Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Thrill of Victory

Welcome to this next-to-last day of Olympic coverage! It's been quite the competition this year, Jim.

That's right, Bob. Of the 4,049 competitors, we've seen stunning successes and heartbreaking setbacks. Remember "the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat?" That's been so true during this competition as the knitters work through the difficult parts in their program.

Take for example, in the host nation, the organizer of this event, a superb knitter if there ever was one. Stephanie chose a gorgeous sweater to knit, not unlike her entry for the 2006 Knitting Olympics, which she finished just before the torch went out. This year, however, she's been plagued by little setbacks that have added up to being so far behind that it's anyone's guess as to whether she'll finish.

We'll definitely be rooting for her, Jim. And then there's Tee who pulled out of the competition after discovering a serious problem with the gauge of her project. She was gracious in her defeat, saying that the point of the challenge was to make a pretty sweater for her daughter, not to win a race.

And don't forget Carolyn, Bob. She chose a lace shawl for her competition, having never knit anything larger than a baby hat in 17 days. After barely starting, she was unhappy with her program and changed yarns, which obviously meant starting over. I'm happy to report that she finished Thursday night!

And what about one of the returning competitors? Here we have Teri, from Virginia. You competed in the 2006 Knitting Olympics, didn't you?

That's right. My project for that competition was a pair of Norwegian mittens. Unfortunately, I DNF'd, having completed only one mitten of the pair.

And for this year's competition, you chose to knit another stranded mitten, right?

Yes. I knew that I'd have difficulty with finishing the program before I even started, what with the lack of time to knit because of a challenging work schedule. My goal was to finish one mitten, with the catch being that the mitten needed to be designed by me.

That's quite a stretch, because this is your first foray into design, isn't it?

It was a stretch. Fortunately, I had already knitted a prototype mitten and was unhappy with certain aspects of the design. So all I needed to do was to modify it by removing a pattern repeat and changing the cuff pattern. The design was heavily influenced by some of Elizabeth Zimmeramann's mittens, and I chose to do a curled mitten tip and a striped thumb with a gusset, both new techniques for me.

Did you encounter any difficulties along the way?

Definitely! There were sections that needed to be ripped out and knitted again because I made mistakes in counting. The thumb gusset was problematic because I had no idea how many stitches I needed. The first go 'round would have produced a thumb of gargantuan proportions, so I had to rip back to the cuff, almost a third of the mitten. I was sure that that incident was going to take me out of the competition. But I persevered and eventually ended up with a thumb that works.

Weren't you thinking that you might exceed your goal and finish two mittens instead of one?

Yes. After a week into the competition, I was thinking that I might be able to finish a second mitten. However, the aforementioned gusset problem dashed those hopes.

But I'm happy to say that, despite twelve hour days at work, I finished my program! The knitting was finished Thursday night and the ends woven in last night. Overall, I'm pleased with the fit. The thumb is a little wonky, so the final pattern will need to be adjusted. It's truly been a great experience to design this mitten.

And for our viewers at home, here's the completed Vancouver mitten:

The back

The palm

Cuff detail

Main pattern detail

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, Teri. Congratulations on your winning performance!

Thank you. It's been a pleasure.

Well, Jim, that wraps up today's coverage. Good luck to all the Knitting Olympians who are still working to finish their projects!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Now I've Gone and Done It

I did it. I joined the Knitting Olympics. What was I thinking?! I can't seem to finish any project in less than six months and now I've signed up for finishing a project in 17 days?

So here's the deal: I'm working designing a two-color mitten and the first mitten has some design problems challenges. The concept was good, but something got lost between brain and paper and wool. It needs some "refining," including sizing it for a hand (mine) smaller than Edward Scissorhands. My goal is to fix the design and knit one mitten.

In order for me to finish by the time the torch goes out, I'll need a couple more snowstorms the size of the one this past weekend (to keep me at home) and a major Internet outage (so I can't work from home).

The saving grace is that the yarn is bulkier than I usually knit with, so the knitting goes fast. Still, completing the design and one mitten is going to a be stretch.

May the knitting gods have mercy upon me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

We're Not in Virginia Anymore, Toto we got about 34.5 inches of snow this past weekend.  This area isn't used to that much snow and they don't clear the roads well with less snow, so I opted to work from home on Monday.  I also worked from home on Tuesday, partially because I had a migraine, partially because I didn't feel like dealing with the roads, and (here's the kicker), they were calling for more snow to start Tuesday.  Foot's Forecast mentioned something about Kahunageddon.  But the National Weather Service wasn't calling for that much snow, at least not initially. 

By the end of the day yesterday, the estimate was for another 10 to 20 inches.

It didn't start snowing yesterday until late in the afternoon, and it was very light. And then it stopped.  I was positive this storm was going to be a bust.  When I got up this morning to feed the cats, it was snowing hard.  Not only that, it was very windy.  A girl could only do one thing:  go back to bed.

When I finally dragged myself out of bed, it was clear I was going to work from home again today.  Yesterday we had a winter storm warning.  Today it was a blizzard warning.  What?!  We don't have blizzards in Virginia. It snowed and blew (why isn't it snowed and blowed or snew and blew?) all day, with the snow finally tailing off late afternoon.  The unofficial tally is nine inches for my little town, far less than the original estimate (somehow, and in a sick way, I feel cheated).  The winds have picked up again this evening and even though no snow is predicted, they are still predicting blizzard-like conditions.

We're not in Virginia anymore, Toto.

So how much snow have we gotten in the 2009/2010 season?  The December 19 storm dropped about 22 inches, then we had two storms that dropped about six inches each, the weekend storm that produced 34.5 inches, and today's storm with about nine.  That's over 77 inches of snow!!!  And I think there might of been one or two insignificant snowfalls.  So let's say 80 inches of snow.  Virginia just doesn't get that amount of snow.

And looking at the long range forecast, there's a chance of snow Sunday and Monday.  The thought of more snow leaves me speechless.

I'll try to get some post blizzard pictures tomorrow, after the blizzard-force winds die down.  In the meantime, here's hoping that our porch roofs don't collapse!

Stay warm!


Sunday, February 07, 2010

More Than I Thought

All last week, there had been rumors of another significant snowfall here in Virginia, something along the lines of the December 19th storm. That storm dropped about 20 inches of snow right before Christmas, wreaking havoc for those of us who don't start Christmas shopping until the week before. (For your information, that would not include me. I do all my shopping online.)

The forecast for the 12/19 storm was accurate, unlike one storm several years ago when they predicted 12+ inches and we got maybe an inch. That storm was a major bust. The forecast for the second snowfall this year was originally for an accumulation of less than half an inch and we got about six inches.

So when this storm was forming, I started watching the NOAA web site. On Thursday, a friend sent me a link to this weather site and I never looked back. I started obsessively watching the forecast and how it was changing and why (I swear I should have been some kind of scientist).

Anyway, to make a long story short, the National Weather Service (NWS) kept changing their total accumulation estimates. It started out as 12 inches, then it was 12-18, then it was 18-24. They finally settled on 20-30 inches, with potentially more than 30 inches at higher elevations. The NWS issued a winter storm warning that was in effect from 10 a.m. Friday to 10 p.m. Saturday.

The region started the standard typical emergency preparations: buying more milk, eggs, and toilet paper than a family could possibly use in a month. My sole purchase was a pair of ski pants, because if we really got that much snow, I'd need something to keep me dry while digging out.

Digging a path to Tom's office

The snow started at 10 a.m. on Friday, right on time. By the time it stopped Saturday afternoon, we had an amazing 34.5 inches of snow on the ground! That's the largest single snowfall I've ever experienced. We started shoveling Friday night, trying to "keep ahead" but it was all for naught. By Saturday morning, it looked like we hadn't shoveled at all.

The snow is somewhat wet and heavy and we lost a large branch from the maple in the front yard (which happened to fall on my car; fortunately, the car wasn't damaged).

Where's the Volvo?

A large branch also broke off the cedar in the back yard, damaging the windshield wipers on the Westfalia. We were fortunate in that we didn't lose power, unlike a lot of people (including my mother-in-law) in the region. It's supposed to get very cold tonight, about 8 degrees, so Tom might have to go get his mother and bring her here until power is restored.

We walked around town yesterday and some of the roads are okay and some are not. They've already closed schools for Monday and Tuesday, but I suspect that with the cold temperatures and the remoteness of some of the bus routes, the schools are going to be closed all week, especially since they are calling for another snowstorm on Tuesday and Wednesday. Here are some pictures that Tom took while we were on walkabout:

A stream at Morven Park

Old Waterford Road

A local Bed & Breakfast

So, has this snow event left me time for knitting?

In a word, no.

However, I hope to get some knitting time in today and with luck, should finish the hand of the mitten. I was almost finished with the pattern on the hand when I discovered a mistake about five rows down that had to be fixed. I'm back on track, though, and the first mitten should be finished in relatively short order. Then it's on to the second mitten, where I'll need to decide if I want to tweak the pattern a bit, which will mean that I'll have to rip out the first mitten and re-knit it to match the second mitten. It's really cold and these mittens are going to be very warm. I suppose I could wear subtlety mismatched mittens until the worst of the weather is over. Or I could declare both mittens to be prototypes and then knit them again in a yarn that will better show the pattern.

That's it for now. Happy knitting!