Sunday, April 29, 2012

FO: Evenstar Shawl (at last!)

Pattern: The Evenstar Shawl
Yarn: Alpaca with a Twist Fino, Duchess Blue. About 2.5 hanks (1312 yards).
Needles: Size 4 Addi Turbo Lace
Cast on: January 4, 2012
Bound off: April 23, 2012

Evenstar Shawl

I've been in love with this pattern since I first saw it. It's been high on my to do list, but I haven't committed to a large lace piece for a while. And I wanted to change that this year. I have a whole list in my Rav queue tagged 2012 of goal projects for the year.

Evenstar Shawl

I cast on just after the new year. I was hoping to knit this in about two months, but I've been really overworked at my job, and between work and training for my half marathons, I just wasn't putting in the time on this that I had hoped. So it took closer to five months to finish.

Evenstar Shawl

The pattern is very nice. Clearly written and easy to follow. I only made one small modification which is, on the edging, on the WS, to slip the first stitch (the k2tog with the body on the RS) instead of knit it. Felt more secure to me. The finished, blocked shawl, is somewhere around 5 feet in diameter. Blocking it was actually sort of fun since there weren't 300 little peaks to pin out, just 56 (I think).

Evenstar Shawl

This yarn, Alpaca with a Twist Fino, is right up there among my favorite yarns to knit with. It's gorgeous. Soft and supple, but not too delicate. Give me a yarn with some silk blended in and I'm generally a pretty happy knitter.

Evenstar Shawl

Overall, I recommend this for the knitter looking for a larger project and a little bit of a challenge. Nothing in here that a dedicated beginner couldn't tackle, but you need to be comfortable trying new things and devoting a good chunk of time to this. (The edging alone probably took me over 24 hours to finish...)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Whidbey Island Half Marathon

Hi blog. I guess I'm only coming out to talk about big things. Like the race that I ran last weekend. I have a massive knitting project which is so close to done, but actually hours and hours of knitting away from being done, and will absolutely be shared as well.

I ran the Whidbey Island Half Marathon on Sunday, April 15, 2012. The race is on Whidbey Island, and runs out of Oak Harbor. Whidbey Island is home to the ridiculously scenic Deception Pass and it's iconic bridge. The full marathoners ran over the bridge. Gorgeousness.

 Anyway, Sunday was a great day for a race. Started out about 50 and overcast, clearing and warming slightly during the run. The half had about 1000 runners and was well organized - including pace signs to line up by (something my last race did not feature). There were lots of water stops and plenty of volunteers. So a nicely run race. The course had hills in the first three miles and the last three miles, the rest being pretty flat. The prerace was a little chilly, but I didn't want to wear my sweatshirt as I knew it would end up tied around my waist in about a mile. So I went with gloves and a sleeveless shirt. That strategy worked great. When I took off my gloves, I tucked them inside the band of my SPI belt (which held my gels and mp3 player) which held them secure for the next 11 miles!
Out of the starting gate. Feeling good and looking a little silly with the gloves.

 As for my race… It went great! I started out running at a pace that felt easy, but was actually a decent clip for me. I kept up that pace, even up the first set of hills - one of which seemed pretty steep indeed. I just kept running comfortably. Not really passing anyone, just keeping going and eavesdropping on the runners around me. I took a gel around mile 5, because that was the plan. The next couple of miles were awesome - probably a combination of the gel and the stunning scenery - runners stretched out down the straightaway ahead of me, water to my left, the Olympic Mountains in the distance. Man, I wish I had a photo of that. I saw my husband around mile 9, which was great. He snapped some photos of me.

Interesting side note - I've worn the same top in my 10K last August, my half last October, and this race. I really like that top.

Shortly after seeing hubby, I headed up the next set of hills. I jogged up the first long hill, walking through the water station and eating another gel (I’d been walking through water stations since about mile 7 - a good break). After that point, I walked up all the hills, running the more or less flats and down hills. The last 2 miles were mostly downhill, which was great! Except I suddenly got this new stabbing pain in my abdomen on my left side a couple of times. I had to either slow to a walk or run with one hand pressing the spot for a while before it went away. Not sure what that was about. Could be a side stitch, but I'm used to side stitches being on the other side near my ribs. In the final half mile I was running out of steam and bargaining with myself. I really really wanted to walk a little bit, but I knew that I could keep going and my internal monologue was all about not stopping and not giving in to the pain. So I kept going and finished strong!

Down the finishing chute! Final time: 2:19:45 - That’s a 10 minute PR from my first race six months ago! My next race is in 2 weeks on a flat flat flat course, so I’m hoping to more or less match this time. I wouldn’t mind improving it slightly…
Post race with a proper medal, half a banana, and a smile.