Another Hat and a Weekend

August 31, 2010

This weekend alas, all I knit was this hat, all 138 yards of it, leaving me far off my goal for Sept 1, 450 yards short, or a rather largish pair of socks.  As much as I don’t like missing goals, what is there to do, I will just make my goals for the next quarter, which will be to have my stash number below 40 000 yards.  Four months is plenty of time for that! 

This hat took a few tries, by the way it is a Irish Hiking hat constructed from Manos el Uruguay simply because I had wanted to knit a three inch cuff that could be folded, but soon concluded (about 4 inches in) that I would run out of yarn pretty quickly.  I then almost got to the top, decided it was too short, and went back to add another cable repeat before doing the decreases.  Now it is just slightly short of the bottom of the ear, which may be just fine for someone out there.  I was going to gift this to a friend we went camping with this weekend down in Fernie, but as I didn’t finish until Sunday evening at home, that may not happen, Xmas box for you!

Speaking of this weekend in Fernie, we had a nice, rather uneventful time, if you don’t count the incredibly even rain that started Saturday night at 10 pm, and continued until at least noon on Sunday, at which time we started for home.  It was amazing, it never got heavier, it never got lighter, exactly the same for hours on end.  I may have been awake for awhile on Saturday night listening to it.  This will be our last camping trip now until next year, as my now 80 year old pregnant body apparently can’t handle sleeping on even an air mattress anymore.  I was amazed however that even thought I woke on Saturday morning with freezing cold feet, arms, legs, head, neck etc. my belly was like an oven, radiating heat. 

There were other adventures however, but not in the wild animal encounter variety, more of the nine year old daughter and eleven year old son of my friend variety.  I had met the son before, and find him to be a very nice young man, calm and level headed albeit eleven.  His sister was unfortunately incredibly curious about certain matters such as puberty etc.  I found myself having to answer direct questions on the subject, for rather a long time, as the level of curiosity was rather high.  I also found myself explaining why pregnant women need to go to the bathroom a lot, and have naps.  Needless to say I really don’t have a problem explaining these things, except that with the absence of her parents, (we were hanging out while the others went biking) I had no clear guidance about how to handle the situation.  Left up to my own I did what came naturally, insisted we use proper language and discuss the matter in the most scientific way possible, and stick to the facts.  She learned a few new proper terms, and I hope had some curiosity met.  I really can’t imagine what she is at home telling her Mum now, but if Oprah says she isn’t too young to learn these things, and let’s face it, she had a huge desire to learn, I don’t really think any harm was done. Both Mr. J and I were a bit shell shocked however, but I figure we had 9 years to figure it out with little Ryder. 

 Both the boy and girl did look at me rather askance when I said I did indeed like math, we were talking about them starting school at this point, and thought it was a rather worthwhile subject.  “Are you a teacher?” asked the boy scornfully, “No I’m an engineer,” I answered, “we do a lot of math”.   They were both still dubious.

I’ve been continuing my quarterly goals, during which I tally my stash in Ravelry and download the totals to an Excel spreadsheet, and add up the remaining yards.  I was a bit surprised that from April 1 to July 1 the number went up by almost 2000 yards.  All that knitting I did was cancelled out by trips to Olds, and various other stops along the way.  I enjoy my yarn, but I would also like to see the totals go down!  Therefore my goal for September 1 was to see the number go down from July 1, which is easier said than done!  In order to make it I need to knit another 700 yards by next Wednesday.  Good thing we are going camping this weekend, as camping for me now means sitting in the camp reading, and knitting.  I will try and work in some nature walks, but I really can’t be as active as I used to be, it really takes it out of me, and then I need a whole week to recover.  They don’t tell you in the advertisements that being pregnant can make you feel like you are 80!  They just concentrate on the cute baby.  So, 700 yards.  Its going to be difficult, but I’m going to try.

And of course I’m having a blast updating the tally in my spreadsheet every few days to see how close I’m getting.  Now I need to go and watch the first results show on So You Think You Can Dance Canada, because yes, my life is just that exciting, and I now have a few favorites I’d like to see stay, including one amazing dancer from Edmonton.  Four more rows of Icarus, then the finishing up!  That should be worth 100-200 more yards?

FO: Baby Kimono #1

August 23, 2010

I’ve been busy making little cotton baby kimonos for the three summer babies that have now all arrived!  And I’m actually done with all the kimonos!  It’s a very simple pattern however, and was a good way to use up multitudes of mismatched cotton yarn that I had tucked away.  This particular kimono pictured at left is on its way to Toronto as I type for a pretty little girl who is 1 week old.  The kimono has a few “design elements” which is what those of us in Knit Club refer to little problems that we pretend we meant to do all along.  For instance, can you see where I ran out of blue?  As a result I have this dashing half sleeve in blue/yellow/red, and 1.5 sleeves in just yellow and red.  Just like the babies are sporting on the runways!  I really like the bright primary colours in this one, and I hope the Momma likes it as well, design elements and all!  And let’s face it, its durn unique.  I also hope her Mum gives me some feedback on how well it fits, and how easy it is for the baby to wear it, as I’ve got some sock yarn earmarked for my little Ryder to wear come January!

Hat Mania Continues

August 17, 2010

Sometimes one just needs a little hat fix to tide one over until winter.  This lovely blue toque is from last years Vogue Knitting, and is rather charmingly called the Blossom Hat.  The soft blue yarn is Ull Eco, and I can highly recommend it for mittens and hats now, I noticed The Knitting Room has restocked their supply.  They had a very striking red….

I think I’ve made around 5 of the hats from this issue, and plan to make at least one more, and then repeats of course.  Of the ones I’ve made, I’ve liked each pattern.  This hat is knit from the center out, flat, and sewn up, but since it featured BOBBLES I was a happy knitter.   Now I want one for myself.

I made it for the team captain of our biking team, who mentioned that she wore the horrible scratchy black acrylic toque I made her last year all through the winter.  This winter she will have an extremely warm wool toque, that is soft, and is long enough to have good ear coverage (very important when you are skiing out to huts in the Rockies).  Plus it will look smashing with her blue eyes.  When people let me know they not only liked something I made, but wore it, they are sure to get more things!

A few weeks ago Miram Felton came all the way up to Calgary to introduce her wonderful new book Twist and Knit, and teach a bunch of us how to design our own lace items.  I’d like to note first of all how much admiration I have for Miriam to have designed these shawls, socks and gloves in the first place, and then to have written and published this book by herself, it really is  a monumental accomplishment.  If you don’t have your copy yet, hurry up! 

Miriam took some time on Friday night to introduce each design in the book, mentioning the inspiration, and what she was trying to accomplish with each piece.  It is one thing to see a design in a 2-d book, but quite another to see it in person, and being wrapped around Miriam who looked so stylish in her grey outfit, perfect with each design.  She pointed out unique aspects of each piece, how the Lacy Lune scarf ends curl pleasingly, how the folds of the Dropleaf Wrap fall into pleats when draped across your shoulders.  The non-lacy Lune makes me wish I had hurried up and learned to spin years ago, it’s giving me some more excellent motivation to get a move on.  It’s such a perfect design for hand-spun, and a very interesting, yet simple design, all the versions showing up on Ravelry are so beautiful in handspun.  My first project will however be a lacy Lune, made with silver Geisha silk from Blue Moon that is going to be incredible!  As soon as I finish Icarus that is, I am still amazed how long it takes when knitting with practically thread. 

During the class we jumped right into picking out stitch patterns, discussing basic shawl types, and deciding which one we wanted to use.  I decided to do a four wedge shawl, which yields a semi-circle end product as I had never made one of that shape before. 

I picked a stitch pattern, called Lingdon Berry, that seemed fairly simple, and began graphing away.  Making stitch charts by hand is a lot of fun.  The stitch pattern seemed very simple, and I felt clever until Miriam figured out the pattern would not repeat for 40 rows, which meant 40 rows of graphing.  Oops.  I cast on the correct number of stitches, and began making my four wedges of lingdonberries.  The pattern is slowly emerging as you can see on the left, and it isn’t that bad.  It needs a good number of inches still to look decent.  Once the shawl is done, and the Lingdonberry Wedgie becomes an internet sensation, all will be well.  That is if I finish making it, and if I ever decide to formally graph up my 40+ rows.  I think I may have to leave the designing to the professionals like Miriam.  After all, she does it so well, and as it appears to us her fans, so effortlessly.

FO: Tempest Sweater

August 10, 2010

This is the Tempest sweater from Knitty a few seasons ago, made from grey Kroy sock yarn (2.5 balls) and 1 ball of Sleeping Dragon sock yarn.  I finished this months ago, but haven’t gotten photos taken, mostly because I’ve been sleeping a lot.  I didn’t like this sweater initially, as the colours used in the original aren’t to my taste.  But once I saw other people making their version, and realized that if you have two balls of sock yarn with extremely generous yardages, this was a great sweater to make.  The sock yarn on larger needles makes a nice thin fabric, and works well over t-shirts.  This works very well in our climate where the mornings are chilly enough for a sweater, but by noon it warms up enough for that t-shirt.  This pattern is worth a try, nice waist shaping, and a huge range of sizes. 

I can still wear the sweater, but unbuttoned, due to my, ummm, ever rounding front.  I’ve had to re-think my knitting schedule recently as well, moving non-cardigan sweaters down the queue for next year.  I’m only going to be wearing sweaters that will undo over the bump now.  I grew out of most of my clothes rather quickly, around six to seven weeks which was a bit shocking.  That’s what happens when most of your clothing is “form fitting” rather than loose.  The good thing about elastic waist pants however is that I’m very comfy after a good buffet meal, no matter how big the belly gets. 

P.S. I really like the lime green buttons.

Baby Knitting Commenced

August 9, 2010

And the baby that I’m knitting for, at long last, is my baby.  I’ll be four months along on Wednesday, and the little munchkin is due to make an appearance January 26th, 2011.  I’m really excited to have a winter baby, that will need about 100 wool outfits to stay warm until summer gets here in July.  And because it is my baby, I can abandon all the rules I use for gift knitting; most outfits will be knit in 100% wool, if we have a girl she will wear blue and look damn good in it, if its a boy he may have some pink thrown in there for flash, and most items will be knit in stronger colours, rather than pastel.  For my first project I’m making a very traditional layette from a 1968 Woman’s Weekly magazine that was my Grandmother’s.  I love making items from these old magazines, I feel like I’m forging a bond between my grandmother who died when I was 16, and my baby.  I’ve chosen a handsome emerald green, which I love for baby items.  This will be the outfit the baby comes home from the hospital in, after my incredibly easy delivery.  Seriously, I’m expecting 20 minutes tops.  After this I have a whole list of items I really want to make, and I honestly should not have been surprised that the list came to me so quickly, and I knew exactly what the first 10 items would be.  All the years of knitting for other people’s babies was just practice for mine. 

Its been a long road for me, and for Mr. J and I to get to this point, and now that it is here, and I’m far enough along to announce the pregnancy, it still hasn’t sunk in.  I have a stack of books to read, classes to sign up for, car seats to decide on, but we haven’t made much headway yet.  As I get bigger every day, and the baby is making its presence known through various methods, I feel overwhelmed about finally being pregnant.  I really didn’t want to have a baby until I turned 29, and then overnight I realized what a biological clock was.  It took many more years, relationships with the wrong people, until I finally lucked out and met the right man.  We started trying to have a baby last summer, as we weren’t getting any younger.  It was a year of disappointment, 12 months over.  It can be so hard, to experience one disappointment after another, and we only had a year of it, unlike the many years other people go through.  Every month I would give myself 2 days to feel sad, then get on with it, same thing when I found out friends were pregnant.  We’re not sure what made the difference in the end, the naturopath I was seeing, vitamins Mr. J was taking, or the other various things there are to try before we could get in to the local fertility clinic,  for which there was a 7 month wait.  I do feel a large factor was quitting my job, and taking 2 weeks off, during which I slept a. lot.  A whole lot.  And got pregnant.  My new employers have taken the news well, and I’m hopeful of being able to come back to work after my maternity leave.  I’m currently planning to take six months, and have Mr. J take off the rest, we’re not sure if there will be 3 or six months left to him.  I got my positive test result just as we got the appointment to the fertility clinic, which I cancelled.

The first three months were very nervous ones.  How could this be smooth sailing as it was so difficult to get pregnant?  Every time I told someone I got so worried, what if tomorrow I lost the baby?  I had mental lists of who knew so that I could call them personally to tell them the bad news.  And how can you keep the pregnancy a secret for 3 months, when it takes up every part of your waking, and sometimes sleeping brain.  I’ve had nausea, and extreme sleepiness, but nothing too terrible.  Giving up biking and skating for this season is hard, but having a baby will be better.  I was surprised at how sore my hips are after just a little walk, and how hungry I am getting.  I’m taking huge lunches to work (snack #1, snack #2, lunch #1, lunch #2) you get the idea.  I’m trying to fill up on good stuff, but the ice cream is sneaking in there! 

So here we go.  Baby Ryder (we’ve been calling the baby that after the Canadian Ryder who came 6th in the Tour this year) this sweater will keep you warm as we take you home.  You are going to have a few other outfits, including a sheep outfit, and you will be the cutest baby this side of Finland.  We’re pretty nervous, as we don’t know much about babies, and are pretty sure we are going to screw up a lot.  But we’ll try, and can’t wait to find out if you are a road rider, mountain biker, or both!

One of my main focuses has been to get through the eyelet portion of Icarus, and onto the very exciting feather lace pattern, which I finally managed to last weekend.  I had thought I was doing an extra repeat of the eyelet pattern, but after reading the text portion of the pattern again, I discovered that I actually was supposed to be doing the extra 1/2 repeat anyhow.  Therefore the shawl will be made to the pattern, without an extra repeat, and will hopefully be nice and big.  The yak/silk I’m using is a 1200 yd ball of 100 g, and after doing 5 repeats I still had 80 grams left, which means I will probably have plenty left over.  I just couldn’t face doing another whole repeat of eyelets, especially now that each row is so long.  I keep telling myself “plenty big”.

My sock purse project is the Lindsay Sock from Sock Innovations, in a very pretty green/blue/white Lisa Souza.  I’m enjoying the pattern, especially as its easy to do, and easy to figure out where I left off, which means no row counting.  It hasn’t gotten much attention as I’ve focussed on Icarus, but this week I’ll get back to it again. 

My endeavour to make something for the 3 babies due in August is over halfway to completion, which makes me happy.  In fact the gift for the first baby due to pop is already done, and the next one up is getting pretty close.  Once all the babies are here, and the presents sent off I can show some photos.  I currently have plenty of projects on the go, and plenty I’m itching to cast on and get started on.

24 Hours of Adrenaline

August 2, 2010

Last weekend we headed up to Canmore for what was now our third 24 Hours of Adrenaline, the day long mountain bike race.  This year we had the best weather ever, no rain, and good hot conditions.  After such a cold spring, and early summer, I am still busy soaking up the sun and heat, after all, its only going to be around for another month.  Now that we have done the race a few times, and have gotten the routine down pat, we can really sink in and enjoy the best parts of the two days in the mountains.  The best part is the incredible views from every direction during the day, especially on a great weekend where there wasn’t really a cloud in the sky.  Friday night is all about seeing friends that we haven’t seen, some of them, since last year.  Everyone catches up, has some beers, chats, visits.  Our excellent team captain starts the job of making everyone eat constantly.  There are new neighbours next door to meet, to chat with, to encourage in their endeavour of turning their trailer into a giant hot tub.  Saturday morning dawns nice and early, the morning light is the best for taking photos of the camp.  There is a buzz in the air as all the racers start to get excited, work on their bikes and start to get pumped up for the noon start.  There is an argument back and forth about who is doing the running LeMans start, and the dreaded first lap.  The first lap is the hardest as the competitors are bunched up on the trail, later on everyone is more evenly spaced and there isn’t so much passing and being passed.  The team and supporters head up to the start to watch the run, and cheer on the racers.  This year I could really notice that the first hour or two of the race everyone is so excited, and things are a bit chaotic as the racers get the routine down pat.  But after that everyone settles into a routine that becomes regular and comforting as the afternoon and night goes on.  The racer goes out, someone watches for them at the half way point, then the next racer starts to get ready, and heads to the start line about 20 minutes before they are due in.  Teammates wait at the top of the last hill to cheer their friend on, and boost them towards the finish line.  The finished racer is brought back to camp, they get fed immediately, and then cleaned up to wait for the next lap.  I find the routine soothing through the night.  As it gets dark and the racers put on their headlamps I head up to get a good view of the hill above camp, to see the lights twisting and turning through the woods.  Each year I savour the sight.  The noise from the camps dies down around midnight, but the racers keep going through the night.  In the morning I like to get up early and start quietly cheering people up the last hill, especially the soloists who have been riding through the night.  Many of them appear to be in a trance, but most look over and smile, especially if the encouragement is gentle in tune with the morning peace.  Towards noon there is another burst of excitement as teams try and get their last riders in by the time cut-off, to make the last laps count.  I’m always a bit sad when the race ends, the routine is over, and the clean-up begins. 

Our team did really well this year, without any 2+hour laps, unlike last year.  There were two mechanical problems, a broken chain and dead lamps which meant two laps were scratched which was unfortunate.  One of the teammates had a really unfortunate flip-over at a check point station as she tried to drink, steer, and slow down at the same time, with painful results.  She had about 10 guys come to pick her up however, and finished her lap.  On other racers we saw plenty of dripping blood, bandages, and broken bikes over the course of 24 hours.  There was a number of bear sightings, but everyone managed to get along, especially as one of the bears was a mother and cub grizzly in one of the nearby meadows.  Mr. J finished two laps, and could have done more, he had the fastest time on the team, and no injuries which made me happy.  He sure looked like he was taking it easy as he came into the finish! 

And once again, I can’t wait until next year.