Sunday, February 12, 2006

And They're Off!

So, the Knitting Olympics have begun! Because I foolishly went to work on Friday (very silly since we didn't get back from Costa Rica until after midnight), I couldn't cast on at 2:00pm. And then after work we went out for drinks with some friends. Finally, after a quick dinner, I gathered up my wool, needles, and pattern and cast on.

It was an inauspicious beginning. After plaiting two rounds, I read the pattern (imagine that) and realized that I did it wrong. So I called in the frogs and undid it all. At that point, it was too late and I was too tired to make a second attempt so off to bed I went.

I got a fresh start on Saturday. The casting on went well, the plaiting went well (but I haven't figured out how to keep the two balls of yarn from twisting together), and despite having to unknit a round or two here and there, the knitting is going well. I think I've hit my stride. But...I haven't gotten to the thumb part yet and I haven't gotten to the decreases in the chart yet. That will be the next hurdle. I'm almost done with the cuff and should start the main mitten pattern later today. If I can keep up the momentum, I have a decent shot at finishing both mittens by the time the Olympic Games end.

I must say that it is a bit thrilling (yes, I know, I'm a bit dorky) to be "competitively" knitting at the same time athletes are ski jumping, downhill racing, luging, figure skating, and speed skating. I feel the thrill of victory after having completed a particularly tricky bit in the pattern without having to tink. I feel the agony of defeat when I reach the end of a round and realize that somewhere I got off in the chart. I get teary-eyed when I see the winners of an event standing on the podium, listening to their national anthem. And knowing that I'm knitting with at least 4000 other Olympic knitters boggles my mind. Who would've thunk it?

Of Birds and Knitting
The trip to Costa Rica was quite nice. After we arrived at Cerro Coyote, we pretty much stayed there, primarily because the roads were so daunting (if you don't have a 4WD vehicle, it's difficult to get around). Getting from place to place is measured not by distance, but by time. And the time is usually measured in hours, not minutes. We didn't want to spend four hours or more on the road every day, so we hung out at the inn and relaxed and ate and knit and ate and relaxed and watched birds.

I added several new birds to my life list: keel-billed toucan, collared trogon, emerald toucan, blue-crowned mot-mot, white-eared ground sparrow, brown jay, common paurauque, black and white warbler, great kiskadee, Eastern meadowlark. My favorite, though, was the blue-crowned mot-mot. It's a gorgeous bird.

I got a fair amount of knitting done, too. I took three projects: Blue Danube socks, kittens baby blanket, and Dream socks. I almost completed the heel on the Blue Danube socks, but left the fifth needle at home so couldn't complete the turning. I knit a couple of rows on the baby blanket, but it was humid and the cotton yarn was being recalcitrant and I didn't make as much progress as I wanted. And the Dream socks were going quite well until I got to the heel. That's what I get for feeling smug about turning a heel and watching "Corpse Bride" at the same time. I managed to not get huge gaps with the yarn over short row, but somehow managed to end up with fewer stitches than I started out with. It's back to Frog Pond with the sock (but not until I finish the Knitting Olympics mittens and the baby blanket).

The hats were well-received by my nephews. Logan loves the earflap hat, according to my mother, and my brother says that Craig likes his hat, too. That makes me feel good. My brother said that I do good work, which is high praise coming from a man who raised two sons mostly on his own, works mega-hours at welding, has made his own fishing nets, and built a major addition to his house, all by himself. My brother impresses the heck out of me.

That's it for now. I might update this entry later with a picture of The Mitten.

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