Wednesday, August 6, 2014

From A to Z

Ironman Mont Tremblant is a mere 11 days away, which would be much more exciting if I wasn't still hobbling around on an injured foot.  Doc thought my injury would be a 2-3 week recovery, but I'm at 3 weeks now and still can't walk.  I'm still holding out hope it will improve dramatically in the next week and I'll be able to tough it out, but the realist (pessimist?) in me is convinced it's not looking good.  Knitting might be the only thing keeping me sane during this wait-and-see game.

I'm seriously in love with my new sock project.

Pattern: Zigzagular Socks
Yarn:  Gothsocks Asphodel, "Goblin King"

I love the pattern.  I love the yarn.  I love the colors. I love the subtle cables.

So far, I love just about everything about this sock.  I even didn't mind the gusset decrease rounds and I always hate that part of socks.  Mainly I love that I have something to keep me occupied during boring PT appointments.

I'm sort of continuing with my alphabet game of sock patterns, I just skipped from A all the way to Z. Maybe next I'll go back to B and jump back and forth.  Or jump around completely.  Or abandon the whole idea.  Right now I'm just going to go back to this sock.  And the ice packs.

Visit Tami's for more WIP Wednesday!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A is for...

Two finished projects posted in two weeks?  I'm not sure I recognize myself.

Pattern:  Alternate Steps socks
Yarn:  Black Bunny Fibers Superwash Merino, "Audacity"
Needles:  2.25mm
Started:  May 2014
Finished: July 2014

For years I've been trying to knit down my sock yarn stash.  Despite using up several skeins in the last year and adding almost none (maybe 1 skein in 2013 and it's already been knit up), the drawer always seems to stay full. Well, enough is enough. I've been drooling over sock yarn recently but refuse to add to the stash without seriously knocking it down first.  Last fall reminded me that I'm pretty capable of busting out socks, and since I don't have a ton of projects that I'm really jazzed about, I'm hitting the sock patterns hard.

But I'm also indecisive and I need something to guide me when it comes to picking out patterns.  Usually I rely on KALs on Ravelry, but I got it stuck in my head a few months ago that I should start knitting patterns for each letter of the alphabet (I think a group did this a few years ago).  I did a pattern search, sorted alphabetically, and picked my first pattern:  Alternate Steps.

I didn't exactly whip these out in 2 weeks, but 1 skein down nonetheless.  And not just any skein.  I believe this was my oldest skein of sock yarn in the stash, purchased in 2008.  I started 2 different patterns with this yarn over the years and always ripped pretty quickly.  It was time for this yarn to go.

Now to attack the rest.

I did an honest assessment of the sock yarn stash this week.  About 30 skeins.  It's go time.  Convenient timing since I happen to have a little more knitting time these days.

For 6 months Ironman training went amazingly better than expected.  After finishing a 20 mile run, the longest of the training cycle, with no significant problems, I really felt like I was going to make it to that start line all systems go--a huge relief after spending most of 2013 on the injury bench.  Exactly one week later and 30 days before race day, I limped home the last mile of an 8 mile run and have been sidelined since, unable to put weight on my left foot.  Doc has confirmed it's a soft tissue injury, so I'm lucky in that it's not a stress fracture, which would have ended all hope of racing on August 17.  Now I play the wait-and-see game and hope it heals up enough to for me to start the race and then holds up for 7+ hours of pedaling and a marathon. In the meantime, I'm spending a lot of time in the water, and part of me thinks this is karma's way of getting me back for skipping so many swim workouts....if so, eff you, karma.

The bright side?  With 6 hour bike rides and 3 hour runs off the schedule, I have considerably more time to sit on my ass and knit.  I think I'll go wind some more sock yarn.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Baby Tea Leaves

Whoa, it's been awhile since I've finished a knitting project.  I believe this is my first "finished object Friday" of 2014.  Of course, this is only my 4th post of 2014.  Knitting and blogging have sadly been a little further down on the priority list than usual, but at least I managed to churn out a cute baby sweater! And even managed to finish it up before the baby was born.

Pattern:  Baby Tea Leaves by Melissa LaBarre
Yarn:  Madelinetosh Pashmina, "Robin Red Breast"

It's an adorable little sweater.  I've always admired the adult version but something about doubling the number of stitches to knit the runched sections always deterred me (not to mention my lack of sweater knitting lately, but that's another story).  Baby runched sections went quickly enough that I finished them before I had time to start getting annoyed.

The good stuff:  It's cute, I finished something, and Madtosh Pashmina is really lovely to knit with and makes a beautiful finished object.  Soft with a little sheen and nice drape.  No clue how it will hold up for a baby, but the little one will probably outgrow it before it makes it out of the wash.

And of course, awesome buttons from Jennie the Potter:

In retrospect, I think white buttons on a red sweater is a little too much contrast, and if I could do it over, I might have done a white sweater with some red trim.  Something to think about if I decide to use the 3 leftover buttons for a new project.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

It's going to be EPIC

Eagleman 70.3 is behind me.

To make a long story short, I felt great on the swim, fine on the bike, and the run was a brutal slog through the sixth level of hell.  Even with temperatures relatively mild in the low 80s, the sun beating down on me for 13 miles was a killer.  And although helpful, it ain’t much fun trying to run with cups of ice bouncing around in your sports bra.  In the end, I crossed the finish line after 6 hrs, 10 min, and 50 sec of swim, bike, run, which was 41 minutes faster than 2012, so no complaints.  I think Mike and I are pretty much done with Eagleman though.  There are only so many times you can fork over money to race in misery before you start to come to your senses.

And now looming ahead is only the big bad of Ironman Mont Tremblant. Nine very short weeks away.  I am both super excited and scared out of my mind.  I've come a really long way in the last five months but there's still pretty far to go before I'll be ready to try to cover 140.6 miles.  Distance starting building this week, and 73 miles on the bike and 16.5 of running will take a pretty big chunk out of the weekend.  Vacuuming, laundry, walking dogs, and spending an hour tonight making stuffed cabbage (yeah, weird impulse for June cooking, no explanation) and there is little time left to relax with knitting.

So, in honor of big epic undertakings (and the fact that I've barely worked on any knitting in the past week), I decided it was finally time to update my progress on the handspun afghan. To give some background, I started this project in 2011. Over the years, I bought 15 4oz braids of blue faced leicester fiber, spun a worsted 2-ply yarn, and knit each skein into a log cabin square.  Sometime last year I finished knitting the last square.

I was so excited about finishing the squares that I shoved them in a drawer and didn't think about them for months.  In March, I finally dug them out, bought black yarn, and started knitting.  A couple months and a whole lotta garter stitch later:

All the squares are assembled.  Only the outer borders are left.  I'm so close and yet there is still a good bit of knitting to go.  Knitting that I have no intention of touching for months.  The blanket weighs a metric crapton and there is no way I'm going to sit with the whole thing on my lap to knit the borders until there is frost outside.  Since it's not even summer yet, that's going to be awhile.  Thank goodness I have hours of bike training to keep me busy.  To be continued...maybe in October...  

Friday, June 6, 2014

Buttons to the Rescue

Two years ago, I finished my first (and only) half-iron triathlon, and tomorrow I will head back to Cambridge, MD to race Eagleman again on Sunday.  I’m sure I was a basket of nerves last time, but unlike 2012, this year I am not undertrained.  Weather conditions are not predicted to be the sweltering inferno of years past, and I have absolutely zero doubts that I can cover the distances and finish the race. You’d think I'd be a tad more relaxed, right?  Yeah, you’d be wrong.  My stomach is tied up in knots because I’m nervous about whether I’ll meet expectations.  Yup, that's really what's on my idiot mind today. And it's not even others' expectations, just my own. Talk about creating unnecessary drama.  

Anyway, all that was basically a long way of saying, I'm finally writing a blog post to get my mind off ridiculous race anxiety.  Because we all know that yarn solves all problems.  Or at least most.  

Despite how hectic life has become these days, I have managed to squeeze in a decent amount of knitting, spinning, and even some (gasp!) weaving.  I have tons to share, not to mention, extremely overdue posts about the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, but since I do need to actually pack and get ready to leave town, today is just about one wee baby sweater.  It's not often that I have occasion to knit baby items, but some friends recently announced they are expecting a little girl, and damn, if didn't want to leap all over the knitting opportunity.  Only problem is that I'm extremely picky when I knit for non-knitters.  I feel like the item has to be “OMG, amazing!” for it to be appreciated, and despite the thousands of baby sweater patterns on Raverly, nothing was grabbing me.  Me, indecisive?  Nah….

Sheep and Wool and Jennie the Potter to the rescue...because buttons! 

The couple are cycling friends, so come on, how perfect are these?  (I'm fairly certain I saw them on the Yarn Harlot's blog awhile ago, so yes, I'll own up that I'm really just a copycat)  The buttons made life a lot easier because immediately I knew I was knitting a red cardigan.  Of course, it is me after all, so don't think for a second that just because I settled on red, I'd have no problem deciding on yarn.  I, uh, ordered two different skeins because I couldn't make up my mind.  I will maintain, however, that the two skeins were due to concern about color misrepresentation on computer monitors and not indecision.  Yes.  Really.  

The caked skein sort of gives away which one I chose which is Madelinetosh Pashmina in Robin Red Breast (the other is Tosh Sport in Tart).   With light workouts this week to rest up for the race, I've gotten a nice start to a Tiny Tea Leaves cardigan.  

So so cute.  And tiny.  And damn, if baby sweaters don't go super fast.  But now I'm going to put away the happy distraction and actually go start packing the fourteen bags of crap I need for a triathlon.  Who came up with this stupid sport anyway?  Hmm...maybe one more row....

And I really really do have tons to share so I hope I’ll be back soon.  Sneak peak and proof crafting is happening!

Saturday, April 19, 2014

So it's been awhile...

Yeah, yeah, almost 5 months, yada, yada.   Kind of a lot has happened, both in the knitting/spinning realms of my life and the non-crafty part.  I’d love to write about all the details, but to quote a favorite character, “No, there is too much. Let me sum up”.  (And if that doesn't sound familiar, it's been too long since you've watched the Princess Bride.  I'd get on that.)

KNITTING:  Holy sock mojo, Batman.  I finished 4 pairs of socks in Nov-Dec of last year.

1.  Nutkin; Sweet Georgia Tough Sock "Tapestry"; project page
2.  Simple SKYP; Sanguine Gryphon Bugga "Oak Timberworm"; project page
3.  Improvised toe-up with 2x2 ribbed leg; My handspun (!); project page
4:  Annetrelac; Rainy Days Wooly Dogs "Flugelhorn"; project page

The autumn sock knitting mojo really came out of nowhere.  Stats illustrate this anomaly best:

Pairs of socks completed in 2012: 3
Pairs of socks completed Jan-Aug 2013: 1
Pairs of socks completed Sep-Dec 2013: 6?!

The sock obsession left as quickly as it swept in because the calendar turned to 2014, and I’ve got no socks on the needles and no plans to cast on any. At least a small dent was made in the sock yarn stash before the impulse wore off.

Only one other big knitting project: Trellis and Vine Pullover (Interweave Knits, Fall 2009)

I can't even remember exactly when I finished this one.  All I know is it was after September and before Thanksgiving.  Here’s the quick and dirty about the sweater: 
  • I ripped and reknit the bottom half after deciding to swap the lace/cable pattern for a hemmed edge. 
  • I ripped and reknit almost an entire sleeve when I decided it was coming out too big. 
  • All the reknitting must have been worth it because I wore it a ton this winter--it’s soft and super comfortable without being too warm and I adore it.  
  • Soft yarn comes with a price--the sweater already looks a little ratty from the pills.  You can even see in the picture if you look closely, so, uh, don’t. (Yarn is Berroco Palace, 50/50 merino/silk.  Lovely, but pilly)
And that about wraps up the knitting.  I have absolutely zippo to show for 2014.  Not one thing finished (save a pair of sample/test socks that I can’t show off yet), and not really much started either.  Who has time for knitting when there’s….


I suck at keeping track of spinning so I have no idea what I worked on at the end of 2013, but the first few months of 2014 were pretty productive.  I joined a challenge where everyone selected a "bin" of fiber to spin in 2014. 

The bin:

Progress to date:

If you want details, visit my handspun page on Ravelry.  If you’re not on Ravelry, you probably don’t care about the details anyway.   I'm a little over halfway through the bin, which isn't bad for only being a third through the year.  Except, like knitting, spinning has started to slow considerably too.  There's a good reason for that:

That “big plan” I really wanted my foot to heal up for?  Yup, an Ironman triathlon in Mont Tremblant (near Montreal) in August.  And if you're not big into the tri scene, that means a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run.  Yup, I’m crazy.  And nope, my foot is still not totally healed,  and I started Ironman training in January allowed to run only 30 second intervals at a time.  Lucky for me triathlon encompasses 2 other sports that I can spend loads of time on.  But that pretty much sucks because I enjoy running and sort of just tolerate the other 2 because the events are fun.  Oh, yeah, and it’s good for my body to diversify. Or something.  

Training is 6 days/week, with double workouts now on 2 weekdays, and lengthy weekend workouts which are only going to get longer.  Currently I'm at about 12-13 hours/week of swim, bike, run plus more time for strength training, driving to the pool or wherever I'm biking, stretching, icing sore feet, etc.  So, yeah, I'm neglecting the blog, knitting, and spinning.  Along with cleaning, shopping, brushing the dogs, and any laundry that isn't workout related.   

I'd like to say I'll be back soon, but, well, I'm not making any promises.  That said, I do have handspun epic afghan progress to share so there is at least some hope I won't fall off the Internet for 5 months again.