Thursday, July 31, 2008

FO Thursday!

I. Love. This. Sweater.

Lace Cardi green on green
Pattern: Blue Sky Eyelet Cardigan (size Large)
Yarn: Knit Picks Shine Worsted in Grass (11 skeins)
Ravelry link: Green Cardi

The only mods I made were to shorten the sleeves in the ribbing (for my short upper arms) and lengthen the body below the bust shaping. As I have mentioned before, I have a body that requires extra fabric in the boobral area.

Lace Cardi Mountaineering! (I mean, button close-up)

Several Ravelers mentioned that for busty gals, the sweater ended up way too short. If I had knit a medium, my extra length would have been just right, but I didn't know I would be losing 20 lbs between project start and finish. With the extra two pattern repeats, I now have a non cropped sweater.

Lace cardi - back view

Luckily I am ok with that, and also, it will squinch up a bit after a wash n dry.

What I love(d)
  • The softness of the Shine
  • The color
  • The wide neckline
  • The easy to memorize lace
  • The way the lace and ribs are curve-hugging
  • These set-in sleeves actually worked, first time!

Lace cardi - how I will probably always wear it

What I would do differently

  • I read on Ravelry that the lace/ribbing patterns on the fronts and backs did not match up at the shoulders. If I were to do this again, I would do the math to make them match, it's a little thing, but gives it slightly less polished look.
  • Also another nit to pick, but the button band should have been picked up next to a knit row, instead of purls, as it really wants to curl out. I couldn't visualize this issue, and am not so undone by it that I want to rip the whole sweater apart to fix it. I will live with it, but I think it would have been visually tidier and structurally more sound.
  • Make a smaller size
  • Possibly tweak the sleeve length so I don't have to cuff them. The shine is heavy and the cuffs tend to unroll.
Lace Cardi Vogue

Love love love!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Stress reduction courtesy of Ikea, a good friend, and an allen wrench

Last weekend, I did some organizing in my craft/guest/work room with the help of my pal, Ramona.

The poor girl was stuck in this room:
BEFORE: Spare room
[Soothing, isn't it? Almost... spa like.]

This was my sewing table:
BEFORE: Sewing table
[Not so odd that the sewing machine never even made it out of the box.]

The computer blogging/photo editing workspace:
BEFORE: Computer workspace
[See also: one post every two months.]

And the two closets in the room being used ... um, "non-optimally":
BEFORE: Closet 2

BEFORE: Closet 1

So Ramona, the queen of organization and helping me get my shit together, and I went up to North Austin and roamed around the beautiful and strange Ikea. After a bit, we settled on the Ivar storage system.

Much cranking and a fair bit of drilling later...
WIP: Chelsea - the constructiest

WIP: Ramona McBuilderton

And then some thoughtful rearranging...
WIP: Stash and futon
[Similar view as first pic... we moved the futon under the window and lined the shelving up on the long wall. Much more soothing sleepspace now.]

It is still a bit of a WIP, as I have a bunch of little odds and ends on that table to deal with, but it is sure a lot better!

WIP: Craft wall
[All the crafts are contained--and I can finally SEE all my fiber--and the sewing/work table rolls away from the wall so I can work in the middle of the room.]

The computer was moved into one of the closets (someday I would like this closet to have a built-in desk).
AFTER: Computer workspace
[The desktop, she is cleared!]

That second closet still needs some shelves and to be better utilized, but is much more orderly and its all about small steps towards better.

I have this crazy dream, a plan to quit my job... It is a couple of years away, but it is a light at the end of a long, draining tunnel. This room will hopefully be an office and workspace someday. All of these blog posts and a nearly finished sweater would lend some credence to the idea that I hope is true: that a better space makes for better productivity.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Houston, we have a neckline

Picking up the neckline is always so nerve-wracking for me. Will there be gaps? Puckers? Will the ribbing stick straight out instead of lie down obediently? Will the bind off be all ripply and crappy? I am afraid that (much like insetting sleeves) I don't know enough of the science behind getting it right, so it always feels like a bit of a crapshoot.

Add to all that my concern over whether or not this neckline would tighten up the sweater enough to keep it from falling off my shoulders... Last night was as much of a nailbiter as a night of knitting and watching PBS can be.

The results? Fantastic.

No gaps at the back!
[No sags or puckers along the back neckline]

Cardi neckline
[Matching curves and no holes along the two fronts]

Smooth bind off
[Smooth bind off and a neckline that will NOT fall off my shoulders like an 80s shaker sweater]

I can't wait to finish this thing and get to organizing my WIPs for the Ravelympics [ link]!

It was some bit of crazy knitting synchronicity that just a few days after unearthing all of these long- and not-so-long-neglected WIPs that I saw the post for the Ravelympics with the WIPs Wrestling event!

So, I am crazy, but I am going to try to finish the following WIPs:
  • Diagonal Crochet Blanket
  • Polar Blizzard wrap from Scarf style
  • That damned Oat Couture T-shirt
  • A pair of socks for my friend Steve
  • The White Lies vest that has been PRACTICALLY done for months
  • A guitar strap for this guy in an awesome band that I met/heard in Virginia.

It would be so completely badass if I can finish them all. I am most worried about the Blanket. It has a ways to go. Gulp.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday morning, coming down

My feet hurt, and I have a run workout tonight! Training isn't over, as there is one more triathlon (The Sweet & Twisted Tri on August 24th).

I have a "race blog" that I use to track workouts and race results... I haven't been keeping it up this training season, but I put all the numbers there. To see how I did, clicky clicky. The bike ended up not being as miraculously fast as I had hoped and the swim was pretty disappointing, but my run was a Personal Record, so I am happy overall.

Last night, I finally seamed up the last bits of the lace cardi. I still need to put in the wide rib neckline and the button bands. It is slipping off the shoulders, but the neckline should fix that. I am slightly concerned that the button band will make it too big around, but I am going to wait to pass judgement.

WIP: Shine Green lace cardi

WIP: Shine Green lace cardi

WIP: Shine Green lace cardi

Things about it I already love:
  • The color!
  • The drape of the slightly heavy but still soft Shine Worsted
  • The perfect sleeve length (one of my mods)
  • Slightly looser fit than written - in the heat, a tight sweater becomes a wet rag pretty quickly

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Race report

Rogue Women's Tri Medal

That's right, FINISHER!

I love a race with a medal.

This morning, I woke up sluggishly at 4:15 am. I was already packed up and had my suit laid out... I made my PB & J english muffin on total autopilot.

Amy showed up and had to put my bike on her car all by herself because my elbow was hurting like crazy. Maybe putting the Ikea furniture together on Friday jacked with my overly sensitive tendons and whatnot? I was worried about it, but would hardly notice it the whole rest of the day. We drove out to the race site (over an hour) with me yammering just about the whole time.

Amy and I try to look perky at 6am

We got to Texas Ski Ranch (water ski ranch, apparently... the name really confused me the first time I saw it) by 6:15 with plenty of time to score totally sweet spots for our bikes and transition areas. The key is to get an end and to be positioned near Bike Out...

Amy has the transition of an elite athlete
Amy has a compact and tidy transition set up.

My transition is more... casual
I prefer "highly visible" to "efficient."

Our waves didn't start until nearly 8:30, so we had plenty of time to get our timing chips, stand in line for hours for a porta-potty, and swim around a bit in the water. A saw a ton of women from my awesome training group. The water, by the way, was about the nastiest-tasting water I have ever submerged myself into... A little salty, a little oily, and with just a hint of goat.

I have aged out of Amy's group (ah the days of 30-34), so I went out before her. The start was much more civilized than any other tri I have done so far. I rocked it for probably the first 50 meters (coach Holly has been trying to help me with my arms, but my body has the most stubborn memory for bad form), then got flustered, frustrated and winded. Spent the next 75 meters trying to avoid other bodies and doing a bit of side stroke. No major collisions, and I managed to pull it together for the last 100 meters or so. Overall, I would give my swim a thumb's down on the "satisfaction with my performance" scale, but time wise, I think it was fine.

I jogged all the way to transition (a testament to my fitness for sure, at my first race I was so wobbly after swimming it was all I could do to just walk to my bike). I like having a bucket to sit on while I deal with socks and shoes. It may not be the fastest way, but it gives me a breather.

Then I was on the bike. I do not love riding my bike, but the first 3 miles were brisk and (excepting the first hill right out of transition) relatively flat. I did Jack's Generic Tri at the Texas Ski Ranch in 2006. I remembered a series of rolling hills and one KILLER half mile long one at about mile 13. This course was 3 miles shorter, but I couldn't really tell by the map where it had been cut out. The middle 6 miles consisted of about 3 short but wide hills with some straights between. I was doing better than last year, for sure... but I won't know how much better until I have the official times. My bike odometer shows an average 13.9 mph (compared to 13.1 at Jack's in 2006 -- a personal best that year -- and 13.5 at last year's Danskin). There was a lot of headwind on the rolling hills, which was a drag, but I kept my speed up pretty well on through the tops. Thanks, coach Liz!

When we turned right onto the I-35 service road, with under 2 miles to go, I suddenly realized where the extra 3 miles had gone: we turned toward the freeway sooner, so the big ass hill was GONE! O happy day! I rallied pretty well and smoked past a couple of women who I had been leapfrogging the whole ride. They didn't know what I did: that the last half mile was a steep, fast downhill. I barreled across the flat and took the hill strong. I maxed out on the downhill at 37.9 mph!

At the exact bottom of the hill is the dismount line. The set up was a bit confusing, as they had two columns of cones set up for a bit before the line, with two volunteers on either side. Women were slowing down when they crossed into the "cone corridor" even though the dismount line was still a few seconds away. When I passed the two volunteers, I slowed down like everyone else and one of the volunteers said "keep going! keep it up to the end!" I didn't see the line yet, so I sped back up. Just in time to have to break HARD. You can't cross the dismount line on your bike or you get a penalty. All of a sudden, 3 volunteers were screaming "Stop! Stop! Stop!" and I was yelling "Shiiiiiiit" trying to will my bike still with brain power. Just as the front wheel crossed the line, I dropped my feet and sort of fell off the back of the bike. I still had one hand on the insolent back break and the other was on the seat. My feet were ON the dismount line. There was a lot of commotion, and one of the volunteers asked if what had just happened was ok or not... If I don't cross the dismount line, but my bike does, does that count? The lead volunteer was laughing by now at the spectacle of my runaway bike and my gymnastic dismount. She declared that it was ok AND I should get a "couple more stars" for it.

My walk back to my transition area was a little wobbly after all that, but I was still speedy about dropping my helmet and water and grabbing my hat. I walked to Run Out and then started my slow jog.

I did my first real bike/run brick yesterday. It was short, but a good reminder of how HEAVY my legs feel after a bike ride. I knew from yesterday that it would take a few minutes for the blood to get circulating in a different direction. I kept a slow steady jog from the transition area, over the grass to the road. On the way I saw Coaches Liz and Lorrie and they cheered me on enthusiastically.

Words can't quite convey how cool it is to feel the support of so many folks at an event like this. I had never been particularly athletic before the last two years. Even now, I am ridiculously slow and inefficient if compared to one of the "elites." And there is no way that I have any of the resources to BECOME an elite (the most important being an interest in it), though I may continue to improve year over year for a while still. Groups like Rogue make it fun to go out there and enjoy myself ANYWAY. We cheer each other like superstars and celebrate every personal success like it was a first place finish. My enthusiasm for these events is sometimes met with confusion by the types of folks who don't try things they can't win at, as though going out there as an ultra amateur would be embarrassing for me at worst and a waste of time at best. To those folks today I would say "What were YOU doing at 8:30 this morning?"


Theresa and Carmela

Kristin did NOT drown

So back to the run. It was hot. As usual, I forgot to take my gu* when I got off the bike (one of these days I will remember and maybe the run won't be so tough).

This was a short one, only 2 miles. My only personal goal for this race was to run the whole run portion. Every other tri I have mostly walked the last leg. Did I mention it was hot? We weren't near the high (it would be 103°), but it was still uncomfortable. I kept my shuffly jog up all the way to the one mile marker and the water stop. They had Gatorade (apple, GROSS) which I really needed after missing my energy gel. I walked a few steps, enough to drink the Gatorade and not accessorize with it, then got right back to my bouncy shuffle. The last mile is more down than up, which, along with the other women cheering and joking around, put me into great spirits. We could hear the emcee entreating us with breakfast tacos and mimosas, and one woman yelled out "I'm runnin for that taco!" A group behind me was discussing whether to go for a mimosa, a breakfast taco, or an ice cream cone. I turned around and said, "Hey, this is a TRI-athlon... go for all three!" I had to walk a couple more steps when my race belt almost fell off, but I grabbed it and got right back to my slow run. I arrived at the spectator area to lots of cheering and I totally SPRINTED the last few yards across the finish line.


Afterwards there were the aforementioned delectables, along with ice foot baths and sports massages. Amy and I took our sweet ass time and missed the rush out of transition, out of the parking lot, and back to Austin.

When I got back, my good friends Shannon and Rob had dinner with me at Shady Grove where I savored my traditional after-race meal of Chicken-fried Chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes. And a margarita. All in all, a pretty good fucking day, if I say so myself.

And now, I am going to kick back with some knitting...

*Um, I just eat the regular gu, but now that I see there is a ROCTANE (said the way a WWE announcer would introduce The Rock) I may have to branch out.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


There will be no long post today. I did way too much running around, and spent the morning dawdling with Ramona before she left and finishing up the last bit of knitting on the lace cardi. I had grand visions of sewing it all up, but only got as far as the shoulder seams and one side of one set-in sleeve.

lacy cardigan - final stretch

I did mention a stash picture, and here it is...

[It's not as bad as all that, right? It used to be worse, I think... before the purging of 2005 and 2006]

This is almost all of the fiber that is not currently "in play" in a WIP. (I found a bag of organic cotton and a few other odds and ends as I continued to sort stuff in the room.)

Here is a shot of the neglected WIPs

WIP Mountain

The Lion Brand Bolero is not in there, as that one finally had to be let go. The sleeves weren't quite right, and now it is about 2 sizes too big anyway. I am hoping someone at Arts n Drafts will want to either finish it, or salvage the yarn.

I am really excited to show off my new room, but for now I need to get some rest before tomorrow's race. Think good thoughts for number 226!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Diamonds on my neck / Diamonds on my grill...

Don't have a lot to spend, but dying for a diamond-crusted grill? Look no further: Candy Grillz

I took today off and spent it hanging out with Ramona, who was back in town for a bit on work-related business. We did magical room feng shui/origami to my craft/computer/guest room to take it from horrendously cluttered and messy to orderly and useful. I will post pictures tomorrow, as right now I need to get ready to go out.

Tonight, my good pals, the Yuppie Pricks have a CD release party... While I can't stay out late (race on Sunday!) I will definitely be stopping by to see the spectacle. I believe there will be a bikini contest and possibly some money thrown out into the crowd. They always put on the best show!

I almost didn't make today's post... but I really want to work on writing every day. It's all part of the Big Plan. Tomorrow I need to mostly stay off my feet, so stay tuned for a long ass post about craft clutter AND possibly a couple scary stash pics!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Fixing a miscrossed cable - the Stitch n Beach way

While on the knitting cruise (I still can't believe I did that... SO. Much. Fun.), one of the classes Ramona and I took was called Stitch Doctor. We learned how to fix common problems (like a dropped stitch) as well as how to fix a miscrossed cable.

Debbie explained how it occurred to her one day that in the case of a bad cable cross, there was really only one "arm" of the cable that was in the wrong spot. So why should she drop the whole cable down to fix it? She taught us the following process for fixing a bad cross by only dropping the offending side.

NOTE: Deb was very firm and consistent in regards to how to perform this sort of surgery: With your knitting FLAT ON THE TABLE. You wouldn't want a doctor to hold you up to his face while he is cutting out your appendix, right? Well, keep the knitting flat and well-lit too. Having all the tools at hand before you start is also a really good idea, as wandering off and leaving loose stitches is probably sort of asking for trouble.

Also, I haven't tried it, but this should work no matter how far down the cable is messed up, though the farther it is, the more of a drag picking up stitches will be.

Step 1: Freak out
Step 1: You blew it, that cable's backwards
OMG! That cable was TOTALLY supposed to cross in the BACK not the front! Aaaack! What do I do? Lie down in the road and wait for a bus?

No! Take a deep cleansing breath. Say your favorite calming mantra, and assemble the following tools:
  • a cable needle or a short double-pointed needle (a size or two below your knitting size will make things easier),
  • a crochet hook,
  • a glass of your favorite beverage.
Step 2: Put in a life line
Step 2: Put a needle in as a life line
Using your cable needle, grab the stitches of the arm that you are fixing (in this case we want to move that back cross to the front) just below the cross. This way, when you start dropping stitches they won't run all the way to the bottom of the piece if you get woozy.

Step 3: Ready, set, DROP!
Step 3: Drop just the side that needs fixin
Carefully loosen just the (in this case, 3) stitches of the side you are dropping. Remember, the beauty of this method is that you don't drop the whole cable, just the side that needs to move. If your hands are too shaky, you can use a crochet hook or the tip of a knitting needle to calmly and slowly drop the stitches down behind the cable.

Step 4: Drop til you pop
Keep dropping stitches until they "pop" out from behind the front cable. Then stop. This may be before your lifeline.

Step 5: Put the loose stitches on a needle
If you didn't have to drop all the way to your lifeline, move the cable (or dp) up to the loose stitches.

Step 6: Hook 'em!
Step 6: Use crochet hook to ladder them back up. Voila!
I couldn't get a picture of this step, but hopefully the gist is clear. If you haven't ever used a crochet hook to pick up stitches, check out this tutorial first.

You want to take your crochet hook and grab the first "rung" of the ladder in back (make sure to double check that it is the FIRST rung, it may not be clearly visible from the front) and pick up a stitch for each of the free stitches. You will be holding the loose cable in front and picking up the stitches on each rung. You can do this stitch by stitch (pick up the first stitch all the way to the top and put it on the working needle) or one rung at a time (pick up all three stitches before moving to the next row, putting all three on the working needle when you are finished). Personally, the latter method worked better for me, as the ladder can get pretty tight by that third stitch.

Once you get all the loose stitches back up to the top and on your working needle, sit back, take a long pull off of your beverage of choice and metaphorically pat your crafty self on the back.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Across the universe

[Macro view of Lagoon Nebula from Space Today (via the Hubble)]

[Micro view of a plant stalk by Mike Krentz from flickr, via "microphotography" search]

Now imagine all the millions of views inbetween... And the millions of views beyond.

The last few months at work have been very frustrating--hell, the last year, really. And just lately, I have started to formulate a plan. A Master Plan. It will take 5 years I think... Which is so much longer than I am normally willing to wait for anything. But if it gets me out of this cube and doing something I enjoy a lot more, it's worth it, right?

In other news, the right front of the lace cardi is DONE. The left front is started, and has come to work with me for Wednesday's knitting lunch.

[sorry for the grainy cell phone pic, but it was late and I have a friend staying over in the computer room]

Yesterday AND today's t-shirts have been brought to you by

dry humor ice cream t-shirt
[It says "Dry Humor Ice Cream"]

[Just a big orange polka dot... There were huge polka dot conspiracies when I was in highschool, and this reminded me of them in a good way]

I have such a stupid weakness for t-shirts...

The race approaches. My swim workout last night was abysmal. I was freaked out about work stuff, and it was really affecting my breathing rhythm. How frustrating! I need to work out some of this shit before Sunday. I am really excited about this one, it looks like it will be a blast and I would like to do well.

The most important thing for the week (aside from the aforementioned chilling-the-fuck out) is water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water water

And taking my most delicious gummy vitamins. If you don't like vitamins, you haven't tried big chewy gummy orange slice vitamins! They don't even taste nasty like b vitamins always do!

gummy vitamins

So that's it for today: expand beyond all the known universes, drink more water, and take your vitamins!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Tuesday's child is full of grace (and, apparently, links)

Do you know which day you are? Birth Day calculator.

Last night I went to my running workout. It was actually a pretty good one, even though it was (you might want to sit down and fan yourself for a moment) 101°F outside. We did some 50m repeats, and it was really gratifying to watch my heart rate recover from the spike so much more quickly than last year. It really amazes me that I like running.

"You gonna wear those shoes?"
[That photo title is from a song by Patrick Sweany, "Them Shoes". You can hear the whole thing here: Patrick Sweany. I highly recommend it.]

As an aside, and thank you Norma for reminding me that I slipped in a lil mention of yoga yesterday... Ann, are you still out there? Guess what? I have been going to Bikram yoga for a couple of weeks now and I TOTALLY LOVE IT. (Ann took me to my first hot yoga class when I visited her about a million years ago.) I think it is really helping me deal with the heat during my cardio workouts (as well as carving me some nice muscles).

Also, last night, I knit!

Lace cardi back

The lace cardi now has a complete back, two sleeves and ALMOST one front... It would be so kick ass to finish this baby this week. I am making her up from Shine Worsted in Grass. This yarn is so soft and squooshy AND machine washable (at least the DK I made my Jems Diamonique [ravelry link] from has held up great so far).

Here is a found picture that warms my black, cold heart like a nice wool sweater. It's from bighappyfunhouse:

And last link for today, I promise, here are some amazing knitted organs. Seriously, go look... they are crazy and soft looking. [Thank you Boing Boing]

Monday, July 21, 2008

Which way did the bicycle go?

My first triathlon of the season is this Sunday. It's a shorty: 300m swim, 10mi bike, and 2mi run. I am hoping to really sprint it... actually run the whole 2 miles.

A friend was originally going to be here to see me thru to the finish line, but it looks like that won't work out. I am trying not to be a crybaby about not having a cheering section again. The race isn't about the cheering, right? Ugh.

Working out this summer has been really good to me but also a bit harder than I feel like it should be. Next year, my plan is to skip tri and just focus on running and yoga. 'Cause, really, it's just the bike that's killing me.

I don't like biking that much. I feel like I should. Biking is fun! Don't lots of people bike as recreation?... I just can't get comfortable. The bike should be as familiar to me as a lover, and as trustworthy; an extension of my will to get from one place to another. Instead, it is this hard, pointy, heavy, scrapey, needy piece of equipment that must be lugged around (take the tire off, put it on top of the car, now take it down, put the tire back on, rinse and repeat), attended to, and accommodated. In exchange for all my care and attention, I get tire grease stains all over everything, sweaty helmet hair, and a sore ass. What a shitty boyfriend my bike is!

But let me sing the praises of running! And swimming (though it does require getting into a bathing suit, which is its main drawback) is TEH BOMB in the Texas heat. These I will keep for the rest of the year and next. The bike is probably going to get shelved for a bit.

And in case there was any doubt as to the power of triathlon training... Here is the preview from my latest 666 photography shoot:

Hawaiian pin up preview

Now, if only I always looked like that fresh from the pool...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sublime internet

Wow. Has it really been 3 months? I am officially the worst knit blogger ever. Technically, I was dead... since I am also the worst sock assassin ever, but I did not come here to make excuses.

OK. I am making a few commitments to myself and one of them is writing something every day. This surely means that a lot of what is about come will not be knitting related.

I actually did finish a project recently, but it was a secret project. I am *this* close to finishing my lace cardigan, so as soon as I am done here, I will be working on it. More news as it develops.

This will be my inspiration for tomorrow's piece. In the spirit of the sublime beauty of the intertron: a great inadvertent random idea generator. I typed in "what did you expect" and let the nutty universe give me a long strange brainstorm.