Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

I finished my Christmas knitting. Four hats and a scarf. Not too shabby.

Windschief for my brother
2011.12.19_xmasknitting 004

Coronet for my mother-in-law
2011.12.19_xmasknitting 015

Escargot for my aunt
2011.12.19_xmasknitting 021

Cerus for my brother-in-law
2011.12.19_xmasknitting 033

And a pompom hat for my BiL's wife.
2011.12.19_xmasknitting 041

After wrapping those up, I made it my goal to finish 2011 with no WIPs on the needles (except for a movie theatre sock, and the sock yarn blanket). I have met that goal! To really super dooper meet it, I need to sew on two buttons, block a lace scarf, block a vest, and block a cardigan. .... We'll see.

I am goal oriented. I have been thinking about goals for 2012 for the past month or so. My main goals seem to be health and fitness oriented.

1. Run 3 half marathons (already registered for 2, and am looking for a third).
2. Continue to get fitter, faster, stronger, and healthier in general.
3. Hike up Mt. Si.
4. Knit more lace. (Especially Evenstar, the Vernal Equinox Shawl, and Andrea's Magic of Spring))
5. Read more consistently.
6. Blog more, all over the place.

I can think of lots of other things I'd like to do next year, but let's keep the list fairly simple.

I'd best get to blocking that lace scarf!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

FO: From Norway with Love Hat

I might, just maybe, be participating in Blog-vember, which is a stupid name, but any excuse to get myself to post more. Luckily, I have a significant backlog of finished knitwear to show off.


Pattern: From Norway with Love
Yarn: Leftovers and odd balls. Cascade Lano d'oro for the purple. The rest is Cascade 220.
Needles: 8s, I think.

I knit the pattern as written. It turned out a bit on the long side. That's okay, though, because I can turn the ribbing under for extra ear warming.

If memory serves, this hat represents only my second foray into stranded knitting. Considering that, and considering I haven't actually blocked this hat, I think it turned out really well.

I was very careful to keep my floats as loose as seemed reasonable. I've had the tendency to pull them too tight on previous stranded attempts. In some cases, I may have been too liberal with the looseness I allowed, but overall I'm pleased.

I loved this hat when I saw it on Ravelry. And I do love the version I made. It was a fairly quick knit, but I am not yet skilled in stranded knitting. It's certainly a challenge. But this is a good pattern for entry level stranded knitters - the motif is simple and repeats itself. Some of the floats end up being 7 or 9 stitches, but that's the only more challenging aspect of the stranding. Overall, I think this will see a lot of wear during the colder winter months.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Race recap: Columbia Gorge Half Marathon

Last week Sunday, October 23rd, I ran my first ever half marathon! I know you've all been waiting in anticipation for a recap, or, maybe for any update to this poor blog at all. Anyway, here it is.

On Saturday my husband and I drove down from Ellensburg to Hood River, OR. It's about a three hour drive, but very pretty. We got to Hood River and went to pick up my race packet. It was really exciting to get my bag with my number, chip, and fancy hat. I also bought a race shirt, because we've got to have souvenirs!

After that was in order, we checked out a couple of used bookstores and, of course, a yarn shop. Knot Another Hat is a really cute yarn shop with a nice selection. I picked up a couple balls of superwash for Christmas knitting, and a hank of lovely souvenir sock yarn. Shalimar yarns Breathless - a washable merino/silk/cashmere sock yarn. Mmm.
New yarn

After those adventures, we checked into our hotel. We got a room with a river view, and what a great view.
Columbia River from our hotel room

It was even better when we got up early for breakfast.
Columbia River from our hotel room

We went down to breakfast. I ordered the cereal and banana, but only ended up eating a tiny amount. I'm used to running with very little in my belly and was not particularly hungry, so I just went with it. Back to the room and time to get dressed and pose for a "before" photo.
Columbia Gorge Half Marathon

I walked from the hotel to the finish line (nice! hotel super close to the race finish), where I immediately got into a port-a-potty line and then in the line to the buses that would take us up a huge hill to where the start line was. The last two years, I guess they started where they finished - I can't fathom tackling the hill we drove up first thing - it would be brutal!

As it is, the course has a net elevation gain of 1100' and a net elevation loss of about 1300'. There's not really any flat part of the course - you're either going up or going down. Since I had trained on mostly flat ground and averaged around 11:30-12:00 minute miles on my long runs, I was expecting to run around 2:38-2:45, factoring in the challenge of the hill. Mostly, I wanted to finish on two legs, but I had 2:30 in my head as a great time to achieve, though I knew it was unrealistic.

Anyway, the runners were being bused to the starting line and I got there in time to see the marathoners start - away they flew! We were scheduled to start 30 minutes later, but the start time got pushed back an extra 20 minutes while we waited for everyone to arrive on the buses. At least the weather was great - partly cloudy, high of about 60 predicted. Lining up, I tried to move to the back of the pack, but pretty much ended up in the middle, because the chute was relatively narrow and a bus was literally unloading as the final remarks were being made. It didn't really matter though, as I ended up having to dodge walkers, and faster runners ended up having to dodge me. Not a huge issue, I think, as this is not a PR friendly course.

I ran (uphill) for the first three miles, feeling amazing and joyful, being careful not to feel like I was working too hard, and enjoying the scenery. This race is billed as the most scenic in the country, and I believe it! You're on an old historic highway which runs above the Columbia River - there are jutting rocks, changing leaves, two tunnels, and at least one small waterfall. Truly gorgeous. I spent those miles just listening to the runners around me and feeling great.

After three miles, and grabbing some water from the first aid station, we started a descent. I turned on my music and embraced the downhill. Embracing that downhill led to two(!) sub-10 minute miles (amazing since I had only done that once before in my life). I was careful not to feel like I was putting out extra effort, but just enjoying the momentum. It was all downhill to the turn around at about 5.25 miles, where I waved to my husband and grabbed a water from the aid station. Pride kicked in, and my plan to eat my Clif Shot (mocha!), walk, and drink my water was passed by my desire to look awesome for the hubby. So I flew back past him and started up the enormous hill I had just enjoyed flying down. My plan to run quickly became a plan to run/walk, quickly became a plan to run when I could, but just keep hiking with the rest of the field around me. I must have done ok, because my longest split in that area was about a 13 minute mile, which I'll take.

Approaching the turn-around:
Columbia Gorge Half Marathon

I made it to the aid station at mile 7.5 where I finally had my Clif shot and some water. My right hip was beginning to tighten up and I figured that's what I get for flying down that first big hill. Luckily, the course is mostly downhill from mile 8 - not entirely, but mostly. So I was able to keep trucking at a pretty good pace, though I was starting to count the miles. We came off the historic highway, where I grabbed a small cup of gatorade at the last aid station, and began our descent into Hood River, OR. A steep, twisting road led down to the town - again, amazing views of the hills, the town, and the river. Stunning. Even though it was, literally, all downhill at this point, I ended up walking twice in the final mile. I was just spent. Letting pride get in the way of my fueling plan was a mistake. But I looked at my Garmin and saw that I could still finish in a time that I never had expected, so I picked it up and kept running the last half mile, giving it whatever I had left as I crossed the finish line.

Looking crazy, crossing the finish line:
Columbia Gorge Half Marathon

I finished in 2:29.19. I am thrilled! 2:30 was something I had hoped for, but never expected considering my training! I had a great time at the race and it seemed well organized, except for the late start. I would run this again some day, for sure.

The "after" photo - thrilled to be sitting down, thrilled to be done.
Columbia Gorge Half Marathon

Well, there we have it - did you make it through? Maybe I'll have some proper knit blogging on here someday. I'm working on a sweater vest out of cashmere. Very very soft.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Race! Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K

Yesterday I ran in my second ever race. I finished! And I wasn't last! Well, I was last in my age group, but that's to be expected.

The race was the Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K. A 10K fit nicely into my training schedule this weekend as I had a 6 mile run scheduled. Plus I wanted to have more race experience, having only been to one pretty local affair previously. And this fit the bill. As a bonus, the course was described as flat, fast, and beautiful. And only an hour and a half from home.

We rolled into town around 8 am and found a parking spot a few blocks away. Picked up my bib, shirt, and bag and wandered around town a little bit. Bib #14 - apparently numbers were assigned alphabetically to the 10K folk. Wandered back to the car to drop off bag and shirt and pull on my headband. Love my BondiBands, since I hate sweat rolling down my face.
Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K

Then we waited around a little more and then it was time to line up! I never know where to line up. Except NOT at the front. So I stood pretty far back. Apparently too far back. These folk, who look very serious, were at the front.
Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K

I was not so serious, but I was intent on starting my watch, followed by being intent on not running into the walkers I had lined myself up behind. D'oh.
Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K

I had a great time the first mile - I was running strong, feeling good, and passing people, which was a lot of fun. I finished the mile in under 11 minutes, which is something for me. But it was all downhill from there. I must have pushed out too fast. By the third mile I was bribing myself with walk breaks every 5-10 minutes, and by the fourth mile I was walking whenever I felt my heart rate was getting too high, which seemed to be pretty frequently. Probably because when I would start running again it was at a closer to 11 minute/mile pace which was too much for me at that point.

But I finished in 1:12, which averages to about 11:30 per mile, which I'm pretty happy with. I'm not thrilled with the non-sustainable way I ran the race, but it was a good experience to have. And the course was very very pretty. Here's my race data for those interested. And here I am, crossing the finish line, intent on stopping my watch and finding where they keep the free smoothie I was promised.
Snoqualmie Railroad Days 10K

We spent the rest of the day in Seattle - eating, watching Captain America (which I really enjoyed), shopping at used book stores, and getting stuck in traffic. At least the I-5 through Seattle can be gorgeous, even in traffic.

Mount Rainier
Seattle in Traffic

The Olympics.
Seattle in Traffic

Space Needle.
Seattle in Traffic

And how about just a dash of knitting content? Here's a pair of socks I knit out of Zauberball recently. Pink and purple and wooly, oh my. Just a basic toe-up stockinette sock. My default movie theater project.
Pink socks

They should be lovely when it's cold and I'm wearing socks again.

Friday, July 29, 2011

FO: Liesl Cardigan

Vital Stats
Pattern: Liesl Cardigan
Yarn: Rowan Cotton Tape, just under 9 balls or just over 600 yards
Needles: US 11
Size knit: 46", but I went up a size because my gauge was tight
Time to Completion: A month or so.

I finished up my Liesl cardigan more than a week ago, but hadn't gotten around to asking Mr. Husband to take some photos of me. In a fit of productivity this morning I went out on the porch and took some photos in the full length mirror there. Yes. We have a mirror on the porch.

This is not a mirror shot - this is a kitchen table shot.
liesl cardigan

I received this yarn in a secret pal swap. It's lovely yarn, but cotton is not usually my thing. So it hung around for a little while before I decided to put it to use in the Liesl cardigan.

Liesl cardigan

I was pretty skeptical about this pattern. I know it's wildly popular and all, but to me it looked a little bit, well, like a baby cardigan. Plus it does that 3 button thing at the top that I'm not a fan of. Why am I not a fan? Because if you've got a belly, I feel it can look a bit maternity.
Liesl cardigan

But it turns out that I quite like this sweater. I found the yarn a little tricky to use - it has a tendency to catch on things, and it's difficult to effectively weave in ends. But the pattern is lovely. My only confusion came from trying to understand the buttonhole instructions, which I couldn't seem to grasp. I did something and ended up with three button holes, though.
liesl cardigan

The buttons I choose are really too heavy for this sweater. I should probably buy some cheap plastic ones to replace these. But I did happen to have thread that matches the yarn nearly exactly!

And there it is! It must be a summer of cardigans. I'm not sure what I'll cast on next. I will keep you appraised of the situation.

Running is going smoothly. I attacked the only hill in town on Thursday. Twice. Hills are hard. What possessed me to sign up for a hilly first half marathon? Lack of reason, I guess.

My long run for Saturday is scheduled to be 6 miles. I'm planning on hitting 6.2 for a nice even 10K. Last Saturday I carried a water bottle for the first time. It was the 20 oz bottle that came free with my cheap-o bike (which has had a flat read tire for over a year. Anyone wanna fix that for me?). I chose it because I wouldn't be sad to abandon it. I didn't, but it was annoying to carry, and heavy too. Also my hand got wet and gross from leakage. So I was on the lookout for an alternative.

Little water bottle

There she is. The FuelBelt Sprint Palm Holder 10z. I got it from the place I linked. I like them because of the free two day shipping, even on little things. Also, the price is good. I think it'll be a good solution. Pretty light, and the doohickey keeps it stuck to my hand.
Little water bottle

I bought some powerade to stick in it. POWER! I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On the treadmill

Let's start with running today, shall we? On Tuesday I was scheduled to do a 35 minute run, but couldn't drag my butt out of bed to get out before work. And, by the time I got out of work, the wind was gusting up to 40mph so I wimped out of running outside. To the treadmills! I went down to my gym and hopped a treadmill.

What I forgot is that I really really don't like treadmills. Not so much the boredom, though there's that. But the lack of breeze really does me in. I overheat and it gets really hard to keep going. So it was horrible. I ran for 35 minutes, including 2 one minute walk breaks in the second half. My technical fabric shirt didn't stand a chance - I was pretty well soaked.

But next time I'll take the wind and leave the gym for strength and cross training.

Tomorrow is another three miles! Outside this time, for sure. Tomorrow morning looks fine, with only 11mph winds.

Now knitting! With the sad closing of the Dancing Ewe, there was no longer a centralized local group on Ravelry. So I took matters into my own hands and set up a group, Windy City Knitters, for anyone in or around Ellensburg. Check it out if you're local or planning to pass through.

Tonight I sewed on the buttons of my Liesl cardigan! Soon there will be photos. In the meantime I've picked up my sock yarn blanket. But it looks much the same with a few new squares as it did before. I'm really enjoying the blanket at this time - small squares are satisfying.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Salad and a sweater

I made another pasta salad this past week for my lunches. It was more successful than the previous one, with the tuna and the bacon, but it got a bit old eating it everyday, plus once for dinner. Still, it gets a mention - Pesto Turkey Pasta Salad.

Turkey pesto pasta salad
Ingredients: pesto mix, turkey breast (only used maybe half of it?), grape tomatoes, mushrooms, and pasta. Oh, and I tossed in some carrots for good measure.

Nothing fancy, just cooked the pasta, sauteed the mushrooms, and cut up the turkey, and mixed it all up. Oh, and the pesto mix which required a full quarter cup of olive oil. Hello!
Turkey pesto pasta salad

I'd put some grated parm on it before eating it at work, and that improved things as well. Cheese usually does that. I'd call this a success, but it made too much food. I think I'm done with this whole pasta salad thing for a while. Three weeks is enough. But what should I do for lunches next week?


Thursday, at knit nite, I finally finished knitting my Liesl cardigan. It's a pretty fast knit, actually, but I am just not a fan of cotton. Or bulky yarn. I played fast and loose with gauge, which means that even though I knit a size up, it may still be just on the small size. Also I did not wash a swatch, so I don't know how it will behave when washed and dried.

Liesl sweater

I picked some buttons out of my button collection - I like them a lot, but they're pretty heavy. I'll have to see if the cardigan can handle them.
Liesl sweater

I took pictures of the buttons while the sweater was soaking. I used a sample of Soak which must be several years old, but still smelled nice. I was surprised by how much dye came out of the sweater, especially considering none ended up on my hands during knitting.
Liesl sweater

And the sweater spread out to dry. I managed to make it a little bigger, but time will show if I was successful.
Liesl sweater

Now I think I'll work on my sock yarn blanket for a while.


Running! I finished my running for week 2 of training this morning. I did a 5 mile long run in what constitutes highly unusual weather for this area - humidity. It was very very strange. I ran just over 11 miles this week and will likely do about the same for next week. I did join to track my runs and connect with other folks. It's got some really neat functions - I think I'm going to like it. Track me down and join my "street team" if you've got an account!

Friday, July 8, 2011

7/8/2011 - Cleaning house

We have a knit nite here in town. Used to be held at the yarn store, but now that we're LYS-less, we hold it at the campus Starbucks. Things were getting downright rowdy yesterday! Kestrel came in her awesome pants and brought Rebekah (why do I assume Rebekah is spelled that way? It's almost certainly not.) with her. Rebekah attempted to educate me in anime. I may be hopeless. Still, I managed to knit an inch or two on the Liesl cardigan, which means that it looks essentially exactly the same as it did last time we saw it. I think I'm nearing the end of the body, at least, and the sleeves should be super quick!
Liesl Cardigan
Love that texture photo.


Thursday was meant to be a crosstraining day, but I was so tired when my alarm went off that I decided to switch it with my scheduled rest day on Friday. Which means I slept in yesterday (until 6:40!) and went off to cross train at the gym today. I do an endurance weights routine with some cardio thrown in. My trainer, who's a firecracker, says it's meant to raise my lactic threshold. I followed it up with some time on the elliptical. Tomorrow is my long run of 4 miles and, luckily, the wind is supposed to be under 10mph when I plan to go out! Hooray!

I seem to be terrifically linky today. How about that?

I've changed sizes recently. Enough so that the closet of clothes I'd been cultivating for years no longer fits. I'm trying my luck with a bit of an internet yard sale. If you're interested in XL, XXL, 18-20 (with some 14-16 tops), hop on over to Crazy Froggy's Internet Yard Sale. Everything must go! Will accept yarn in trade!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

7/6/2011 - Slow Knitter to Conquer Half Marathon

About a year ago I started the Couch to 5K program. Why? Because I couldn't run a mile and that seemed like something a body ought to be able to do. Of course, by the end of the program, you're running nearly three miles! So I did that and then followed it up by alternately running for a while then not running for a while. Winter, you know. When spring came, I got my mojo back and began to set goals. I decided to run 5 miles. I did. Then I started to look around for half marathons (13.1 miles). Eventually, I found one that seemed awesome! So I signed up. It's the Columbia Gorge Half Marathon. It'll be held at the end of October and is a pretty hilly course - perhaps not the wisest choice for the novice racer, but I think it'll be fun.

It's kind of awesome that I've gone from dismissing runners as merely crazy to embracing the whole thing. I realized that, when I go out to run, I freaking look like a runner. Maybe a fat, slow runner, but a runner nonetheless.
Running gear

Click through for a ton of notes.

This week is week one of half marathon training. I'm doing three runs a week with 2-3 days of cross training, 2 of which include a strength training regimen. My long run this week is 4 miles. Woo hoo! I'll hit 6 miles by the end of the month and up up up from there. I also run the only hill in town once a week to get the feel of that kind of challenge.

Let it be noted that I am breaking no land speed records here. My fastest mile ever was 11 minutes, but I average more around 12 minutes. I'll probably be even slower once my mileage gets up there. My husband can literally walk as fast as I run. If I can do this, anybody can.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

7/5/2011 - Questionable Pasta Salad

I'm not so great at post titles. It's easier to classify things by date.

Summer is finally hitting - it's been a long cool spring with moments of warmth. It doesn't help that our house is a cave, so until yesterday I was still under a fleece blanket while sitting on the couch. But the heat is here and will probably be for at least a couple of weeks.

Liesl Cardigan

I'm working on another summer cardigan - Liesl. I'm knitting it with Rowan Cotton Tape which is very interesting. Not, I would say, my favorite yarn. I'm not a huge fan of cotton. Nor am I a huge fan of bulky yarns. It's knitting up fairly nicely, though I worry the finished product may be on the heavy side.

Liesl Cardigan

At least it's a pretty fast knit. I should be done with it in a week or so, momentum permitting, and may actually be able to wear it in its appropriate season.

questionable pasta salad

To me, summer is the season of the pasta salad. Last week I made a nice salad of chicken, tortellini, and grape tomatoes. I got a little more... creative this week. This week's salad includes: Whole grain shells, tuna, bacon, bell pepper, peas, carrots, onion and garlic (sauteed in bacon fat), and a dose of Miracle Whip. It's... passable. I don't think it would be a hit at a party, and the colors leave something to be desired. It screams 1970s kitchen to me. Eh, I'll eat it anyway.

FO: Featherweight Cardigan

Oh, my Featherweight cardigan. I love it. I love it like I've never knit any sweater I've knit. It's light, it's breezy, it's easy to wear.

Vital Stats
Pattern: Featherweight Cardigan
Yarn: Valley Yarns 2/14 Alpaca Silk, a little more than half a cone, maybe?
Needles: 6? Whatever the pattern asked for.
Size knit: 42", I think
Time to Completion: 3 or 4 months

Featherweight Cardigan

Did I mention that I love this cardigan? I do.

Featherweight Cardigan

The arm holes are actually enormous. That would bother me on some sweaters, but it's perfect for this one. Knit in an 80% alpaca yarn, I wouldn't want the arm holes too tight in summer. It weighs practically nothing.

Featherweight Cardigan

After knitting the sleeves, I noticed that one was about a half inch longer than the other. I didn't fix it. I tried to make them the same during blocking. I think it was successful, although it's hard to tell due to the loose way this cardigan sits on the body.

Featherweight Cardigan

Picking up stitches for the band was the hardest part. The pattern is a ton of stockinette, so that actually slowed me up some. I didn't have the inertia to finish for the longest time. But I'm glad I finally did!
Featherweight Cardigan

See that shoe box on the floor? Those are my new running shoes. I'm training for a half marathon in October. I'm thinking about blogging my training here. Any strong feelings about that?

Monday, July 4, 2011

FO: Acer Cardigan

What? I didn't blog my completed Acer Cardigan? Well! I'll have to remedy that.

Vital stats:
Pattern: Acer Cardigan
Yarn: Cascade Lana D'Oro, color 1052. About 6 skeins. Maybe 5.
Needles: Size 6
Time to completion: About 5 months.

Acer cardigan

I finished this cardigan at the beginning of May. Just in time for warm weather! Nothing like a wool/alpaca blend to welcome the sun. I was mostly just glad to finish this cardigan. It was a long knit. It wouldn't have even taken that long if I'd been committed to it, but I wasn't.

Acer cardigan

I do really like this sweater. I hope it gets a lot of wear next season. The pattern is really a very flattering style. As I knit it, the arms are a bit tight, which seems to be a pattern with me. I've historically had very large upper arms.

Acer cardigan

The buttons are some inexpensive plastic ones from the tiny sewing shop in town. I like the sort of retro look they have.
Acer cardigan

And that's that cardigan. I think I'll queue up a post about my exciting new Featherweight cardigan.