Thursday, March 26, 2015

Ribbing and some Trophy Hardware

I'm writing to you after (finally) recovering from lots and lots of dance craziness over the last couple of weekends.  We had our second competition this past weekend, and the amazing dancers at my studio- for lack of a nicer way to say it- crushed it! 

We had a lot of high scores, tons of high overall scores for placements, and my musical theater duet won so many awards and special judges awards and medals that they couldn't hold everything by themselves!

I am incredibly happy with how it all went (there was a lot of screaming, lunges, jazz hands, and me yelling "YEEEEEEEAH!!!" from the sidelines), and I couldn't have been prouder than all of my amazing ladies!  There was definitely huge happy hugs and giant grins for the rest of the night and quite a few days afterward.
We now have a month to prepare for our next competition, and I'm a little happy for a break from the craziness.  I can spend more time breaking down technique, moving sequences around, changing and tweaking choreography (you can bet the girls love that... uffda...), and refining arms before we get up on stage and do it all again.  It's the crazy time of year for being a competition dance teacher (coach?), but I absolutely love it and wouldn't have it any other way!
Despite the craziness of the last week or so, I finished the ribbing section of the Ivy League Vest!

I'm really excited to get on to actual colorwork, since that will be much easier than trying to do a purl in different colors every 4th stitch.  I'd like to send a shoutout to season 2 of Gilmore Girls, which saw me through this particularly finicky portion of the knit.

Hopefully I'll be able to get the first 3 sections of color finished by the time the weekend is over.  I have high aspirations and a month and a half to finish this knit "on time".
In between grading.  And dancing.  And training for outdoor climbing (the chubbs is still prominent..).  And all the gift knits that I've begun to queue that seem reasonable (right now) to finish before June's dance recital.
It'll be fiiiiiiiine... :)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Let the Ivy League Challenge Begin!

After a crazy weekend, I was excited for Spring Break for my college to start and my days to free up to get a lot of extra work done.  Then, early in the week, this came in the mail:

Considering that the pattern calls for 6 skeins in different colors, I may have gone a tad crazy.
Luckily, gorgeous fingering weight is useful at all times, and I was able to decide on the six colors I'm using for my Ivy League Vest!

After lots of rooting around on Ravelry, I decided on a mix of coffee colors and some purple.  I've been in a purple kick lately, and who wouldn't want to have all the various colors of delicious lattes mixed in?
Plus, when I inevitably spill coffee on myself, it'll blend in a little more.

I was so excited, I cast on right away.  The ribbing is a little fickle with the purl in the contrasting color and changing color every few rows (weaving in the ends on this thing is going to be a nightmare), but it looks really nice so far.

I'm hoping to finish the fickle ribbing before the week is out, since I know I'll be able to cruise a little more once I get into the fair isle.
One of my other spring break projects is prepping my bike for commuting to the studio!

I even got a fancy pannier to hang on the rack, since I don't like wearing a backpack when I'm biking uphill and getting gross.  This will help carry both groceries and dance supplies!
Now that winter is over (and I'm 2 months away from visiting my family in Florida), I need to get back in shape.  While I'm in okay climbing shape, I definitely have a little layer of winter chubbs that I need to get rid of.  I'm hoping that commuting 3-4 days a week to the dance studio will help with that.

Oh, and also eating a little better.  Apparently downing an entire bag of white cheddar popcorn in one sitting isn't the best idea ever (even more so if one can do it 3 nights a week- I mean, what?).  More veggies for this lady. :)
Hopefully by the end of this week I'll be displaying some pretty (finished!) ribbing!  Happy Spring Break, everyone! :)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

FO: Adama Cowl

Sorry for the lack of posts since I finished the hat- it was the crazy midterm week before spring break, plus the last week of practice before the first dance competition of the year!  Today is my first full day off in just over two weeks, and I can't even begin to tell you how nice it will be to get some chores done, go out to lunch with my guy, and relax at night a little. :)
Just because I've been busy doesn't mean I haven't been knitting.  In fact, I finished my Adama Cowl on Friday during my Faculty Development Day for school.  I finished it just in time for Malabrigo March, and I'm super excited for it- it's gorgeous!

Pattern: Adama by Hilary Smith Callis (link goes to pattern Ravelry page)
Yarn: Malabrigo Yarn's Rios, in colorway Lavana
Needles: Size 7 circular bamboo

Timeframe: December 26th, 2014, to March 13th, 2015.  Not bad!
MODS: None, minus the fact that I messed up the stitch count in the lace during the first two lace panels.  Oh well... :)
Worst Part: Nothing, really.  It was a quick knit (when I actually worked on it), so I guess I could have been done sooner.
Best Part: Definitely the yarn.  Malabrigo is delicious in SO MANY WAYS. :)

I was so excited about finishing this project that I wore it during the first dance competition of the year yesterday!

(Two of my tap solo ladies!)
It doesn't really need blocking, and it was the perfect thing to wear over a Tshirt to dress up just a teeny bit and look like a respectable dance teacher.  I'm usually one of the more casual teachers when dressing up at competitions, mostly because we're running around and fixing hair and hairspraying and it's generally a 10-hour day, so I want to be comfortable.  A hand-knit cowl is the perfect way to look a little bit nicer. :)  Plus, the purple ensemble matched the costumes for my oldest group!!

(My lovely duet ladies- Russian versions of Rosie the Riveter!)
The competition yesterday went well- my dances received a lot of 1st and 2nd places in their categories, and it was good for the dancers to get their first "performance" out of the way.  I'm already excited for our next competition next weekend!

(Moments like these are totally normal when you're a dance teacher...)

(My rag-tag orphans for "Hard-Knocked Life"- SO EXCITED for this dance!)

(My amazing senior ladies!  They wowed the crowd with their crazy energy!)
It was an amazing, whirlwind, long day, but it was exhilarating to see the dances we've been working so hard on all year finally up on a stage!
This morning is definitely more quiet, but I'm happy for a teeny bit of down time.  For (just) today, I'm going to finish my morning with a cup of coffee, a library book, and a kitten snuggled on my lap.
It's good to have a day off once in awhile. :)

Sunday, March 8, 2015

FO: Hipster Beanie

I've been down and out with a nasty headcold, fevers, and coughing gross stuff the last few days.  I've felt just bad enough that I've been staying on the couch, but not bad enough that I sleep the entire time I'm there.
Only bonus to being sick?
Knitting time to finish up the Hipster Beanie for Jamie!

Pattern: Raituli by Marja Suomela (link to Ravelry page)
Yarn: Two skeins of Brown Sheep's Wildfoote Luxery Sock Yarn- one skein in Goldenrod, one in Gunsmoke
Needles: I used metal Susan Bates circulars for the majority of the hat, then switched to bamboo DPN's to close the top.  Size 1 for the brim, size 3 for the rest of the hat.
Timeframe: Jan 31-March 6.  Could have been less if I didn't have like 7 things I'm working on right now... oops...

Mods: I think I made the brim a little shorter than what the pattern calls for, though it could be that I just made the brim shorter than the last time I knit this hat.
Worst Part: Maybe it's because I don't like how the mustard looks against my blond hair, but I'm not a huge fan of the colors.  When I got a few rows into the colorwork, I almost ripped the entire thing back and had the gray as my base color instead of the mustard.  I'm almost thinking that I should have gone with white instead of gray when I stuck with mustard as the base.  The recipient has brown hair, so I think it'll be okay on her.  I'm still debating putting a pom pom on.
Best Part: Blurgh- probably finishing it.  I started to feel the monotony of this project about two stripes in, which is never good when you're using size 3 needles.  Happy this project is done with!

In other news, I felt well enough yesterday to go hang out at the Mustache March Run, put on by my buddy Kraig from Momentum Racing!

Only in Duluth, MN do we have a fun run during one of the grossest parts of the year.  We got lucky this year with a gorgeous 34 degrees and no wind off the lake, which definitely beats out the -20 windchill we had last year!

I didn't sign up in time to do the run (and I'm glad I didn't, since I was still a bit sick), but I held the clock at the finish lines and yelled myself pretty hoarse cheering on those finishing the run.  I even wore the mustache-beard combo that I knit for the very first Mustache March Run (and won first place in the "Imposter Mustache" contest!).  It was a great time, made better by my friend Alex accompanying me!

After the race, we hung out at my place with some soup and a movie, as being in the cold for an hour didn't really help with the recovering-from-being-sick thing.  I have the house to myself this weekend, with Kim up in Tofte and Scott down at a nerdy computer security conference in South Dakota.

It was nice to have the weekend to drink tea, knit, hang out with the cats, get some work done, and recover.  I didn't feel guilty for spending a good chunk of yesterday before the race on the couch, listening to the musical score the The Imitation Game while I graded papers and knit.
It's a good thing I'm feeling better, because today I'm off to dance from 1:30-8:30.  I'll be bringing tea, soup, and a smile to see all my ladies rock out at one of our last practices before our first competition next weekend!  Time to buckle down and get some awesomeness done. :)

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Ivy League Challenge

Finishing Kendra's Onward Shawl felt great.  Big projects always feel great to finish, after all!  When I finished it, I checked out some of my recently completed items on Ravelry.  I noticed a trend that you've probably noticed- all of my big projects (and almost all of my recently finished projects) are for other people.
On one hand, yes, Christmas just passed us by.  And the end of the dance year is a few months away, which always means gift knits.  But the only big project I've made for myself in the last- year and a half, probably?- is the European Ombre cardigan.  And even that I felt almost guilty making, because lots of airplane time meant lots of knitting time for potential gifts.  Otherwise, I made one hat and mittens set (and the hat has since fallen victim to Godzilla cat's nomming) and a pair of socks for myself.
Plus, most of my current projects that I'm actively knitting (I'm looking at you, Hipster hat and Police Box handwarmers) are for someone else.  I cast on a pair of Valentine's Day socks only because I received the yarn specifically as a gift for me to knit with, and I haven't touched those in over a week.
Well- I'm going to do it.
I'm going to be selfish.
I'm going to attempt to work almost exclusively on something for myself.
HA!  Take that, big pile of to-do stuff!
To celebrate this conception of being selfish, I've ordered the yarn to cast on for a long-time want- the Ivy League Vest.
Isn't it pretty? :)
It's a lot of colorwork, and it's on fairly teeny needles, but I've ogled this pattern since it came out in 2007, when I still didn't even know how to cable.  I would love to wear this vest over button-up shirts when I'm teaching, and it doesn't have the commitment timing of a full sweater.  
Plus, the fact that I'm deciding to do this at this moment makes it more fun.
We're currently at the halfway point of the Spring Semester.  I'm giving my grammar midterm to my Comp I class on Friday.  That means there are 8 weeks before Finals week, not counting Spring Break.
Depending on how quickly the yarn gets here, I'm going to challenge myself to finish this vest (yep- finish) by the time I give my Comp I students their Exam.  Not just that, I want to wear it to their final exam on Wednesday, May 14th at 8 am.  
Yes, there's a lot going on between now and then, but I need a good challenge and I really want to be selfish for once.
And this is the perfect project to do it with. :)

(To be fair, another reason why I'm knitting this vest is that I can practice steeking, which I need to do for my Dad's Dale of Norway, and I want to practice on something that isn't so high-stakes for my first steeking project!  Plus, it's a chance to try out the Knit Picks Palatte yarn, which I'm planning on using for the Persian Dreams blanket- but that's for another post...)

Monday, March 2, 2015

FO: Onward Shawl

Yesterday morning, I pulled out the sewing machine to do a quick fix on the Onward Shawl.
I really wanted the recipient to get the shawl before the chilly weather ended, so instead of spending the time ordering the yarn, ripping back the shawl, and re-knitting, I opted for an easier fix.

I decided to stabilize the edge with a couple lines of machine stitching...

picked up knitted stitches...

and finished the corner with some simple garter stitch.  I did keep the YO on the edge for consistency.  I finished by trimming all the random little edges, and:

It's not perfect, but it's a little piece of character on the edge of the shawl.
I took a few pictures with the help of Scott outside, then immediately packed it in a box so that NO KITTENS could get their faces in the squishy yarn for further destruction.
Kendra loved it. :)
I present the Onward Shawl!

Pattern: The Onward Shawl, by Shannon Cook.  From the book Journey.
Yarn: 4 skeins of Frog Tree's Pediboo in sock weight, color 1401- a very pretty gray.  While it's a little hard to see the arrow pattern from far away (and in certain lights), up close the texture with this yarn looks great!

Needles: Size 7 circulars (I used AddiTurbo)
Timeframe: July 14th, 2014-February 28th, 2015
Mods: Nothing except the change to the corner highlighted above due to unwanted kitten activity.

Worst Part: If you've read any of my previous posts, or even the first part of this post, you know the story of the shawl.  Obvious worst part- I had to re-knit the entire last repeat of the arrow pattern due to nomming Godzilla-esque cat activity, and then repair the corner AGAIN after a SECOND transgression with said cat.  But besides the fact that my kitten ate it- twice- I'd say the worst part was that for some reason I didn't really get around to memorizing the pattern as well as I thought I would.  Not exactly a big deal.

Best Part: FINALLY gifting it was probably the highlight.  The yarn is also fantastic- super bouncy and stretchy, really soft, and perfect for this project.  Note to self- don't use this yarn for a garment.  Just things like shawls or cowls. :)