Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year::New Promise::New Fun

I love, love, love New Year's Eve! Like most Americans, the promise of a fresh start is just too much to resist and I always make resolutions. I think it's such a great thing, because how often do we really sit down and take inventory, decide to make changes, and often, document them in some way (even if it's just on the back of the bar matchbook while swigging down champagne).

I had a pretty good year in 2007, and kept a lot of my resolutions. I had a goal to knit more, and I sure did. Wow, what a great year for getting back to my knitting! It really started during my kayaking trip to Lake Powell, Thanksgiving 2006, when I took a couple of balls of yarn and some random needles to make a hat and scarf. Then, during our honeymoon in January I knit the Sunrise Circle Jacket and some fingerless gloves. After a mini-hiatus during the spring semester, things really took off. I even designed my first pattern, Powdered Courage. So, yeah, the New Year brought some great things.

I have so many things I want to do in 2008. Knitting, is of course, at the top of my list, as well as more designing (so hard to find time for both!). I'm starting to gett into my coursework for my MBA, and I want to start the advanced certification for Pilates (having taught mostly matwork for two years, and really getting into the equipment). I also want to write more, and start some other crafts like woodworking and yarn spinning and dyeing. Speaking of spinning, I also want to get in great shape now that my knees are finally healthy again, and my husband and I are talking about starting a spinning class together. There's also a Pilates studio in Pocatello that has a spinning studio that is geared more toward mountain biking, and even my physical therapist is talking about joining me. Oh, and behold: my surgeon is impressed with the Pilates and wants private lessons starting in January. Wow.

One of the biggest knitting projects I have planned for the New Year is my Elizabeth Zimmermann Almanac project. After reading the book and seeing how brilliant the projects are, not to mention wanting to expand my own skillset, I kept wanting to start a year long project. I hemmed and hawed for quite a while, but when I saw others on Ravelry wanting to do the same thing, I went ahead and made the jump. Our group is here, if you're a Raveler, and to date we have over 160 members, just chomping at the bit for January to start!

There are other things I want to do, specifically travel, and I'll start that out with a bang spending the New Year holiday in the Bahamas. I'm also planning an October trip with a woman I met in Thailand--we're going to Bhutan. I can't wait for that trip--we're already starting our planning, and I'm reading a lot of books. And I've got a few knitting projects lined up for the trip, natch. Among other things, I want to change or improve certain areas of my life, such as:

I need more sleep. Going to be at midnight and getting up at four probably isn't good for anyone. My goal is to go to bed at the same time as my husband (around 10)

I need to take my contacts out each night. Supposedly. In eighteen years I haven't had even the slightest hint of an eye infection, and I wear them 24/7/90-ish, but nevertheless, it's not a bad idea to take them out (or will my eyeballs go into shock?!)

I need to get my VMO's and knees in shape for trekking the Himalayas. Lots more Pilates, lots more biking.

I want to get over my perfection streak with knitting, so I can actually get some projects finished instead of constantly ripping them out because I find a little mistake.

I want to reduce my level of consumption (sounds so earthy-trendy, doesn't it?) and start making many of the things I normally buy, and start buying services instead (thinking specifically in regard to housekeeper and masseuse...)

There are other things too, which I'll have to get to later. I've already blown the "go to bed earlier" and "take out contacts" resolutions. But hey, it's officially 11:40 pm on December 30...I've got a whole day and twenty minutes to get it right!

Have a wonderful New Year, and I'll see everyone in a week!

Hot and Cold

Or maybe that should be cold and hot...anyway, those are the adjectives of the week for my vacation! We spent some very cold days at my in-law's cabin with seventeen (17!) of his closest relatives. My heavens, it's a lot of people. There are two things that constantly confound me when we have these little (big?) get-togethers: first of all, how little food they eat. It's not as if everyone is on a diet or anything, and I'm sure it's just that I'm used to feeding, two people, four at most, so I imagine that we need some kind of medieval banquet table set up, but it's still somewhat amazing to me, nonetheless.

The second thing that I just don't get is how much hot water is in that place! Showering 17 people takes an amazing amount of hot water, I would think, and with half of them being teenagers --what is it with teenagers taking 45 minute showers, anyway? Never mind, I probably do NOT want to know-- well, anyway, it's pretty cool that I was able to get hot showers.

The best part about the cabin trip this time was that my niece wanted to learn how to knit. I brought some sock yarn and some other wool and needles to start the swatch cap for my Elizabeth Zimmermann Fishtrap Aran, but Katie asked if I could show her how to knit, so I gave her the wool for it instead (I mean, who wouldn't, after all!). I worked on my sock.

I didn't have a pattern book with me, so she got to learn the "real way." I had her start a swatch, and she did both knit and purl, to test her mad knitting skillz. She actually did really, really well and seemed comfy with it, so I went bold and after we measured her test swatch and head, had her do a little cabled hat. Cables! In the round! Look at the girl go!

It took her two days, and we stayed up until about midnight, finishing it with a twisted rope and tassle (both her idea, because she wanted the rope to repeat the cables--brilliant!)

When we were just about finished, she looked at me and said that she hadn't been this excited by something in a long time. Woot! A knitter is born!
Kodi, meanwhile, spent nearly all his time outside, completely in his element. He even stayed the night outside (he wouldn't come in at night--although I suspect he didn't sleep, and hasn't gotten up since we came home last night!). He even caught a Pine Grouse, much to the admiration of the other three dogs (don't worry, it got away and only left a couple of feathers behind).
Here he is, waiting for the kids to come out so he can chase them down the hill on the sleds. I love it when he gets all squinty-eyed in the snow. Such a handsome boy. He was actually even sleeping--not under any shelter, mind you, but in the snow, with more snow falling on him. The other dogs are a bit more fair-weathered types, and stayed indoors as much as we'd let them.
So on to the hot part...tomorrow, we're off to the Bahamas! Yea! I picked up a couple of new swimsuits and some sunscreen today at Tahr-jhay, and have been frantically trying to find my shorts, tank tops, and sandals. I'll post some sun-and-sand when I get back, since the resort doesn't have wireless Internet. I kept joking that the best part about a trip to the Bahamas is that all you have to do is run home, grab your bikini bottoms, throw 'em in your purse and you're off! My husband laughed and said that as long as you have your passport and a credit card, all you have to do is get on the plane. Good point, I suppose. But what about lip gloss? Hmmm...

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One More Day to Go...

Just one more day, then I get holiday vacation until January 7! I can't wait. Work just killed me today--same old mundane, annoying stuff, but I felt like I almost couldn't take another problem. Everyone pushes everything off until the last minute. I remember last year, working on Christmas eve for two rush issues, trying to call people and finding out that they were on vacation. Ha! That won't be happening this year.

I also have my Econ final tonight (at 8:00 pm...strange time). I'm halfway not even really studying. I'm tired, I'm pouty, and I'm tired. But just one more day...

My fabulous husband is trying to find a little vacation for us, since we can't ski or snowshoe or go snow camping or anything fun right now. Might as well go lie on a beach. The travel agent just called and is trying to find us a nice little bungalow somewhere, so our fingers are crossed. My ultra-white body could use some sun anyway.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Sometimes I just crack myself up...

I was thinking about something I wrote the other day, about making Christmas ornaments for everyone at work. Huh? Who do I think I am? Did I honestly believe that I could make little miniature stockings, hats, sweaters, and mittens? Now?

Oh yes, I did. I even bought the yarn for them. Which was promptly exchanged today for sock yarn...for a marvelous sock pattern that I thought of last night. But I have plenty of time for those.

You know, Elizabeth Zimmermann was right: Christmas "Fiddle Faddle" should be made in August. Mittens should be made in April. It's just too stressful to think about making something when you actually need it.

Which brings me to my Bird in Hand Mittens. They haven't been worked on in at least a week because I've had to write two term papers, work, teach Pilates, study for two tests...what else? Oh, my husband has the flu, so I've been on soup-and-crackers patrol, too (not that it's too hard). And I thought I'd have time to make Christmas ornaments! Boff!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Mitten, Mitten, Who's Got the Mitten?

I lost my mitten! Actually, I think I know where it is...

Today was my first day back at work (boo!), and so I had to go to medical to make sure that my leg hadn't fallen off in the past two weeks, and that I was truly fit for "light office duty." Apparently, I'm only fit to do it 4-6 hours of it per day, which is terrific, because I have so much more knitting to finish before I will allow myself some new projects! And so, I took my mitten with me because I knew I had a two-hour wait to see the doc, and I think I left it there in the exam room. At least I'm pretty sure. Hoping. That mitten is almost finished, so it better be there.

But I started working on my stripey sock again, and I love it this time! The ribbing gave it that "K-Mart" quality (not that there's anything wrong with that), that didn't quite accomplish what I had in mind, but straight stockinette is much better:
I'm a firm believer in having two projects going at all times: something interesting that takes some concentration, and something mind-calming that you can do it the dark, if need be. Ah...socks in stockinette. Perfect.

My only problem right now is that Ravelry can really cause some sensory overload! I'm going bananas thinking of all the projects I want to do (and I haven't even taken pics and posted the ones I have done!). So many little time. And it's about to get littler, for the next couple of weeks, too. But then we get our Christmas break (17 days! Woohoo!).

This week is about to turn crazy-busy, too. I have to run a board meeting tomorrow morning, Christmas parties Thursday and Friday, birthday party out of town on Saturday, then Saturday night is a fundraiser for a new climbing gym on the OTHER side of the state. We'll be driving about 550 miles Saturday, all told. Oh, and I need to make cookies for the annual Christmas cookie/ornament exchange at work. I'm planning to make little tiny mitten ornaments for everyone, but I have a back-up plan to buy stuff, too.

The Christmas exchange cracks me up. Every year, we all make these grand plans at around Halloween to have a handmade cookie/ornament exchange. Then every year, almost everyone buys their ornments and a few even buy their cookies. Two years ago, I was up until 3 am, making Petite Pains au Chocolat, after having driven to the store for the fourth time buying more ingredients and glue (for the ornaments). My then boyfriend (now husband), just looked at me the next morning, all bleary-eyed, and asked, "Why on earth are you doing this?" I screamed, "Because it's FUN!!!!" We still laugh about that.

Congrats to Marsi for naming Ferris Beuhler's Day Off! If you email me your address, I'll send your prize!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oh, the Temptation...

Oh, look! My Beaverslide wool came today, and it's luscious!
I so want to start a new project right now. I've been petting and smelling it all afternoon (it smells so good and wooly). The brown with that very light green is amazing...and the yarn is so soft and so light for being so rustic and tweedy. "If you have the means, I highly suggest it." (name the movie that belongs to that quote and I'll send you a prize!). And then go here and get yourself some of this luscious tweed.

Is That a Frog in Your Pocket?

I've been in a bit of a frogging mood lately. Actually, I've been making a lot of mistakes lately! Remember this sweater? With the really difficult braided cables? Guess which part I kept messing up? The basketweave panels on the sides. The heathered yarn really covered it well, but then it started bugging me, and when I did get one of the cables wrong in the second big repeat, well, I frogged the whole thing. I guess I just want it done right.
And then these socks...sigh...I loved the yarn. Loved it! Until I started knitting it...I put some ribbing in, just a little subtle rib, but it completely messed with the yarn striping. I'm one of those people who just doesn't like color verigation with pattern. For me, it's either/or. I started noticing the problem right away, but figured it wouldn't bug me, until I finally did get to the straight garter stitch on the heel and sole. and really loved how that was turning out. So, I asked some opinions (it looks fine! all that work!), took a picture, and will be frogging this afternoon. There's not all that much work in it, and isn't it better to have something I actually like instead of something that "could've been?"
And not only that, but I actually LIKE knitting! It's not a race for me to see how many things I can finish, it's a process that relaxes and inspires me. Ripping something out, in a way, is like a fun "do-over." And it's sort of like getting a yarn freebie. Besides, I just found out that I don't have to go back to work today! Yea! It was supposed to be my first day back after knee surgery, but darn it, the medical department is booked and can't schedule me for a re-entry interview. Rats. What will I do?

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Bird in Hand Mittens!

Yea! Kate Gilbert's new "Bird in Hand" mitten pattern is ready, and not a moment too soon. We've had a skiff of snow for the past couple of days, but man, is it cold outside! Brrr.... Aren't they cute, though? I love the colors and the graphics, and they're fun to knit, too. I've heard a few comments about people wanting to make them but being put off by the colorwork, and I have to say, with worsted yarn at this gauge, it's nearly impossible to get it wrong. The stitching is super-tight, so you don't have to worry about gaps between colors, and the interchanges are close enough that you're not carrying colors forever across the back, either. Just be sure to keep it loose on the "corners," if you're using DPNs, and you should be fine.

Another great thing about the colors and the gauge is that these mittens will be warm and toasty! And they're so fun too look at, too. I can't wait until I can start my blue/white pair (as if I need another project, what with finals coming up and all).

But I've also been working on more of these:
Aren't they fun? I love all the colors and the wooly-felty-ness about them. I'm trying to make five each day so I can make some necklaces out of them. They're just the kind of thing you need to warm up a grey, mid-winter day when the snow starts to get all bleh. They should be ready by then.

I'm going to cozy up tonight and drink some Wassail. If you want to join me, here's the recipe:

2 cups apple juice
2 cups apple cider
1 orange, sliced
1 lemon, sliced
3 cinnamon sticks
3 whole cloves
1 whole allspice berries
dash mace

Mix everything in a saucepan and heat to simmering. Ladel into mugs and sip while sitting under blankets, knitting and/or watching movies. Or snow fall.