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:

Screen Shot 2016-07-26 at 9.17.35 PM

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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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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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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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:


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.


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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Things I suck at

Apparently, blogging in June.

Things I don’t suck at:

Signing up for more races.

This week kicks off a new 16 (well, 17, because I’m giving myself actually 2 weeks to get the first week’s workouts done) week training plan for yet another race…The Blues Cruise 50k.

Of course, I’m not going it alone–my partner in crime Helene will be with me again. I’m looking forward to this training cycle. My only 50k so far was the NJ Ultra which we used as a training run, and which was far too difficult for my preferences. This one seems a bit more do-able, even though there is an 8 hour time limit, which I think (read: hoping) will push me along.

I’m glad the plan starts off slowly, as June, not April, is the cruelest month. Especially with two graduations one graduation and one promotion ceremony. Thankfully (or maybe not, maybe it’s just one way to spread the busy-ness) graduation and 6th grade promotion bookend this month. First up was Thing 2 this past weekend. Thing 2 went to a very small girl’s high school; there were only 18 girls in her entire graduating class. That made the ceremony absolutely wonderful with both the Head of School and graduation speaker able to speak specifically about each and every student.

So while we’ve been in the throes of getting the house ready for visitors and a post-graduation lunch, Thing 3 has spent the past several weeks (and the upcoming two) on various field trips, field days, expeditions and the like building to her promotion ceremony at the end of the month.  Squished in between is a one-day trip to Chicago and my annual sojourn to my yarn trade show.

I wish June could be more like an ultra–both the training and race itself–yes, a challenge, but with ample time for aid stations and snacks, deliberate walking when necessary, camaraderie among participants, and beautiful views. We’re getting there…maybe.

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Little things and rebound races

Now that ultra is over (more on that later), I’ve got a whole lot of time to spend working on my other hobbies. I’ve got tons of projects all queued up, all of which were recently derailed for some little things.

Phil’s sweater:

Knitting this took all of a few hours (Phil’s only 13 lbs.) which is good because it’s been chilly so far this May for a recently shorn Phil.

Coworker’s (soon to be) Baby Boy

The kimono top is made from a double gauze and the pants are an organic knit. They’re the 3 month size, and the baby’s expected in late June, so I think they’ll work out fine. Baby clothing is a very quick and rewarding project. Sadly, I cut the double gauze with the print upside down (if you look closely, you’ll see the blobs are little lions), but that works as they face the baby.

All these little things are basically palate-cleaners…rebound projects if you will.  I’m a firm believer in rebounds. Just as you need that rebound boyfriend as sort of a ‘reboot’ after a good, long relationship ends, so do you need a rebounds in other facets of your life. Just finished an epic book, one with prose that just sang, characters you loved, and a captivating story? Well, whatever you read next will not fill any shoes, so pick something light and delightful, something that keeps your interest, but one that you know is transitory.

With this in mind, the past two weekends I ran some rebound races–the Japan Run (a 4 miler) on May 8 and the Newport 10,000 (10k, duh) on May 14. Both races were repeats for me. Both were light and delightful and kept my interest. I had no expectations for either, but both served the purpose of prepping my legs and mind for another round of training. I was curious to see after months and months of slow, long mileage if I actually had any turnover left .

I was pleased with my performance in each. Neither were PRs, but I finished both feeling much stronger than I had previously. I ran the Japan run in 37:52 (my previous effort was 37:38) and the Newport 10,000 in 59:44 (chip time; my 10k PR is in the 57 minute range). Usually for me, no matter the distance, the last little push is when I tend to peter out. But for both these races, I hung in there and held steady ’til the end. This is especially important for the Newport race, as it was quite sunny and the last two miles of the course is along the (completely exposed and eastward facing) waterfront.

These rebound races set me up nicely for a new training cycle with my goal race race being (drum roll please….) The Midland Mile! Yep, that would be a 180 change in distance. There is no method to my madness, and long distances are still in my future, but I really, really, really want to see if I can run a short distance fast (read: fast for me).  My two-year old 5k PR is at an 8:15 pace; so I’d like to see if I can break 8 minutes for that mile.

It’s the little things…

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Best cure for the tapers?

My taper for Rock the Ridge was a self-imposed week longer than my plan had called for, and as I’m sure you all know, it’s hard to not second-guess yourself in advance of a goal race when you’re not running.

Here’s what got me through it:

Our new dog, Phil.

Phil is about 4, and is thought to be a bichon mix. We think he’s as cute as a button, but best yet, Phil is chill. He (sometimes) goes to work. He also goes to Starbucks, physical therapy and school.  He likes eggs, muenster cheese, and spaghetti. He ran the last 300 yards of Rock the Ridge with me, which completely exhausted him. But he does like a good walk.

Phil came to us through our local shelter where Thing 3 and I volunteer. He was brought in as a stray, and was terrified and wouldn’t come out of his cage, but somehow Thing 3 was able to coax him out. With the Mister’s ok, we went back the next day to put in an application.  And then we sat on pins and needles for about 5 days.  This was much more stress-inducing than any taper!

Funny story–I gave the name of my friend (and former business partner) as a reference. When the shelter called her, they asked “Is she the type of pet owner who would visit a vet instead of ignore an injury or illness.”  My friend replied “Well, have I got a story for you,” and proceeded to tell them about how 7 years ago, Thing 2 was caring for her daughter’s gerbil Dude while they went on vacation. I came home from work, and Thing 2 was in tears by Dude’s cage, as Dude was clearly sick.  What a conundrum. Because on the one hand it’s only a small rodent. But it’s my friend’s daughter’s pet. So I looked up the address for the emergency vet clinic, and started calling my friend to see how much money they would be willing to drop at the vet. Of course, I’m not reaching my friend, so I load Dude into a shoebox and Things 2 and 3 and shoeboxed Dude into the car, and off we speed away to the vet, with Thing 2 auto-dialing my friend to try to reach her before we get there.

We weren’t able to get ahold of my friend, but the point was mute, as when we got to the clinic, the vet had us put Dude on the gurney, and the shock of the cold metal killed the gerbil upon contact.  She kindly packed him up in medical paper and a plastic bag and sent us on our way.

As we were leaving the clinic parking lot, my friend got through to us. Everyone was on speakerphone. “I’m so sorry, but I needed to know…” I started.  “NO VET,” yelled her husband, while simultaneously, my friend said “$8 bucks, that’s as high as we’ll go.” “No worries,” I finished. “Dude’s dead.” There was an audible sigh of relief from everyone.

Phil, thank goodness, is not a rodent. Although he is in need of a good grooming (which will happen on Saturday), but no vet, yet.


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And just like that…


It’s over.

Well, I guess not “just like that,” but rather 14 hours and 9 minutes later, it’s over.

Participating (competing?) in a 50 mile challenge was everything I expected, and a lot of “whodda thunk.”  I expected the hills but thought there’d be a more severe grade to the ascents; instead the climbs just stretched on for what seemed like miles. I expected great views (I mean, c’mon, views from mountain tops are usually pretty good), but I had no idea how simply beautiful this entire region is.  I was expecting the typical trail runner camaraderie, but was blown away when the RD congratulated my running partner and I by name when giving us our medals.

In a nutshell? I loved this race. I loved that the terrain was “run-able” and not frustrating. I loved that for each incredibly long long climb, there was some amazing payoff at the end–either an awe-inspiring view, or fantastic volunteer-staffed aid station. I loved that the preserve was open to the public, and other day trippers, hikers, rock climbers, and cyclists were so enthusiastic and supportive.

That’s not to say there weren’t some very, very difficult patches. I knew my right shin was my achilles heel, and sure enough, it started bothering me about mile 15. By mile 16, I knew I needed some ibuprofen and took an 800mg pill.  About mile 35, it was still bothersome, so I doubled up with 1600mg. That was a mistake. By mile 39 I was so nauseated, and at mile 40, our support crew had us both sit down for some ginger ale (for my partner) and gatorade and pretzels (for me).  We still had one big hill to climb (at mile 45-46) before a 3+ mile coast to the end. I caught a second wind just before the hill and plowed through that, but the last three miles were agony. Lucky for us, all our support crew met us with under a mile left, and coached us in, just before darkness fell.

Finishing was surreal. You are exhausted, yet elated. And in my case, sick to your stomach. We cleaned up, gathered our drop bags, and left. My Mister and Thing 3 came to cheer for me, so we headed off to a local pub. I thought my stomach had settled a bit, so I ordered chocolate milk for myself while we were waiting for our food. My second big mistake of the day. Two sips later, I was frantically looking for the bathroom, judged the front door to be closer and bolted outside. I threw my medal over my shoulder and basically lost every single sweet potato and PB&J sandwich I’ve eaten since December.  A young and heavily tattooed young man was right behind me and said (clearly having seen the medal on my bent over back), “Hey, did you just do that crazy 50 mile race?” I nodded. “Whoa, badass!” he acknowledged while my stomach heaved again. Badass, indeed.

So maybe that’s not the finish I envisioned. But overall the entire experience was close to 100% positive. What I loved most? Proving to myself I had the strength to not only commit to five months of training, but to get to the finish line. Becoming good friends with the wonderful woman who first encouraged me to join her. How she had the foresight to figure out that we would compliment each other so nicely, I’ll never know, but I’m so glad she did.  I’m also so incredibly appreciative of the many, many folks who helped me with my training, offered words of encouragement throughout my training, during the challenge, and then afterwards. It’s so meaningful when people go out of their way to send good vibes, and it just makes you realize how lucky you are to have such sincere friends, colleagues, and even general acquaintances.

Will there be more? Who knows. Fifty miles was tough–not just the training, but the time it takes from family and other obligations; 50ks are a bit more plausible.  But, as I’m sure we all know, never say never.




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