Thursday, November 24, 2011

Third Time's the Charm

Okay, according to the little timeline of blogs over at Sheepish Annie, it's been two months since my last post. Time flies when you're having fun (or an avalanche of work comes crashing down upon your head).

I actually started two blog posts and then stopped because I ran out of time and I couldn't remember to how to insert photos using the Mac (copy photo to desktop, then insert...or something). So, here are some photos from happenings over the past several months.

Oh look! It's Mount Rainier (from our trip to Washington in August). We had a wonderful time (despite the fact that Tom went missing for a while during the race and race personnel were considering mounting a search and rescue mission) and I met a woman who worked at the office supply store in Cle Elum who knew Elizabeth Zimmermann! And of course, there was some yarn shopping in Seattle.

Front view of the Cleite wedding shawl. I'm happy with the way it turned out, although it probably should have been larger.

View of the back...

And the stitch detail...

And since today is Thanksgiving, in addition to being thankful for awesome family and friends, I'm thankful for those who continue to read this blog, despite long periods of silence.

I wish everyone a very happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Decisions, Decisions...

For the last couple of weeks, the knitting on the stealth project and the wedding shawl has been moving right along. I was feeling a little concerned about the width of the stealth project, but after measuring it earlier today, I'm no longer worried. It will block to size admirably well. However, I'm more concerned about the color matching on the two skeins. Despite the recommendation on the label, I did not knit alternately from the two skeins. I made that decision because I closely examined them, under an Ott light no less, and could discern no difference in color. That is, until I started knitting from the second skein. Observe:

I have 3 choices: Do nothing and keep on knitting; rip back to several inches before the skein change and start alternating the two skeins, or rip back the entire thing and start over. If I keep knitting, the color change will be a design element, with the colors going from the vibrant colors of early summer to the tired, faded colors of late summer. The third option is almost a non-starter, since I'm knitting on deadline and I have a wedding shawl to knit, also on deadline. I think the second option is probably the best. What do the fine knitting minds who read this blog recommend?

The wedding Cleite shawl is also giving me fits. I knit (albeit slowly) the entire first repeat without major mishap. The second repeat, however, is not working out at all. I have 49 stitches before the center stitch. The pattern shows 49 stitches before the center stitch. The pattern repeat within the larger pattern repeat is 24 stitches. I'm supposed to knit 24-stitch repeat twice, plus 1 extra stitch. That equals 49 stitches. But I'm 3 stitches short and I have no idea why. I must be missing something critical.

A Young Knitter
My parents got a bushel of blue crabs this weekend for a mini-family reunion so we traveled down to Smithfield yesterday. My 10-year old niece was there, with her knitting. She's become quite good, knitting quickly and evenly, often without looking at her knitting. I told her about Ravelry and and, with the blessing of her mother, she's now a Raveler! She even started recording her stash and needles. I also brought a spare drop spindle and some roving and taught her the rudiments of drop spinning. She's hooked. Fortunately, I have a good-sized stash and rather a lot of needles and those items will be finding their way to her. It's very gratifying to see her blossom as a knitter and spinner.

Running Progress
The running is just not happening, which is problematic because I'm supposed to run a trail half marathon in less than a month. I think if the weather is cool on race day, I'll be fine. If it's hot and humid, it's not going to be pretty. I didn't run this weekend and won't be running next weekend, since I'll be crewing a 100-mile race for Tom. Oh will be what it will be.

That's it for now. Have a great week and happy knitting!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Beach Bloggin'

This post comes to you from the beautiful Outer Banks, North Carolina, where we're spending a week with Tom's family, as we do every year. Our numbers are somewhat reduced this year--the three nephews aren't here and the two nieces didn't bring boyfriends. The days are spent on the beach, reading (or if it's too hot, inside reading), with much good food, good drink, and good conversation (assuming we aren't all engrossed in our books). My mother-in-law doesn't spend time on the beach, but she brought several puzzles and spends her day reading, putting together puzzles, and crocheting.

Sadly, I've been spending most of my days working. What starts as an innocent attempt to stay caught up on email ends up as almost a full work day. Yesterday was particularly bad, with the whole day spent tethered to my laptop. Today is better; I'm done with work until the afternoon (when I'll check email again and finish one small task for the production migration tonight).

Despite spending time working, I've made additional progress on the stealth project and Madeline's Cleite shawl is moving along (although it might move along faster with lace needles, which I've ordered). I'm on the first repeat of chart 2 and despite being off on the intial stitch count for the first row (which I handily fixed by increasing), it seems to be going well. I can see why lace can be addictive and find it oddly meditative (until I find that I'm not where I'm supposed to be and have to tink back). I think this pattern will make a beautiful wedding shawl.

That's it for now. Stay cool and happy knitting!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Can You Believe It?

Two, count 'em, two posts in a month! That's got to be some kind of recent record for me. Ah, I long for the halcyon days when I was blogging several times a week. Alas, I fear those days are gone for good. Because I do a lot of writing at work, writing for fun feels

Anyway, I've got 30 more minutes of spinning time and then I can declare victory in the Tour de Fleece, although I did not finish spinning the Rambouillet. I still have a couple of hours of spinning left, plus the plying. I'm afraid I'm not being as careful with the consistency of my spinning. I'm getting a little tired of spinning grey and am at the point where I just want to be done with it. I still like the spinning but it's time to move on to something new.

Last week, or week before last, I discovered that something ate through the wool on one of my bobbins (this was old wool). And I found little insect carcasses in said wool. So today I went through the stash in that cabinet and a basket that was nearby to determine how bad the damage is. Two skeins of sock yarn are damaged (both grey), although I didn't see any sign of critters. All the yarn in that basket has been bagged and is now enjoying the arctic clime of the freezer. Most of the yarn in other cabinet was already bagged and I didn't see any evidence of insects. I still need to check the closet that has all of my unspun wool in it. I'd like to think it's okay, but as soon as I say that, it won't be. Time will tell (and that time will be next weekend).

The Mule Run last weekend was a lot of fun (if you call staying up all night waiting for runners to come by "fun"). The software upgrade we did on Saturday went well until the primary load balancer at the data center went belly-up, which caused a three-hour delay, which in turn delayed me prepping for the Mule Run. In the end, though, everything worked out (and I even managed to get a 45-minute nap in around dawn on Sunday). Tom ran about 50 miles before deciding he had had enough (it was a little humid and he didn't eat and drink enough early on). There were three finishers out of seven starters and all the finishers looked great at the end. I was up for 31 hours (except for the little nap). And I paid for it on Monday, with the worst migraine I've had in recent memory. I was totally flattened. It became clear to me that I need to clean up my diet: eliminate gluten again, reduce my sugar intake, and reduce the amount of alcohol I drink (I do so enjoy a cocktail after work). There was a period when the migraines were much less frequent and I think it was during my gluten-free period.

My nephew is getting married at the end of October at the beach (an outdoor wedding, barring any nor'easters or hurricanes) and I thought it would be nice to knit a shawl for his fiancee, just in case it's a little chilly. I found a pattern and had her choose the yarn (a burgundy alpaca/silk blend from Alpaca with a Twist). I started knitting it this afternoon and I think it will look okay, although right now it's tiny and shriveled-looking). I have to keep reminding myself that blocking will do wonders for it.

And the stealth progress continues to grow. I'm not quite halfway through it and it still continues to charm. Although I'm wondering about the wisdom of knitting a lace shawl (pretty much my first) and the stealth project, each of which has a deadline. I hope I didn't over commit.

Anyway, that's all for now. I need to finish preparing for the week ahead.

Happy knitting!

Friday, July 15, 2011

How'd It Get To Be July?

Well, it's been quite a while since I posted. I owe you all a Squam Art Workshops trip report (it was very cool, in more ways than one). I owe you some photos of finished objects, especially the Corinne sweater. One day I'll get all these things done.

Work is occupying a large amount of my time, although I'm working much less than I was earlier this year. But the writing and the emails continue and that makes writing and emailing outside of work feel The last thing I want to do when I get home is to sit down at a computer. So the blog suffers and my correspondence suffers.

But I do have some random bullet points for you!

  • We have ants in the house, a lot of tiny ants
  • At first we had only black ants; now we have some tiny pale red ants too
  • EcoSmart, window cleaner, and vinegar and water are all effective ant killers
  • But they don't keep the ants at bay
  • It's highly annoying when they have the audacity to crawl on you and bite you
  • Also, is it too much to ask that the dishwasher actually get dishes clean?
  • Tom and I got it working better, but I still have to rinse the items on the top rack after the dishes are "clean."
  • Grrrrr
  • Bosco has turned into quite the hunter of shrews
  • Shrews are beneficial to the garden
  • Bosco is working hard at decimating the shrew population
  • He likes to catch chipmunks, too
  • Fortunately, we've been able to rescue the chipmunks
  • We've started harvesting tomatoes, zucchini, and hot peppers from the garden
  • Some critter takes a single bite out of each ripe tomato
  • Grrrrr
  • That's why we stopped growing tomatoes several years ago
  • I joined the Tour de Fleece this year
  • And I've actually been spinning every day (except one day when I forgot)
  • I think I'm going to finish spinning 4 ounces of Rambouillet!
  • It only took me four years
  • Work on the large stealth project that will contain approximately two pounds of wool when it is finished continues apace
  • I can't watch "Poirot" and knit at the same time
  • Too much ripping back
  • I love David Suchet as Poirot
Ha! There appears to be a limit on the number of bullet points one can have before getting an html error. That's probably a hint for me to stop rambling on and go to bed. Tomorrow's a big day. We're completing a major software upgrade at work for our client and it's also the annual Mule Run for our running club. I'm not running it this year but Tom is, so I'll be up all night. It should

And now I must spin a little Rambouillet so I can say that I did spin today. Today was the mountain stage of the Tour de France and the suggestion was for the spinners to spin something challenging. My challenge is simply to get to the wheel and spin!

Happy knitting!

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Gone Again

Another three weeks has gone by with nary a blog post. To be fair, the first week was because I was on vacation and didn't have access to the Internet. Also, I was high on wool fumes (more about that in a few). Then I had to go back to work (which is much more pleasant when one is high on wool fumes) and eventually got back into the same old routine of getting up, going to work, coming home late, eating dinner, and going to bed. And I was knitting a sweater, too.

Maryland Sheep and Wool was fun as always. I didn't buy much...sock yarn for Tom and buttons for the sweater. It was crowded and as soon as my friend left, I went in search of sheep and I found them. At first I thought there weren't as many in previous years but then I found the big barn. And the most beautiful black and silver sheep I have ever seen. I wanted to start spinning the fleece right off his back. I'll post a picture after I return from Squam. I couldn't find the owner, but if I could have, I would have asked to buy the fleece right then and there! Next year I'm going to spend more time with the sheep.

Then I went to the beach, which is as the beach always is...relaxing with good food, excellent conversation, abundant cocktails at sunset, and plenty of knitting on the sweater. I also managed to get some spinning in, to reinforce what I learned in Maggie's class.

And now I'm in Waterbury, Connecticut getting ready to complete the trip up to New Hampshire to attend the Squam Art Workshops. I finished my sweater (although the idea of wearing wool right now makes me slightly nauseous; the weather is decidedly August-like). I've packed all of my knitting supplies. I have more clothes than a girl could possibly need for four days (I like to be prepared), and I practiced the moebious cast-on last night. So now there's nothing left to do except get there!

I've taken the day after I return off from work (to recover from the drive) and hope to post pictures and stories about Squam. And now? It's time to sew the buttons on the sweater.

Happy knitting!

Friday, May 06, 2011


As of 7:30 p.m. on May 3, I officially started my long-awaited vacation and I won't go back to work until So far, it's been wonderful, although not necessarily restful. I completed Maggie Casey's two-day Learn to Spin class yesterday. It was wonderful and I learned so much. I'm not a bad spinner but my drafting repertoire was limited and hampered my ability to spin different fiber preparations. I think my drafting technique was a cross between the long backwards draw and the short forward draw. Now I know how to do both properly, although the forward short draw was a bit of a challenge, kind of like patting your head while rubbing your tummy.

At one point in class yesterday, I felt like I was fighting with my wheel...the spinning became difficult. Maggie replaced the existing drive band with a lighter one and that made a huge difference. Who knew? Suddenly, spinning top and combed fibers became much easier.

And the piece de resistance...I learned how to do a chained ply (and when to do it). I had read instructions and looked at illustrations and they didn't make any sense. But seeing the technique demonstrated made all the difference in the world. I'll probably practice on leftover singles. Ha! And then maybe I'll actually knit some of my hand-spun. That would be a first.

The biggest benefit from taking Maggie's class is that now I have the confidence to spin any fiber without fearing that I'll ruin it. That's a giant step forward for me.

Knitting Progress
Not much knitting going on lately. I've realized that if I want to knit every day, I'm going to have to approach my knitting (and spinning) like I do exercise: first thing in the morning. I have great intentions to knit every evening after work, but by the time I get home at night and eat dinner, it's time to go to bed. I'm not particularly thrilled with staying up after feeding the cats at 5:00 a.m. but I think that's what it's going to take.

I'm almost to the first sleeve on Corinne. But with Squam just a mere three weeks away, I need to increase my knitting time by a lot, or else I'm not going to have a new sweater to wear.

As far as the stealth project is concerned, I haven't even finished swatching for it. That's bad; I'm behind before I've even started.

Maryland Sheep and Wool
Tomorrow I'm meeting a friend at MD$W. My initial goal was to just hang out with her and vicariously enjoy her purchases. But I'm beginning to feel the siren call of the fleeces and yarns. And spinning wheels. I do need a new threading hook so I might look for a pretty one. And buttons...I need some buttons for Corinne. I also realized that my body doesn't like spinning all day on a single treadle wheel, so after Gina goes home, I might sample different wheels. And no, a new spinning wheel is not going to follow me home. I need to make sure that I'm actually going to be spinning enough to make the investment. And I want to make sure that I buy the right wheel. Does anyone have any recommendations for a double treadle wheel?

In closing, here's Bosco doing one of his three favorite things:

The other two? Eating and hunting for voles.

Have a great weekend and happy knitting!

Sunday, April 24, 2011


The end of my second day without working is coming to a close and I'm so sad. It's amazing how much stuff you can get done without work getting in the way. In short, it was a blissfully productive weekend:

  • I started breathing again
  • And my jaws started to unclench
  • I cleaned the house...all of it
  • The dust buffalo herd is now manageable
  • I vacuumed up enough cat hair to make a litter of kittens
  • I did laundry
  • I even folded it and put it away
  • Not sure that I'll be able to find my clothes now
  • The cats got some good walks this weekend
  • It's amazing how much fun a cat can have with a dead vole
  • Bosco's quite the hunter
  • There was knitting, but not as much as I would have liked

I started the Corinne cardigan from the current issue of Knitty today. I was blithely knitting along, chatting with my mother-in-law, and promptly hit a snag. "Knit to 1st marker; turn. Knit across" I simply turn and knit back and won't that make a wonky stitch? Do I slip the first stitch? Do I wrap and turn and knit back? I'm now in experiment mode. I slipped the stitch for the first pattern repeat. I'm turning and knitting back on the second pattern repeat. If I don't like how either looks, I might add wrap-and-turn to the mix. But I think just turning and knitting back is the way to go. I tend to overthink the knitting a little lot and that never fails to get me in trouble.

I'm on the verge of starting another project, this one being a stealth project. Suffice it to say that come July, working on that project will be miserable. I did not choose wisely for summer knitting.

That's it for now.

Happy knitting!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Coming Up For Air

Work has been unbelievably...crazy. For the last several months, I feel like all I've done is work. And my investigations yesterday proved that it's true. It's been nine weeks since I've had an entire weekend off; I worked both days three of those weekends. I've averaged about 52.25 hours per week for the last 11 weeks. Now in the grand scheme of things, that's not too bad. I don't have to work that many hours in order to make a living wage. And there are people who work many more hours than I do. However, I'm at that point in my life where the rewards for working like that just aren't there.

But, I got the biggest part of the project I was working on out the door and am hoping it doesn't come boomeranging back to me for additional revisions. The revisions for the remainder of the design document should be relatively minor, if only because each appendix is well under 100 pages. I have about another week of solid work and everything should be done. It's been a long haul on this...many, many months of writing and revising. The original author did a fantastic job; the bones of the design are solid. It's a shame that the client is extremely particular about language and formatting.

There is light at the end of the tunnel and for once, I don't think it's a train.

As a result of work, I feel like my life is pretty much in a shambles: the dust buffalo herd is totally unmanageable, the cats have scimitars for claws, I've been packing on the pounds because I'm too tired/it's too dark/too cold/too wet to run, and the knitting is languishing. It's hard to believe that just over a year ago, I ran the Boston Marathon. Now I'm lucky if I can eke out an 11-minute mile over six miles. Or that two years ago, I was running ultra marathons. I need to knuckle down and get back to that level of fitness. But I'm tired/it's too dark/too cold/too wet to run. And soon it will be too sunny/too hot/too humid to run.

Another result of work is that I haven't taken any time off and all of my PTO is pretty much at the maximum accrual level (meaning that unless I take time off, I don't accrue any more)(which is so not right...working long hours for the good of the company and I get penalized because I can't take time off?!). But the vacations, they are a-coming (note the use of the plural).

First up is a two-day spinning workshop with Maggie Casey at Maryland Sheep and Wool (MDSW). In my younger days (like about almost 30 years ago(ack!)), I started spinning. I had this sweet little top whorl drop spindle made from a dowel, drawer pull and cup hook, and I spun my little heart out. A year or so later, I saved up my pennies (or most likely went further into debt; this was during those very lean post-college years) and bought an Ashford Traditional. I continued to spin my little heart out. But I was pretty much self-taught and only knew how to produce a rather tightly-spun worsted yarn. And as time passed, the spinning (and weaving; I wasn't knitting then) lapsed.

Over the last couple of years, I've been eyeing Judith MacKenzie-McCuin's class at MDSW, but it always seemed to fall at a bad time. So this year, I jumped at the chance to take the workshop (even though it wasn't Judith's class). It was touch and go for a while because they had too many registrants for the class. But I got in and I'm so excited! I'm hoping to take my spinning to new

A couple of days after Maggie's class, I'll be driving down to North Carolina to spend a week at the beach with Tom's sister-in-law. That little trip will be pure bliss...beach, knitting, spinning, eating, talking. Right after I get back, Tom will run the Massanutten Mountain Trail Run, which is 100 miles of rocky, steep, gnarly trail. I had better be well-rested because I'll be pulling an all-nighter plus to support him during the run.

And if that wasn't enough, right after Memorial Day I'm driving up to New Hampshire to attend the Squam Art Workhops. Two classes by Cat Bordhi should pretty much do me in. In July, we've got a week at the beach with Tom's family. In August we're headed to Seattle for Tom to run another 100-mile race. And then in October we're at the beach again for my nephew's wedding. Whew! It will be busy but so much fun! And best of all, I won't be working.

I'll try to post again this weekend. I've got a couple of knitting projects that are getting started. I'm almost finished with the obligatory swatches (and amazingly enough, seem to have gotten gauge) and hopefully will be able to cast on this weekend.

Hey, I get a weekend...what a novel idea!

Happy knitting!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Breaking Radio Silence

Well! I've been much quieter than I planned. My goal was to post a blog entry at least once a week this year. Clearly, I've not succeeded. I blame work and nothing but work (and my inability to do anything other than stare into space after I get home from work).

As they say, all work and no play makes Teri a dull girl. I've just started running again but missed my goal of running a 50K this weekend by a long shot (a 10K distance leaves me huffing and puffing, even at a slow pace). I've got a sock on the needles (a rather dull brown sock, with a streak of orange for excitement) and I can't seem to get past the heel. I'm ripping it out for the second time (the instructions ambiguously said to inc 1 after each decrease until there are 22 sts left; I should know better that if you decrease 1, then inc 1, you don't decrease). The "inc" mean "including". Sigh...

The herd of dust buffalo is impressive. I managed to cull the downstairs herd last weekend, but the upstairs herd is threatening to stampede if their territory is not increased. I simply must cull them next weekend.

There are bright spots. We've acquired some new gadgets recently (and not so recently). The big purchase in July (and one I forgot to blog about) was a new car: a Subaru Outback. The air conditioning in the Volvo was shot and given the heat this past summer, the commute, and the age of the car, we decided it was prudent to replace it. It found a good home with my step-niece. And even though I loved the Volvo, I really love the Outback. When it comes down to it, I'm a station-wagon kind of gal. It was the family car until all us kids were grown, My first two cars were (small) station wagons. The Volvo was my first (and only) sedan.

Other recent purchases include an iPhone (very cool, but it would be nice to combine the best of the Blackberry with the best of the iPhone), the new MacBook Pro, and an iPad. Tom uses the MacBook and iPad the most. What really surprised me about the iPhone was how much I would use the iBook and Kindle apps. I've been skeptical. I mean, how good can reading be on a little screen. The answer? Surprisingly good. What's best is that there are tons of free books out there by authors I love: P.G. Wodehouse, Edith Wharton, Jane Austen, Mark Twain. Plus I can sample other authors like Trollope, without having to buy the book (or make a trip to the library). Who knew?!

The final purchase was a new high efficiency washer. I'm in love. Seriously. This washer washes clothes like nobody's business. Old stains come right out. It uses very little water and very little soap. It's quiet. In short, it's amazing.

Maryland Sheep and Wool is fast approaching and I'm debating whether to take a spinning 101 class offered by Maggie Casey. I think I might. Immediately thereafter, I'll head down to the beach with my sister-in-law. And then a couple of weeks later, I'll be on my way to Vermont for the Squam Art Workshops, even though I'm sure that two classes with Cat Bordhi will make my head explode (in a good way, of course). A month later, another trip to the beach, followed by a trip to Washington state the following month for Tom to run a 100-mile race. And then at the end of October, we'll attend my nephew's wedding. And of course, there's work to contend with, which promises to be even more hectic than it is now. Whew!

I wonder if I'll be able to finish that single brown sock?

Happy knitting!

Friday, February 04, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

How many times have we wished, when work or life gets a little overwhelming, for an illness or injury that's just bad enough to keep us home but not bad enough to keep us from knitting? It's okay, you can admit it. I periodically do it myself. Of course, nothing ever happens.

Until now.

Early Tuesday morning, I woke up with a little migraine, which was annoying because I had a business meeting in Richmond. I took my usual Excedrin and headed out. By mid-afternoon, I noticed my hips were feeling decidedly ache-y and the headache was getting a little worse. By the time I went to bed, every bone and muscle in my body ached.

Wednesday was even worse. The muscles in my back yelped with every footfall. I wasn't comfortable laying down, sitting up, or standing. I was running a fever (thus explaining the ache-y hips). Add to that a headache of epic proportions. I quickly caved and saw the doctor, who thought it was the flu, even though the flu test was negative. She prescribed Tamiflu but didn't tell me how to alleviate the pain (I think she thought I was weak and whining). Unfortunately, my pharmacy of choice didn't have Tamiflu in stock so they had to send the order to a different pharmacy. I didn't pick up the prescription because all I wanted to do was be in bed.

600 mg of ibuprofen helped alleviate the body pain, but did nothing for my headache. It was getting to the point where I wanted to rip my brain out of my head to make the pain stop. Seriously, it was that bad.

Fortunately, most of the aches were gone yesterday, although my back still hurts a little when I walk. I still have the headache (72 hours and counting), but it's much diminished. I managed to drag myself out of bed around 1:30 yesterday afternoon and haven't relapsed yet, so I think I'm on the mend.

I managed to make some progress last night on the second Cloning Anemone Rib sock last night and should be able to finish it today. Here's a teaser photo of the first sock:

The worst part is that Tom and I were supposed to go away for our anniversary. We canceled our reservations and that makes me sad because it will probably be a while before we can go again. Tom and I haven't been away by ourselves for years, it seems. We're always vacationing with friends or his family or going to ultra marathons. The good news, however, is that we received a voucher in lieu of the deposit from the inn where we were going to stay. So we'll have to go.

In honor of our anniversary (which was yesterday), here's a wedding picture. It's hard to believe that it's been 15 years.

In Other News...
Verizon opened the pre-order for the iPhone4 yesterday. I wasn't in any shape to get up at 3:00 a.m. yesterday to order and by the time I got online, the web site was bogged down. I gave up (I don't have the patience to sit at the computer, repeatedly clicking a button for hours until I get in). I was up at 4:30 this morning to feed the cats and decided to give it a try. Guess what? The pre-order was sold out. Now I have to wait a week and order with everyone else. I'll be lucky to get the iPhone4 before they release iPhone5. My current phone does what I need it to, but it doesn't display pictures in email and web sites that are built using Drupal don't render at all. That's a major shortcoming. So you can be sure that I'm going to set my alarm for very early the day of public release and order.

That's it for now. I'm going to spend the day doing fiberly things and reading. For all of you in the frozen north, stay warm and safe. I envy you your snow. I wish we'd get a whopper of a snowstorm this year. I miss the amazing amount of snow we had last year.

Wait...should I have said that? Maybe I'll get what I wished for.

Happy knitting!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Winter has always been a time of drawing in for me, but never has the drawing in been so intense. Like "I never want to get out of bed" intense. On the plus side, I feel very indulgent by staying in bed until (get this) 7:30(!) but on the negative side, it's hard to get motivated to do anything. I mostly want to be a bump. And knit. And read. Oh, and eat.

My running goal for this year was to run a 50K at the end of March, but with the miles I haven't been logging, I suspect I'm going to fall short of my goal. If I'm lucky, I can get my butt out of bed for a 6-mile run. But mostly I haven't been running. The problem is that I'm still eating like I'm running, which pretty much equals disaster on the weight gain front. Will I ever return to trail running and ultra marathons, which I professed to love? Only time (and Spring) will tell.

Despite the inertia, I managed to be fairly productive today. The herds of dust buffalo were wrangled and culled (both upstairs and downstairs, which is amazing in itself because I can usually manage to get one level cleaned in a weekend), and I did a little bit of stash organization. As I've acquired yarn, I've squirreled it away in various bags shoved into a closet. Today was the day to go through the bags and the Basket of Shame (BoS). The BoS contains UFOs. While I have UFOs aplenty, I didn't find as many as I thought. However, I did discover more sock yarn. Like kind of a lot of sock yarn. Some is destined for socks for Tom and the rest? Well, the rest is all for me! Or maybe my relatives and friends. In addition to the sock yarn, I found a lot of sock needles. And point protectors, stitch markers, row counters... Yikes! How many Brittany size 1 needles does a girl need? Apparently, a lot. Oddly, I found two socks-in-progress, of the same yarn, in different patterns. I think one sock lost its charm and I used the remaining wool for a different sock, which also lost its charm. Fortunately, the yarn has not lost its charm, so I'll eventually frog both socks and start afresh.

Sadly, I did not find the single finished Norwegian mitten from the 2006 Knitting Olympics, only its unfinished mate. I suspect the finished mitten is tucked into a bag in a basket somewhere. I'll find it one of these days.

I'm making progress on the second Cloning Anemone Rib sock. The gusset is in progress and the stitch count is correct. Expect the finished pair by next weekend!

And speaking of which, we're celebrating our 15th wedding anniversary soon and I'm taking several days off work. Woo hoo! I'm sure that I'll find time to knit. The question is, what shall I knit next? There are any number of UFOs that I could finish. Or I could knit another pair of socks for Tom. Maybe I'll do both...pull out a UFO to finish and start a pair of socks.

I joined the Rockin' Sock Club this year after a two-year hiatus (like I need more sock yarn) and the January kit arrived yesterday. As always, the colors are gorgeous. This kit contains two skeins of yarn (why do I keep spelling "yarn" as "yearn"?) and two patterns. One pattern is color work; the other has a sort of honeycomb stitch pattern. I like them both and have no idea which one to make.

I was planning to be a little more philosophical in this post, but well...I was overcome by inertia.

Maybe your week be filled with forward momentum!

Happy knitting!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flying Solo

Tom has started training for MMT, even though he's way down on the wait list (his lottery number was not a winner). So this weekend he's off running the hills and rocks of the Massanutten Mountains, leaving me at home with the cats. Ordinarily, I would have gone with him and helped at the aid stations but both of our cat sitters are out of town this weekend. So, I'm a single woman this weekend.

Whenever Tom is gone, I've got all sorts of ideas about what I want to accomplish, and the weekend stretches before me, seemingly endless. By the time he returns home, I haven't accomplished half of what I wanted to. Today, however, was rather productive.

I ran this morning, only six miles, and as has been the case lately, I struggled to keep my heart rate down. I ended up running by myself, which I don't enjoy, but instead of grumping about it and berating myself for being an old, fat, slow runner, I looked around and noticed things--the dun color of the fields, the way the wind sculpted the snow on the side of the road and how it glittered in the sunlight, the blue of the mountains in the distance. While I didn't get to my happy running place (my heart rate was still too high and I was still struggling), noticing did get me out of that negative frame of mind.

Later in the day, a friend came over for some joint career counseling. We've been in our careers for decades and for the last year or so have been toying with the idea of doing something different. The problem is we don't know what we want to do. Today we tried to figure it out. After wracking our brains for several hours (and not finding any answers), we went to Market Table Bistro. The food was good, reasonably priced, and at the early hour of 5:30, the service was fast (perhaps a little too fast).

So what's in store for the rest of the weekend (which sadly is not a long weekend)? A wee bit of housecleaning, perhaps. Some grocery shopping and cooking, maybe start planning a sweater, maybe figure out what to do with design for Shauna's mittens (the stitch count isn't working out for the patterns I want to use)...the possibilities are endless.

Knitting Progress
I've made some headway on the second Cloning Anemone Rib sock. But I noticed a mistake near the top that's bugging me more than it should, given that no one is going to see it. I might end up ripping it out once again.

In better news, I'm going to be attending the Squam Art Workshops in June. I've signed up for two all-day classes with Cat Bordhi--Personal Footprints and Moebius Knitting. I have a suspicion that my head will explode by the end of the second day. On the third day, I'll take a drop spindling class with Denny McMillan. I know how to use a drop spindle (or at least I used to know how), but recently all my attempts at spindling fail. I don't know if it's me or the spindle, but I can't get the spindle to spin for any length of time. Could it be the roving I'm using? At any rate, it's very frustrating. Anyway, I'll be taking a road trip to New Hampshire in June and it will be a lot of fun. Two days up (I really don't want to drive for 11 hours) and two days back. Squam will provide a much-needed vacation, even more so since work from now until then will be intense, to say the least.

Well, it's getting late and I still have things I want to, knit, dream a sweater...

Happy Knitting!

Saturday, January 08, 2011


We're a week into 2011. Let's see where I am with my resolutions, intentions, what-have-you, shall we?
  • Balance my life better. I worked just over a 40-hour week. However, I'll max out my vacation and floating holiday hours next pay period and then won't be able to accrue any until both balances come down. Note to Self: Schedule time off soon.
  • Get better at managing lists. Lists? What lists?
  • Knit a sweater. I'm working on mittens right now. The sweater will come much later. I hope to complete by next winter.
  • Meditate. Hmmm...I tend to meditate when I go to bed and mostly fall asleep. And lately I've been forgetting to meditate. Needs improvement.
  • Add yoga back to my life. I'm doing micro-yoga--forward bends only. Definitely needs improvement.
  • Take time each day to find joy, and carry that joy with me (even if it's recalling how cute the cats look when they're sleeping). This one seems to be working somewhat for me. I've been less unhappy this week. And it helps that the cats are sleeping a lot.
  • Take time to figure out what to do with my life. A working session with a friend is scheduled for the end of the month. We'll see what happens.
  • Spend more time with family and friends. Everyone is so busy, so it's hard to schedule, although I did meet friend for coffee after my run this morning and spent about three hours talking.
  • Don't beat myself up for falling short of my expectations. Needs improvement. The fact that I'm taking stock of my progress after only one week into the New Year indicates that I need some work in this area.
Knitting Progress
I started the mittens for my niece and have run into a bit of design conundrum. I'd like to use three colors but my idea for the hand and palm design will mean that I've got floats that are more than five stitches. So I need to think on it more. I'm quite pleased with the cuff, though (please ignore the rather glaring mistake; this attempt is a prototype):

I cast on the second Cloning Anemone Rib sock for a third time. Hopefully, this time will be the charm. I haven't gotten very far and hope to make more progress tonight and tomorrow. Plus, I'm planning to attend the Loudoun Knitters meeting on Tuesday and should be able to make good progress there.

I also did something a bit silly and joined the Rockin' Sock Club 2011. This will be my third Rockin' Sock Club (previous years were 2007 and 2008). So far, I've completed one pair of socks out of the 12 I've received. The second pair is in progress. Perhaps this year, I'll find time to knit at least one pair of the sock clubs offering. If not, I'm building a great sock yarn and pattern stash!

Running Progress
I actually managed to eke out just over six snowy miles this morning, but it wasn't easy. The route seemed to be uphill both ways. The snow definitely enhanced the beauty of the route. I'm planning to run about 11 miles tomorrow, up Thomas Mill Road (a beast of a hill) and down Canby (beautiful!). However, if the winds materialize, I might skip the run and go straight for coffee (and knitting). My running goal was to run a hilly trail 50K in March, but I'm not feeling very optimistic about that right now. Maybe I'll do a hilly trail 50K in October instead.

That's it for now. Happy knitting!

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Looking Forward

2010 (may it rest in peace) was a challenging year for me in many ways. Lots of snow (that's good), trying to train for the Boston Marathon while recovering from plantar fasciitis (and record snow levels), a bout of Lyme disease (or so they said; I'm still skeptical), and of course, the daily challenges of home and work.

By the end of the year, I was darn weary of it all and optimistic about the dawning of the New Year. While I don't go crazy with New Year Eve celebrations, I do see the New Year as a metaphorical "reset" button. It's a good time to put the brakes on the weird, negative thinking that I can do so well and start with a fresh, positive outlook. I was really looking forward to that fresh start.

Which is why I was a bit surprised this morning when the day dawned gray and misty and all I wanted to do (after feeding the cats at 5:00 a.m.) was crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head and not come out, not even for a trail run. This is not an auspicious way to start the New Year. Clearly, I'm still in great need of an attitude adjustment. And to help with that, let's review my resolutions (or intentions) for 2011:

  • Balance my life better. Work is a bit stressful and as a result, I've gotten myself into a rather "stuck" state. I feel guilty for not focusing 100% of my time on work and therefore don't seem to accomplish anything else (yes, I'm well aware that behavior is stupid)
  • Get better at managing lists. I have also sorts of to-do lists (mostly in my head) but don't seem to accomplish much (see the first bullet point). I'm going to try to schedule time each day for specific tasks; when the time is up, it's time to move on to another task (I'm not optimistic that this approach will work, but it's worth a shot).
  • Knit a sweater. Despite the number of years that I've been knitting, I've never knit a sweater. I've started several and finished none. I intend to rectify that this year, even if it means designing my own.
  • Meditate. I read an article recently that said that meditation can help improve memory and concentration (which I probably already knew, but forgot). I've got a serious case of monkey mind going on and my memory is pretty bad (sieve-brain, I like to call it). That bugs me to no end.
  • Add yoga back to my life. I'm finding that as my body is becoming less flexible, my mind is as well, and that's not attractive.
  • Take time each day to find joy, and carry that joy with me (even if it's recalling how cute the cats look when they're sleeping)
  • Take time to figure out what to do with my life. A tall order, but the growing sense of dissatisfaction with my life is an indication that I need to give this resolution some attention.
  • Spend more time with family and friends.
  • Don't beat myself up for falling short of my expectations. This resolution is a hard one. I don't want to lower my expectations of myself. But I do need to understand what's going on in my head when I "fail" and then learn from that experience.

My list is rather ambitious and already I'm feeling like a failure for not having accomplished anything on my list this year!

A Knitting Retrospective
This year wasn't the most productive knitting year I've had, but I did manage to finish some projects:
  • Vancouver mittens. This was my first successful attempt at designing, and designing colorwork. While they aren't my best work technically, I'm happy with them. They mostly fit (barring the wonky right thumb and the too-long left hand) and are very warm. I'll attempt a second pair of mittens for my niece, using a plied yarn instead of a single-ply.
  • The Spiral Scarf. This project was a lesson in short row architecture. I'm pleased with the results. However, my dislike of mohair continues to be reinforced. It's scratchy and the fibers get in my mouth and eyes.
  • Cloning Anemone Rib socks. Well, technically this isn't an FO because I had to frog the second sock yesterday due to a serious counting error. I was making the size medium sock but cast on 68 stitches instead of the 72 needed. That mistake became apparent as I was knitting the gusset. This will be my third attempt with this pair of socks. They say the third time's a charm. Right?

These are the projects that I want to do this year:
  • (Design and) Knit the aforementioned sweater
  • Design and knit the aforementioned mittens for my niece
  • Design and knit a hat for Tom (by February)
  • Finish the second Cloning Anemone Rib sock, without having to frog it
  • Finish the Fair Isle tam that is currently on the needles
  • Choose one more UFO and finish it or frog it

So there you have it. Looking back and looking forward.

May 2011 be filled with love, health, happiness, wisdom, prosperity, and FOs!