50 Shades of…taupe?

I had a three day trip to Columbus for work–the annual needle arts trade show. Sadly it got cut short half a day as our home was vandalized early Saturday morning (someone threw a brick through our living room window, and while no one was hurt, it was disconcerting and distracting enough that I went home early).

I did get quite a bit of knitting done though. As part of the #summerofbasics I’m replicating a sweater for my sister.


This RTW sweater is well-loved and thread-bare. It’s knit side to side though, with short-rows constructing the yoke. The only seams are the arm sleeves. Thankfully, I found a pattern (Hypatia by Quince & co) that mimics the construction, albeit in a smaller gauge. The yarn is Laramie by Mountain Meadow Wool. It’s going quickly.


The replica is slightly denser and less gray (more brown). But I think she’ll like it because it’s not threadbare or pill-y.

As for Juneathon, I’ve been plugging away. Four miles in Columbus (which did not offset in any way at all the 3 trips to Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream).  And three times this week.

 

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You know it’s a good day

When this happens


Yep, another pair ‘o jeans. The denim is Japanese selvedge procured in Hong Kong this past March. Pattern is Closet Case Files Morgan jean. I sized up 2 sizes because on my last pair I had the narrowest of seam allowances. This time I was going for a slouchy look. It’s not quite that, and the pockets are a bit low, but I love the fancy stitching I did on the pockets. And my button fly is much more even. Oh, and yes, the pocket bag and waistband are Liberty. 

Between the new jeans, the re-emergence of the sun and a nice 5 mile run, my more relaxed Juneathon is preceding on course.

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On the needles and in the gym

First up for my SoB (that’s Summer of Basics, folks) is a sweater for my sister.  She lives in Hong Kong and typically it’s not sweater weather there, but recently their winters have gotten a bit chilly, and without central heating she’s found that she does need some things with sleeves. When I visited in March, she asked me to replicate her favorite sweater bought probably a decade or so ago at Garnet Hill.  That yoke-style sweater was constructed quite differently–knit side to side using short rows. There are no seams on the body, only on the arm. It’s a cute sweater, but she’s worn it to death and it looks like crap (sorry Libby).

I took diligent measurements and photos of the original, and then spent the next four  weeks contemplating how to make it work.  Thankfully, a Ravelry search turned up this:

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THE. EXACT. SWEATER!  (thank the good lord).

And last night I cast on:

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The yarn is from Mountain Meadow Wool, where I visited last month in Wyoming. It’s one of the few full-service spinning mills in the US (they do everything from soup to nuts), and they can trace back their fibers to the particular ranches they came from. Although I’m not very far along on this project, I LOVE how the yarn feels. That, and the short-rows, will keep my interest for what’s basically a sideways stockinette cardi.

Accompanying my SoB is Juneathon–today was GRIIT (group intensity interval training) at my gym.  Yep, that’s right–I’ve ditched a few days of running and added a few days of gym workouts. Those few days have kept my chronic injuries at bay, and I wish I had been more diligent about this before.  Today’s 45 minute class featured a bunch of box workouts–like jumping onto the box (12″ off the floor) and squatting, then jumping down and squatting. Sometimes it’s amazing I get out of there alive–my proprioception sucks. That being said, I love these workouts. I may not be so graceful, but I’m getting stronger.

And given what’s been happening in our neck of the woods, I think strength (of both body and mind) is going to be an asset.

 

 

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Well, this is embarrassing…

I have not vanished off the face of the earth. In fact, I can barely remember what’s kept me so silent for the past, um, 8 1/2 months.

Oh yeah, that’s right. It’s that my country is in a tailspin of awfulness. Sigh.

Prior to this, I would have described myself as someone with nerves of steel.  That, dear friends, I have come to find out is categorically untrue. I am a bundle of anxiety.

The only silver lining?  That I can hunker down in my basement (yep that’s right–no cute sewing/knitting “studio” for me. I work in an unfinished dungeon) and make stuff.  So in 8 1/2 months that I’ve been absent, I’ve sewn 5 pairs of jeans, 1 pair of chinos, a wool outerwear pullover, one dress and one tunic, 2 flowing tops and one breton top,. I’ve also knit a sweater, a pussy hat, and a regular hat. Running took a bit of a back seat, averaging fewer than 20 miles per week over the winter, but I’ve also travelled a bit: Block Island (Rhode Island), Buffalo (Wyoming) x 2, Santa Clara, (CA), Phoenix (AZ), Chicago (IL), and Hong Kong, but not in that order.

I’m not sure I’m ready as yet to face the world, but I think connectivity, no matter how small, helps.  Onward!

June 1st is always a good day.  It’s the start of #Juneathon which I think I’ve been doing forever, and new this year, it’s the #summerofbasics headed by Karen Templer over at The Fringe Association.  Read more, and hopefully join along. I’m not quite sure what I’ll be making, and I’m certain to have more instagram updates than blog updates (you can follow me on Instagram here.

Overall, I think I’ll be doing two sets of basics, one of regular clothing, and one of running/athletic gear.  I’ve also got three sweaters on the needles, but one (a request from my sister) will take precedence since she’s only here for a short time each summer.

Stay tuned–I’ll do my best to catch y’all up on the past 8 1/2 months, while keeping you interested in the stuff coming down the pike!

Oh, and in the interest of #Juneathon, I ran 5 miles today!

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Back to regular programming

When we last met, I was in the throes of the #fringeandfriendskal2016. I was sketching, charting, designing and mathing my heart out. I frogged my first two attempts, and seriously questioned my ability to add and divide. But, as they say, the third time’s the charm.

That, my friends, is my sweater journey, in a nutshell.

If you recall, this was my inspiration:

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Some choices I made along the way include: 1/4 zip (as I’m going to treat this as outerwear); bracelet length sleeves; no pattern on the hem; and pockets, of course. All in all, I’m pretty freakin’ pleased.

Oh, and to add to my awesomeness–in the middle of the knit-along, I knit ANOTHER SWEATER as a birthday gift for my friend IN 4 DAYS!

This one came together quickly, and as the recipient is a petite person, I used Thing 3 as my size model. The hardest bit was finishing the sweater the night before the birthday party, and then wet-blocking it. Of course, our summer humidity made a comeback, necessitating an hour long drive with the AC blasting, and then a time-out in my bedroom, again in front of the AC.  It was still slightly damp when I wrapped it.

Now that the gift sweater has been gifted and my KAL sweater is blocking, I’m a bit out of sorts–what do I work on next?

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Disheartened

I am so incredibly stressed out by waking up every morning in Bizarro World. The world where DJT is seriously the republican nominee and black men GOING ABOUT THEIR DAILY LIVES are killed day after day.

Whenever I’m anxious, my coping mechanism is to throw myself whole-heartedly into my family, my hobbies. To surround myself with the familiar is calming, and the busy-ness of activity settles me.

But this year, something is off. Way off.

I have not sewn more clothing, or knit more sweaters, or run more miles, or been more present with my family than I ever could have so far this year.

And still, I feel so unsettled.

This is a knitting and running and sewing blog. Not a political blog. Not a social commentary. But I think that the political and racial situation here in the US is affecting my ability to post regularly, to revel in the accomplishments (athletic and/or maker) of the folks I follow, and it has sucked the joy out of just about everything.

From 1988 through 1992, I lived as a minority. I was a white girl living in somewhat rural Japan as an ESL teacher.  At that time, there were only a handful of foreigners living in that part of Japan.  I had no access to credit and required a guarantor (my  boss) to secure an apartment, telephone line (yes, late 1980’s), bank account. I was pointed at, referred to as a “gaijin” (foreigner),  and randomly asked for my passport or gaijin card by Japanese police.  As a white woman, I was a good minority. Sometimes I was invited, mostly as a curiosity, into Japanese families’ homes. I had students who owned businesses and asked that I model their products. On the other hand, retailers assumed I couldn’t speak Japanese, and even when I did ask questions in textbook Japanese, often their reply was “oh, I don’t speak English.” Better yet, random strangers would stroke my hair.

At one time, I thought this gave me some insight into living as a minority in the US. But you know what? It really doesn’t. Not at all. Because for all the inconveniences of having to show my gaijin card, or having strangers pet my blonde hair, or kids pointing at me like a zoo animal and yelling “gaijin,” I KNEW I would come out of the experience alive.

And this is what distresses me. That an entire American demographic has no idea if they’ll come out of their experience alive. That they can do everything right. And still experience car trouble and be shot and killed on the side of the road.

I am struggling to figure out what I can do. I know from a lifetime of knitting that stitch by stitch, small consistent actions have impressive results. What are the small actions I can take to get to better results?  Colin Kaepernick is taking a knee.

What’s my knee?

This blogger has these suggestions.  These are all things I can do. I’m going to focus on #3.  Between my work and social world, I feel as though I have a considerable pulpit. I’m going to use it.

Starting now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Apparently, I can’t knit either

 

 

Welcome to the saga of my #fringeandfriendsKAL2016. Once felled by the dreaded PF, I realized I needed to keep my head clear somehow, so I quickly jumped into this KAL, hosted by The Fringe Association.  My goal–a lopi-esque sweater like this:

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.17.35 PM

Row 1: Woot! My yarn arrived! Time to do some charting! But crap, the red doesn’t have the right amount of body.

Row 2: Let’s go with green. MORE charts! Ok, even if the numbers are off (slightly) it seems to be working.

Row 3: Hmmms. Something’s not quite right. Especially now.

Row 4: froggin’ and more froggin’.  And more math, charts and a re-boot.

BUT, just to be difficult, I want a taller neck and a 1/4 zip placket so that it’s more of an outerwear piece. I also want to line it with goretex windstopper fabric, if I can both find some and then actually create a sewing pattern as well. Here’s what I’ve learned so far, through 10 days of solid research and staring at pinterest.

  1. most yoke sweaters have a yoke pattern that ends when you divide for the arms. Very few continue the pattern into the body and sleeves. Thought it’s hard to tell from this pic if my inspo sweater just has an uber-deep yoke.
  2. To figure out the calculations for the top down version, there are a few schools of thought. One is the Elizabeth Zimmerman EPS system with 3 decreases (though I’m doing increases because I’m knitting topdown) or 4 more regularly spaced increases (although at varying percentages). I opted for 4, to make the transition less severe, and to account for the change in stitch count at varying points along my pattern.
  3. Making charts are hard. Well, the coloring part is easy. But the negative space part is hard.
  4. Charts are even harder when you have to accommodate 7″ or so of a steek placket and then somehow incorporate those steek stitches back into the pattern. My head is spinning.

I am not knitting newbie. I’ve been at it for over 30 years. And I have never UN-knit so much in my entire life. That being said, if I can pull this off, it will be the best freakin’ sweater in the world. And the only one like it, because I’ll never be able to replicate it again.

Stay tuned for more KAL chronicles.

 

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Well, at least I can knit

Because my running mojo’s just about disappeared, thanks to some good ole fashioned PF. And because clearly I have yet to learn from past injuries, I am 2 for 2 when it comes to moving past this, as I prematurely jumped the gun and ran two races before being completely healed.  Adding to the fun, I am also 2 for 2 when it comes to placing last (or very close to LAST) when competing (wait, that’s too strong a word; hobbling is a more apt description) in my first two races in my new age group. 😦

Satan’s Tar was a 9 mile, 2000 ft incline (over 4.7 miles) then 2,000 ft decline (over 4.3) on a wicked hot, early August Saturday. This was still early in my injury, and I just sucked it up, knowing I’d pay the price of a slower recovery, but the swag included a mason jar. For beer. Need I say more?

The 2nd race was three weeks after that. One mile. Prior to the onset of the PF, I had visions of this being a goal race, just to see how fast I could go. I’ve never run a flat out mile, and this course was perfect–a straightaway, freshly paved, and hosted by my local running store. As it was a USATF race, there were separate starts for different age groups. I was in the Masters 50 and up. This was a speedy group of women, and my lack of running over the past five weeks (aside from Satan’s Tar) meant that I had absolutely no turnover in my legs. However, my foot had been feeling better, so I was looking forward to the challenge. My foot didn’t get the message though, and started to raise a stink by the first quarter mile. I think my finish time was 8:55-ish. Meh. I think the pain after this lousy mile was even more intense than after the 9 miler. Go figure.

This could be depressing, but both races were fabulous. So aside from the intense pain, I enjoyed them both, and look forward to a mulligan for both next year.

 

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Yes

I’m still alive.

You would think that I’ve run out of fodder, given my absence from the blogging world. And no, it’s not even because I’m that busy.

Since I’ve last written, I’ve firmly crossed the threshold into middle-age (yep, AARP came knockin’ and I answered); I’ve gone on a sewing kick, ran a half marathon, and thoroughly enjoying our backyard deck. Oh yeah, and I’m tending to an early onset case of PF, which has derailed my running for a bit.

First things first. I celebrated a milestone birthday.  My birthday is always mixed in with the hullabaloo of the 4th, which bothered me as a kid, but less so now. We had some friends over for a backyard bbq.

Soon after, a friend and I loaded up our girls to head off to Maine to drop them off at camp. Coincidentally, there was the Old Port Half Marathon and 5K that same weekend. I had a 10 mile training run on my docket, so I dropped into the half, while my friend entered the 5k.

I’ve run this half twice before. It’s always kicked my butt (atypically hot and steamy and the horrid, horrid and tedious 3+ mile loop around the back cove), so I really had no time goals in mind.  I figured since it was a 10 mile training run, my main goal was to run a consistent pace for 10 miles without any walk breaks. My second goal was to get around the back cove (miles 7.5-11) without cursing it out. My third goal, since there are two good hills (and a few smaller ones) was to run all the hills in preparation for my hilly fall 50k.

No spoilers here–all three goals reached! First, although the entire week in NJ had been hot and humid, Maine was not. In fact, race day was high 50s and rain. Downright chilly. The first half of the race was good–I started out at an LSR pace, and just kept going. I ran up the hill to the Western Promenade, no problem. When the skies opened up and mile 6, I almost considered DNF’ing (I couldn’t feel my hands at this point), but for some reason, I just kept going. I climbed the killer Munjoy Hill. I made it to the back cove and mentally steeled myself for the tedium of that darn 3+ mile cinder loop that twice before has been my downfall.  I’m not sure why this loop kills me–I think it’s because from every angle, it looks like you’ve covered exactly zero ground. And then there were two miles to the finish, and after a brief stop to stretch my aching right hammie, I kicked it in the the finish and collected my medal. My time–not a PR, but not a PW, either.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race. I know I could do better, but I never quite get there. However, the organizers offer some great perks. Free race photos. And this year? A race video!  No, not just a video of the race in general–a video featuring EACH RUNNER. Boy, that’s humbling to watch. (note to self: work on form).

After the race (and finally getting my fleece from the bag check), I stood in line for some PT work on my right hammie. Which doesn’t explain at all why my left arch/heel is now acting up. But it is, so I’m taking it easy, even though it’s killing me to take time off at the beginning of this training cycle.  The lack of running, though, has led to more sewing productivity, and I promise some pics, as soon as my photographer returns from camp.

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Liberty-worthy

Or not.

Thing 3 is off to camp next week. This isn’t new for us; it’s her fifth year of camp, but for some reason* she has no clothes this year. (*actually the reason is that she grew 4″ over the past 12 months, and therefore nothing fits). Faced the with option of buying cute camp clothing that more likely than not will not make it back home, I fell through the internets wormhole of links until I found these:

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Cute, right? And not so difficult to make. Except those pictured shorts are in a chambray paired with a Liberty Tana Lawn.

Now, I truly heart Thing 3, but at 12 years old (and still growing) she’s not quite $40/yard-Liberty-worthy. She is worthy, however, of the 30 minutes it takes to whip up a single pair of these amazing shorts. 90 minutes and some odd half yards of stash fabric and random bias tape later, Thing 3 is ready for camp!

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So, shorts making took up about 9o minutes of my June–what, pray tell, have I been doing the rest of the month to account for this absence in blogging?

A work trip to DC for 4 days! The trade show was same-old, same-old, but in DC instead of Columbus, which made for some nice (albeit very warm) running. I stayed at an AirBNB about 1.3 miles from the National Mall. My 2nd morning I squished in 8 miles (apt to the Capitol, along the Mall to the Lincoln Memorial, and back to the Capitol and then home).

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Missing Phil! DC was my first trip since adopting Phil. Boy, I missed him so much!  I missed him so much that my first thought upon seeing this display of knitted sheep was “Gosh, those look like Phil!”

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So I begged for one to bring home.

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The resemblance is there, amirite?

Plenty of social events! Thing 3 also “graduated” from 6th Grade. After nearly a month of field trips, parties, and other exhausting special events.

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After the ceremony, there was one more sleep-over party (for a birthday), and then Thing 3 returned home and slept for an entire weekend.

Running! I, however, did not. I’m at that point in my training plan where the long back-to-back runs are coming into play, just as the temperatures are beginning to climb. It’s in my best interest to get out of the house and done with my run before the sun gets too high.  I’m beginning to question the sanity of embarking upon a training plan that will take me through the yuck of the summer heat and humidity.  Eyes on the prize, Sato, eyes on the prize.

Looks like there’s no Liberty for Thing 3, nor for me, either.

 

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