Saturday = Nothing Day

July 31, 2009

Mr. J and I have declared Saturday to be a Nothing Day.  I’ve even written it in my day timer “Nothing”.  We’ve been so busy the last few weeks/months, and we’ve having a day to do nothing, or whatever we want to do really.  Mr. J asked if by “Nothing” it meant he could bring his laptop into the bedroom, lay in bed all day watching shows, to which the anwer was “Yes, you can do whatever you want”.  You just don’t “have” to do anything!  I’m so excited about this. 

My plans are to have a leisurely breakfast with eggs, veggie breakfast sausage (or the poor substitute to Boca veggie sausages that us poor northerns can get), coffee, whilst watching Space Channel and a cat on my lap for awhile.  Then I’m heading up to my knitting room to listen to podcasts, and perhaps download “Stuart McLeans Tales from the Vinyl Cafe” from Itunes.  I may wander out to the deck if its a nice day.  Maybe I’ll even work on my tan in my bikini and see if any of my neighbours notice.  In Calgary our houses are so close together pretty much all the neighbours are privy to everyones backyard doings.  So far my knitting plans include:

1) Finishing a donkey I made approximately 4 years ago that I just have to sew up, stuff, make its mane and tail

2) Finish my pink shawl (working on the last few petals with my super petal powers)

3) Make the sleeves on the February Jacket (I had one almost done, but had to rip it out due to hugeness)  I’m also attempting to master magic loop technique to avoid the dpns on the lace pattern.

4) Start the Flower Child sweater

5) If I get my copy of Vogue Knitting, make five hats from it

6) Start Icarus

7) Finish my Betty Stockings, currently in time out due to need to increase the top of the sock.  My calves aren’t fitting into the standard sizing, one side effect of all the biking I guess.

8 ) Make a pair of mittens to test pattern.  I’m planning on making wedding mittens (2 pairs) for a friend in October, so I need to start making a pattern.  Current plan is to put their initials, and the wedding date on them.

9) Have a nap.

All in one day apparently, we’ll see how it goes!  We have Monday off for our fine Civic Long Weekend (otherwise known as an extra long weekend that was made up so that we get one each month in the summer Woohoo!).  Have a great weekend everyone!!

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Modeled Toques

July 30, 2009

Anne and Corinna in toques

There we are, myself and the team Captain.  I gave the third toque to another lady on our team, and she obligingly wore it all night long.  The response I got from our team and the one next door was pretty positive.  They seemed to think the glow in the dark feature was pretty cool, but they may just have been humouring me.  Sometimes when you hit newbies with this level of geeky knitting, they don’t quite now what to make of it.  I noticed that people were staring at my head during the night as I walked around, which was amusing.  I’m going to make more of these for next year (we’re already signed up!) BUT I’m going to sell them.  Anyone who wants one has to make a donation, no matter how small, to the MSRide Fund. 

If any of you clever cats noticed the wedding veil hanging from the door, its because one of our teammates came directly from her honeymoon to race.  Our captain was attempting to have her wear it during her lap!  Too bad she didn’t do it, it would have been great!

Quick hat pattern:

Cast on a multiple of 12 stitches, in a needle size .5 mm smaller than the main part of the hat will be.  Knit 1 inch in some type of ribbing.  Increase 12 stitches on last row.  Change to main needles, knit until hat is 5.5-6 inches long, it depends on how deep it needs to be, head size, ear coverage desired etc.  My head is 22 inches around, I tend to cast on 96 stitches and increase 12 from there.  When the hat is long enough, knit 10, knit 2 together all the way around.  Knit one row.  Knit 9, knit 2 together, etc until the last row of all knit 2 together.  Draw together the last stitches, and sew up the toque with the end if you have knit if flat, or just close the hole if knit in the round.  Ta Da!!

Looking Ahead to Fall

July 29, 2009

I do realize that even though July is almost over, and August is yet to be enjoyed, and September can be rather nice around these parts, I am already looking forward to the fall crop of knitting magazines.  Tis the season for the new cosy fall sweater, hats, scarves, mitts, etc to be oohed and awwed over.  Once again I have plans to make tons and tons of Christmas gifts, and make about 20 sweaters, hats, etc. etc. etc. 

I also love to chit chat about the new magazines, the great new designs, and what everyone loves this year!  So far the only sweater that makes me want to order yarn RIGHT NOW is the Farmer’s Market Cardigan in http://www.interweaveknits.com .  This is surprising as its been well over a year that I’ve liked any of the Interweave sweater designs, or wanted to make any of them.  However Connie C. C. continues to be an outstanding designer. 

And Vogue Knitting (www.vogueknitting.com) has declared that this is the fall for hats, and I’m all over that.  I think I have yarn stashed away to make about half of the hats in this years issue.  I’m not loving the Koi or Cityscape hat, but I do love the other textured ones.  I am currently planning to make everyone I know a hat, so you are all warned.  I also figure I need another 10 or so hats to round out my fall/winter wardrobe.  Now you may think this is going a bit overboard, but a number of my toques walk away with friends when they come to visit, so having a good supply on hand is just smart.  Here in Calgary we also need four different types of hats: Plus zero degrees, -5 degrees, -10–15 degrees, and below -20 degrees.  And that my friends, is a lot of hats.  Not to mention corresponding mitts, gloves, scarves, and cowls.  I have a lot of work to do if I’m going to survive the upcoming winter, and I’m starting to get worried. 

By the by, I was nominated on the weekend to be a member of a friends “In case of Disaster” team.  My skills were deemed to be providing clean drinking water, and keeping everyone warm for double duty.  That made me feel very warm and rosy inside to be so gosh darned useful!

In other chit chat, I’m going to buy the Brooklyn Tweed booklet from Elann yarns as soon as possible!  Absolutely everything is beautiful in this book, and I intend to make a few things from it.  I may also just cut it up and hang the photos around my knitting room, they are that beautiful.

What’s on your drool list?

24 HRS Race Recap

July 27, 2009

I had such a good weekend, I don’t really know where to begin.  I’ll begin with the moment that all my stress and worries about my current troubles melted away into one word: “Whee!”.  I was fourth up on the roster, and started my lap around 4:30 pm, a great daylight lap, just after a bit of rain knocked down the heat and some of the dust.  I pinched my finger getting my bike off the stand, and headed off on course.  The race starts with some mild climbing, gradually winding its way up above the nordic center.  It gets fun when you switch onto single track, and keep climbing over roots, and rocks, under a canopy of pine trees.  I was breathing hard, my heartrate was high, but I made it up to the top in good speed, without stopping to walk.  At the top of the climb you switch onto fun, twisty, technical single track through the trees.  Somehow I ended up by myself, with no one in front to try and pass, or behind trying to get by me.  And I thought “Whee!”.  It was so much fun, and it got better from there.  I was careful to conserve my energy on the climbs, but tried to go faster on flat sections and downhill, by the end I was letting it all out and flying up hills.  (Flying for me, not for anyone else).  I passed people going uphill, and had two people kindly move off the trail on some single track to let me go by.  Like I was fast or something!  I felt so strong, so good, and so happy.  I let a bunch of people by me, especially the soloists who were only 5 hours into their 24 hour ordeal, and some of them had come in from Italy, New Zealand, Crested Butte, Boston, so they deserve the right of way.  My goal was to do the course in 1.5 hours, and I finished it in 1 hr 40 minutes, but it had an extra 4 km over last year, which means I did really well.  With the longer course and our 10 person team I didn’t get a second lap, but I had such a great first one, it didn’t matter. 

The rest of the race time was spent cheering racers, wandering around looking at the sights (ummm there were many, many spandex clad people around, plus nice mountains) enjoying the views, making new friends, eating, and a bit of sleeping.  Julian’s first lap started close to 2 am, and I stayed up to see him off, meet him at the checkpoint, and cheer as he finished.  I sat at the checkpoint in the dark watching the racers go by with their lights, with my toque glowing in the dark, chatting with other spectators, looking for shooting stars.  I think the racers had people encouraging them the whole race, especially the soloists who by 3 am were looking grim. 

The toques went over really well, my two teammates wore theirs all night.  I think I need to make more for next year.  There are photos on another camera of us wearing them, I’ll try and get a copy. 

Anne in slow motion, almost done lap

Good weather, no injuries on our teams, smiles all around, and so much good clean fun on two wheels that you cannot believe!  Mrs C. did see one of the three bears in the area peeking around a sign, but she was so scared she just rode right by it, and climbed the next hill at the speed of light.  The smiles on our faces as we finished our laps show how much fun we had!

Adventure Week: Day 5

July 24, 2009

Ahhhhh Friday!  Finally here, and the day is halfway done as well.  Tonight we head up to Canmore for a weekend of camping and watching people race.  Oh yeah, and riding ourselves, but I really can’t refer to what I do as racing, more like making it around the course without dying and getting out of peoples way.  However, in celebration of the 24 Hours of Adrenalin, may I present to you the 24 Hrs Toques:

24 HRS Toques

They are basic black acrylic, with glow in the dark yellow yarn used for the lettering.  Tee hee, hee, hee.  I think they are hilarious, and Mr. J thinks they are pretty cool as well.  I’ve made three altogether, one for myself and two for some teammates.  If they are popular I may make more for next year.  I’m sure we will wear them, it gets cold at night in the mountains. 

Have a good weekend everyone!!

Is it just me or is this week passing slowly, yet quickly as well? 

Last weekend we got together and did some natural yarn dying!  We used the Fall/Winter Knit 1 magazine which contains an article giving a “loose” description of how to dye yarn naturally.  It was an adventure as amounts and specifics were glossed over.  This engineer enjoys exact specifications, however I felt very “artistic” with our “just dump a bunch in” method.  First off was tumeric, which looks nice and smells good:

Tumeric Dyed Yarn

We have some interesting variations in the yellow colour, and some good subtlties.  A good thing to have done would have been to strain the dying solution of tumeric crumbs however, I had to shake them out later, and there is still a ton of particles in the yarn. 

Next up was blueberries:

Blueberry dyed yarn

This photo doesn’t really do the black/purple colouration that we achieved.  It looks much better in person, the photo turned out a bit dark.  This is a very unique colour, I quite like it.

Next up is tea (decaf Red Rose for that oh so Canadian colour)

Tea dyed yarn

I find this to be an interesting colour, do I like it or don’t I?  The natural dyes have given the yarn some really interesting nuances, and an interesting feel.  They don’t really look like the photos in the magazine as we didn’t achieve uniform colour.  But I do like some good variations across a skein.  We also cleverly identified one skein of acrylic yarn which is still sadly white!

I’m not sure how well we did with colourfastness.  Is that a word?  What I mean is how well the colour will stay in the yarn the next few times it is washed.  My yarn is superwash that I dyed, but I think I’ll make some lace scarves and keep the washing to an absolute minimum.

It is after all, a cat’s life.

A Jack's Life

The cats have been having tons of adventures lately in the backyard!  They’ve been teasing the neighbours dog through the fence, hiding in the grass, running at top speed from one end to the other, and I can safely report that the bug population is down by about 6 or 8 unfortunates.  They have also been staying inside the yard, which is very good.  And the end result is as pictures above: tired kitties happy from their day. 

This post was to be adventures in natural yarn dying until I forgot my camera this morning, so we’ll have that adventure tomorrow!

Adventure Week: Day 2

July 21, 2009

This past weekend we had an adventure in biking up the Jumping Pound Ridge Cox Hill Trail.  The trail description could go as thus:

Head straight up to Jumping Pound Ridge, around a few switchbacks thrown in to fool you that you aren’t going straight up.  After 1 minute of this, watch your heartrate race past “high” to “way too high” and finally accept that it may explode at any time, and its time to get off your bike and push.  The only other alternative is to collapse at the side of the trail in a heap, and that ain’t getting you up to the top any faster even if it does sound rather nice.  Once on Jumping Pound Ridge, head along semi-flat trail for a little bit, think you are doing well.  Then notice the huge  climb up to Cox Hill, and realize you had better grow new heart, legs, and and lungs fast.  The once source of pride from the day is that I did smoke that group of hikers, approximate ages 70-90.  Left them in the dust baby!!

Once at the top, if you survive, the view is rather nice if you can remember to pick yourself up from your face plant and look around:

Anne and Julian on Cox Hill

Jumping Pound Ridge can be seen over our shoulders.  And in a scene repeated on many trails across many countries, it takes this many people to fix a bike:

Bike Repair

Adventure Week:Day 1

July 20, 2009

Building up to the ultimate adventure this weekend: 24 Hours of Adrenaline Mountain Bike Race in Canmore.  I’m very excited about this race, at most I’ll do two laps, and since I did it last year I know I can do it this year!  I really hope it doesn’t rain again, even though taking photos of racers covered head to toe in mud was fun.  The rest of the time I get to hangout with 1400 other racers, my 9 teammates and have a blast.   As we are on a “corporate” team of ten, this means that at minimun there is ten hours of rest between laps, plenty of time to nap and enjoy.  Other teams are 5 people, two people, and soloists who ride for 24 crazy hours straight, noon to noon. 

Catching everyone up on past adventures: the last weekend of Stampede we got invited to a party at a really fancy house opposite the Stampede Chuckwagon Grandstand:

Chuckwagon races

What a great view, we even got to see the chuckwagons race around the backstretch.  But the best part was the fireworks show: we were practically in it!  They set the fireworks off all around the grandstand and track, some of the big ones went up in front of us.  I will always, until I die, love fireworks, even the smell of them. 

Stampede Fireworks

During Stampede they have a huge show every single night, we could hear them from my house way over on the West side of town.  I miss my pigtails, and seeing all the wannabee cowboys, but things are settling back down to normal in Calgary now.  We even had a summer this weekend, with the weather finally turning hot!  I loved it.  More adventures all week!

Last month at Olds I bought yarn for a shrug, a sweater, something lacy, and a spinning kit.  This week I finished the shrug, which TOTALLY justifies the other purchases!

Sabine Shrug

The Sabine Shrug designed by Perl Grey uses the Fleece Artist Goldilocks, one skein.  There is a bit of pooling on the sleeves, but most of it has worked out okay.  I put the thumb holes in, I like that design feature on cold mornings.  I decided I liked the wrong side best, and sewed it up that way.  This morning I wore it over my black dress to the office, it was just enough to combat the morning chill, and the air conditioning in the office.  I had a great time yesterday pulled over at the side of the road in a field of flowers (canola or mustard, I’m not sure?) pretending that I’m a supermodel:

Supermodel Anne in Shrug

I crack myself up, but I do like my new shrug!  (Only one car drove by, so it was a fairly private “shoot”)