Tuesday, December 23, 2014


Holy buckets, everyone!
One of my favorite knitting blogs, Knitted Bliss, decided to feature my Classy Fornicating Deer Vest on her weekly feature "Modification Monday"!  I was incredibly flattered when she sent me an email concerning a possible feature.  The blog post about it went live yesterday.
You can find it here!
I'm pretty excited that she picked that vest, and if anything, it's inspired me to branch out a little more in my knitting! :)
Tomorrow, I'm off to the north for a fun-filled Christmas with Scott's family, and hopefully fixing the Onward Shawl.
Yeah... I haven't looked at that yet.
It's still a little raw.
Just to make me feel better, here's one of the outtakes from our Christmas photo shoot.  Maeby looked a little too upset for us to use it for the actual photo.  Therefore, it's good for me to use when I'm upset at her.

Happy Holidays, everyone. :)

Friday, December 19, 2014

Just when you think it's safe...

I finished the Onward Shawl yesterday while watching my students frantically typed their finals.
I was really excited- it was gorgeous, not too crazy-huge, and I eliminated doing the extra repeat because I finished the cast-off with a nice comfortable tiny ball of yarn left, saving my extra skein for a future gift.  It couldn't have worked out better, timing-wise and yarn-wise.  It was beautiful.  It's still 7 days before Christmas.  I planned on blocking it today and getting it in the mail tomorrow, to arrive under the tree by early next week.
It was too good to be true.
I came home and happily displayed the shawl in all its glory to Scott.  He complimented the pattern, said it was really cool but not too fussy, and stated that the recipient would probably really like it.
I folded it carefully, put it on the dining room table, and we went in the kitchen to make dinner.
It only took about ten minutes.
She apparently had been lurking nearby.

I think she was waiting for the opportunity to get back at me for the (only slightly) humiliating photos I took of her for our Christmas card.
She was waiting for the perfect moment.  Plotting, planning, and being patient in a way that only a cat with limitless time can.

%@#$!!!!  Rotten little furball with no respect #%!@$#!@%@$^@$^@#$#%&*^#^$%!!!!
She is the WORST!!

She not only ate the tip of the end of the shawl, she nommed on the end of it as well, displayed in the pic above (comparing it to the good, non-nommed side).  She wasn't content with just destroying one part of it- she had to show her dominance over all knitted goods by eating two very different parts of the shawl.
Even now, as I type this, she's lazily chilling in the kitten bed, acting as if it never happened.
Just. the. worst.
She's lucky I don't put out a Craigslist ad for her right now.
Guess I'll rip back the last two sections and reknit them.  I suppose it could have been worse.  This also gives me a chance to add another repeat on to the shawl if I wanted to make it bigger.  Not that I wanted to in the first place.
Stupid cat.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Finals Week

I'm halfway done with my finals push.

I've drank about a pot of coffee a day, graded enough 8-page papers to make me go mildly cross-eyed, and I just collected even more final papers to go through over the next couple of days.  Tomorrow will be my last day with this semester's students- two 2-hour exams, where I'll be alternating between walking around to make sure students aren't cheating and working on the Onward shawl.  It's probably the first long-term knitting time I've had since Thanksgiving.
In the craziness of grading and finishing the semester, I have managed to have a little bit of fun!
I went to the bridal shower for Celeste, one of my best friends from Grad School.  She's going to become a Mrs. in a little over two weeks, so it was time to celebrate!

I'm throwing her Bachelorette party on Friday evening, and I'm excited for a little more time to hang out.  She works at another one of the colleges in the area, so between our schedules, it's hard to find time to hang out.
We also had the Christmas program for my dance studio last Sunday!

I had all of my tap dancers up on stage for a rousing number of the "Shim Sham Shimmy", my yearly tradition.  I have to admit, I'm a big fan of getting a giant group of like 40 tap dancers up on stage all dancing together.  It looks (and sounds!) pretty cool. :)
Oh, and this fell off my truck:
while I was driving.

It's a chunk of the exhaust system.
Besides that, Scott and I are also trying to work on this:

Moving day is approaching.
No wonder my knitting has been on standstill for a bit.
Good thing I can update soon on some of that... :)

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Back from a Break!

After posting about the Deer Vest, I decided to take a little hiatus from the internet.  Between the end of the semester nearing (and grading ramping up), choreographing in the days and teaching dance several nights a week, and an upcoming move (which I'll get into in a moment), I needed to just take a break.  I hope you all understand. :)
Even now, I'm completely ignoring the pile of papers to grade that I should have handed back to my students last week.  The only reason I get a pass is because it was just conference week, and the students were stressed out enough about meeting with me to pitch their last paper that every last one of them conveniently forgot that I have yet to hand these back.

End-of-semester time is just as bad for teachers as it is for students, especially when it's the holiday season.  This semester seems especially difficult- I've had a surprisingly high number of frantic students that need extra credit, want to make up tests and papers, and are questioning their grade online vs. their "real" grade.

I really do love being a teacher, but from Thanksgiving onward, it's a 10-hours-a-day 7-day-a-week job between grading, planning, students, and more grading.  This week is our last full week of classes, then the amazing fun of finals week begins!  I'm hoping that this year, there will be no tears or students swearing under their breath during the test.
Besides school being crazy, to make this year extra fun, Scott and I took the leap and decided to change our address before January first.
Yep, we're moving across town and into a real house!
We're not buying (yet), mainly because my teacher salary can't afford it and Scott's probably heading back for a Master's degree in the fall, but also because buying a house feels a little more permanent.  We still talk about the possibility of taking a full year off from jobs (after saving like crazy) to live out of a van and travel from climbing place to climbing place.

(Photo courtesy of Gear Junkie of a converted van- the climber home of choice!)
Both of us still want to do it while we're kid-free and young, and that would be the kind of trip that we would never regret taking.  I know of a lot of people that say, "some day" when it comes to ideas like this, but I would love to just take the plunge and DO IT.  Luckily, I'm with a fairly like-minded guy!  :)
Back to the moving- while I finish up finals, I have to help pack up our household and move it across town.  Our new landlord is marrying one of my best friends, so we're slowly moving our stuff over there in the next couple of weeks.  Right before Christmas (and after all the grading), we'll probably do the last few things in the "big day" move, so when we come back from spending Christmas with Scott's family, we'll have the new place ready to go!
Hopefully. :)
The knitting has mildly been at a standstill, but hopefully I'll get progress updates on here.  I'm hoping also to post a list (yes, like everyone else) of What to Get Your Climbing/Outdoor Friend for your Holiday of Choice, as well as our incredibly awesome Christmas card.  Yes, the cats are involved.  Yes, they're going to be dressed up.  Yes, I do expect them to murder me in my sleep some day from all the abuse I've put them through.

Maeby loves that she got to wear her Christmas sweater from last year!
Hahaha... aaaah too much fun. :)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

FO: Classy Fornicating Deer Vest

Caution: the following pictures are probably in the PG to just below PG-13 range.  You have been warned.
After charting, lots of knitting with ugly colors, late nights picking up collar stitches, and doing math to make sure the pattern ended up in the right place (and I hate math- I'm an English teacher, folks), it is done.

The Classy Fornicating Deer Vest for my brother is finished and being worn around the city of Duluth as we speak.  :)
Pattern: For the vest, I used the #276 Basic Cardigan Vest for Men by Diane Soucy and published by Knitting Pure and Simple, then incorporated the Fornicating Deer Chart by Anne Rutten.

Yarn: Good ol' Cascade 220 Worsted Weight in Navy and Burnt Orange.
Needles: Size 6 for the ribbing on the edges, size 8 for the body.
Timeframe: June 7th-November 13th, 2014.

Modifications:  So the obvious one is adding the deer chart to the vest.  I began the chart about 10" from the CO edge, though if you're planning your own vest I'd recommend a little more as my brother has a slightly shorter torso.  The vest measured 13" when I broke off for the underarms.  I flipped one of the charts for one of the front sections, so both sets of deer would be facing inward (which turned out quite nice).  I also added more trees in the chart for the back section, so the deer had a little more privacy for their business.  I think it looks like a nice little wooded area. :)  Otherwise I followed the directions for the vest pretty closely- they were well-written and worked well as a starting point for the idea.  If you would like a copy of any of my drawn charts, let me know and I'll send you a PDF!  You'll have to do the math yourself to figure out how many stitches to add on the sides, but it's really not that bad.

Worst Part: I've always hated picking up stitches for ribbing on arms.  This was no different.  There may have been one or two points where I viciously commented on how ugly and dated the colors looked (which was the whole point of those colors), but otherwise the whole thing was pretty smooth.
Best Part: Thinking of my brother's expression when he opened it up.  Then, today, getting that expression when he opened it up.  It was also awesome that he opened it up in front of about 10 of his friends, all of whom also loved it.

Yeah, I'm pretty excited with how well this one turned out. :)
Oh, on a side note- check out these buttons:

It's all about the details. ;)

Social Media Follows!

I'm finally starting to get ahold of this whole connected-through-social-networks things.  For instance, you can follow me through Bloglovin now:
Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Got that one figured out this morning.  BAM.  After Google Reader kicked the bucket almost a year ago, I transferred all my blog-reading to Bloglovin.  It's a really fantastic site, and as much as I liked Google Reader, I like Bloglovin even more.
Like random pictures of cats, climbing, and knitting?
I'm on Instagram, too.  Big fan.  Not a great photographer, but I'm trying.
I'm also on Pinterest a lot.
Like, a lot.
I have the app on my phone, and it's so easy to get sucked in to when I'm waiting for something or trying to get dressed in the morning or want to get teaching, knitting, or climbing inspiration.  You can find my page here if you want to follow me, but be warned- I post a lot of climbing stuff, bad grammar cartoons, recipes, and my own weird inspiration of clothing (I follow the teacher/hobo/attempting to look like a grown-up type of fashion trends).
Going along with all that (whooooa), one of my goals for 2014 was to attempt to update this site.  It's pretty basic, and as a teacher in the 21st century, I feel like it's woefully lacking the links, pictures, and other cool stuff that I could do.  So if you see things moving around or changing, don't be alarmed.  My computer and account were not hacked- I am simply attempting to learn more about this platform (fancy tech word right there!  Scott will be proud) and how I can make it more visually appealing. For instance, my picture to the right in the "about me" is from 2007.  Uffda.
All right, I'll shut up about changes.
To make up for the horrendous self-promotion, here's a picture of Albert after he stuck his face in the kitty litter like an ostrich because I walked in on him in the bathroom and he got scared:

Sunday, November 9, 2014

No Longer a Blob

The vest is finally... finally... starting to come together.

Literally. :)
I may have done some happy jumps and loud whoops the minute that I tucked the last strands from the shoulders in after attaching the front sections to the back.
And I'm super happy with how the back turned out!

I may have accidentally done a 3-needle bind-off with the wrong sides together instead of the right sides when attaching the front to the back, and there might be a bit of a ridge on the top of the front/back bind-off, but I didn't realize what was going on until I was halfway through the bind-off.  I'm not good at fixing bind-offs, so I'm banking on my brother not noticing.

After dance tonight, I plan on picking up the shoulder and hopefully getting at least one arm band started.  The end of this vest is so near, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
I also was able to find some buttons that I think fit the theme of the sweater...

and they're perfectly ridiculous enough to work.  :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Halloween Shenanigans

No blog is complete without the obligatory Halloween post (especially since it's my favorite holiday)!  Scott was moaning and groaning that I put up decorations waaaay before the two-weeks-before-the-holiday point, but I was simply too excited. :)
We did the pumpkin carving night while watching Nightmare Before Christmas (which is our tradition!)...

and let Albert eat all the pumpkin he wanted, as this is the only time of year he gets it.
Albert's our veggie kitty.  He's happy to eat cooked zucchini, carrots, raw pumpkin, even a lettuce leaf if it's dropped on the floor.  Maeby won't touch any of that, but Albert noms like it's his job!

(Notice how Scott was inspired by my Tshirt?  Pretty awesome!)
The pumpkins looked good on our stoop, and they (surprisingly) didn't get launched and smashed by the plethora of college students that live near us.

We also participated in the obligatory couples costume that comes with being together at Halloween.  I painted logos on shirts for us to be Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl!

We looked pretty stylin'. :)
I got a lot of grading done over the weekend, which meant less climbing time, but a lot done on the checklist.  It feels like every time I hand back a big batch of papers that I've graded, 100 more come in.  It's a never-ending cycle, and not a good one like bottomless coffee.
I did, however, get the fair-isle part finished on the back of Kyle's vest!

This was one part Scott watching a movie I didn't care for, and two parts knowing that I had to post very soon after the weekend about my knitting successes.  Knowing that all of you are out there, watching, waiting, knowing that I said I would get more done to post about.  Nothing like a little bit of pressure to get 'er done.  Now it's on to the last bits!  I still need to finish the back, knit the neck/button band, sew in all the ends, knit the arm bands, sew on the buttons that I haven't bought yet, and block this monstrosity.  All this must be finished for my brother to proudly wear to our family Thanksgiving in a few short weeks.
I mean, it's a classy vest.  Who wouldn't want to wear it to a family function?
And after class today, I took a few minutes to have some pumpkin coffee and meet a friend for climbing.

It was a mid-week combination of some of my favorite things. :)

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Halloween Prep

Everything around here has been chugging along quite well, mostly in prep for Halloween!

I've done my white MN girl duty by having a fair amount of Pumpkin Mochas...

and I've tried to drink a fair amount of tea to get over a cold and fever that I caught at the beginning of the week.  Nothing says fall like the first cold of the season!
Normal also means me accidentally leaving one of my favorite knit hats out for Maeby to find and, subsequently, destroy. :(

I'm a little bummed, since this hat went along with a pair of mittens, and it was my first matching set of hat and mittens I've ever made for myself.  Bah!  Goose of a kitten.  Guess I'll just have to make another one.  In between all the other Christmas knitting I have to do.
Oh yeah, about that Christmas knitting...
I haven't actually had a lot of time to do knitting between a ton of grading, choreographing, and making Halloween costumes!

While Scott and I watched a horror movie last night, I pulled out the fabric paints and got to work on the shirts for our matching "Incredible" costumes!  I'm pretty excited about them- the logo turned out really well, and the rest of the costume was a cinch (and cheap) to put together!  Hopefully it'll be dry enough to wear to dance tonight.
After all, that's the real test of how "cool" my costume really is. :)
While I do have events to attend tomorrow evening and over the weekend, I'm crossing my fingers that I'll get a chunk of my brother's vest done.  November is (already?!!) this weekend, and he needs that vest to wear for Thanksgiving, so I need to get my butt in gear.
Plus I'm exceedingly ready to be DONE with that stupid thing.  Enough with the deers!
Hold me accountable for this, interwebs.  Next post will be Sunday evening, WITH progress on the Vest.
No excuses!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Onward Moves Onward

Last year I brought a couple of things with for my trip knitting, and ended up getting only one hat knit from start to finish and 16 hours of an eternity scarf done.  Not bad, not bad.  This year, I chose to concentrate my trip knitting on one objective: getting as far as possible on the Onward Shawl.
This pattern has a 4-part directional arrow repeat pattern, and the arrows are then repeated 6 total times for the complete shawl.

Before I left for my trip, I had the first two sets of arrows done.  The pattern was a perfect choice for the road trip: just interesting enough to not be too monotonous, but mindless enough that I could chat with my friends while knitting.

(The shawl was excited to reach Kentucky!)
I didn't knit much at all while we were there, but I knit pretty much the entire car ride.

Total car time this year was about 28 hours, which allowed me to finish up to the fifth repeat of the arrows.  Boo-yah!

With only one repeat of the arrows left, this project is totally attainable for a Christmas goal.  Hell, it could be done by Thanksgiving if I wanted.  But...
I mean, I have an entire extra skein of this yarn.  And look how much is left for only one repeat!  Technically, it wouldn't hurt to do 7 repeats.  In fact, it might be even prettier if it were bigger.  Harder to block, yes, but super gorgeous.  It's pretty big right now, but it would just look so much fuller if it had two more repeats.

...right? :)
I might have to calculate how much time the rest of the Christmas knitting will take before I decide to knit extra.  And hope that my circular needles are big enough to hold that many stitches on the repeat.
When I decide to knit extra.
How much more time could one extra repeat take?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Red River Gorge 2014

MEA weekend meant my Annual Lady's Climbing Trip to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky!  It was two and a half days of climbing, laughing, falling, swearing, happiness, snacks, stick clips, mud, turkey sticks, worn-down skin, and awesomeness.
I'm not going to tell you, I'm going to just show you!

A 14-hour car ride was much better in Emily's van, plus talking and coffee!

We started at the Land Before Time wall.  Emily warming up!

Pizza at Miguel's is a must for any RRG climbing trip.  It always tastes better after a long day of trying hard!

Emily trying The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, 5.11c, on the Bibliotek wall.

Me also trying Prufrock.  Right around this moment, I was wishing I had actually trained for endurance before this trip... :)

Happy ladies!  Emily, myself, and Zay excited to be trying hard outside in gorgeous fall Kentucky weather!

Emily and I having a moment... :)

Zay leading one of her first 5.10c climbs outdoors, pushing her boundaries!  Woowoo!!

I wanted to climb all of the things... 

We also ran in to my high school acquaintance Bobby on Saturday!  He and his two friends tagged along as we worked some fun stuff together.  Here, we're getting an epic high-five in before he jumps on a route!

One of my favorite climbs of the trip was Mona Lisa Overdrive, a 5.11b that has a hueco big enough to climb in to half way up the climb!

It's great- you can try hard on the tough stuff below, then hang out for as long as you need to completely recover before jumping out and finishing strong!

By the time we walked out at twilight on Saturday evening, my fingers were trashed, my arms and back were incredibly sore, I had fresh bruises spotting my shins, and I had a perma-grin that isn't going away anytime soon.

This trip only reiterated what I discovered last year: while climbing with guys is fun and great in its own right, climbing with women motivates me to be that much better, more encouraging, and continue to push my limits as much as humanly possible.  I was so lucky to have two amazing partners, and on the drive back, we were already discussing when we could go back down!
It was a fantastic break from life and responsibilities.
I'll update on the incredibly successful trip knitting in my next post...