Sunday, September 28, 2014

Saved Sandstone Fest

The forecast for the weekend looked almost too good to be true, especially for northern MN.  Highs in the 70's and even up to the 80's, sun, yet still those incredible splashes of fall colors everywhere!

I told myself that I would spend Saturday outside having fun with friends, and today, Sunday, I have to stay inside to get things done.

So yesterday, I headed down to Sandstone, MN, for the Saved Sandstone Fest put on by the Minnesota Climber's Association!
I went with my climbing friend Jesse, and we met up with my long-time friend Steve (we call him Bug) from the Twin Cities for a fantastic day getting on some boulders.

I normally don't like bouldering, but Jesse is a huge fan, so I decided to push my comfort zone a little bit for the day and leave my rope on the ground!  I tried several problems up to V5- specifically, "The Best V5 in Minnesota"!

I'll admit, it took a few warm-up problems for me to get truly comfortable bouldering again, but I eventually eased back in to it.  Jesse and Steve were really good at being supportive when I felt like backing down, and I definitely was pushing my comfort zone.

It's really kind of backward- I'm way more comfortable on the end of a rope, high above a piece of gear, facing a large fall possibility.  Instead, I get nervous when I'm barely 7 feet off the ground, working a tough bouldering problem.  A large part of that is definitely how nervous I am that I might knock a kneecap out of the socket from a fall, since my knees are not the greatest.  I feel much better when I have gear and a rope on me, no matter the fall potential.
It was still a ton of fun, despite my mental nervousness.  Later in the evening, we enjoyed oven-cooked pizza, and I got to meet up with other friends!

(Seeing one of my lady climber friends, Adelle)

(The entire gang!  Jesse, Me, Bug, Adelle, and Justin, happy to hang out on such a gorgeous fall day!)
It was a great day out, and even though I'm stuck inside doing grading and school stuff today, it was fantastic to spend at least one day out.  :)

Friday, September 26, 2014

Busy Week and Diving the Madeira

I'm ridiculously happy I had a long chill weekend at home last week, because this week took off faster than a puppy aiming to get some snuggles and a treat!

Fall colors are really starting to show through, and I'm walking to dance now as much as possible to elongate the time I get to spend outside enjoying this gorgeous weather.  Speaking of dance...

It's almost in full swing!  I've already started teaching the choreography for my competition dances, I've met with at least half of my solos and duos, and I'm currently at the studio three nights a week.  It's been crazy so far, and it's only going to get more crazy.  SO many ladies and tap shoes and sequins and smiles!  I'm already picking out costumes for the year, and even though I say this every year, I feel like I'm going to have some of my best dances ever!  OH my goodness!
In other news, I finally got around to starting up the climbing club at my college!

We have a small bouldering wall, and on Wednesday I spent a good hour doing inventory of holds, gear, and even set a quick route (see the blue tape?  ME!).  I've put out some emails to contact gear reps about educational orders, and hopefully I can turn this in to a once or twice a week get-together for our students!  We'll see what happens...
My other big (BIG) news for the week was I went on my first Lake Superior dive!  It turned in to a lot of new experiences; for instance, I dove in a dry suit for the first time!

Lake Superior is cold, especially down deep, so wearing a dry suit was pretty important if you plan on being in the water for any extended period of time.
I dove with two exceedingly experienced divers, so I wasn't too concerned when we got to the diver's parking lot next to Split Rock Lighthouse near dusk.

By the time we had all our gear on and did our safety checks, it was dark.
This meant that I also did my first night dive, where you can really only see where you shine your flashlight underwater.  That created an added layer of eerie to the experience!
Oh, and we were also diving the Madeira shipwreck!

(Photo taken from
This is one of the bigger wrecks on Lake Superior, famous because it's the reason the Split Rock Lighthouse exists!  It was unfortunately too dark for us to get any pics of us diving underwater (don't worry- those will come later!), but the above pic is of the bow of the wreck, which lies about 30 feet down.  We stayed mostly on the bow for our dive.  We got to peek through the holes to the inside of the bow, look at all the fish, and even though diving in darkness was really really spooky, it was an incredible experience!

(With my dive partner Tony, after we got in from the dive)
I can't even describe how exciting and terrifying it was.  It was my first Lake Superior dive, my first dive outside of a structured "class", my first dive in a dry suit, and my first night dive.  My flippers fell off, I had a few moments of panic, but overall, it blew my mind.
And it made me excited to go back for more!
Hopefully the next time, it'll be in the daylight, so I can see the entire wreck laid out before me...

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Weekend at Home

After two whirlwind weekends, I finally was able to stay home this weekend and get a lot on my to-do list ticked off, as well as visit with friends that I haven't hung out with in awhile.  Don't get me wrong- I love heading off for a weekend of outdoor awesomeness, but it was time to get a few things done in my own place. :)
On Friday night, my friend Alex and I did a Disney-and-Crafting night while the weather outside stayed crappy.  She worked on her sewing projects, and I (finally) pulled out the project I'm excited to finally finish up.  Before I knew what had happened, Robin Hood and Alice in Wonderland later...

There were deer frolicking all over the front sections of the vest!  I'm pretty happy with how far it came in one night.  Two more pairs of deer down, only one to go...
Seeing so much progress makes me want to just keep going, so hopefully the back fair isle, the button band, and the arm bands go quickly.  I want to finish this puppy soon- maybe even in time to bring it down to my brother in two weeks for his birthday??  Hmmm... interesting new deadline...
On Saturday, Duluth graced us with gorgeous weather, so I dumped the housework and spent time with my awesome friend Amanda!

She's back in town fresh from a summer as a kayak guide in Alaska, and she's moving to Washington D.C. next, so doing some climbing, late lunch, and even meeting up for late night dancing and drinks was pretty much required.  I'm not as young as a I used to be, though, and had to down a couple more cups of coffee than usual this morning.  Not that I minded... :)
The rest of my weekend was a little less picture-worthy, minus a couple of highlights.  I did a lot of grading, super-cleaned the house (since it's been mildly ignored since probably August), choreographed some dance, drank a lot of coffee, and plotted out some long-term projects.
I did have time to finish the second (of either four or five) repeats on the Onward Shawl:

and this evening, in between grading grammar worksheets, I even managed to bake some Pumpkin-Chocolate swirled bread (link goes to the recipe)!

(Pre-oven, after I swirled the chocolate batter with the pumpkin batter, getting all Betty Crocker with the cutlery)
I just pulled it out of the oven, and the house smells delicious.  Taste test pending. :)
Tonight will be finishing my grading and maybe some knitting and a movie.  It's been nice to be a bit of a homebody this weekend.  I finally feel caught up in a lot of the things I've felt overwhelmed about, so here's hoping that not only my posts become a little more frequent (sorry about that), but I stay caught up on everything.
Sorry, I forgot myself for a second there. :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

A Weekend in the BWCAW

Dance started up again for me last week, and I feel like I haven't had a moment to relax since Monday last week.  Don't get me wrong, I love having a lot going on, but I'm still trying to find that balance between school, dance, grading, choreographing, keeping the house in order, climbing, and (occasionally) posting about it.  This week I'm finally starting to find my routine, which will hopefully allow me to stress a little less about getting everything done (and done well!).  :)
Adding to the craziness, last week was also "Birthday Week" for Scott as he turned the big 30 years old!  We ate out a couple of nights, and his big celebration was a weekend trip into the Boundary Waters!
We packed intermittently all week, and come Friday after work we left right away for up north to prep to go in early on Saturday morning.

The weather outlook wasn't amazing, but we took off in high spirits, determined to just enjoy ourselves- which we did!

We put in at Brule Lake and paddled over to South Temperance before we set up camp.  One of the nice things about doing a late-season trip (on a less than ideal weekend) is that we only saw one other canoe with two people the entire weekend.  We pretty much had the entire lake to ourselves!

The views were gorgeous, and I found that I really love South Temperance Lake.  It has a some really pretty waterways to paddle through!

The wind was pretty intense both days, blowing us all over the place both on and off the lake.  We layered up like crazy, and were exceedingly thankful that it didn't rain when we were making any of our meals.

At night, however, we did get a fun surprise.  It definitely rained on us, and in the middle of the night sometime, Scott woke up to snow coming down on the tent!  I was very happy for not only my super warm sleeping bag, but also the sleeping bag liner that added that little extra bit of warmth through a chilly night.
We paddled back on Sunday with the winds to our back, which made for some exciting wave riding on the large Brule Lake.  By the time we got back to the car and pulled the canoe off the water, we were exceedingly cold and excited to get a warm meal in us.

It was a great weekend in the Boundary Waters, though by the time we got home, unpacked, put some of our out gear to dry and cleaned the rest of it, it was time to jump right back into the work week!
I was able to pound out a couple of rows on the Onward Shawl on the drive up north, but nothing worth showing off.  I will have a lot more time for that coming up, but that's for another post.  For now- more choreographing, more grading, then off to dance!
No stopping now! :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Weekend On the Cliffs

Scott and I shot up the shore this past weekend to enjoy what's starting to look like one of the last really nice weekends before the fall weather truly sets in.
Saturday was a day of bushwhacking and adventuring!

We decided that we wanted to check out a couple of places up the shore that are not in any of the local guidebooks and see if they're climbable or not.  We focused on two specific areas- one right off of the highway near Split Rock Lighthouse, and the other off of the Superior Hiking Trail.
The place near Split Rock was... not ideal, to say the least.

We bushwhacked around looking at the potential, but mostly found pretty slabby rock that had lots of trees growing out of the cracks, making for a tough clean-up.  Nothing terribly exciting.  It was worth looking around, but I'm definitely wearing pants this week at school to cover up the mess of scratches on my legs.
Luckily, Mt Trudee, which is right off the SHT, had a ton more promise!
There was a great-looking cliff that had decent anchor setups, enough height to warrant climbing, and a rock type that seemed great for climbing!

The only slight downside of Mt Trudee is that it's a 5-mile mostly uphill hike in, which when you're carrying 30+ pounds of gear on your back (which I was), is not ideal.  Because of our morning bush-whacking fun, we didn't have time to do more than scope out the area, rappel on one route, and do some preliminary cleaning to see if the climbing is worth it.  We packed up the gear while watching a gorgeous sunset, and didn't get off the trail until well after dark set in.
We'll definitely be back there for more cleaning, but it's going to be a big, dirty job, and the hike in means it'll have to be a weekend project to claim some first ascents.  We mostly plan on doing all the routes clean with trad gear (leaving no bolts or trace on the rock), but there's a few parts that look like they could be great (hard) face climbs, so we're going to have to see exactly where Mt Trudee falls on the map and see if bolting is a possibility.  Hiking in with sport gear would be really nice... much lighter. :)
Sunday we were both pretty sore and tired from all the hiking and whatnot we did from the previous day, so we headed to Shovel Point to meet Scott's friend Eric for his first-ever outdoor climbing experience!

After getting over the jitters from rappelling over the edge for the first time, Eric seemed to have a blast!  We climbed a bunch of the easy stuff, enjoyed the view, and chatted with other parties climbing next to us.

The fog started to roll in later in the afternoon, and Scott and I got home pretty destroyed that evening.  It was a full and great weekend, ending with some grading, a pizza, and (for me) getting excited that I was starting my first week of dance this week!!
Next weekend we're hoping to head up to the Boundary Waters, despite the not-so-friendly forecast.
Frost advisory?  Temps to freezing?
Guess I'll just have to pack warmer clothes. :)

Saturday, September 6, 2014

FO: Christmas Deer Hats

Happy weekend, everyone!  I'm stealing a few minutes this lovely Saturday morning to write a quick post before Scott and I head up the shore for the weekend to go climbing.  I'm pretty psyched- we're going to check out an area that's previously un-climbed, so it's going to be fun but mildly dirty work.  The nice thing is it's only a 5-mile hike in to the new place on the Superior Hiking Trail, which is supremely gorgeous this time of year!  We're going to camp up the shore, and then tomorrow we'll be hitting up Shovel Point to introduce a friend to outdoor climbing.  I'm just psyched to get outside on such a lovely weekend after so many days of rain!
Luckily, that rain allowed me to not only finish my Ombre sweater, but I knocked off the second of two Christmas Deer Hats I'm knitting for family members.  Score!

Pattern: Fornicating Deer Chart by Anne Rutten
Yarn: Brown Sheep's Nature Spun Worsted Weight, in "Pepper" and "Orange You Glad"
Timeframe: Both hats took me between May 20th and August 30th.  Not bad, if I may say, for two colorchart hats. :)
MODs: The original pattern is only a chart, so I had to figure out exactly how to make that in to a hat.  I CO 96 stitches, did about 2 inches or so of 2x2 ribbing on the bottom, K 1 row in MC, then repeated the deer pattern 3 times around the head.  At about 5 inches from the bottom of the hat, I started decreasing 6 stitches every other row, then when it looked closer to done I decreased every row.  I did it differently on each hat, and mostly just eyeballed when I though I should decrease.  It worked well, in my opinion!  Ben's hat has the multi-colored poof ball, and Sam's hat has the all-orange poof ball.

Needles: If you look, you probably notice that one hat is smaller than the other.  Ben's hat is knit completely with size 6 needles, and on Sam's hat I switched to size 7 needles for the colorwork portion, since Sam has a bigger head than Ben.
Worst Part: There were a lot of floats to deal with in these hats, but it's also forced me to get better at knitting floats, so I guess that's a good thing...?
Best Part: Reactions of friends seeing the hats so far.  This leads me to believe that when Ben and Sam open them at Christmas time for all the family to see, they'll be quite a big hit. :)

I'll be bringing the Onward Shawl with me to work on in the car as we drive up the shore, and hopefully I'll be working on it tonight at the campfire!  I really only have two knits that I'm working on right now- the Onward, and my brother's Fornicating Deer Vest (the advanced version of these ridiculous hats).  The Onward needs to be finished by Christmas, and I'm hoping to finish my brother's vest in time for him to wear it to family Thanksgiving.
Super classy, you know. :)
All right, one more cup of coffee, then time to pack all the gear in the car and head up north.  It's too gorgeous out to linger at home for a long time this morning!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

FO: European Ombre (The Perfect Sweater!)

It's finally here- my post about my completed European Ombre cardigan!  I'm really excited that I finished this sweater, and not only is it done- it fits me perfectly!
Pattern: Ombre by Tanis Lavallee
Yarn: Sublime's Extra Fine Merino Lace (nom) in pink (0402) and white (0397).  I bought 3 skeins of each color, and probably could have gone without that third skein in the white for future reference. 
Timeframe: Started July 28th on my flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.  Finished on the flight from Paris to Minneapolis on August 20th (with two hours to spare!).  Almost exactly 3 weeks to the day, and exactly the duration of my Europe trip!
Needles: Size 6, both on a circular and DPN's
MODS: I made the sleeves and the color changes for size XS (7 inches of each color), and the length measurement I left for size S since I like my cardigans a little on the long side. 
The pink panel on the bottom ended up being about 7.75” instead of 7”. I ended up having 7 buttons. 
Everything else was the same on the pattern!

Worst Part: There really wasn't anything I truly disliked.  The only thing I might do differently next time is get a really short circular needle for the arms instead of DPN's: those got cumbersome when trying to knit elbow-to-elbow with 3 people in the backseat of a small European car.  
Best Part: Having the perfect project for my vacation!  I was really nervous about taking only one project (despite the fact that it was a big project).  I thought that I would finish it early, or that I wouldn't work on it at all because it had lots of stockinette and it would get boring.  Luckily, there was just enough time on planes, trains, and automobiles to blast through the slightly boring sections.  And anytime it did get a little monotonous, I would be switching colors, or had to do decreases or increases or had to add buttonholes.  I don't overheat when I wear it.  The little white buttons are from a small knitting store in Denmark that I found when Heather and I were wandering around Aarhus drinking coffee, so part of my vacation is sewed right on.  And it's COLORFUL! :) 
I've never made a sweater with laceweight before, but this one may have converted me a little.
And I'm pretty sure I'm wearing this to school tomorrow. :)