished product, or has no idea, and I know they're going to like it. :)
Scott and I are having our Valentine's Day celebration tonight, since I had dance last night until 9:30 pm.  We're doing climbing, dinner, and a movie!  Sunday night will be Scott's Birthday present- a trip to the Twin Cities to see this:

SO EXCITED!! Check out the opening number if you've never heard of this musical- pure awesomeness, and a good musical to ease Scott into the world of musicals. :)  I'll post more on that later.  For now, more grading, maybe more coffee, then a pretty sweet date night. :)
Have a great Friday, everyone!

Monday, February 11, 2013

FO: Snowflake Shawl for a Winter Bride

I never thought this day would come.
This is the kind of shawl that not only sets off the "crazy" signals, but made a few of the people immediately surrounding me worried about my sanity as I sat up late nights knitting backgrounds, ripping out sections, re-knitting sections, picking up wrong points on snowflakes, and dealing with six needles in the round with a seventh working needle.  This project is probably one of the most ridiculous projects I've done so far, and may ever do.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I present to you the finished Snowflake Shawl!

Pattern: Suri Elegence Winter Wonderland Shawl, by Sharon Winsauer (you have to scroll down to find it on the page), Ravelry page found here.
Yarn: The Snowflakes were knit with Cascade Heritage Solid in White (fingering weight), the backgrounds behind the snowflakes were knit with Malabrigo Yarn in Natural/White (lace weight), and the few rows of the border were knit with Plymouth Yarn's Dye for Me Suri Alpaca Merino Glow, in (surprise surprise) white, with some sparkles thrown in (lace weight as well).  All links go to the Ravelry page for the yarns.

Needles- Size 6, and I ended up buying these bamboo needles that were square instead of round, simply because they didn't fall out of the yarn as much.  If you plan on knitting this shawl, do yourself a favor and knit with wooden needles.  Do yourself an even bigger favor and get the square needles.  Believe me.
Time Frame- May 18th, 2012-February 3rd, 2013.
Gift/Barter? This is a gift- a wedding gift for one of my good college friends, Kim.  She helped start me on my first hat long, long ago, so it's fitting that one of my craziest and hardest projects goes to her.

Modifications/Notes:  All right, here's all the ones I kept on Ravelry:
Center stitches explanation wasn’t totally clear to me for the "base" of all the snowflakes, so here’s what I did: 
CO 6 sts. Split over 3 needles. 
Rnd 1: Knit 
Rnd 2: (K1, YO) all the way around. (12 sts) 
Rnd 3: Knit 
Rnd 4: (K1, YO) all the way around. (24 sts) 
Rnd 5& 6: Knit 
Rnd 7: (K1, YO, K3tog, YO) 6 times 
Rnd 8: (K1, (k1, p1 in YO), 12 times (36 sts) 
Rnd 9: Knit (36 stitches to start)

On Snowflake 8: after knitting the initial 9 center rounds: 
Rd 10- K2, YO 2 all the way around 
Rd 11- K2, K into first YO, P into 2nd YO all the way around 
Work 6 points as written in pattern, then CO 12.

Edging MOD: I had a lot of trouble juggling needles, plus my patience was low, so instead of doing the edging as written, here’s how I finished it: 
I threaded the needle through all of the live stitches making up the outside, then worked it as follows: 
R1- Knit to end of row. Slip marker, wrap yarn around first stitch and turn. 
R2- Slip marker, knit to end of row. Slip marker, wrap yarn around first stitch and turn. 
R3- Slip marker, knit to end of row.
R4- BO all stitches.

There were definitely some areas that I either screwed up or had trouble with, so I mildly made some stuff up  and didn't take notes (the majority of these were in the backgrounds of the snowflakes), but I did get a lot of help from Bereni on Ravelry, and her blog post here with all of her notes and mods.  Anything I don't cover that you're totally flummoxed on may be on her stuff.

Worst Part: ::blank stare::.  I have to pick?  Baaaah, it's probably a toss-up between grafting all of the snowflakes together... or maybe getting to the halfway point of the backgrounds and realizing how many I still had to go... or maybe it was the number of times that the live stitches fell off of the needle when I was trying to knit the border... actually, for me, I think it was primarily not getting this project done on time.  Granted, it is a crazy project, but I really wanted it done for her wedding.
Best Part:  Any time I got a major chunk of the project done.  For instance, finishing all the snowflakes at the end of summer and seeing all of them drying in the sun on my back porch... or when I was finally able to lay out all of the snowflakes with their backgrounds in the "final shape" of the shawl, ready to be grafted... or when I finally wove in the last end, did a last check that I didn't miss any, and held the shawl up to look at it- done.  And (mostly) correct. :)  Though giving it to Kim may be the best part to come...

This was an incredible project that really stretched my limits as a knitter, and despite the moments of frustration, the days and hours and energy and time put in to this shawl, I know that the recipient is going to absolutely love it and treasure it for years to come.
This one was for Kim, and it was completely worth it. :)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Climbing By Myself

I had a busy day planned.
It started off well- meeting a friend for breakfast at one of our local places to catch up, hang out, and eat some tasty omelets.  We were originally going to go climbing after, but her plans changed once we saw the weather.
A big system was moving in, and the wind was already picking up when she dropped me off back at home.  Instead of opting to stay in, I decided to go down climbing anyway.  After all, there are other ways to train when you have no belay partner.
I like to stick my headphones in and traverse when I'm by myself.  This means starting on one side of the gym, and going across the wall until I can't go any further, then go back.  I usually try to stay off the ground for a minimum of 10-15 minutes, and do it several times.
After traversing and a shorter bouldering session, it was time to get serious.  Outdoor season- and trad climbing- starts when the snow melts.  Trad climbing is different from indoor and sport climbing due to one important reason- you have to carry about 5-7 pounds of gear on your harness as you climb up.  You do lose the gear as you go when you place it on the climb, but you still start with extra weight on your person.  In order to train for this, spring training for Trad Climbers means adding that extra weight on early, so you get used to it by the time outdoor season starts.

One of the best ways to train- without climbing in a gym with a full trad rack on- is wearing weights.  Scott and I have two divers weights totaling 10 pounds that we wear on a piece of webbing tied around our waist, simulating the gear hanging off of our harness.  It's pretty simple, though sometimes the weights give me bruises on my hip bones.  I climbed about 12 feet off the ground on the slightly overhanging hueco wall, then climbed back down to the start without actually stepping to the ground, then back up and down 2 more times.

I did about 10 reps of that before my arms completely blew out.  Then 15 more minutes of traversing with the weight belt still on before I realized that the snow outside was already blowing and accumulating like crazy, and I needed to get out of there before I had to walk home.
It felt great to get a good burn in, and it was worth weaving through the snowy roads to get home after a quick stop at the grocery store for supplies.  My plan was to grab some supplies for soup, then coerce Scott to take pictures of the Snowflake Shawl while it was snowing outside, since it's done blocking (and looking beautiful)!

By the time I got home, the wind gusts and snow were blowing in sideways, and there was no way a photo shoot was going to take place.  Instead, I've been grading, watching CSI, and even got a chunk of reading done in Follett's Pillars of the Earth.

Oh, and watching two kittens snuggle up from the storm. :)
It's hard to not be excited about snowy days up here in northern Minnesota, even when they mess up your knitting photo plans.  There's always tomorrow!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Snow Blockage

It's been snowing on and off for the past few days, meaning that blocking the Snowflake Shawl kept getting put off.  I finally got fed up this morning, and decided to pull out all the stops to get this thing blocked in one day.  I pulled out the largest pot I owned to give the shawl a little bath:

Before sitting with my blocking pins on the bed, resulting in this:

The yarn relaxed a little bit, which I think helps even out the hexagons where I had to bind the edges together.  Due to the lack of sun, I resorted to pulling my big fan out of storage and setting it on medium, aimed right at the shawl.  Every hour or so, I've been moving it around slightly to dry different parts of the shawl, and it's working wonderfully.  Hopefully it'll be fully dried by late afternoon/early evening, giving our comforter a few hours to fully dry before bed!  Then... maybe tomorrow... a photo shoot with the finished shawl?? ;)  We're supposed to get around a half of foot of snow tomorrow, which I think will be the perfect backdrop... :)
While this has been drying, I got to hang out with an old climbing friend this morning and work a bit more on The Dude Sweater.  I'm already past the first color stripe, and hanging out with Alex (while she was sewing) allowed me to get a couple of rows into the colorwork!

I have to admit, the first couple of rows were a little on the brutal side.  This sweater is knit back and forth, so I have to figure out how to read the colorwork charts correctly and how to knit with colorwork on the wrong side, which I've never done before.
Well... it's a chance to learn something, I suppose?
Hanging out this morning and doing crafty things is a nice break for my body- I climbed on and off for about 5 hours last night.  I got off my shift around 4, then kept climbing with various groups of people that showed up.  I didn't get off the wall until just after 9 pm.  My arms and back this morning at exceedingly sore, and my fingertips are absolutely raw.  I plan on doing some stretching and yoga today, maybe a little time on the Elliptical machine, but keep it pretty low-key.  I plan on climbing for a few hours again tomorrow, so today will count as an easier rest day.
Perfect for getting grading and knitting done. :)

(Oh, and if you've noticed that my pictures seem a little different- it's because they're taken from my iPhone with my Camera+ app!  I'm enjoying taking the pics and being able to add flash and clarity and borders, etc. right away, which is perfect for on-the-go knitting pictures.  I may try to take some in the climbing gym tomorrow... we'll see how it goes!)

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Dude Takes Off

I'm a big believer in always staying positive, always staying excited, and generally I'm very upbeat and happy about everything I do.  It's really hard for me to ever get completely bogged down by life, minus major circumstances.
This week has been one of those weeks where I've felt very bogged down and never able to catch my breathe.  Don't get me wrong- I'm usually super excited and dancing through my days and keeping up with my ladies at night, but with extra meetings this week at work, tons of grading with the first round of papers for all my classes coming in, plus extra hours subbing at the dance studio, I'm pretty pooped by the end of the day, and Thursday feels like it's taken forever to get here.
When my week is like this, I try to focus on being happy about the little things.  For instance, last night Scott and I ordered some Pizza Luce for dinner instead of making food, then watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory while we snuggled on the couch and had dinner.  Tuesday I had another moment- after an entire semester of working at LSC, my name tag arrived!

It's something very small and silly, but it feels really cool to feel just that much more official.  Little things. :)
I'm waiting a bit to block the Snowflake Shawl, mainly because we haven't had any sunny days (all snowing and gross) and I haven't had time to stretch it out in the morning before work.  The only place I can block large knitted goods right now is on my bed, which means I have to block it in the morning to dry throughout the day, and it has to be sunny enough out to dry it in one go so Scott and I don't have to camp out on the living room floor at night.  I'm hoping to block it tomorrow morning before work, ready for a photo shoot this weekend when it snows yet again. :)  Plus, Scott's away tomorrow night, and if it needs additional drying time, I don't mind sleeping on the couch... ;)
In the meantime, I'm plugging away at other unfinished projects and starting a big new one.
A really big new one.

Last night, I cast on for "The Dude Sweater" for Scott.  After only two CSI episodes, I'm already past the hem and up to the first color change.  It's cruising like crazy, which feels great after working with such fiddly needles and tiny yarn in the shawl.  Plus, this project is so ridiculous that it's hard not to laugh every single time I look at it.  Or at a picture of it.  Or realize that Scott will be sauntering around our apartment wearing this ridiculous thing eventually.
Why did I agree to this again?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Wait for It...

Yesterday was incredibly productive.
I got to have burritos for breakfast with my brother and his friends...

followed by grading that was supervised by kittens...

and a good burn session at the climbing gym in the afternoon, where I began to work the hardest routes from the climbing competition on Saturday and actually get up them.  Scott and I stopped by Old Chicago to grab some pizza rolls and watch the beginning of the Superbowl before heading home, where I put in CSI and kept going and going on the border until... all of the sudden... the snowflake shawl was off the needles.
I did one more episode to weave in the large amount of ends dangling from the back of the shawl, and then this morning..
Oh my goodness...
Nobody move...

The Snowflake Shawl is done.
It may need a blocking (it's pretty nice without it), but this morning I threw it around my shoulders, danced around the apartment, and watched the sun grab the sparkling yarn I used for the border while I laughed in pure happiness at completing such a crazy project.
I can't wait to see Kim's face when I give it to her...
(Project page with full photos up soon!)

Friday, February 1, 2013

Cold Morning

It's been a busy week, stuffed with a ton of dance, a lot of teaching, and a fever that took a few days to go away.  It was nice to have this morning off to get some grading done, and even better when I run across little drawings from my students:

I have to run out eventually, but when you wake up to a temp of -17 and a windchill between -30 and -40, it's nice to not leave the house for awhile.  :)

Instead, I've got coffee, some climbing magazines, lesson planning for Composition, and trying to plan some meals for the next few days.  I've been running around so much lately that I haven't had time to cook, relying instead on Mac & Cheese, eating out, or (like last night) toast and dipping soft shell tortillas in guacamole.  This morning I opened the fridge and realized that my breakfast was either going to be slices of cheese (no bread), sunflower seed butter (on... more tortillas?), or a red pepper (what am I supposed to do with that??).  Time to make a list.

Tomorrow is the Climbing Competition at Vertical Endeavors, which means I'll be there at 8 am to help set up, clean up, and get climbers checked in.  Tonight, however, is when the real work gets done.  I'm heading down around 4 to climb every one of the 47 new routes to help rate them for the competition.  This is called "fore-running"- I can tell the setters if a route is harder or easier than it's supposed to be, and help find the order that the routes should be numbered in for difficulty.  And at 5'4'', I'm a good person for testing to make sure big moves on hard routes aren't too big for shorter climbers.  If I can climb it, there can't be any complaining that the moves are too far apart.  :)
I'm excited to go climb tonight, but right now I'm enjoying not running around in this chilly, chilly air.
Time to go get Albert to stop licking the windows... stupid cat...