Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekend fun

Such a lovely 3-day weekend (and I still have the rest of today to go).

Friday night we got around to watching Divergent.  Aside from the fact that the main character, Tris, was sort of whiny and a bit slow to grasp her situation, I enjoyed the movie.  I'm sure we will watch the subsequent films, but probably not in the theater.  It didn't grab any of us the way that The Hunger Games did.

Saturday, I spent some time with my friends who own Yarnover Truck ,the mobile specialty yarn store.  Of course, I couldn't visit without buying yarn. Seriously, they were having a sale, so how could I pass up some yummy discounted yarn.  I'm trying to branch out in color choice and do some decidedly "not me" color combos.

I think these two colors will good together in a stripey wrap of some sort.  I have found a couple of patterns that I am considering, but haven't arrived at a decision yet.  With all the other backlog of projects and yarn I have in stash, it will probably be a while before I get to these anyway.

Most of Sunday was spent prepping for my fantasy football draft.  I have been in the same league for 10 years.  It's a great group of guys, all of whom hate that they keep getting beat by a girl.  While some of my fellow coaches have never made it to the playoffs, I have won the league championship twice (including last year) and made the play offs almost every year.  I'm pretty happy with the team I drafted last night.  Although, I don't put much weight on what is actually drafted (outside the top tier players), because it's really what you do throughout the season with player moves that makes the difference.  I'm so excited for the season to start.  I love knitting and watching football.

I also started a new project on Sunday, the Starshower cowl pattern using Anzula Nebula in the Keola colorway.  This is not the best picture of the yarn, but, if you look really closely, you can see the sparkles in the yarn.  With the start of this project, I have 3 on needles and 2 that need blocking.

I also finished two audiobooks on Sunday, The Magicians by Lev Grossman and Dead Air by James Goss. I found a love of audiobooks when I was getting my MBA.  As you can imagine, I didn't have much time for pleasure reading during that time and I missed it immensely.  I took to listening to books on my (semi) short drive to work.  Since completing my MBA, I have continued to listen to books (as well as read them).  This way I can read and knit at the same time.

Today, my plan is to sit on the couch and 1) play Lego Hobbit on the XBox 2) knit while watching my husband play 3) knit while watching TV and 4) knit while listening to a new audiobook. Oh yeah, and get some laundry done.

I hope everyone is having as pleasant a weekend as I am.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Busy Week

As much as I love to knit, there are some weeks where I just don't have it in me.  This past week was one of those weeks.

I've been in Texas at a conference for work.  There are many conferences where I know I could get in some knitting time, but the Tessitura conference is definitely not one of them.  Not only am I almost constantly taking notes, giving presentations, eating and shaking hands, but additionally by the time I make it back to my room . . . I'm so exhausted I know I would make numerous mistakes (even if I was knitting garter stitch).

The conference is now done and (as I write this) I am waiting to travel back home to my loved ones, which includes my yarn.  Now that the chaos of the week is over, I am craving some knitting time.  Knitting is my zen and I could use a little of that right now.  My brain is still swimming with all the information gathered this past week.

That's why I love this conference.  In one week, I get enough ideas to last me the next year.  I absorb the mana and I am powered up and ready to go. (Yes, I know my geek is showing.)

In case you think the conference is all work and no play, these pictures should prove otherwise.

Every year the attendees, vendors and staff of Tessitura get together a band to rock the house on the final night of the conference. 

These talented folks (is it any surprise that artistic people work for arts based companies), create lyrics based on Tessitura related material and sing them to the tunes of well known songs.  For many, this concert is the most highly anticipated part of the conference.  I was at the first conference where the Tessiturians (yes, that is the name of the band) performed, and I have enjoyed watching the group morph and grow over the years.  I always look forward to hearing what new pieces they will come up with and how many new instruments will get added to the mix.  After almost a week of intensive brain-drain, the concert is the best way to blow off a little steam.

Next year, the conference is in Orlando (I can't even type that word without hear Elder Price in my head. Thanks, Book of Mormon!).  The band gets to play on the stage at the Hard Rock Cafe.  It should be epic!

So, for another year I have put TLCC to rest.  Now, I need to get some rest and go do some zen knitting.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Not My Usual Topic

Life is short and precious.  Why does it always seem to take the death of a beloved person (either actually known or known for his/her work) to remind us of that.

This week Robin Williams died.  Mork went back to Ork and I hope he finds peace there that he couldn't find on Earth.

It's a real wake-up call, that you just never know what is going on inside someone. 

I'm still struggling to wrap my brain around the fact that he took his own life.  I'm not sure why his death hit me so hard or why it has affected me so much.  Yes, I loved his work.  From a young age Robin was there.  I remember eagerly awaiting the next episode of Mork & Mindy and sitting with my family watching it.  I also remember my younger brother running around the house endlessly saying Naa Noo Naa Noo (or however you spell that) while wearing rainbow suspenders and then attempting to sit on his head.

Maybe that is it.  Robin Williams was tied to many of my favorite memories and some of his work affected me profoundly. 

I remember seeing The Fisher King and being blown away by the depth of his ability.  It was so outside his normal film.  Dead Poet's Society really made me think about my life and why I wasn't seizing the day.  Bicentennial Man, which so many people didn't like, I loved, because it sparked a conversation with friends about what it means to be human.

He made me laugh endlessly.  Mrs. Doubtfire was such an amazing performance with so many great lines, many uttered so softly or so fast that it takes repeated watching to truly grasp everything.  And speaking of a multitude of characters, who can forget Genie.  Aladdin, would not have been as wildly successful as it was without his comic genius.

When his return to TV in The Crazy Ones was announced, I was excited.  Weekly doses of his comedy!  When it was cancelled I was sad, but thought, "I will look forward to what he is going to do next."  That's really it.  I was always able to look forward to his next performance, to seeing what his comic genius mind would come up with.  Now (after the last of his movies come out), I won't have that to look forward to.

I guess, all that's left to say is . . .

Thank you Robin Williams for sharing your genius with us and leaving behind such a rich library of performances for us to watch endlessly. 

Carpe diem!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Long Term Projects

I have a hat that I have been knitting for years.  It's not a complicated hat.  In fact, I would say it qualifies at mindless knitting.  The kind of knitting that doesn't even require you to look at it.  In the beginning, that term was reserved for anything in garter or stockinette. As my skills have grown, the term can now refer to any pattern that can be memorized easily.  That is what this hat is.

So why have I been knitting it for years?

It started out as chemo hat for a friend.  But I realized that it wasn't really going to be a good choice for that situation, so I set it aside in favor of other choices for her.  By set it aside, I mean I had it in a purse that I rarely used and because it wasn't a priority project anymore, I completely forgot about it. (Yes, it was staring at me as a WIP in my Ravelry queue, but I was blind to it.)  I meant to finish it and give it to my daughter, but again, it slipped my mind.

Then about a year ago, I went to use the purse and discovered the project sitting inside.  I thought, "what the heck, I'll take it with me."  It had been so long though that I couldn't remember the simple pattern.  When I got home, I immediately looked it up and decided that the project would live in this purse to be the mindless knitting I took whenever I needed something small to work on.

As the project has no definitive purpose anymore, I don't particularly care when it gets finished.   So it goes on car rides, to the fair and last week it went to the movies.

We went to see Guardians of the Galaxy. (Loved it!) I knew we were going to have to get there early, which would mean plenty of time for mindless knitting.  Don't get me wrong, I love to watch the 20 minute pre-show of stuff I didn't know I should care about, but I was feeling restless and knew my hands would need to be occupied.

This time I discovered the one problem with mindless knitting. . . it can't be completely mindless.  As you can see from the picture I was using double pointed needles.  At one point, I ended up with an extra needle with no stitches on it.  Yep, I had just kept knitting and put two needles worth of stitches on one needle.  I realized something was wrong when the knitting got REALLY tight.  Then I saw the extra needle sitting in the purse.  Drat!  I spent the next several minutes rearranging the stitches and by the time I had them back in order the previews trailers were starting.

Away went the project and I have no idea when it will make another appearance.  I know someday I will finish this hat, but I think part of the fun now is not knowing when.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

More Time for Knitting

I'm trying to look on the bright side of my current situation.  Let me back up for a minute and give you some details. . .

A few years ago I had a case of Achilles tendonitis.  It took a couple of months to heal, but then everything seemed OK.  That is until I decided to start running.

Knowing that I had this issue in my past, I took a cautious approach to my training.  I researched and found a good interval program for beginners that wouldn't push me too far too fast.  Or so I thought.  A month or so into the program, I noticed some soreness in my calf.  I backed off and found some additional stretches to alleviate the tightness.  Things seemed to be going better until one day, about midway through my run, I began to have a familiar pain in my leg.  I immediately stopped and hobbled back to my house.

I took a couple of weeks off and did home treatment: icing it, taking my anti-inflammatory meds, etc.  When I went back to running I decided to use a treadmill for a while to slightly lessen the impact on my body.  It wasn't feeling good.  I went back to my doctor and ended up in a walking boot with a very solid plan for recovery. (Luckily my GP used to run marathons so he knew exactly the way to get me back on my feet).

I followed his plan exactly, and things were progressing well.  Until I had a really strenuous week at work where I was on my feet for many hours, walking all over our venues.  I started to feel the soreness building back up.  (At this point I was well into exercising again, so this amount of walking shouldn't have been a problem.)  Back to the doctor I went and this time I ended up with a referral to a podiatrist.

This bring us up to this past week.

I saw the podiatrist and got two pieces of good news: there is nothing of significance in my foot x-ray, and every treatment I have done before has been correct.  Well, that last bit is both good and bad.  It means it should have worked and everything should be fine, but it is not.  In fact, when he was poking around on my Achilles tendon, he found a spot that was so tender I almost kicked him.

I'm now back in the walking boot until I complete a round of specific modality therapy (which I am still waiting on the insurance to approve) and then we see what happens.  The hope is that this therapy clears it up and then I get some good insoles for my shoes to keep it from recurring.

Like I said, I'm trying to look at the bright side.  Because I am supposed to stay off my foot as much as possible, I see significant amounts of time dedicated to sitting on the couch knitting in my future.  I guess everything has it's upside!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

My Precious . . . .Yarn

I have a large stash, but most of it is yarn I will probably never use, bought at a time when I had very little knowledge of high quality yarn.  Sometimes I wish I could go back to that simpler time (kitting was a much more affordable habit), but then I pick up one of my really yummy skeins of yarn and I pet it and call it my precious.

Oh wait, that sounds a little creepier than I meant it.

Honestly, once you have knit with high quality yarn, it's hard to go back.  Especially when your friend is a dealer, I mean owns a yarn store.  Yarnover Truck is my favorite place to find indie dyed yarn.  All the yarn you see in this picture was purchased on the truck.

Most of the yarn is from Anzula, but there is also some SweetGeorgia, Forbidden Woolery, and Dragonfly Fibers (courtesy of their latest truck show).  I have patterns picked out for some of the yarn: the sweetgeorgia in the center (the one that looks like sunset) is going to be a shawl,  I bought enough of the Frobidden Woolery yarn (the skein on the far right) to make a custom knit sweater, and the green Anzula at the back is destined to become a cowl (I bought it with a specific pattern in mind).  I'm not sure which one of those will be my next project.  The choice is so difficult sometimes.

These skeins just scratch the surface of the mountain of yarn I should get through.  I really should put a moratorium on new purchases, but I just can't resist the beautiful colors and smooth textures of yarn.  Whenever I enter a yarn store (on wheels or not), it is so hard for me to resist buying yarn.  I always tell myself that buying a new skein motivates me to use one of the skeins I already have.  Nice rationalization, right?

I guess it just comes down to the fact that I love yarn, it makes me happy.  It's not weird at all that I pet it and horde it and call it my precious.  Right?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Picking Up Where I Left Off

I think I have mentioned before that I have a horrible habit of not finishing projects.  For one reason or another, I get part way (or sometimes almost all the way) through a project and then just don't finish.  Case in point, my Seascape Stole.

I started that project a little over a year ago and it is only slight further along in the pattern than shown in that post.  I wasn't using the charted version of the pattern and it has many stitch types in each row that have to be repeated so I got frustrated with exactly how much concentration it was taking and stopped.  I found it in its project bag (really just the shopping bag I bought the yarn in) and decided that I needed to finish it.

Well, something changed since I last worked on this project.  It doesn't seem to take as much concentration.  I did just complete two other shawls (I know, I actually completed projects!), so maybe my brain is just in the mode of remembering repeating stitch patterns.  I don't know, and I'm not going to fight it.  I'm going to go with the flow and see how fast I can get this done.

Once I get this done, I'm going to finally piece together the sweater I knit in 2010 for NaKniSweMo!  I've been on the search for the perfect buttons for this project and finally just realized I should make the buttons myself.  I have all the tools and supplies to do, don't know why I never thought of it before.

After that has been completed, I need to go back and frog a coin lace shawl I also started in 2010. (Wow, 2010 was a good year for starting and not finishing projects).  I stopped because I had made so many mistakes in the lace (that I didn't discover them until it was well past the fixin' stage), and I knew I would never wear it.  Now that I have more experience with shawls and lace, I think this should be an easy project to complete.  I love the yarn I was using and the pattern.  Which is good, because if I didn't like them it would be silly to pick up the project again.

I'm sure in between finishing these projects I will start others.  I have a lot of yarn purchased over the last year (mostly from my favorite store) that is just calling at me from my stash.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Fair time!

I love this time of year . . . time for the OC Fair!

This year my husband won a four pack of tickets. Score! Not that it costs that much to get in, but saving every little bit helps when you have the Product Parade (or as we call it, the Carnival of Crap) to go through.  However, our first stop every year is the Centennial Farm and the livestock.

 Here we get to view, what I like to call, future sweaters.  This angora goat is sure to produce some wonderful fiber to be crafted into mohair yarn.  While mohair yarn is not something I like to use for my own projects, I certainly have an appreciation for the halo it produces when knit up in an open shawl.

This was one of the only fiber producing animals we saw that still had it's full coat, which was surprising.  It was only the second weekend of the fair and all the sheep had already been shorn.   Most years, when it's this early at least some of the sheep still have their full coat.  They must have thought it was going to be scorching hot this summer and decided to shear them earlier than normal.

Can't speak for the weather the rest of the time, but the day we went was wonderfully cool.  The sun didn't even make an appearance  until  after 4pm.

After the goat, we went on to admire the Suffolk sheep. Even without the full coat, you could feel the softness that will eventually become yarn. 

After the family pulled me away from the future sweaters, we headed over to see what we would get suckered into buying this year.  We knew that we wanted to purchase our standard Garlic Festival products and a garlic grater.  What we didn't know we wanted were LED, color-changing, remote controlled candles.

In all fairness (pun intended), I had been looking at adding some flameless candles to the house.  With the cats, we have discovered that having real candles is a bit problematic.  I just hadn't expected to spend that much and get that many.

We also made our way through the arts and crafts hanger.  I was not impressed with the entries this year for knitting and crochet.  On the other hand, some of the quilts were amazing.  Having attempted my first "quilt" this past year, I have a whole new appreciation for the amount of work that goes into producing one of these. (Yes, quilt is in quotes, because what I did was more of a two sided blanket, but it was still a lot of work.)

With all the walking we worked up a good appetite, so that family split this . . .

A Texas donut covered in maple glaze and bacon.  Yes, it is the size of that plate.  Yes, that plate is a small lunch plate.  This stand also sold a donut with Pop Rocks on it, another with chocolate glaze, bananas and whipped cream, and you could make a donut into a sundae . . .oh there were so many to choose from.

There is so much food at the fair, none of it good for you.  Well, you might be able to find some semi-healthy meal options and there is always the fresh fruit stand.  But really, why go to the fair to eat healthy stuff you can eat anytime.  The fair is the time to cut loose and eat the stuff you wouldn't dare to eat on a regular basis.  In fact, there are so many choices that my hubby and I want to go back toward the end of the fair for one last bite of yummy, heart attack on a plate, goodness.

I think if we make it back to the fair we just might indulge in some of these . . .

Thursday, July 17, 2014

My Life Gone Square

I see it has been close to a year since I have posted.  Not astounding, I mean I really haven't blogged consistently in many years (if ever).  I know I've said it before, but I must get back to it.  Writing, like knitting, is something that helps keep me sane in an otherwise crazy life.

So much has gone on this year.  My mom has had two major surgeries, my dad had one minor surgery, I had an aunt diagnosed with breast cancer, and uncle have to have his knee replacement redone, I sprained my IP join (which is the top joint on your thumb and one I didn't know you could sprain), I started training for a 10K and ended up in a walking boot with Achilles tendonitis (still not completely healed), and work has cranked up to 11 on a dial that goes to 10 in recent weeks (today is day 11 of 12 in a row). Oh yeah, and the other night my car battery decided to completely die, after not giving me any indication something was wrong, while I was up in L.A. at 9pm and then miraculously be in perfect condition the next day when I had it at Pep Boys.

On the positive side, I discovered square knitting needles. . . and LOVE them.

With my mild RA, knitting was starting to become difficult and I would go weeks without touching my projects.  This past February at Stitches West, I finally gave in to my curiosity (on the advise of one of my companions) and picked up some of the odd looking needles.

It took me no time at all to see the benefit: I can knit for hours without any pain and my stitch structure is much cleaner.  It may just be that I can knit for longer periods of time, but I feel like I knit faster with them.

I've now started slowly replacing all my needles with square ones.    Right now there are only two companies (that I can find) who make square needles.  As you might suspect, one is a higher priced product and one is a lower priced product.  I have tried both and enjoy both.  What I like best (after the being able to knit longer part) is the cable on the circular needles doesn't hold any shape so I don't have to fight with it when I first take them out of their packaging.  In fact, the cable on higher priced needles comes in two levels of firmness and one is downright floppy.  The floppiness took some getting used to, but now when I have to use my "normal" needles the inflexibility of some of the cables drives me bonkers.

If you have been looking at them or hearing about them and thinking you just don't get it, pick up just one set and try them.

You might just agree that square is the new round.