Saturday, March 30, 2013

Me in Frost

It's been a hectic few weeks around here, and it's only now that I feel like I have any mojo to write a blog post. In quick summary: we're getting ready to move to another province, and life is full of all the things that come along with that. We've got dreams to chase and responsibilities to look after, and now is the time to take care of both.

My projects have been a great distraction to me during this time. When my brain was overwhelmed, I switched to yarn-mode and dreamed about my planned projects, colour-combinations, pattern details... a pleasure in the midst of a chaotic mind.

Completed last night: my sweater, which I call Frost Lily, based on Marnie McLean's Lily. I say "based on" because, while most of the details are the same, I wrangled with the pattern a lot to get this thing to fit me the way I wanted. This sweater spent a lot of time looking like this:

  • longer, wider sleeves, to accomodate my hulking arms
  • fewer decreases for the waist, because I am not the hourglass shape that this sweater seems to be designed for
  • added length to the narrowest part of the body to accommodate my torso
  • 2x2 ribbing at the bottom edge, arm cuffs, and neckline.

I found the instructions for the yoke really hard to understand, and it took me three times (read: ripped out three times) to get something I liked. I ditched the instructions to change the rate of decreases and just decreased the sleeve cap every other row and the body every third row until the neckline reached where I wanted it to. This helped to accommodate my wide shoulders as well.

In the end, I am very, very happy with it... but man, if there was a sweater to motivate me to keep the weight off, this is it! It was interesting to learn that 4.75 skeins of Cascade 220 is enough to make a sweater for me. I bet that if I used five, I could make a sweater and still eat a few cookies...

Mmm... cookies... snack time!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Armwarmers and Dog Bone Dreams

I'm a tired bird this week. I blogged a couple of weeks ago about not minding the snow so much, but today, I'm frigging tired of it. I decided one lunch hour this week to go out for a walk, but wiped out badly on some ice. It was one of those circumstances when you say to yourself, "You know, I should move over there to get off this ice," and as you do so, you become airborne, your arms and legs flailing in slow motion, and you end up on the ground, gasping and grunting in pain. Result: really, really sore right buttock. And not just bruised-pride sore. I tried to do a workout with lunges and squats this morning, and that was groan-outloud-painful. My lower back is also a bit tense with the fear of doing it again. Stupid ice. Stupid gravity. Stupid physics.

Anyway, this week, I dove headlong into another sweater project. This one is Marnie MacLean's Lily. My version is going to be more like her own personal version that she posted on Ravelry, with ribbing on the collar and at the bottom edge instead of the rolled collar.

I've admired this pattern for a while, but there are a few weird things about this pattern, most notably: the yarn choice for the pattern. It's really, really weird. It's a DK weight that knits up at 20 stitches per 4 inches with a size 5 needle. That's like saying, "I used this yarn that has the qualities like the liquid silver guy in Terminator 2." I'm using some Cascade 220 Heather, which is a thicker yarn, and which I've used lots of times before, and I KNEW I wouldn't get gauge using the same size needles. I went with my gut, swatched it out, and yeah, I was right. Size 7 needles got me right on the button. Weird.

Since this is a sweater knitted in one piece from the bottom up, it's sort of nerve-wracking, because I don't have the luxury of leaving the sleeves until the end. The sleeves are usually the part of the pattern where I compensate if I feel like I'm going to run out of yarn, because I could always make them shorter if I needed to. And since this colour for this yarn is discontinued, this could get ugly and there may be lots of ripping out of stitches in the future, but whatever. I went ahead and knitted the sleeves first. They were a bit of a hard slog, because those nupps/bobbles are pretty, but man are they are time-consuming. What a pain in the butt... pardon the pun. If anything, they could make pretty armwarmers at the very least.

I started on the body of the sweater last night, but I took a break to read a few chapters and rest on the couch this morning.

And no, it's not easy to take photos without this face somehow getting in there.

The hubby was nice enough to go out and do the grocery shopping on his own today, which is a task we like to do together, but for which I was in no physical or mental shape to do today. When he came home, I helped unpack the goods. As I pulled a bag of Marrowbones out of the shopping bags, I remarked, "I just remembered. I had a dream last night that we had a secret stash of these things in the house."

To which the hubby replied, "How'd you end up in Rascal's dreams?"

I don't know. Perhaps he has more powers than we know. I'll be twitching my paws and barking in my sleep any day now...

Monday, March 11, 2013

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Before the Nap

I'm about to take a nap. I was going to take the nap after lunch today, but I thought I'd get a few things done first.

I made some jam from the nanking cherries that have been in my freezer since the summer.

And I did that to make room for the frozen blueberries I bought this morning at the supermarket. And while the jam was simmering, I thought I'd go ahead and make some blueberry and lemon scones...

And they looked so good that I postponed the nap to have a cuppa tea and a scone. I confess, I sang a little triumphant anthem after the first bite. We are the champions, after all...

Rascal was unimpressed, but then, that's normal for him.

After that, I knit a few rows on this cowl. I'm using the free pattern called Merrily, Merrily, Merrily by Shelly Leahy. The yarn was originally destined to be used in Earth and Sky (see previous post), but you know how these things go... Best laid plans and all that...

And now that I've done all that, I think I'll sleep a bit. We're heading out shortly for the rest of the afternoon for a short flight in hubby's flying club's plane, then a good steak dinner. Better get the beauty sleep in before I go. The pup has already got a head start. But then, that's normal for him, too...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Where I Just Stick My Arm Out

In a fortunate combination of events, we found ourselves in Canmore, Alberta in the middle of a snow storm last Sunday. We arrived the day before in the sunshine (and the mud and slush and puddles), and awoke the next morning to winter... But not harsh, old man, bitter, frozen, go-away-and-let-me-hibernate winter, but the fluffy, winter wonderland kind of winter.

Since we had no real plans and no obligations, we spent our time walking in the snow with our little dog, who doesn't know that he's not actually a sled dog.

And when we got too wet and cold, we came inside and enjoyed tea and coffee and treats...

And new toys...

And I finished knitting a sweater. This is my Rosamund's Cardigan, pattern by Andrea Pomerantz. I made it out of some yarn that has been sitting under my desk at work for the longest time called Natural 10 ply from Naturally Wools (which doesn't look like it's available anymore... hmm...) It is a pretty "rustic" yarn, and when I left it in the water to soak for blocking, I found that there was so much lanolin coming out of it that I had to wash it with shampoo three times before I felt it was clean enough for rinsing.

I added 3/4 length sleeves, and finagled the stitch count between two sizes to get it to fit me properly. I also made it longer, did more waist-shaping, and fiddled with the collar to try to get more of an upright collar... which sort of worked...

You're supposed to use hooks and eyes to close the fronts, but I imagined that would be a nightmare of endless catching and snagging, so I decided to sew smaller buttons to the inner side of the cables and just push them through the knitted fabric instead of making little buttonholes. And since I hate sewing buttons, this was a true labour of love...

This is one of those rare photo shoots where I didn't set up a tripod and wait for natural light. I never thought I'd be one of those people who take their photos by just sticking their arms out with their cameras in hand, but it actually takes a pretty decent photo, if you can manage not to drop the darn thing... ahem...

So while I sympathize greatly with those who are living through multiple "Snowmageddons" this winter, I must say I enjoyed my confinement. I daresay I could do with another few days like that, if only to work through some of my yarn stash.

Come on, Mother Nature. Gimme a chance to work through the stash, would ya?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Guest Blogging

Hey y'all, The Loop in Calgary, Alberta honoured me with the request to guest blog for them. Check out the shop here and the blog here!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Inspiration Mondays: Two of Three

It was around this time of year last year that I came home from a doctor's appointment with the news that my blood pressure was too high and that I was a prime candidate for the bp medication and for diabetes. That was a big, huge pile of bricks that landed on me that day. After that, I decided to make some changes, and a couple of weeks ago, I hit my goal weight.

I just got home from a weekend in the mountains, and I let myself have free reign in regards to food: I ate what I wanted, as much as I wanted, whenever I wanted. After the first day, I lay in bed with a sore stomach and vowed I wouldn't do that again. But I've been thinking:

I think one of the lessons I've learned is that food needs to satisfy at least two of the following conditions to truly be worth it for me:
  1. It must taste good.
  2. It must provide fuel for my body.
  3. It must be shared with someone I care about.
If I can hit all three conditions, then bingo: I have found food with truly good value in it. When only one of these conditions are met, I'm usually disappointed. If I eat for comfort, I'm usually hiding away while I'm doing it, I feel terribly guilty, and I know I won't have the energy I need for later. But if it tastes good, and I am sharing with someone I care about, I can still feel ok about it, because I'm not hiding and feeling guilty. And since I'm not so busy beating myself up, I am conscientious enough to stay on track for the next day.

Case in point: the hubby's birthday cake, which is currently cooling on the kitchen counter. It's an Earl Grey Chocolate Cake, recipe courtesy of shutterbean here. It's gonna taste so good, and I will share it with someone very important with me. Calories, meh. (If you're curious, it's 214 per slice, if you cut it in 16 pieces and use fat-free yogurt, but that's beside the point... It will all be ok...)

The same could be said of every other indulgence I allow myself. Take my hobbies, for example. I knit and crochet and spin because they usually satisfy at least two the following:
  1. It feels good.
  2. They provide me with items I wouldn't otherwise purchase at good value (not necessarily dirt cheap, but of good quality that can be purchased with the funds I currently have).
  3. It opens up a world of interesting people and beautiful ideas.
I like this two-out-of-three thinking. It might help to me weigh out the good and the bad, the difficult decisions, the minor choices. Things are rarely black and white for me... instead, they're usually a whole pile of what-if-I-shouldn't-be-doing-this-reasons. If there are at least two deeply satisfying outcomes, maybe that means I can feel ok about it.

Anyway, I'm off to my exercise class. I shall continue to ponder this two-out-of-three stuff, especially since I brought this bag home with me. Maybe I shouldn't have got it, but there's gotta be at least two good things in there...

Friday, March 1, 2013

Yarn Before Underwear

Yet again, my lack of organization astounds me. Life gets busy, I get disorganized, stuff gets put aside till the last minute. My life is run thusly.

Yes, I said, "thusly."

We're escaping to the mountains this weekend, and while we only planned it about a week ago, I still feel like I should have gotten my stuff together sooner. I mean, I've only just put some underwear into a travel bag. And what did I do before I did that?

I planned my travel knitting, what else?

I hope to finish up my Rosamund's Cardigan and find some buttons for it while I am away. I've also packed some yarn in the hopes that I can start knitting Stephen West's Earth and Sky. It's a pattern I keep coming back to again and again in my pattern searches, and I think it's about time I knitted it. It means that I will finally make use of a skein of Fleece Artist and Viola Silky DK that I've had stashed for a while, and dkzack sold me a skein of Sunshine Yarns Classic Sock in a chocolate brown colour that helped me make the decision to knit it.

Meanwhile, I think Rascal is trying to make a statement about my disorganization. I came home yesterday and flung my stuff on the floor next to his bed. My lunchbox must have landed in it, blocking his ability to relax properly in the kitchen. And well... I guess he figured that if my stuff was going to take over his space, he had a right to put his toys in my tote bag...

Point taken, pup. I got it...