Archive for the ‘knitting’ Category

The Adventure Continues

I left off yesterday with being rolled down the hall to the Libbie Avenue exit at St. Mary’s and put into the van to begin the ride home to my new life. This second half of my story is longer and I am going to cover the intervening two years, but this is already familiar to anyone who has been following along with my blog all along. If you stumbled across this by accident, I apologize for the length. There is a lot to cover.


The ride home from the hospital was surprisingly unmemorable. I had the pillow everyone recommended to hold against my midsection, but I don’t recall it being particularly miserable or anything. That is pretty much all I remember of the day; I came home, slept, took a walk, and slept. And so began the pattern that would go on for the next few weeks.

The next day, Sunday, Grace came home from her extended visit to Ama and Grandpa’s house, where she stayed while I was in the hospital, and I began breaking the physical restrictions I was under. I wasn’t allowed to lift anything over 10 pounds for 2 weeks. Grace was over 20 pounds and there was no way I wasn’t going to pick her up and hug her when I first saw her (never mind putting her in bed, changing her, and bathing her). So began my policy of bending and outright breaking limitations I had been given.

My whole world for the first few days cycled around sleeping, waking up, giving myself a shot of Lovenox (a blood thinner to prevent blood clots), trying to down a protein shake in under 20 minutes, putting Grace in a stroller and going for a walk through the neighborhood, occasionally grabbing a shower, taking a Percocet and then back to sleep. Shower time was interesting. I had six total incisions, including one in my belly button. They were glued shut. Let’s just say I had a pretty severe lack of faith in that surgical glue, especially when it came to my belly button incision. I would wash in the shower, very gingerly going over the other five incisions, but my belly button needed more intensive cleaning and I was positively terrified that I would open that incision up. Even the thought of it today gives me the heebie-jeebies.

The next distinct memory I have of those first two weeks was going to InterBaronial Twelfth Night the next Saturday, 9 days post op, 7 days out of the hospital, and working in the kitchen. I wanted to go out and be social since I had been pretty closeted for a while and I remember feeling pretty good by that point.

Remember that whole 10 pound weight limit? Yeah. I like working as the scullery maid in SCA feast kitchens. I spent the day hanging out with Moe and Lyle and Byram and assorted friends, lifting huge pots, washing them, shifting things around, and such. I drank my protein shakes, I took my Percocet as needed, and by the end of the day, I wasn’t any worse for wear aside from being positively exhausted. Looking back, all that activity I did was pretty stupid and I was really lucky I didn’t reopen anything, tear anything, or damage myself in some way or another. I don’t recommend my policy of ignoring those rules and limitations they give you. Just sayin’.

Another week passed, and I saw my nurse practioner, Maya, on the 2 week mark post surgery. I had lost a good deal of weight but I don’t remember how much by that point. Going over what I was taking in, it was clear I wasn’t hitting my goal of 60 grams of protein per day at that point. She told me that was normal; that swelling in the area around my pouch made it very hard to fit in enough of anything to reach either my 64 ounces of water per day or my 60 grams of protein per day, but to keep working on it. I think it was at this point that I was allowed to have food like cottage cheese and yogurts. By that point, it had been 5 days since I had taken a Percocet and I was cleared to drive again, and most importantly, go back to work the following Monday.

Yes. I went back to work 17 days after my surgery. Most people take 4 to 6 weeks off to recover. A few weeks before my surgery, I was asked by the highest up in the office if there was any possible way for me to delay my surgery until after the General Assembly had adjourned, which, in a good year would have been March, and in a bad year, if they couldn’t get a budget together, could have been June. I talked with my supervisor and we convinced him that even though GA season is a very busy time for the attorneys in the office, it is not at all a busy time in my section, and this was the best possible time for me to be out. I got the “Well, okay, if you must, but be back as soon as possible” response; right or wrong, I felt pressured to be back as soon as humanly possible.

Monday, February 1, 2010, I was back to work. Life started feeling more normal at that point, even though I was still limited to protein shakes and only semi-solid foods, and I came home from work every day and went to bed, completely exhausted. I walked during my lunch hours, and drank my shakes morning, noon, and night. But every day for that first week, I came home and crashed straight into bed.

When you get ready for weight loss surgery, you read about all the potential risks, all the potential outcomes, good and bad, you read about all the required supplements, vitamins, protein, walking, exercise, and so many other things. The thing I was completely unprepared for was how exhausted I would be and just how long that would last. Thinking about it, though, it makes perfect sense.

For the first week or two, you have the lingering effects of several hours of anesthesia and then the pain killers; and of course, your body must sleep to do its best effort to heal. But the thing I never factored in was that I went from a daily caloric intake somewhere around 2000 or more calories a day to an average for the first 6 weeks or so, of about 500 calories a day. My body was literally starving. I wasn’t hungry at all, but my body just couldn’t function at a high level.

At the six week point, I had my next check up with Maya. My incisions were fully healed and I think at that point, I had dropped somewhere around 30 pounds. All lifting and physical restrictions (that I had been ignoring since day 3 or so) were removed. I was allowed to start trying soft solid foods like mashed potatoes, refried beans, and macaroni and cheese. My blood work came back okay at that point, but low on Vitamin D, just like always. Other than that, she was very happy with my progress.

The introduction of soft, solid foods actually made my protein situation worse. At that point, I could eat maybe two tablespoons of semi-solid food and I was at maximum capacity for a while. Well, there isn’t huge quantities of protein in foods like mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and such. Some, but not a lot compared to my 20 grams of protein per serving shakes, and when you are trying to hit 60 grams of protein per day, it was really difficult to get a good balance. After a while, I decided to quit being so stressed about it and do what my body was okay with. There were days I got more than my 60 grams, days where I got maybe 48 grams, and lots somewhere in between. Stressing about it made me a bit crazy and once I relaxed and just accepted that not every day would see me hit 64 ounces of water or 60 grams of protein, I started to really enjoy my new life.

Even better, I was beginning to enjoy the changes I was seeing in my body. I remember when I was able to get back into the size 18 pants I wore after Grace was born, when I was at my smallest I had been in a decade (morning sickness for more than half a year was a GREAT diet, but I don’t recommend it). I was thrilled to get out of pant sizes that started with a “2”. I was getting more mobile, too. By March, I was up to walking a mile at lunch every day, even on the snowy, slushy days we had that year.

By April, I had gotten down to 225 pounds, which was almost a 50 pound loss, and it was a magic number I had gotten into my head. That was the number I decided I would start trying to run at. April was also the month that my hair started falling out. As best as I can tell, it happens to pretty much every gastric bypass patient. There is no definitive answer as to why, but theories range from depleted protein stores to hormonal changes. I never lost all or even most of my hair, but I had a lot of hair and I lost a lot of it. The good news is that it did stop falling out by around October, or 10 months post-op, and now, over two years later, I have a secondary “coat” of hair, new growth that is now about 6 inches long. Yes, hair falls out, but it is only temporary and it does grow back. My crazy 6″ hair “halo” is proof of that.

Anyway, so back to April. My first few runs that April were…let’s just call them humbling. I went with the very popular (and worthy) Couch to 5K training program (“C25K”) to get me started, but at the beginning, I couldn’t run a full 60 seconds like the first week required. I was that out of shape. I now am able to factor in that my energy stores were fully depleted, so that surely contributed. Still, who can’t run for 60 seconds?

Well, lots of people, it turns out. But it doesn’t stay that way if you keep at it. I started out by running in my parking deck so that no one would see me, and even then only running on the downhill ramps. Within a couple of weeks, I would walk to the bottom floor of the parking deck and then do a one lap run around the bottom floor of the deck, then walk two laps. Then it was walk a lap and run a lap.

Eventually, I began to work my way up to multiple minutes of running at a time. By mid-May, I announced to everyone that I had started running, even though I had been at it about 6 weeks by that point, and since I could go for more than a single minute at a time, I felt confident enough to leave the dark and musty parking deck behind and head outdoors.

Why in the world did I want to run? I blew up my right knee back in 2002 and still suffered from patellar tendonitis, and my left knee had major joint degeneration already in the early ’00s, as seen by x-ray and MRI. Running just sounds like it would be a bad plan for someone who had knee issues and chose gastric bypass because her feet and ankles hurt too much to even walk short distances anymore, right?

As a kid I liked to run. I was in the “joggers club” at various times in my K-3rd Grade elementary school; a program that allowed those kids out doors an extra 30 minutes a few days each week to run a couple of laps around the school yard. I ran around like a crazy person as a kid. I rode my bike everywhere. I was a great swimmer too while I was near the beach. I was very active as a child.

My obesity prevented me from enjoying activities like I used too, and then eventually prevented me from being active at all. As I shed the pounds, I began to rediscover the pure enjoyment I take just from moving around.

So all summer during 2010, I worked on the C25K program, and it was very slow work; much, MUCH longer than 6 weeks. It was a hot summer and I was very fearful of dehydration; something that can hit very quickly in a recent gastric bypass patient, and something that could land me in the hospital in no time flat, so I took my time.

It was when I went to Pennsic that year that just how far I had come really sank in. By Pennsic, I was just short of 100 pounds down (I lost 7 pounds at Pennsic, pushing me over that mark) but the difference one year made was so remarkable that my camp mates must have been sick of hearing me say “I am just so thankful…” And I was. I was able to work all weekend long at Land Grab, putting up tents and digging our sump in a record time for me. The previous year, I had stayed mostly in camp because I couldn’t get back up the hill to our camp without needing to stop and rest. In 2010, I came and went as I pleased. Pennsic was a little nerve wracking, too, because it is easy to get dehydrated even with a normal stomach, but I did okay with my water. I ate almost nothing but protein shakes because Pennsic meals at that time didn’t work very well with my still relatively new pouch. I drank liquid protein “bullets” (absolutely disgusting inventions, but useful) mixed into my crystal-lite flavored water.

And like I said, when I got home, I was officially down over 100 pounds in just 8 months time.

I saw Maya in October for another check up and blood work; I was down to about 160 pounds at that point (from my original 271) and she was absolutely thrilled with my diet, exercise regimen, and water. That day, the fire alarm sounded in the middle of my check up and we all had to trundle down 6 flights of stairs and wait until the building was cleared to re-enter. I was able to take the stairs back up to the medical office after we were allowed to go back in; something, as I told Maya right then, that would NEVER have happened before my surgery.

I went through my first holiday season post-gastric bypass. It was a little tricky because there are foods related to the holidays that I had a real attachment to, but I did okay. As I approached my 1 year anniversary, I realized people no longer recognized me by my directory photo at work, so I had a new work picture taken right at the beginning of the new year.

It was in January 2011 that I began to see Warrior Dash advertisements running on Facebook. Warrior Dash was something I had heard about long before my surgery and something that always sounded like a ton of fun, but was far out of my reach of doing. In honor of my 1 year “surgiversary,” I decided to pay the $45 entrance fee and sign up for the October 1st race scheduled for the first time in Virginia. At the time, 3.5 miles plus obstacles sounded so far out of my ability that I figured it would take the whole intervening 9 months to be able to do it, so I started training right away.

Then in March, we discovered a local 5K race called the SuperHero Run benefiting Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children. Being a superhero-friendly family, we decided to sign up for it, just 3 weeks before the race. I had never run a full 3 miles before but I committed to it with only a few weeks to get ready.

Together, my family raised almost $500 for CASA and I ran my first 5k race ever, in just under 32 minutes.

It was official by that point: I was hooked on running. I decided almost instantly that I wanted to try for a 13.1 mile distance and wanted to run the Richmond Half Marathon in November 2011. Unfortunately, between catching Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever in May (from one or more of the 6 different tick bites I suffered that spring) and getting hit with a lot of expensive car repair bills at the same time, I had neither the money nor the energy to devote to training for the half marathon. My training for the Warrior Dash also suffered because of the illness and lack of energy I had all summer.

By September, I was pretty much back to normal and achieved my goal of running the Warrior Dash.

Almost immediately, post-race blues set in and I knew I needed a new goal to work towards or I would crash to a halt. I signed up immediately for a 5K in December to benefit the Arthritis Foundation, but I still had it in my heart that I wanted to run a 13 mile distance.

I discovered the brand new Instant Classic Half Marathon trail race being run on March 17, 2012, and after mulling it over in my head for a couple of weeks, I decided to sign up.

Today is March 1st. I am sixteen days from the race now. I have been training for it since December 3rd (I will count the Jingle Bell race from December as my first day of training, why not?).

This race is more than just a new distance for me. It is the culmination of over 2 years of working, dreaming, training, hoping, growing, shrinking, changing, and praying to be more than I was. It is more than just a long run. It is more than just a race. It is proof positive to me that I have achieved what I set out to do when I was rolled down that hallway on a gurney into a bright white operating room on a cold January morning.

I wanted to be fit, healthy, and able. I never actually dreamed that this was what I would end up doing. A half marathon was never on my list of things I expected to do post-surgery. It just sort of grew up organically from my efforts over the past two years; a natural progression from the fat girl I once was, full of excuses and complaints, to a new person, still full of excuses and complaints, but stronger and more able to overcome those excuses.

I will go see Maya again on April 18th for my next 6 month check-up, a month after my half marathon. I will take my race medal to her to show her and say “Look what I did. I couldn’t have done it without you and Dr. Bautista.” I would give it to her to keep, but I also acknowledge that while I couldn’t have gotten to this point without their care and help, I also wouldn’t be doing this if I hadn’t put in the time, money, work, and sacrifice of my own, too.

So this is where I came from, and for now, this is where I am going. I don’t know what will come next. I am signed up for the Richmond Half in November, the one I couldn’t do last year. But after that, what will be next? I don’t know. I am entertaining the idea of a triathlon, and last night I took my first real swim in years. That was as humbling as that first, tremulous run I took in April of 2010. I know with enough time, training, and learning, just like the half marathon distance, nothing could stop me from a triathlon, if that is what I want to do. Or maybe the next thing I want to do is full 26.2 mile distance. Or maybe it will be something completely different. Maybe it will be long-distance hiking or biking. I don’t know, yet, but the only limits are the ones I choose to set on myself.

The one thing I have learned and come to fully accept is that weight loss surgery is not a means to an end. You never “arrive” anywhere. You might hit your goal weight or achieve a physical goal (as I am about to), but it doesn’t end with those things. On March 18th, I will wake up and have achieved a major goal, but my weight loss surgery journey will still continue. Just like anyone else, I have to keep working, stay vigilant about my diet and how much exercise I take. I have a severely addictive personality and I have to work to keep away from unhealthy addictions, and if I must be addicted to something (or things), make them positive things; things that make me healthy and let me be with my family and friends, as opposed to isolated, secretive, and alone.

This is the road I have chosen and the journey doesn’t end until my road reaches its final destination.

Thanks for sharing in my journey. I hope all these words reach someone who needs to hear them.



I was going to go to the Y for another murderous upper body weight lifting workout when I opened my bag and realized I had not swapped out yesterday’s cold weather running gear for clean, not soaking wet, short-sleeved, indoor appropriate anything to wear.

Rather than wear soaking wet, long-sleeved, outdoor, dirty clothes to lug around heavy weights, I bagged on my workout and decided to go for a walk. I headed east on Main Street and decided since I had my camera with me that today was as good as any day for another round of Photos Around Richmond. I think I only do this in January, when the city itself is not especially pretty, and when the weather is not especially fabulous, but then I am unlikely to waste a perfectly beautiful lunch hour trundling around with the camera.

As I headed east, I decided the top of the hill on Main Street where Rte. 5 and Main St. intersect would be my destination. Being a non-native Richmonder, I am not sure whether this is actually Church Hill or it is one of the other hills (I have also seen it labeled Union Hill on a map). Either way, this is where I was going. This is the hill I run up on my hill training days.

And this is how it looks from the runner’s perspective as you are just getting started going up.

Fortunately, today I was not running up the hill, just doing the aforementioned trundling (in 3 inch high wedge boots…my feet are very unhappy with this poor planning on my part). From almost the top, looking east, you can watch the James River drift lazily by.
Looking back west, I could visually measure the almost exactly one mile between my current spot I was standing and the building I had walked from to get there.
This gentleman is looking out over the City from atop his very tall pedestal.
Everything below seems very tiny from my vantage point. I feel both insignificant and very large at the same time from up here. Cars look like Matchbox toys from up here and I can see all the way to the Chesterfield Power Station that is south of my house along the James River.
And then I took this.

It is the first picture of myself since I turned 30. Unadulterated. Unaltered.
I got to the top of the hill feeling distinctly and intensely unapologetic about who I am. I did something silly today and wore some silly peacock feather earrings I bought for $2 last week. I like peacock feathers and I liked the earrings, and I didn’t care if they were fashionable enough to wear to work. I was feeling a bit rebellious and wore them.

Even more rebellious are the little stud earrings in my upper ear cartilage. I can’t remember the last time I wore earrings in those holes at home, much less to my rather conservative workplace.

I wear glasses. I have crows feet (too many years of playing outdoors in the sun without sunscreen). I have never intentionally plucked a hair out of my eyebrows. I don’t frequently wear makeup. The smile lines around my mouth have gotten very deep since I lost 120 pounds. My eyes can’t decide if they are blue or green, or gray. I do all kinds of unfashionable things, like wear my hair almost to my backside and only bother to color it once a year or so anymore. Or wear peacock feather earrings (actually, I think that is fashionable for the 13-17 year old age group right now…). I keep my toenails painted 100% of the time, but I have worn polish on my fingernails maybe 4 or 5 times in the past decade.

I run. I knit. I cook things my family likes to eat (we are having grilled Bessie Cow tonight!). I sing badly, but sometimes I do it out loud anyway. I sew poorly, but have enough basics to keep Byram and I at least somewhat decently garbbed in the SCA. I excel at washing dishes. I can plunge a toilet like no one’s business. I am either a horribly conservative democrat or a ridiculously liberal republican, depending on what day of the week it is when you ask me. Or maybe more accurately, I am a libertarian who appreciates some law and order, but really just wants to be left alone.

And you know what? I love all of those facts about me. I even like that self-portrait, taken at an odd angle with an odd, Mona Lisa-like look on my face. I love who I am and I don’t want to apologize for that.

Speaking of love…meet Melpomene.
I am right at the half way mark with it and my progress has slowed (so typical of me). I came up a little short on yarn because I used larger needles than the pattern called for, but it worked out just fine. The first ball ran out just as I finished the last repeat of Chart B, so I just began the decreasing charts (Chart D) next and skipped over the middle point (Chart C). There should be no change in the effect on the shape of the scarf, just shortening its overall number of repeats.
I adore the soft, solid texture the stitches create. I love the simplicity of the garter stitch short row sections, and enjoy the not too challenging, but not mindless twisted stitch patterns as well. I find the whole thing to be very soothing on my frayed nerves these days. The rich hue of the blue helps too. It’s a shame, but I couldn’t get a good true-to-color shot of the blue. Yesterday’s late afternoon sun threw off the color, and today’s lack of sun washes it out to gray when it really is an unapologetic sapphire blue.

12 in 2012

I have a goal to knit 12 projects in 2012 from my queue on Ravelry and from yarn in my current stash (which, I confess, was recently expanded between Christmas and Birthday gifts).

This month, I am knitting a recent addition to my queue, on yarn not so recently purchased, and if I had remembered the stupid camera (this is day 3 in which I have forgotten it again), I could show you some progress. Even if I had the camera, I have no decent light with which to take a photo anyway. Maybe tomorrow. In the meantime, I will show you a photo from the designer.
Copyright - Romi Hill
(Copyright- Romi Hill)

This is Melpomene by Romi Hill, from her 7 Small Shawls E-book that I got for my birthday last week. I am using Knit Picks Stroll sock yarn, in colorway Sapphire Heather and knitting on 4mm needles (US6).

It was the perfect birthday gift because it will keep giving. Only 2 of the 7 patterns are out, and the remaining 5 will post sometime between now and July if she is able to meet her challenge.

I almost cast on Kleio first because it has been on my list longer and I have the perfect yarns for it, but something about the description for Melpomene appealed to me.

Also in current progress is a pair of socks for my mother in law’s upcoming birthday. One is done and I have a toe done on the second, but it was hard to carry on a plain vanilla sock with the beautiful texture of Melpomene calling to me. When I get weary of twisted stitches and garter, I will go back to the Mother In Law Socks.

I haven’t yet decided what February’s project of the month will be. Rather than pre-schedule myself a monthly project like I did last year, and then ran into the problem of being uninspired by the project when it came time to knit it, I am going to go with the flow and pick up what I feel like doing each month. I had planned to knit a cowl this month and that changed when I got my Muses subscription.

Next month might be Percy which has been in my queue forever and looks challenging but fun, or it might be Saroyan, which I just ordered and received the intended yarn for last week if I happen to be in the mood for yet another crescent shaped blue scarf (in other words, doubtful, but when I get on a roll, sometimes it carries me for a while). Or, maybe I will get the gumption up to learn intarsia and knit these peacock themed armwarmers. I should have sufficient colors and yarn left over from the Corrie vest to tackle them.

Who can say what will wind up on the needles?

12 Goals for 2012

(I swear I didn’t specifically aim for 12 goals. When I counted them before making this post, I was pleasantly surprised by the symmetry though.)

– Knit 12 projects (1 per month) from yarn already in my stash and patterns in my queue or favorites list on Ravelry. I will get a post up about this soon.

– Run the Instant Classic Half Marathon on March 17th. The goal is 2:30, but being a trail race, I will accept any time between 2:30 and 2:45.

– Sew several new pieces of garb over the Spring and Summer, for all of the family. We all need new garb to get us through Pennsic, but especially Grace.

– Pre-plan monthly menus. That system works too well and takes nothing more than me applying some brain power to it. Saves us a ton of money and headaches when I keep it up.

– Find some way, some how, to find the funds to join a CSA (I want Victory Farms if they keep their system the same as the old owners). I will continue to fantasize about having the money to get a cow share from Faith Farms for milk.

– Run the 5 mile Dauber Dash on June 17th.

– Expand my cooking chops and learn new and amazing ways to eat unfamiliar vegetables. (See the CSA goal above).

– Work with Grace to continue to help her with her goal of learning to run along with Mommie.

– Run Warrior Dash on September 29th and earn a PR for that race (would like to do it in 50 minutes or less).

– Run the Richmond Half Marathon in 2:30 or less on November 10th.

Tighten up my nutrition to improve my performance in the races I have planned. I am shooting myself in the feet with my diet. I could do so much better if I was even more careful about what I put in my mouth.

– Present the family with beautiful handknit Christmas gifts that will keep them wrapped in warm wooly love.

I want to focus 2012 on food, fitness, and family, and improving the connections and relationships I have with each of those things.

Another Wash, Rinse, Repeat Post

Knit. Run. Play with Grace. Run. Knit. Play with Grace. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

Throw in some stupid internet games and my salaried job (where a lot of the Knit. Run. Knit. Run. part happens…) and that is pretty much the sum total of my life. I spent a week run down by a cold, but am mostly recovered now, and thankful it hit before Thanksgiving, rather than next week.

I am working on a poncho with a deadline. That is going mostly well, and at least faster now that I am to the interesting part of the poncho.

I have several Christmas gifts set aside, but not everyone’s yet and time is winding down. Trying not to panic here.

Next week is Thanksgiving and my menu is mostly planned. Care to see? Things with a * next to them denote that the dish is as local as I can make it.

*Empress Farm Heritage Turkey w/ gravy
*Kim’s Mushroom Stuffing
Savory Toasted Cheese (blatantly non-local!)
*Steamed Broccoli (to appease the Girl Child who loves the ‘little green trees’)
Green Beans
*Roasted Autumn Veggies (very flexible depending on what is at the farmers market tomorrow)
*Mashed Potatoes
*Sweet Potato Casserole w/ meringue topping

Those are my contributions to the table. The rest of the menu is as follows:

*Fresh baked rolls (Ama makes them and gets the flour from the mill in Ashland)
Green Glop (yummy pineapple and lime jello salad brought by Greatma)
Deviled Eggs (contributed by Nana)
Can of Cranberry Jelly (I can’t help it, I just love this stuff so I put it on the table)
Pumpkin Pie (Greatma)
*Apple Pie (Ama)

Some of the dishes might vary based on what I find tomorrow at the market. The mushroom stuffing might get to be a local dish if the guy who sells the mushrooms is at South of the James tomorrow, or it might not. If I were making the pumpkin pie, it could count as local since all our pumpkins this year came from the Chesterfield Berry Farm and we stowed the pumpkin goodness in the freezer, but this is another way for my grandma can contribute. I might make a pumpkin pie of my own over the long weekend though, or more of the pumpkin bread I made last weekend that was so delicious.

Wherever everything ends up coming from, our little band will eat well. Looks to be only 8 of us now, technically 7 if you count Grace and I as one normal serving.

Tomorrow, I will be two weeks away from my 5K Jingle Bell Race at Stony Point Fashion Mall. I am not feeling as confident about my sub-30 minute goal as I was, but I am not as unhappy about that as I thought I would be. I have not yet been able to maintain the 9:30 min/mile pace I would need for the sub-30 minute 5K, but I still believe I will run a solid race and hopefully make a faster time than my 31:52 in April.

That being said, I finally signed up for my first half marathon. I am running the Instant Classic Half Marathon Trail Race on March 17, 2012. I plan to train for it with Kitty’s team who will simultaneously be training for the Shamrock Half being held in VaBeach the same day. They start their training on 12/3, the same morning as my 5K run, so I will be coming in a week late to the show. Hopefully her team won’t mind.

And that’s it in a nutshell. I have lots of stuff going on, but nothing that has been much worth blogging about. Like I said, it figured to be a quiet month. I hope to have more to share leading up to or right after Thanksgiving.

A Week Or So In Stitches

I have had precious little to say, or rather, precious little to say that anyone is lining up to hear. Cheyenne left us on Saturday, October 8th. I had the following week off so my Mom was able to stay in Suffolk and grieve in private. I was able to stay home and do the same.

I worked through it in yarn mostly (and some beer, I don’t deny it), and I talked about memories of her as a puppy and found old photos of her playing with me in the big snowstorm of 2000. I am mostly better now. No more crying jags. I still catch myself turning in the computer chair to look behind me where her bed used to be to check on her. I was looking for the gate to the backyard to be closed when we pulled in the driveway after work yesterday. I keep catching myself thinking “I wonder if I need to let Cheyenne out” from time to time.

Time, prayer, and knitting can do a lot for one’s soul.
I started with Arroyo.
Yarn: KnitPicks Chroma (New England colorway) (one ball and I had some leftover)
Needles: 5mm (US8)
No modifications. This knit up very fast and I loved the short row shaping. I especially love how the colors turned out. However, that said, I had real problems with that Chroma ball. 4 rows into the scarf, the yarn was broken. Not knotted, completely broken. Then there were 3 more places in the ball where the yarn had been knotted to a new yarn, and they didn’t even try to keep the colors together. Fortunately, the abrupt shifts in color were less noticeable in the finished product than I feared they would be. The colors were fabulous, but I gave the yarn only 2 stars on Ravelry because of the issues I had with this ball.
It was a very quick knit, but I was highly focused on it as well. Cast on on Friday morning and cast off Sunday night.

After that, still being hung up on half-moon scarflettes, I immediately cast on Annis.
(Check out my model! She had been playing dress up just before.) Sadly, I have no decent pictures yet. I only have photos from blocking, and it was shockingly difficult to get any light on the shawl.
I blocked it on my yoga mats over a thick carpet. That worked okay, but I really need to look into getting some of those interlocking foam floor pads like they use in kids’ playrooms.
Yarn: Malabrigo Lace (Lettuce colorway) (also did not use the whole ball)
Needles: 6mm (cast on only) and 5mm
The only modification was I used the Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off since that had worked so well on Arroyo, but I think now I sort of regret it. I think a less stretchy bind off might have allowed for more curve. Or it might not have. It was very difficult to block it in the shape I wanted. I think I would be more in love with it except that it rolls up really badly. The curl did not block out. Stockinette is known for its tendency to curl and one of the things I loved about Arroyo was the garter stitch body, which patently does not curl. I almost modified the body of Annis with garter instead of stockinette stitch, but I thought it would look more elegant in stockinette.

It does, but curling is definitely not elegant. It is still very pretty, very light weight, and the yarn developed a nice halo that compliments the pattern nicely.
I hope to get some pretty, natural light photos soon.

I am pretty much half-moon scarfed out for a while. I was going to knit this third one for me (note, the blog is mostly in Russian, but there is an English translation of the pattern on Ravelry) with some recently finished handspun fingering weight wool, but I have a lot of Christmas knitting to catch up on. Probably by the time that is all finished, I will be ready for another scarflette. I really like the feather stitch pattern and in the peacock teal handspun, it will be a striking project, I think.

I have another project to cast on tonight though. Pictures soon, I hope.

The Story of Corrie

So, my Corrie Vest kit arrived back around September 13th. Only a couple of weeks before Coronation and before the Warrior Dash and Montpelier Fiber Festival weekend. I dove straight into knitting it, just going with it.

For whatever reason, stranded knitting goes extremely fast for me. I think it has more to do with keeping highly focused and the frequency with which the pattern changes, and less to do with the actual technique. I am much more likely to set a plain knitting project down for just about anything than I am to set down a fair isle project because I don’t want to get lost where I am in the pattern. Also, I am more likely to say “Just keep going until you change that left hand yarn.”

Closing in on Coronation, I was knitting a couple of hours per night, but the weekend of the event itself, I was barely able to knit at all. In the back of my mind was this fleeting fantasy that maybe the sweater could be done in time for me to wear it to Montpelier, but you have to understand that it seemed impossible at that point. I had steeks and short row shaping, and purling in pattern and 3 needle bind offs in my future, most of which I was completely unfamiliar with.

But I didn’t let go of the little idea in the back of my head.

So I knit. And knit. And knit. Fiendishly knit.

Tuesday night last week, another knitter looked at it and agreed with my assessment that completion by Sunday was exceedingly unlikely. But I kept knitting.

By Thursday, I had completed the body of the sweater and it was time to steek. I found my sharpest sewing scissors, my silk sewing thread, which I then quadrupled, and started backstitching along each side of my cuts. That took a good long while. Then, after pacing around, wringing my hands, forcing back a nervous tear or two, and 3 or 4 false starts, I made the very first snip. The world didn’t end. The sweater didn’t instantly unravel or turn to dust in my hands. So, I kept going.

Snip, snip, snip. One stitch at a time, one float at a time. Snip. Snip. Snip.
When it was totally cut, I had a beer and didn’t look at it again until morning.

Friday was a desperately slow day at work, and I knew I was 90% of the way to home plate. With the race on Saturday morning and going to the State Fair on Saturday night, I knew Friday was my do-or-die day to finish the vest if I wanted to wear it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.

I picked up and knit the first armscye with my longest 2.75mm circular needle was which just too long and uncomfortable to knit with. The shorter, 24″ one was holding the live stitches on the neck line, so rather than go on to the second armscye like the instructions said, I went ahead and picked up and knit the neckline with the longer needle, freeing up the shorter one for the second armscye. Worked like a charm. I left work about half way done with the second armscye, and, probably to my family’s dismay, proceeded to knit through our lovely dinner at the Mexican restaurant, knit in the quickly darkening backseat, and cast off while we were waiting at the pharmacy for some medicines.

I broke the yarn in the dark in the car, and we came home from our evening out and I displayed my now finished sweater vest.

When I pulled it over my head and it fit perfectly, I could have cried.
Photobucket Photobucket
I wove in some ends while Grace was in the bath and while Byram was putting her in bed. The whole body is woven in, but I still have a lot of loose ends around the upper left armscye and the back of the neck. That was fine. I could wear it like that.

And I did. I wore it to the State Fair on Saturday night.
Its Under There
I wore it around the house.
(Grace took the photo which partially accounts for my completely amused expression.)

And best of all, I wore it to Montpelier on Sunday morning.
One of the highest compliments I think a knitter can receive is to go to a fiber-centric festival and have people look at the knits you are wearing and then be shocked when you tell them that yes, indeed, you did handknit that vest. When seasoned knitters gasp with delight, you know you have done good work.

I wore it to work yesterday along with my Warrior Dash finisher’s medal. Almost no one at my office understood the importance or the pride I took in each of my hard-won accessories, but I knew.

This past weekend will go down as the most insane and wonderful weekends in my memory. In fact, the whole month of September 2011, will be firmly stuck in my memory as one of the most extreme months of my life, between beginning with an extended power outage, a wonderful family BBQ over Labor Day weekend, fun in the mud at Coronation, fun in the mud this past weekend, and lots of ups and downs in between. Onward now into October, my favorite month of the year usually, and I am particularly looking forward to a week off from work next week. I opted for a “stay-cation” to get my house in order and hopefully some personal time to recover from the insane summer and get my head and heart ready for the holidays to come.