Tuesday, January 28, 2014

SSS Problems

The last few days have been more than just a little cold.

So cold, in fact, that school in most of Minnesota has been cancelled both Monday and Tuesday, including my college.  The wind chill starts at -40, going as low as -60.  It's limited how much anyone has gone outside.  Yoga has been cancelled the last couple of mornings.  Businesses are closed.  I ran out yesterday to do some errands, but when the wind blew right in my face I could barely breathe.
Instead, I've been hanging out a bit at home.  While it mildly sucks to be stuck inside all day, it has been a chance to get some projects done!  One of the big things has been choreographing the last parts of my dances for this year's competitions.  
I'm really happy with where they're going and how they're looking, and hopefully the next couple of weeks means I can finish choreographing completely and focus on helping my dancers create characters and overall feelings of energy or sassyness or whatever the piece requires.  
I also mildly set aside the Dude Sweater and chugged ahead like crazy on the Addiction socks.  
I'm really happy with how far I got, but as I began to compare the socks side by side, I noticed a problem.
BAH!  I guess a year between socks means that my gauge has tightened.  Not only that, but if you compare honeycombs in the feet, you'll notice that they're a little bit... off.
I have no idea how that happened, unless I did exactly one honeycomb less in the first half of the pattern before I turned for the heel.
Well, I guess it's a good thing that these socks are for me, and don't have to match perfectly.  I would probably rip them back if they were for someone else as a gift, but I have a higher tolerance for mistakes when it's for me and something that's hiding under my shoes.
I think I might pull the Dude back out tonight after I'm home from dance.  He behaves more than this stupid pair of socks.  Plus I know that Scott has really had his eye on this sweater since it's been so ridiculously cold out.
I hate being stuck between a sucky sock and a huge awkward sweater...

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Second-Sock Syndrome

I have to admit, I'm really enjoying teaching 3 classes this semester instead of 5.  I can spend more time planning and preparing lessons, actually give more in-depth comments on homework, get more dance stuff done, and truly train for climbing.  Yoga 3 times a week has been amazing- every time I go, I feel more relaxed, my breathing is better, and my flexibility increases.  I'm also (finally) climbing regularly, and I have a few irons in the fire for possible spring break trips that I'm super excited about. :)
Nights are still really cold, which is perfect for knitting projects!
The right side of the Dude sweater is chugging along splendidly, and hopefully a few hours tonight will help me at least finish the colorwork section.
I have to say, I'm not a fan of the wrong-side colorwork.  It's much slower and kind of a pain in the butt, especially since I usually have to drop the color I'm not working with just to keep my hands from getting clunked up.  Bleh!  Only a few more rows of that...
I also cast on the second of my Addiction socks!
Definitely suffered from second-sock syndrome on that one.  I finished the first sock at least a year ago, and it got stuck in the back of my knitting drawer.  Oops.  I have to admit, I tried on the first one and was pleasantly surprised at how well it fit and how comfortable it was.  Makes me want to actually finish the second one. ;)
So I'm starting to think that the best Ravellympic goal for me to do would be finish my three big WIPs: the Dude Sweater, the last Addiction sock, and the Narwhal mittens.  I really wanted to finish the Dude sweater as soon as possible, and this would be good incentive to finish two smaller projects as well.  I want Britney to be able to wear the Narwhal mittens this winter, and I think I'd have the time to finish it before the flame goes out.
Two big projects before the Olympics are over?
No big deal.  :)

Monday, January 20, 2014

FO: Val's Cowl

My friend Val got married last summer, and a month ago she finally asked me for her knitted wedding present- a chunky, warm, mustard-colored cowl.  Since I was in the midst of Christmas knitting, I didn't get to start on it until just recently.  Luckily, chunky yarn and size 15 needles with an easy pattern means that I had a finished product in just two short knitting sessions!  

Pattern: Drop-Stitch Cowl, by Abi Gregorio (link goes to the Ravelry page, where you can download it for free!)
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn's Colca Canyon- 2 skeins of delicious mustard-colored goodness!
Needles: size 15, on my Denise Interchangeable needles.
Timeframe: A couple hours on January 17th and a couple hours on January 19th.  Not even a problem. :)
Worst Part: Not much to complain about here.  I guess knitting all those YO's made my circular needles exceedingly crowded.
Best Part: Super quick and easy pattern, plus the yarn is NOM NOM TASTIC! :)
I love checking those quick and easy projects off my list.  
I also spent more time last night on the Dude Sweater, and I'm already past the first band of colorwork on the right front section of the sweater.  I really can't wait to get to the sleeves, when I don't have to work them back and forth with this stupid reverse colorwork.  Definitely going to learn how to steek in the future so I don't have to do this next time.  
Besides the Dude, the Narwhal mittens, and finally starting to work on my Honey Quilt again, I don't have much else on my needles.  I think I'm going to finally get the Addition Socks out again- I finished the first one awhile ago, and they suffered severe second-sock syndrome.  They'll be a good traveling project, and I can finally get them off the needles and out of my UFO pile.
I don't need to start any more projects before the Olympic games start, after all... :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

FO: Rock Star Hat

Scott has two younger brothers, and the youngest, Bradlee, is heavy in the Minneapolis music scene.  Since he's in like 4 bands, writes his own music, and has performed all over Minneapolis and the Midwest, I thought it would be cool to knit him a mildly hipster-style hat to wear onstage for his belated Christmas present!  I've been meaning to knit both his brothers hats for awhile now, and I only just got around to making one for Bradlee.  Hence, the Rock Star Hat!

Pattern: Turn a Square by Jared Flood, aka BrooklynTweed.  This is like the tenth time I've made this hat, and definitely not the last...
Yarn: Cascade 220 in black and Noro Kureyon colorway 263, both leftover from other projects.  The Noro is actually the second half of a skein from Scott's own Turn a Square hat!
Timeframe: January 12th-15th, 2014.
Mods: I accidentally knit 6 inches from the brim before decreasing instead of 5.  Guess I just enjoyed the stripes too much... :)

Worst Part: In the pictures, you can see a small string of the black pulled out.  Can you guess who did that?  Yep, that was the lovely little Maeby.  In fact, she kept grabbing the hat and rubbing her face all over it while meowing when I left it on the coffee table.  In her happy rolling and rubbing, she accidentally yanked out a small piece of the yarn.  No idea what her deal was, but then again I usually don't.
Best Part: Having exactly the perfect amount of Noro yarn leftover from the last hat that I made to finish the stripes on this one.  Bam!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Dance, Yoga, and the Dude

It's been a pretty busy week for me!  It was my first week back to school at LSC, and my first week back to dance as classes were cancelled last week due to cold.

It was fantastic to get back to the dance studio, see my students, and finally tap and do ballet again.  I loved waking up sore the next day from time steps and arabesques!

I also started going back to hot yoga down at Evolve Duluth Studio three times a week.  It's been painful, tiring, and amazing to get back in to yoga.  I feel like I haven't truly stretched in a long time, and the atmosphere at this particular studio is fantastic.  I always leave feeling relaxed and full of positive energy.  To help supplement my practice, I'm reading the book Light on Yoga by B.K.S. Iyengar.  It gives in-depth descriptions on each pose, including body position and even visualization techniques.  Between years of climbing and dance, visualization and exact body position is big for me, so reading a break down of the steps is fantastic!

I've been doing a fair amount of knitting as well!  I finally picked up the Dude Sweater again, finishing the left front side and starting the right front.  I'm determined to finish this either by the end of January or the beginning of February.  Ideally I want to get it done before the 2014 Ravellenic Games on Ravelry!  I haven't even thought about what project I'll do yet for the games, but I'm excited to start planning in the next couple of weeks.

Besides the Dude, I'm finishing up a couple of straggle-projects, such as a Cowl for my climbing friend Valerie as a belated wedding present and a belated birthday hat for Scott's brother Bradlee (yes, I realize I said the word 'belated' twice there... oops).  The hat just needs to be blocked and the cowl shouldn't take more than a couple hours to finish, so it'll hopefully be a quick finish for both!
This weekend I have tons of apartment projects and cleaning to get done, as well as doing more choreographing and grading, but I'm excited to relax a little bit and perhaps peruse the Ravelry projects pages to find the perfect project for the games.
Time to start dreaming... :)

Sunday, January 12, 2014

FO: Below Zero Mittens

On Friday, I spent part of my morning finishing up my Below Zero mittens.  They turned out fantastic- great colors, fit me perfectly, and I was really excited to wear them starting that day since it finally warmed up to at least 20 above zero.
I left them on my coffee table to take a shower before I headed off for the day.
Ten minutes later, clean and ready for the day, I came out to find only one mitten on the table.
Oh, crap.
I found my kitten Maeby under the couch, nomming away at the thumb of my just-finished mitten.

She ate through at least an inch of the thumb, and I deftly reclaimed my mitten while cursing Maeby to the seventh layer of hell.  She didn't look like she felt one iota of remorse.
This afternoon I finally had time to perform a little surgery.

I picked off the bits of yarn she hadn't eaten and pulled back until I had all the live stitches lined up that were not chewed up or covered in kitten slobber.
It didn't take that long, and I finally have a great pair of mittens for warmer winter days!

Pattern: Striped Mittens According to Badegakk by Lena Gjerald (Ravelry link)
Yarn: The gray stripes are Three Irish Girls Adorn Sock in Dorian Gray, and the colored stripes are Noro Taiyo Sock yarn.  Knit on size one bamboo double point needles.

Timeframe: December 25th, 2013-January 12, 2014
Mods: Pattern called for only five rounds per stripe, and I did six rounds per stripe.  I really like the thicker stripes!

Worst Part: Bad yarn kitty moment.  Damn Maeby.
Best Part: Being happy with my awesome finished product, and especially happy that it's one I don't have to give away!  I might have to make more projects for myself... :)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Hunkered Down

It was a little shocking to go from the gorgeous 85 degree weather on my last (beach) day in Florida to the current deep freeze we're experiencing up here in northern MN.  Schools across Minnesota have been cancelled two days in a row now, with windchills dropping to as low as -55.

Right when I got back to Duluth, I experienced my end-of-semester sick period that seems to inevitably follow a stressful semester.  I had a rocketing fever, aches, and a bad cough.  Today is the first day that I've been able to move around without getting dizzy, so I'm pretty okay with having to stay inside.  It helps when I'm wrapped up in a quilt on the couch with the kittens snuggled up to me while the wind howls outside.  :)
Since I'm out of commission, I've been working on my Florida projects in between naps, including a pair of striped mittens for myself and the pretty Narwhal mittens for my friend Brit.

I'm really happy with the striped mittens.  They fit me perfectly, the colors are great, and the yarn is superb.  They'll be a great mid-temp pair of mittens when it finally warms up to the 20's.  It'll be a quick finish for them, hopefully!

I really like the turn-up hem on these mittens.  I'm starting to appreciate the small construction details on projects more and more, and I think in the future my projects will be leaning towards this more time-consuming but well-constructed finishes.

The Narwhal mittens were my knits for the golf cart rides in Florida, which actually only happened once.
I love love LOVE the colors and the yarn for these mittens, but the stretchy yarn isn't creating a nice flat fair-isle project the way that I hoped it would.  I'm not sure if they'll relax in to the colors with a proper blocking or not, but it stretches well when I pull them on, so for now I'm going to finish the first mittens and decide what to do then.  Goes to show that picking the right yarn for the project is crucial, and I need to pay attention to this particular detail more. :)

Again, loving the construction details.  I created the picot hem and actually knit the two edges together, as per Ysolda's design.  I love this hem detail so much that I think I'll use this method from now on for any picot hems.
Obviously I haven't been climbing due to the whole being-sick thing, but I'm hoping that I can go tomorrow evening.  I've been poking through Eric Horst's book How to Climb 5.12, and trying to decide the best way to start my training.  Two things I'll definitely be adding: cardio by means of the elliptical in my living room, and hot flow yoga at a local studio to help with flexibility, strength, and breathing.  Hopefully I'll start the elliptical later this week and hot yoga by Monday next week, doing hot yoga Monday-Wednesday-Fridays.
I want to be a lean, mean, climbing machine in a few months. :)  Just gotta take the first step!

Monday, January 6, 2014

FO: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Golf Covers

This was the last of my Christmas knits that I've yet to post.  One of the activities in Florida is golfing, one that I generally never participate in.  At most, I sit on the golf carts for four hours or so during 18 holes.  My brother and cousins are the ones that love it, so I decided to be nice and feed that love this Christmas by knitting all of them their own Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Golf Club Cover!

Pattern: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Golf Club Covers by Sundae's Shop (Ravelry link)
Yarn: The green for all was Brown Sheep's Nature Spun Worsted in 144W Limestone color, and all the colors are leftover Cascade 220 bits from other projects.  For instance, the yarn for Leonardo's blue was from the Toasty in Tofte mittens!
Needles: Size 8 bamboo double-points
Time: August 25th - December 25th.  Usually I would knit one quickly and not do another one for awhile.
Mods: I didn't add the i-cord ties on the back of the head as called for in the pattern (extra bits could get snagged and pulled off easier) and instead of cutting out felt and gluing on eyes, I simply embroidered the eyes with leftover Cascade 220 in a white/natural color.
Worst Part: I didn't really keep track of making sure all the sizes of the covers were consistent, and it definitely showed when I finally lined them all up.  Oops.  Also, for awhile there, I wasn't sure whether I actually liked them or not, or even whether it was worth knitting them.  I also was nervous that the recipients wouldn't like them.
Best Part: The day after I gave the covers away, we all went to the LGPA official golf course for the daily golf fix.  Everyone else was loading their golf bags on the carts while I waited to see who I would knit next to, when I noticed this:

And then I noticed these:

And I must say, I couldn't stop smiling throughout the entire first nine. :)

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Last Days in Florida

My last days in Florida were a good mixture of relaxing, being sick, then more relaxing.
We spent at a day at NASA, checking out the new Atlantis display...

And after Scott left back for MN, headed to Daytona Beach!

We did a couple of days at Daytona Beach, walking around, flying kites...

enjoying some shopping, and ringing in the New Year!

I got to talk to Scott at midnight, then made sure to get a picture with my Dad after he smooched my Mom at midnight!

My last day was a spike in the temperature up to 85 degrees, which was perfect to fit in one more beach day!
We got to fly the kites again...

do some boogie boarding in the water...

and I finished reading The Godfather while attempting to get even a tiny bit of a tan.

Now I'm back in Minnesota, getting over a small fever and bad cough.  I went from 85 degrees in Florida to Monday the schools are all closed by Gov. Dayton because the windchill is supposed to creep possibly down to -50.
Good vacation. :)
Knitting update tomorrow...