Wednesday, February 26, 2014

FO: Superb Owl Hat and Organizing

My friend Sarah's birthday is on Friday, and at the bottom of her birthday box (currently racing its way across the chilly Minnesota mail system) is a tiny little something for her little man, Ben!
I finished the little hat during the closing ceremonies of the Olympics, since I was done done done with the Dude Sweater!  I present to you the Superb Owl hat, freshly finished with one set of eye buttons!
Pattern: Owlie Sleep Sack Matching Hat by Teresa Cole (I only did the hat; my friend Heather did the sack- link goes to the blog page with the pattern)
Yarn: Rowan's Creative Focus in Worsted.  I doubt I used even half of the skein.  I wasn't a huge fan of the yarn, as it was prone to splitting.  Not sure what I'm going to do with the rest of the skein...
Needles: size 7
Timeframe: February 1st-February 24.  The only reason it took that long was I knit the first part while watching the Superbowl and the rest of it almost a month later in about 3 hours.  
Mods: None!
Worst Part: I had a minor hiccup trying to figure out what "C4B" and "C4F" meant, with no explanation on the pattern and no cable charts.  I figured it out by looking at the picture, but apparently I've been away from cable for too long.  I wasn't honestly a huge fan of the hat in general, but it was a quick knit so I can't complain too much...
Best Part: When Albert jumped up on the couch to join the photo shoot!  
After finishing the Owl hat and the Dude sweater, I finally did a complete over-haul of the knitting drawer.
I cleaned out all of the old skeins and post-it notes and loose balls of yarn; it was a pretty big mess in the midst of it.
When I was done, I assessed my projects needed and got everything set up, ready to go for easy-access knitting!
One of the first things I cast on for was another Turn-a-Square hat.  Why, you might ask?
Because the lovely little Maeby decided to turn Scott's fall hat I knit him into kitten noms.  Damn cat.  This new one is going to be in a dark blue for the main color and the graduations are various shades of blue in a pretty Noro yarn.  I know I'll be knitting a second one pretty soon after this one is finished, just to have one on deck in case Maeby eats the new one...
I also cast on for the first of three end-of-year dance presents I'll be knitting.
This one is going to be the Honey Cowl for my vivacious dancer in the duet I choreographed.  I cast on for it today so I can bring it to Friday's all-day conference on the teaching of writing in the classroom that LSC will be putting on.  I'm leading one of the sessions for the conference, which I'm pretty excited about!  I wanted to make sure I had an easy knit for the rest of the sessions, and this one seems like it will knit up as a dream.
Or, at least, I'm hoping it will.

Sidenote: I haven't forgotten to do an FO post about the Dude- I'm just waiting for a good day to get pictures of Scott actually wearing it, possibly outside.  That's been hard when the temp isn't higher than 0 and the windchill is between -30 and -40, like it is this evening.  I'm so ready for winter to be over...

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ravellenic Finish Line!

It's been a crazy last 24 hours!
Last time I updated, I was finishing up the second sleeve on a Wednesday afternoon.  That evening, I went down to the climbing gym for a fantastic 3 hour session with my friend Bailey.  I really needed it, especially since it was the last session before the competition on Saturday.  I watched figure skating as I completed the sleeve.  Getting that done was huge- all the major pieces of the sweater were complete!
Yesterday was school and a snowstorm!

We got about 16 inches of snow last night, and today the wind gusts got up to 40 mph.  The only good thing about the crazy snowstorm was more knitting time as I watch the ladies figure skating free skate!
I knit the facings for the front of the sweater, and I made a bit of a mod- incorporating three buttonholes using Ysolda Teague's one-hole buttonhole method from her book "Little Red in the City".

I finished pretty late, since I didn't want to stop until both facings were done.  This meant that today, Friday, all I had to do was seam the pieces, weave in the ends, sew on the buttons, and knit the collar.

I lay out all the pieces and got to work on the arms.
The kittens kept trying to get their faces in wherever they weren't particularly wanted, both trying to take naps on the body of the sweater...

and when I take a break to get a quick snack...

But after all the hours of knitting, all the seaming, all the sore fingers and late nights, I lay The Dude down at around 2 this afternoon, and I had to smile.

The Dude is done.
I submitting it to the finish line of the Ravellenic games, and tonight I'm going to pour myself a victory glass of wine.
Gold medal in the WIP Dancing- achieved.  :)

I'll post my actual FO summary later.  Now is time for wine. ;)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Ravellenics, Days 11-13

It's the final week of the Ravellenic games!  I'm actually feeling really good about where I am in the games right now.  Why?

Check. It. OUT!
I finished the first sleeve on Sunday night, and the last couple of days I've zoomed through the second sleeve.  I'm planning on finishing the second sleeve tonight, and all that's left is seaming, sewing in ends, the two lapels on the front, and the collar.  Oh, and sewing on buttons that I haven't bought yet. 
Which really won't take that long.
Anyway. :)
A part of the reason why I've been zooming on the sweater was because we had a big snowfall the last couple of days, which this afternoon has blossomed into 40 degree temps.  I'll be taking a break to head down and climb a little to loosen my muscles one last time before the climbing comp, enjoy the sun a bit, then go go go on the sleeve to finish it off this evening!  Here's to a triumphant gold medal in this year's Ravellenic games!! 
Well, almost... :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ravellenics, Days 7-10

It's been a crazy-busy last couple of days!
I spent Saturday helping my dance studio move from our old one to our brand new big building!  This was not glamorous at all, as the majority of the time for me was spent hauling heavy stuff with the rest of the dance dads.

They ripped up the beautiful wooden floor in the old studio, and we hauled every single piece up to the new studio, along with two trailer-loads full of props.

One of the big studios in the new place quickly filled, and the majority of the afternoon was spent organizing all the props, storing them in the big storage areas, and helping with odd jobs: painting, hauling certain things to certain rooms, and even watching the new floor get put down in the second big room of the new studio.  When I got home on Saturday night, I was so zonked that I barely had the energy to stay awake and eat dinner, much less knit.
Today was also packed with meeting a friend for a nice long coffee chat and some climbing.

The competition is a week off, and I'm already kind of resigning to the fact that I'm probably not going to do nearly as stellar as I would hope.  I'm not in the best of shape right now endurance-wise, and endurance is huge for a comp.   I'm going to also attempt to be very smart about the routes I pick on competition day, sticking to the technical vertical walls instead of pumping my arms out on the big overhangs.  I'll probably climb twice more this week, doing pull-ups and some cardio to balance it out along with yoga, then taper off on Friday to be fully prepped for a decent burn on Saturday.
In all of this, the Dude has marched on.  I was here on Saturday evening:

which is about halfway through the first sleeve, and today I've chugged through the colorwork section, which has been taking the longest.  I'm going to eat some dinner now, then finish the first arm (YES YES YES!!!) before I head to bed tonight.  After all, the Olympics finish next Sunday, which means the Dude has to be finished, too!  It's not too far away, but there's still enough that has to be done that I'm a little nervous...

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ravellenics, Days 1-6

I had a bit of a slow start to the games this year.
The opening ceremonies were pretty fantastic, thanks to an "Opening Ceremonies" party I went to!  I hung out with a bunch of friends, commenting on the outfits of the different nations (Canada was one of my favorite!), eating chili and crescent sandwiches, and for me, working on the Narwhal mittens until the torch was finally lit after a (long) opening ceremonies!

The weekend was exceedingly busy.  I was at the first dance competition of the season all day Saturday, cheering on my two lovely ladies that took first place in their category!

This was my first ever duet that I've choreographed, and the first time I've choreographed something that wasn't tap.  I've been really nervous about the reception for it, but so far it's going really well!
I had tons of grading and choreographing to do Sunday, plus four hours of dance on Sunday night, so I haven't been able to really dig in to the Dude Sweater until just this Monday!
I finished the right front section in one night.  Unfortunately, I was on auto-pilot and a bit tired after teaching dance, so I accidentally knit too far at the top of the front, and I ended up having to cut off the top and ripping back.

After the minor surgery, I did a quick pick-up of the live stitches, double-checking what row I stopped at, and finished the top with no further problems.  Since I wasn't in any shape to do any seaming at that point, I cast on for the first sleeve, but didn't get very far.
Today, however, was a pretty bit stepping stone for this project.  I lay out the pieces I have so far (so many ends... bleh), lined up the edges to make sure that everything looked good, and seamed up the body of the beast!

After connecting the shoulders and the sides, I turned on Netflix (NBC apparently only shows the Olympics at certain times... jerks) and spent a good couple of hours weaving in the ends of the colorwork.
I even had a little help, though she doesn't look as excited about the sweater as I was...

It took forever, but now that it's done...

I'm just more excited to keep going strong.
Sleeve #1?
As of an hour ago, I'm past the first three colors sections and I'm on the first colorwork chart already.
Here's to a productive and AWESOME next few days of knitting.  I see a glitter of gold at the end of the tunnel...

Friday, February 7, 2014

Ravellenics 2014!

The Olympic opening ceremonies have started in Moscow!  You know what that means- the 2014 Ravellenic games have officially commenced! :)  My first Ravellenic games were way back in 2008, when I knit the Ravellympic Sweater Spring to make my Mom a sweater!  I succeeded with a gold medal my first games (huzzah!) but the last few games my sights have been too high.  My latest attempt was the summer games two years ago, when I attempted to finish my Effortless Cardigan before the games were up.  The odds were heavily against me, since I was just coming back from a month-long climbing trip.  I had less than a week, and instead of finishing the whole project, simply finished the body.  Boo!
My goal this time is pretty realistic, though it's going to require me to really work hard to get it done.  I'm participating in the WIPs Dancing, since I'm more keen to finish some projects than I am to start one.  I have two specific projects in mind, both that will require dedication and effort to finish (and finish well).
First up, and the one that I want gold in the most, is finishing The Dude Sweater!

I think a little over half of the work on this sweater is currently finished, but it still has a long way to go.
What's Finished: The back section, the left front section, and a little over half of the right front section.

What's Needed: Both sleeves, the facings, the collar, weaving in a thousand ends, and seaming.  I think Scott also wants this to have three or four buttons on the front of the sweater instead of a zip-up, so I'll be modifying the facings to add those in (that shouldn't be a problem).
The Hurdles: Time at home.  This project is much to big to bring anywhere, so the only time I can work on it is at home.
Just finishing this sweater is going to be a big enough project, but because I want to challenge myself just that much more, I added a second project to finish during the games.  Because, after all, this is the Olympics!  May as well challenge myself to perhaps the point of crazy and see what happens... ;)
My second project to finish are the Narwhal Mittens!

What's Finished: I'm about halfway finished with the colorwork section of the first mitten.
What's Needed: The rest of the first mitten and the entire second mitten.  I'm actually debating whether or not to line the mittens, as the yarn is squishy and stretchy and fits beautifully over my own hands right now, so I may not actually line these.  If that's the case, I wouldn't have to knit the second pair of mitten liners.  I'm going to make that judgement call when I'm finished with the first mitten, because if they fit well without the lining and they still seem warm, I'll stick with just the outside colorwork.
The Hurdles: I'm actually only going to work on this mitten when I'm away from home, as this project travels well.  For example, tonight I'm heading to my friend Alex's house for an Olympic Ceremony party.  The Dude is way too big to bring, so this project is great since I still want to work on a goal.
I think if I finish at least the first mitten and get past the cuff of the second, I can claim a silver medal for this project.
The Big-Picture Hurdles: My hurdles for both projects are going to be balancing my time between dancing, school, knitting, and training for climbing.  Normally I would perhaps spend a little less time on climbing or dancing, but the day after the Ravellenic Games end, I'll be competing in a climbing competition.  This means I still have to train for climbing at a fairly high level, which is at least 3-4 times a week for 2-4 hours a session.  It's also go-time for dance competition season, so I'll be choreographing and down at the studio quite a lot over the next couple of weeks.  Honestly, the games couldn't have come at a busier time for me.
Then again, working on time management and staying focused on goals the next two weeks will be great motivation!
My team this year for the games is mildly arbitrary, but I love the name- I'm on Team Fire-Breathing Kittens!  I didn't have time to get to Yarn Harbor to sign up for the games before they started, but I'm pretty happy with the team I'm on.  I have to make up a little picture at some point with one of my cats breathing fire (and relearn how to use Paint) but for now, it's Dude Sweater time before climbing training!
Here's to an awesome next two weeks!
Let the GAMES BEGIN!! :)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Vet Check

Normally I'm really productive on my days off between dance and school.  I get grading done, clean the apartment, organize some ignored corner, and make progress on projects.
Today was not a terribly productive day.
Yes, I got homework graded.  I even made spinach lasagna roll-ups for dinner, went down to the climbing gym for a couple of hours, and cleaned the apartment.
The big plan today, though, was herding the kittens into the kitty box to bring them to their yearly vet check-up.

As you can see, Albert was really not excited to get off of his lovely warm heater to make his way down the hill to be poked and prodded by the vet.  He at least was so petrified that he barely moved, and instead simply stared at the vet with wide-eyed horror.
Maeby, on the other hand, was a pill.
She yowled on the entire ride down to the vet, and was exceedingly squirmy the entire time the vet tried to handle her.  I almost preferred Albert's rescue kitty petrified compliance to this rowdy trouble-maker.

Her problem with eating non-kitten food items-called "pica"- was simply written on the form by the vet as:
"Attempt to limit and monitor Maeby's consumption of foreign objects." When the vet tech checked me out, she couldn't stop laughing.  It didn't help that Maeby kept yowling even then.
This lovely prognosis was prompted by her stool sample, which apparently contained a piece of a black plastic bracelet that she had found sometime within the last 24 hours to ingest.  I was hopeful that Maeby wouldn't eat something weird before our vet appointment, but this did prompt some fun storytelling where I got to tell them about her licking star confetti off the table when I attempted to decorate.  She pooped glitter for a day or two after that incident.
Gotta love being the fun story of the day for the vets...

Anyhow, tomorrow should be a fairly light day of teaching at school since it's mostly a work day for my students, but I still have plenty of daily grading to get through and part of a department review on technology in the writing classroom to write.  A cup of tea and list-making tonight makes me feel ready and organized to finish my week, especially with some important stuff coming up!
Friday starts the Olympic knitting, so I'll outline what my plans are in the next couple of days here.  It's going to be pretty intense.  I'm glad I have Netflix queued up on my sweet little machine, and the cold forecast helps my motivation to really dig in and go to town on these projects.  YEEEEAH Ravellympics!

Monday, February 3, 2014

The Big Game

I was invited to a small Superbowl party this weekend, which for me was way more about hanging out with friends than watching any part of the game.  I was excited to see my fantastic but very busy friend Celeste, and we spent a good part of the game attempting to change the station to the "Puppy Bowl" on Animal Planet when the actual game was on, and watching the Superbowl commercials while down about a pound of nachos.  
I have to admit, I've never been a fan of football.  I realize that it takes a lot of talent and hard work to be a top-level athlete in that sport, but it's hard for me to get excited watching it after I watch Alex Honnold solo the triple in Yosemite in 18 hours.  Yes, I'm totally biased towards climbing.  Yes, I realize they're completely different activities.  But for me, high-level climbers are taking far more risks than football players, and they don't make even a fraction of their salary.  Pretty sure Honnold still lives out of his van most of the time.  Football games feel slow and occasionally more like a theater than a true game.
Instead, I took the opportunity during actual game-time to cast on for a little hat for baby Ben!  
My friend Sarah had Ben 8 weeks early, but he's doing fantastic and growing fast!  I was originally supposed to have this hat finished for Christmas, but between Christmas gifts to finish (and the fact that I had already knit an armadillo for him just a few weeks prior) I didn't feel too bad that this particular knit is a teeny bit late.
Plus, it was the perfect knit for a game like this.  I wanted to be able to chat with Celeste and others while knitting, keep my eye on the commercials, and still keep my rows straight.
No wonder I knit so many hats a year.  Perfect portable projects are important for a busy knitter like me. Hopefully this one will knit up within the week, before the Olympics start and I have to focus solely on the Ravelympic projects.
Oh- I've decided what my project(s) will officially be!
Any guesses? ;)

Saturday, February 1, 2014

FO: Addiction Socks

I finally finished the second of my Addiction Socks, and with the snow falling outside, it's the perfect day for a brand-new pair of warm knitted socks!

Pattern: V-Junkie by Alice Yu, from the book Socktopus (links go to Ravelry pages)
Yarn: Plymouth Yarn's Happy Feet in a lovely variagation of purples, reds, greens, and blues.  Perfect TrueBlood colors!
Needles: Size zero bamboo DPN's.  They're pretty warped, as I definitely hold my tension pretty tight.
Timeframe: December 6, 2011-January 31st, 2013.  To be fair, the second sock only took the last couple of weeks or so to knit.  Extreme second-sock syndrome.  My bad.

Mods: Due to the small size of my feet, I decreased in the foot down to the two honeycombs, then immediately after the second purl row, began my toe decreases.  Pattern called for a knit pattern in between each decrease row, and I didn't do that, either.  I simply decreased on every row until I had 9 stitches on two needles (18 total), and did a three-needle cast-off.
Worst Part: Very obviously the second-sock syndrome.  I need to stop that.  It's just better for everyone, including the project. I also knit one honeycomb section less before turning the heel, so I'll just have to make sure to always wear pants, and hope that people don't look too closely at the height of my socks... :)
Best Part: Finally finishing, and having all the honeycombs line up on the foot!  I don't make socks very often, but it'll be nice to have this pair in my arsenal for cold-weather wear.  We've had a lot of that lately.

With these socks done, I can focus solely on the Dude Sweater.  I have the whole weekend to finish the right side of the sweater, and hopefully seam the back to the fronts of the sweater and begin to weave in ends.  That way Scott can try it on, which will make it seem like I'm making visible and measurable progress (to him).
I still haven't decided if finishing my two big WIP's will be my Ravellympics goal this year or not.  I think that with the two-week deadline, it would be a great idea.  I can finish the sweater and Brit's mittens, and then set my sights on a big project for myself during the warmer spring months.  I've had the yarn for a Coastal Hoodie for a long time now- perhaps I can finally wind it and begin a sweater for myself... :)